2016 is a new year for the NRL: last year is a tough act to follow. Controversies both on and off the field rattled the year in a season the media were able to lick their lips and dig in to: a season for the presses. But it also had some of the most memorable games and moments that fans were privileged to watch, where history was made by individuals and teams. This article is my top five moments of season 2015.
5. Robbie Farah and Jason Taylor’s clash
Most agree that Robbie Farah is by and large the heart of the Tigers: the captain and senior player of the side did not have a great 2015 though. Not only was it rocked by injury but late in the year he was given the news his services wouldn’t be required for 2016. Whispers are that it was Farah who strongarmed the rather unceremonious firing of Mick Potter and was an all-round pain to coach: armed with a dominant personality and a passion for the club, he liked to get what he wanted irrespective of the coach’s judgement.
The best was still to come though: after hearing this news, Farah was now a man on a mission to prove he could still play his best. Farah did not only score a try but set up three more in a 50-16 drubbing of the poor New Zealand Warriors. The signing of Matt Ballin did little to deter Farah and he has now managed to stay at the club for next year.
A tragedy is a form of drama where pain invokes the entertainment of the viewing audience: and as a fan of the Blues it’s hard to say this was exceptionally entertaining: but it was a pure display of sporting dominance that no State of Origin game matched. Queensland’s dominance was not displayed by a brute force but by the air of invincibility: the stage was more than set. A decider at Suncorp where the Maroons were out to reclaim their pride and shield.
They did and they did it with ease. Everything tried by the Blues was halted, and they didn’t look to have any sort of chance after first points were registered. The game, as well as the shield, went straight to the Sunshine State.
3. DCE’S backflip
If you were the fan of a struggling club and your club signed one of the best halfbacks the NRL has then you would be a very happy fan. That happiness would not last too long for Titans fans when after speculation from everywhere, Daly Cherry-Evans would choose to remain a “Sea Eagle for life.” Everyone, naturally, would have an opinion on this, and it was an issue that divided the community. Supporters said that with the rules at the time, DCE was more than within his rights to backflip. Others said that there is no such thing as loyalty anymore and a contract is a contract.
The backflip would then go on to make the administrators do a backflip on the contract rules. Go figure.
2. Titans cocaine
The Titans also get the second spot on the list, and again for something they’d rather not have. Players charged for the possession and supply of cocaine. Suspensions given for the start of the season, this would have been higher if the allegations had real consequences: the players were soon allowed back to the fold and came back ready to go.
Unfortunately this was to take the wheels off their cart before it really could start its’ trip and the Titans season was not a good one from the outset.
1. The Cowboys
It’s inevitable. It’s not even a question that the triumph of the Cowboys takes #1. Experts said that this is their last chance saloon: Thurston’s losing it and he can’t carry them for much longer, they said. So it was all the more satisfying for Cowboys fans and any fans of the sport alike when the last act of the season was Thurston slotting it between the posts in a win over the big brother Brisbane Broncos. JT did not do it alone in a promising sign for the future of the Cowboys, too: he had an off game by the lofty standards he’d set himself, if anything.
It’s fair to not be happy with the game as a New South Welshmen: but for a game between two Queensland teams it couldn’t have been more entertaining. That night was their night, and what a night it was for rugby league.
One year from now, what’ll be on this list? I’m excited.