We love the game, but it’s built on hate

Peter Holmes a Court is the silent third partner in South Sydney, but yesterday he took to Facebook to defend … the Roosters.

Actually, their fans.

Holmes a Court, who fell out with Russell Crowe over the direction of the Rabbitohs a few years ago, took umbrage at a sign seen among Souths diehards during Friday night’s match against their inner-city rivals at ANZ Stadium.

It read, ”SCUM: FOREVER IN OUR SHADOW”. They flashed it again after the Roosters won, which seemed strange given they had just clinched the minor premiership.

”Rooster fans may be misguided and delusional, yes,” Holmes a Court posted on Monday. ”Scum, sorry never. The world could do with less hate, and sport is best when it is used to build communities.”

Souths chief executive Shane Richardson went so far to release a statement late on Monday condemning the banner.

If Holmes a Court didn’t like the sign, he would have cringed at a group of Rabbitohs fans abusing Roosters players and officials sitting in the dugout near the tunnel just before the end of the match. Young prop Kane Evans was sent up the tunnel for his own safety. The Roosters and NRL are awaiting a report from the stadium.

Ugly scenes, yes.

But sorry, Peter, rugby league, for more than 100 years, has been built on a foundation of hate. If not hate, anger. If not anger, trash talk.

It’s there in the Roosters faithful who think Manly threw their last-round match against Penrith so they could have an additional day to heal the bruises and soothe the aches and pains ahead of the finals.

It’s there in the Sharkies, who believe they are being hung out to dry over this ASADA investigation and want to prove us all wrong.

It’s there in those Knights fans who believe those same Sharks should not be there at Allianz Stadium on Saturday because they should be suspended.

It’s there in the Cowboys, who hate their board for sacking Neil Henry. And it’s there in the Bulldogs, who essentially hate everyone and will then ask: ”Can you blame us?”

It’s also there in Storm coach Craig Bellamy and his former assistant and now Souths coach Michael Maguire, who engaged in some very public verbal tongue-fu after their last clash in Melbourne in early August.

Maguire was furious about a report in a Sydney newspaper that illuminated the identity of their new wrestling coach, believing the Storm had planted the story.

Surely not, given how paranoid Storm officials believe others nefariously push wrestling stories about their club.

Maguire and Bellamy had heated words on more than one occasion after the match, which the Storm won, and the second time came in front of the South Sydney team bus.

Sad for rugby league? Community destroying?

No. Nothing more than compelling rugby league drama, and their spat – as real or imagined or as insignificant as it might be to the two men involved – provides juicy context ahead of Friday’s opener to the finals series.

This finals series, though, does not need the hate Peter Holmes a Court, er, hates so much.

The winner might not come out of the bottom four of the eight – although Cronulla, the Bulldogs, Knights and Cowboys all have upset victories in them. The Sharks are niggly enough to beat any of those top four teams. They’ve done it to Souths and the Roosters already this season.

But it would be impossible to say any of the four leading sides deserves outright favouritism.

At the time of writing, the Storm, Souths and Sydney Roosters were all returning $3.75 with the TAB, and bookmakers, apparently, know everything.

The Roosters, the minor premiers, look to be humming along nicely after last Friday night. About 80 minutes before they won, however, they were battlers; one-trick Sonny Bill Williams-ponies with a dubious attack because of Mitchell Pearce.

Now it is Souths and their young halfback Adam Reynolds who look to be lacking attacking options at the pointy end of the season.

The Sea Eagles are as tough as a $5 steak but an ageing side, with players such as Brett Stewart and Anthony Watmough playing under injury clouds for the next month, or at least two weeks.

So the Storm are the ones to beat. In fact, let’s declare it: They will become the first side since the Broncos in 1992-93 to win back-to-back premierships.

Now that’s sorted, let’s all go to lunch. A long one. Fairfax is buying.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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