Rugby-loving Peter FitzSimons drags NRL into fight it didn't pick

·Contributor
·4-min read
Pictured right, Peter FitzSimons and Panthers halfback Nathan Cleary on the right.
Peter FitzSimons was not too impressed by Penrith's NRL semi-final win over Parramatta. Pic: Getty/Ch9

Is there a sport more obsessed with its opposition than rugby union?

Even when rugby league has nothing to do with it, the 13-man game gets dragged into the argument with union like a boyfriend reluctantly defending his lippy partner in the public bar at closing time.

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This time, rugby league was minding its own sweet business when Peter FitzSimons, writing for the Sydney Morning Herald, held last week's Penrith-Parramatta NRL semi-final up against the Wallabies' Test win over South Africa.

Fitz, you go first.

"When you switched from the rugby to the NRL finals last Saturday night to see the Eels-Panthers match wasn’t it just a teensy-weensy bit dull?" he started.

"I mean, a Sydney suburban slug-fest between two teams situated 25 kilometres apart was fine, and the skills of the likes of Nathan Cleary a wonder to behold, but after the international grandeur and wild flowing mercury of the Boks-Wallabies match, didn’t the NRL feel ever so slightly ... suburban and staccato."

Suburban and staccato?

After working out a staccato wasn't a type of coffee – we league types are dumb, after all – I read the piece again to see if I'd missed something

A second read only confirmed Fitz is in need of a HIA. 

I've been watching league finals for a loooong time and that game was up there with the best I've seen.

Whatever the opposite of staccato and suburban, this was it.

It was tough, it was skilful, it was fast, it was absorbing, it was controversial and it was in doubt right until the referee asked for the ball back.

If this is what teensy-weensy bit dull looks like, can we have more of the same this weekend and repeat the order for Sunday week's grand final?

Extra flat whites in Manly    

We have it on good authority latte sales haven’t flat-lined and goodness bowls remain on trend despite NRL star – and northern beaches café owner - Ryan Girdler's explosive comments regarding Manly's push for the premiership.   

For those who missed it, Girds told Triple M: "I can't believe Manly are one game away from a grand final with the season they've had. 

NRL great Ryan Girdler does not rate the premiership credentials of the Manly Sea Eagles. Pic: Getty
NRL great Ryan Girdler does not rate the premiership credentials of the Manly Sea Eagles. Pic: Getty

"They've had some really good performances by some individuals, but I’m not buying it.

"They haven’t beaten anyone in that top echelon of teams so far this year.

"They're flat-track bullies."

Well, didn't that go down well with Sea Eagles fans.

About as well as a dip in property prices.

There was even talk of a Girdlers café boycott but northern beaches types would rather remove a limb than go without their caffeine hit.

We gave Girds the chance to expand on his thoughts, but he was last seen hiding behind his prized La Marzocco and refusing to come out if Manly beat Souths on Friday night.

For what it's worth, he only said what a lot of people are thinking but aren’t brave enough to say.

Are Manly contenders or pretenders?

If Girder's back serving coffee on Saturday morning, you'll know it's the latter.

Storming to the GF

No one is tipping against Melbourne Storm in the second preliminary final and you’ve come to the wrong place if you think I'm going to be the first.

Eighty-two per cent of punters' money is with the premiers and it’s not hard to see why.

Seen here, Melbourne Storm players celebrate during their NRL finals win over Manly.
Melbourne Storm are strong favorites to win back-to-back NRL premierships. Pic: Getty

Refreshed, in-form and at full strength, Melbourne surely won't let this one slip against a Penrith side just hanging in there.

If the Panthers do bow out, you can trace their demise back to the State of Origin series.

Nathan Cleary copped a shoulder injury that he is still nursing through games and Jarome Luai just hasn't had the same spark and impact.

Others around them have looked a little off the pace. 

Storm by 13.

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