ORI­GIN ECLIPSES NRL WEEK­END

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT -

I WON’T be watch­ing any NRL games this week.

For those who know me well you’ve likely sprayed your corn­flakes to ev­ery cor­ner of your kitchen as you read this, but enough’s enough.

For years I didn’t sub­scribe to the the­ory that stand alone week­ends for State of Ori­gin would wash with fans who crave their NRL fix ev­ery week­end.

But Ori­gin has made club foot­ball such a non event it’s clear that less is some­times more.

This Satur­day night the Mel­bourne Storm will play a home match against Par­ra­matta with­out six of their big names, while the Eels are un­af­fected.

The game still ex­pects Storm fans to cough up their hard earned and go to the game.

Then there’s the TV net­works who have paid mil­lions to broad­cast the NRL, but have to deal with lower rat­ings as fans switch off in droves dur­ing this pe­riod.

I cov­ered the Cow­boys’ clash against Mel­bourne at AAMI Park ear­lier this year. De­spite nine play­ers miss­ing through Ori­gin duty, it was an ab­sorb­ing con­test de­cided in golden point.

But in no other sport, or en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try for that mat­ter, do they ex­pect fans to set­tle for a sec­ond- rate prod­uct, while fork­ing out the same amount of cash for the priv­i­lege.

For some rea­son one of the big­gest ri­val­ries in the game, Souths and Roost­ers, was sched­uled for last night when the lat­ter was with­out a host of Ori­gin stars.

How much have you heard from the me­dia this week to cre­ate hype about what is al­ways one of the mar­quee matches of the year? The sound of crick­ets. The crowd will be smaller as a re­sult as the NRL gets swal­lowed whole by the State of Ori­gin monster which con­sumes ev­ery­thing in its path.

The fans are the game’s most valu­able com­mod­ity and they de­serve bet­ter than is be­ing served up for them this week­end.

Can­ter­bury can’t score any points to save them­selves and face the bot­tom of the ta­ble Knights. We’ve al­ready spo­ken about the fool­har­di­ness of sched­ul­ing Souths and Roost­ers last night, while the full strength Eels should make short work of a heav­ily de­pleted Storm.

The only half at­trac­tive match in the four- game round is Pen­rithManly as it is only slightly af­fected by Ori­gin se­lec­tions.

The NRL is tak­ing steps to min­imise the Ori­gin drain next year, with the in­tro­duc­tion of a stand- alone fix­ture for one game in a short­ened 25- round com­pe­ti­tion with just one bye per team.

Like a smoker try­ing to wean him­self off the habit with nico­tine patches, hope­fully this is the first step to­ward all three games en­joy­ing free air.

Tomic sells many short

THERE’S been plenty of opin­ions ex­pressed about Bernard Tomic’s post match an­tics at Wim­ble­don, where he ad­mit­ted he was “bored” dur­ing his first round loss to Mis­cha Zverev. No mat­ter how pas­sion­ate you are about your job, we’ve all been guilty of not putting in 100 per cent ef­fort ev­ery time we front up to the of­fice.

Pro­fes­sional athletes don’t owe the fans suc­cess.

If they want to go through the mo­tions, col­lect a $ 60,000 first round loser’s cheque and move on, it doesn’t re­ally af­fect us.

But what Tomic and oth­ers like him must re­mem­ber is their in­dif­fer­ence and lack of ap­pli­ca­tion does hurt many oth­ers.

Let’s start with the spon­sors who pay good money for Tomic and com­pany to spruik their prod­ucts.

Al­ready rac­quet spon­sor Head has ter­mi­nated its deal with the Aus­tralian, and rightly so.

Then there’s the Ten­nis Aus­tralia of­fi­cials and coaches who have poured hours of time and truck­loads of cash into de­vel­op­ing Tomic’s un­doubted tal­ent over many years.

The re­turn for their in­vest­ment? A wave of in­ter­na­tional neg­a­tive pub­lic­ity, when that fund­ing could have gone to a player hell­bent on get­ting the best out of them­selves.

Fi­nally, there’s the fans who paid money to watch him play Zverev.

They have ev­ery right to ex­pect a con­test.

If you went to a play and the ac­tors fum­bled their lines and couldn’t be both­ered, you’d be out­raged.

Sport, also a part of the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try, shouldn’t be any dif­fer­ent.

STEAL­ING SHOW: Ma­roons cap­tain Cameron Smith with the Ori­gin shield.

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