Minor premiership fight between only two original teams left

STAND BY: Sonny-Bill Williams’ rivalry with the Rabbitohs’ Sam Burgess is just one potential highlight of tonight’s clash between the top two sides.
STAND BY: Sonny-Bill Williams’ rivalry with the Rabbitohs’ Sam Burgess is just one potential highlight of tonight’s clash between the top two sides. Getty Images

THE 2013 NRL minor premiership will be decided in Sydney tonight and the two contenders are the only remaining teams from the original Australian rugby league competition, which dates back to 1908.

In 206 meetings between the two clubs, the Rabbitohs have won 108, the Roosters 93 and - incredibly - just five have been drawn. So history suggests there will be a result tonight and the winner deserves to be regarded as the best club of the season, even if it fails to win the premiership. Consistency over 26 relentless weeks is the mark of a champion side.

This is a fairytale end to a season where the make-up of the finals may not be decided until Sunday afternoon. In every sense tonight's Rabbits-Roosters clash is absolutely mouth-watering and the TV audience will be huge.

Unfortunately though, such is the sideshow that accompanies rugby league these days that scant media coverage has been given to the minor premiership decider, which will draw in excess of 50,000 inner-city Sydney fans to the Olympic complex at Homebush. Sadly, more titillating events have attracted the headlines.

Rather than discuss the clash of halfbacks Mitchell Pearce and Adam Reynolds, the focus has been on the never-ending Ben Barba saga. And instead of running the rule over the rivalry between match-winning back-rowers Sam Burgess and Sonny Bill Williams, the media has been more fascinated by the underperforming Broncos.

The fact the four Burgess brothers will again suit up for the Rabbitohs has been lost in the face of headlines for dissident Raiders runaway Blake Ferguson. Even the 2014 Auckland Nines tournament has received more coverage than the troublesome knee of Greg Inglis.

What a relief it will be tonight to perch in front of the TV and watch two genuine premiership contenders and old-time rivals go at each other for the JJ Giltinan Shield, the trophy that to my way of thinking salutes the best team of the season.

The sideshow that covers the erroneous events on the periphery of the greatest game of all can take a back seat - at least for two hours.

What's the story?

SURELY there can't be an anti-Queensland scenario behind the sudden burst from the Sydney media of the most recent speculation concerning troubled Dally M medallist Ben Barba?

It seems odd that an alleged damning photo that has apparently been in existence since February was published the weekend after Barba signed with the Broncos.

If members of the Sydney media were aware of these domestic-violence allegations all along - as some are now claiming - why has it taken seven months for them to raise the issue?

Boot Ferguson out

TROUBLED Raiders centre Blake Ferguson might need to tread the same road as his apparent good mate, Todd Carney.

After being deregistered by the NRL in 2008 for repeated off-field issues, Carney spent a season playing in North Queensland and - eventually - was able to put his career back on track.

In not returning to Canberra, Ferguson is simply disrespecting authority, belittling the game, his club and his teammates, and he urgently needs a reality check. It's well and truly time the NRL shows some leadership and tells the bloke he is not wanted in our game.

Wish the big man well

IF GLENN Lazarus is elected to the Senate in tomorrow's election - and the polls are suggesting he may be - hopefully he is as successful in his new career as he was as a rugby league player.

The No.1 Senate pick for the Palmer United Party, Lazarus remains the only player to have won premierships at three different NRL clubs.

He won two grand finals with Canberra, two with the Broncos and was the inaugural captain of the Melbourne Storm when it won in 1999.

Topics:  tony durkin

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