His palms are sweaty… knees weak… arms are heavy…
Do you think NRL players and coaches are nervous ahead of this weekend’s kick-off to the 2019 premiership? Well spare a thought for those pinning their reputations – and sanity – on the annual office tipping contest!
At least the clipboard carriers and pigskin plodders have some degree of say over the outcome.
Not us. We are condemned to sit detached, four days a week for the next six months, in anxious contortions as our fate unfolds without any control whatsoever.
You’d stand a better chance beating Winx on one leg, with your shoelace undone, ingrown toenails, gout and a weeping heel blister, than tipping a full round of NRL matches.
With their pesky salary caps and talent equalization policies, the suits that now run this once reliable hierarchy of powerhouses and paupers have turned the noble sport into a charlatan’s lottery.
Week after week, rugby league tosses up results that are simply unfathomable. Teams held together by more bandages than you’d see at an Egyptology convention thump the title favourites. Teams lead by the length of the Nullabor Plain at halftime… and get run down. Teams engulfed in crisis unbeknown to anyone but Shane Warne and Tiger Woods somehow belt out the victory song at fulltime.
We can’t deny it’s been a challenging pre-season for the NRL. They could just about introduce a 17th team, the Exiles, from all the players that have been stood down. Which only makes the whole shebang more damned confusing, irritating and unpredictable!
On the surface, the Broncos and Roosters look strong. But so too did the Cowboys and Eels at this stage last year and both were out of finals contention before the cricket season had officially ended.
So why do we put ourselves through this on annual basis? Why do we place so much stock in something that makes us feel so small, so hopeless, so undignified?
We do it for the same reason Sydneysiders drool over outrageously priced property and Melbournians head for St Kilda Beach on a warm day as if it were an actual beach.
We do it for the romantic notion that one day, just for a single day, it might turn out to be the way we imagined it to be.
Maybe that day will come in season 2019. We doubt it. But there’s one thing for certain in this crazy, mixed-up scene of NRL tipping: you’ll never win the lottery unless you buy a ticket.
From the team at Nine Ounces, good luck tipsters!