It's been a big fortnight in football. When we left off, our intrepid green heroes pulled two field goals out of Jordan Rapana's arse to defeat the Dolphins in golden point.

Then Origin game one happened, the Raiders had a bye, and then North Queensland ventured into the deep freeze to battle the Raiders.

That's a lot to gloss over, so let's take it from the top.

I was very critical of the Origin I side, as is my right and privilege, being a generational (Sky) blue masochist. Isiah Yeo was on the bench, we didn't have a backup utility, and Matt Burton apparently killed someone in the off-season and earned the eternal ire of the NSW selectors.

What I wasn't concerned about, at the time, was the decision to pick Joseph Sua'ali'i in the centers. Despite his upcoming defection to Rugby Union, he's a fine young man, playing in a successful Roosters outfit. Overall, I did not have high hopes for the performance of the side, but tried my best to get into the spirit of things by wearing my jersey in my place of gainful employment.

And when the game finally fucking kicked off at ten past eight in the evening, I was quietly hopeful.

All of that hope lasted exactly seven minutes, until Joseph Sua'ali'i decided to kill (figuratively, not literally) Reece Walsh, burying his shoulder deep into the young Queensland fullback's head. Joe became just the sixth person to be sent off in Origin.

Historically, players in Origin have been sent around the 65-70 mark, largely as a symbolic gesture. But unfortunately for Mr. Sua'ali'i, he gave Ashley Klein no choice, and was given his marching orders.

Oh dear.

From there, the Cane Toads' left edge worked that spot over all night, with Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow scoring two in rapid succession, and Ben "Dozer" Hunt sealing the deal sometime late in the piece to drive the nail into the coffin that had been buried since the seventh minute.

Anyway young Joseph was swallowed whole by the Sydney media, so I won't harp on too much about what a bone-headed decision it was and how it cost the state, etc. etc.

What I will say, is that this Blue side is quickly running out of excuses. I'm not talking about Madge Maguire at this stage, because the regulars in the side have been dishing the same hot garbage for the last three years.

On paper, the players that are good enough to make the Blues side should beat those bloody Maroon bastards every day of the week, and twice on Sundays.

Certainly, part of that is Freddy and his selectors treating the NSW rep side as a staff retention measure for poor, struggling clubs like the Sydney Roosters, Manly Sea Iggles (Remember Dylan Walker's 13 minute debut? I do) and Penrith Panthers. But even then, some of the decisions have been baffling.

Dylan Edwards has been Penrith's (second) best for years at this point, Matt Burton is a dual-threat centre who can kick, and did Apisai Koroisau pee in someone's cheerios?

And if you'd like some integrity from the selection panel, well, don't get too excited. Last year you had famous curmdgeon, Brandy Alexander, waxing lyrical about how Nicho Hynes wasn't selected for games two and three because he was put on at left center and got exposed.

So that's the Blues. About as well run as the Rugby Union side - and with the same amount of success.

Speaking of the dying game, you had the Melbourne Rebels turn up toes this week, after Rugby Australia rejected desperate bids, I assume written in crayon, to continue existing. I dunno, that whole sport is a mess.

Who haven't been a mess are the Brubies, who managed twelve wins out of a fourteen game season, who unfortunately did have their season ended at the hands of the Auckland Blues - i.e, a competently run Blue-coloured franchise.

They're also kiwis, though, which means I automatically hate them and wish for their swift demise. And don't think I didn't notice how few people actually turned out to the stadium, for what should've been a blockbuster clash, equivalent to a prelim final in Rugby League.

I've always been told that fans will reward success, which is why I find the patronage of the Brumbies to be so mystifyingly low.

The qualifying final for a team of rock-breaking shitkickers, that finished third, ahead of several kiwi teams, had a qualifying final attendance of...


Explain that. Someone, go on the record and send me a sternly worded email that explains that figure to me. Especially when you open the door and see who's living next door...

That's right - next to Rugby Union's most successful Rugby franchise, there's the Raiders. And it would've been a double whammy for local Canberra fans, as they got to watch the Blues pile 24 points on the Brumbies in 20 minutes, and then watched the Raiders leak 22 in forty.

North Queensland, historically, have not done well in the Winter, in Canberra. It's cold, it's miserable, and the cooler temperatures clamp down on the ability of fast-moving halfbacks from Townsville to get oxygen into their tiny brains to figure out which mediocre second-rower they're going to shovel the ball to.

Apart from a generational talent in Jonathan Thurston, who led the Cows to their first and only Grand Final win in 2015, it's been pretty slim pickings - I guess the name is cursed, or something.

Their season in 2022? Stellar. Inches from a grand final berth.

2023? Train wreck.

It's hard to place them again this year, as it is with a bunch of teams that can't seem to find their feet - and, no, before you ask, I don't count the Raiders in that category, because we're in a transition year. And also Zac Hosking is still injured (Remember that absolute best of a second-rower? No? Dammit.)

Putting all that rhetoric to the side, Canberra never seems to recover well from an emotional win - no matter how far away their next game is. They get a big win against strong opposition? It is the most Raiders thing imaginable to get embarassingly pummelled to death and lose all momentum.

If they can string ten good weeks together, they make finals and they go deep - there's plenty of evidence to support this. I don't think 2024 will be one of those years, but then again, I don't expect it to be one of those years. We're coming along for that 9-12th place finish, and I feel fine.

The problem for mine, is that eventually the first-graders and blooded juniors have to come good, and not have their confidence absolutely shitcanned by repeatedly getting beaten to death on their home track. Apparently the irate fans booed their own team - what's that going to do for the confidence of troops like Strange and Mooney.

Ricky warned you all - it sucks, but the green faithful have to grit their teeth and bear it. I know I did, as I flipped between two different Canberra rugby teams both getting pumphandled.

(Editor's Note: A special thank you to Rugby Australia for not putting Rugby Union on Kayo \ Fox. Great choice, dickheads.)

So what now? Well, we do what we always do - we go to the games, we tune in on television, and we wear our jerseys, jumpers and caps - because retreat is never an option. And supporting a different club is a choice I should've made (but never would've) twenty years ago.

Next week, Canberra heads to... one of the Tigers' home venues to take on the Wests Tigers. They'll be up and about after getting home against the Titans. The Raiders, on the other hand, will be keen to continue their recent good form against the Orange team from the west - no, not that one.

And Origin II is on in Queensland. I'll be cheering the Sky Blues, even as I watch them capitulate.

Becuase that's what I do.

Catch you next time,

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