In the interests of perpetuating the stereotype of rugby league’s fickle water cooler, where memories are short, determinations are rash and a week is a long time, I’m going on the record today by saying the Bulldogs are back, baby!
For those reasonable and sensible who don’t exaggerate whilst canvassing over a plastic cup, this equates to last year’s grand finalists gradually inching towards being ‘back’.
So far, their return is more like a surreptitious entry through the rear fire escape at a party rather than a burst through the front door in a birthday suit while the speeches are taking place.
But you get the sense they are just grabbing their first beer and planning to get naked and hijack the karaoke, if you get the drift of my soiree metaphor.
With the currency system of Australian rugby league still trading in typical fashion, where wins squash controversy and losses inflate it, after a few victories on the trot it looks like Des Hasler’s men could be slowly getting back in to the black for playoffs cred.
Friday night’s 40-4 thrashing of an undermanned Tigers side was another quiet step in their 2013 rebuild that should have all the Canterbury peeps grinning in approval, mainly for the relief that reparations have finally begun and also for their convenient lack of exposure to the spotlight.
Sure, nobody is poppin’ Criss over a cruisey demolition of a withered schoolboy side and a lucky rust-coated win against the Sharks, but at least there’s healing afoot.
What has also helped kick-start the restoration of the club’s ego was a culmination of positive bit-part stories over the last few weeks that has kept the tabloid naysayers elsewhere.
Obviously, there’s been the rather tentative but much welcomed return of Ben Barba.
Then there was rapid-fire securing of signatures with Aiden Tolman, Greg Eastwood, Frank Pritchard and Josh Reynolds committing to the club long term.
Now with James Graham returning from the Luis Suarez rehab facility along with Sam Kasiano’s eventual recovery from a ‘leg’ ailment- an absence speculated as being somewhere in between a kebab problem or a protest- and on paper things are slowly beginning to look all ’2012′ again.
So with all of this fuzzy feelgood news being served up with a pinch of that winning feeling, it looks like the dark cloud hanging around the Bulldogs may just have been fire-blanketed, at least for the time being until another female journalist approaches their compound.
This break in mud-flinging and tabloid attention was much needed after an autumn of discontent that included some soap-style catastrophe classics.
There was rumoured infighting. Supposed inter-club sleazing. Ben Barba’s issues with the re-spins. A humiliating belting at the hands of a former employee. Todd Greenberg jumping ship for the greener pastures of subordination. Tony Williams. And the losses. My God, the losses!
But now in true rugby league style, suddenly it’s all good in the hood at Belmore again, which is evidenced in a slow-rising continuity in attack and an increase in cheek from Michael Ennis.
Hasler has returned to giving the officialdom a good toasting at game’s end, and heck, even Williams is getting across the stripe!
Sure, a 3-5 record is still underwhelming and lacking a few big fish, and the winning must continue if they want to experience nice things like sparse attention from the press and the satisfaction of a good frolic in September.
But if they do, then they really will be ‘back’. And that could mean nudity.
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com
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