Each week we take you through the five big issues that have come out of the latest round of the VB NSW Cup competition.
5. Bears Heartache
It’s hard not to feel for North Sydney’s VB NSW Cup coach Ben Gardiner and the Bears’ CEO Greg Florimo following their side’s 22-4 loss to the Bulldogs. You get the feeling both genuinely believed this could be their fairytale season – one that saw a new VB NSW Cup coach spring to prominence after inheriting a side that had won just three from their past 30 matches. A year their Chief Executive finally got the title he’s so desperately craving. But, alas, 2015 just wasn’t meant to be. You certainly can’t blame ‘Flo’ for showing emotion – we swear we saw a tears welling in his eyes as he headed down the grandstand's steps and onto the turf at fulltime.
4. Groundhog Day
It’s the 2014 VB NSW Cup Grand Final all over again! That’s right, this Sunday the Newcastle Knights and Penrith Panthers go head-to-head in a must-win clash... with the loser saying sayonara to the 2015 season. This time, though, there aren’t the old heads in Matt Hilder and Kevin Kingston guiding the sides around – just an assortment of some of the game’s finest young talent. Surely the grand-final pain lingers in some of Matt Lantry’s men? This will be a cracker!
3. Star Wars
Do yourself a favour this Sunday – get off your backside and park it trackside at Kogarah for two great games of footy. The VB NSW Cup Finals Series is heating up – and there’s no better place to be than at the game. Just ask the likes of Souths coach Michael Maguire and Bulldogs boss Des Hasler, who were both at Belmore for last weekend’s triple header, no doubt taking notes and keeping an eye on their next big things. Your correspondent actually, quite literally, blindly bumped into Dessie with considerable force on the way out of the press box! (Hasler and that incredible mane of his, we can report, were not hurt/displaced in the writing of this column.)
2. Bye-bye Wolfman
Following Manly’s Finals Week One capitulation against Newcastle, it appears the Australian rugby league career of David ‘Wolfman’ Williams is at a crossroads. The off-contract winger, a true cult hero and one of the Northern Beaches’ favourite sons, looks likely to head overseas. If he does, in fact, jet off into the sunset, congratulations on a stellar career, Wolfy. You’re one of the greats. (Pity, though, you brushed our interview request earlier in the week – we would love to have profiled your career mate!)
1. Stacey Jones’ NRL Future?
It’s no secret the Warriors’ head coach Andrew McFadden is under a bit of pressure after another below-average NRL season across the ditch. He best be looking over his shoulder – legendary Warrior Stacey Jones, a Kiwi Hall of Fame member, won a premiership at the helm of the club’s Holden Cup side last year… after they came from eighth! Now the boss of the VB NSW Cup side, if Jones leads his side to glory, especially after last week’s poor showing against Mounties, he could well be their NRL coach by the start of the 2016 season!