When we all tried to move on from grand final night; the trainer being hit with the ball, the six again that wasn’t, that Latrell Mitchell flick, the Clive Churchill confusion, Cooper Cronk being chaired off, Ricky Stuart holding back the rage … the soap opera just kept on rolling.
A couple of weeks later the Roosters told Mitchell he wasn’t needed anymore. They said he could leave a year early to join any club … except bitter rivals South Sydney. He signed with South Sydney a couple of months later.
Sam Burgess quit the Bunnies, his shoulder so painful he couldn’t play another minute. Valentine Holmes quit the NFL and landed back in Cowboys territory. Ryan Matterson left the Tigers in a huff and landed at the Eels. Sonny Bill Williams landed in Canada and Israel Folau the south of France, headline magnets who have given the English Super League coverage like it has never seen before.
Raiders fans will hope their team can go one better.Credit:Fairfax Media
Par for the course in summer, a few NRL players allegedly mucked up. David Fifita was accused of assaulting a security guard in Bali, but the charges were dropped after Fifita paid a $30,000 ''peace agreement'' and posed for a photo that will forever linger in the memory. It will be chicken feed before the next contract he signs, likely to be one of the most lucrative ever handed out in the NRL.
The game got a new boss, Peter V’landys assuming the Australian Rugby League Commission’s top post from former Queensland Premier Peter Beattie.
Yet, on the eve of the 2020 season, one question looms most: who is going to win the title?
The Roosters insist they can get better, trying to match the feats of the great Parramatta side which was the last top grade team to win three premierships in a row between 1981 and 1983. That’s even without Cooper Cronk, the man Trent Robinson described “as the greatest team player to ever play the game”, and Mitchell, whose planned replacement Billy Smith injured his ACL in the pre-season.
Maybe the Raiders had to lose one to win one. The Eels, wooden spooners in 2018, suddenly look genuine top four material with a couple of astute signings. Cameron Smith is potentially playing his final year, desperate to go out with a bang at the Storm. Wayne Bennett has only two years left to deliver South Sydney a title. And just how are the Dragons going to turn it all around?
Whatever happens, you just know it’s going to be as crazy as that one Sunday night in October.
Here are our predictions.
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