An action man, a donkey, a Tibetan singing bowl?: What every NRL club wants to get in their Christmas stocking
‘Tis the season for giving, and after receiving so much from the NRL over the last 12 months, it seemed only appropriate that we show our appreciation with a present or two.
Rugby league doesn’t lack for big blokes with beards, but we think we can play Santa for a night, with a long list of who has been naughty and nice in 2023.
Nathan Cleary was particularly deserving, especially at the end, and so were all the Warriors, who combined a winning footy team with having what appeared to be a great time.
In fact, now we think of it, the whole of New Zealand went great with a Test series win over Australia. Hari Kirihimete to everyone over the ditch.
Unfortunately, there’ll have to be a few lumps of coal. The Roosters were the most suspended team in 2023 if you count by fines – good job they can afford it, right? – and the Cowboys had the most blokes sitting out if you take it by weeks banned.
Spare a thought for Josh McGuire, who missed 19 weeks of hs first year in the Super League for a series of bans. Great if you’re Mrs McGuire and you want a city break to see Europe, less good if you’re the Warrington Wolves.
Let’s pack up our sleigh and set off around Leagueland – here’s what every club is getting in their Christmas stocking.
Dolphins – A Nirvana album
What’s the best second album of all time? Nirvana’s debut was pretty good, much like the Dolphins’ first season, but Nevermind took them to global superstardom. There’s a story in there for Wayne Bennett and the Redcliffe boys.
Knights – A donkey
New Pommy signing Will Pryce is the son of legendary half Leon Pryce, who famously said he preferred Blackpool Beach to Bondi.
If the Knights want to make the younger Pryce happy, they should get a donkey or two to give Mereweather a frisson of the atmosphere found on the Lancashire coast, where a trot down the strand is the height of entertainment.
Storm – Windex
Craig Bellamy is the NRL’s premier deliverer of sprays, but fortunately for his players, they usually come within the confines of the coaches’ box.
Out of respect for the poor cleaners left wiping expletives off the glass, the Storm should channel the Japanese soccer team and clean up after themselves – a little Windex would go a long way.
Cowboys – A sniffer dog
Valentine Holmes dominated the early off-season with his Mad Monday antics – and to stop a repeat, the Cowboys could get themselves an airport-style canine detective to ensure that the boys can have a good time without getting themselves suspended in the process.
Dragons – An action man
It’s been a tough old trot for Shane Flanagan in the recruitment market, with target after target turning him down.
He needs a gift, and what better than an Action Man to beef up the squad – now, can he play five eighth?
Bulldogs – A Swiss army knife
Hey Gus: we heard you like utility players, so here’s the ultimate multifunctional tool to round out the everyone does everything approach.
Raiders – A Tibetan singing bowl
A Sticky press conference is appointment viewing for NRL fans, a genuine experience where anything can happen and often does.
For the Raiders, however, it might help if the fireworks were on the field and not in the media room – and what a late career twist it would be if Ricky finally found a little zen.
Titans – Hair conditioner
Des Hasler is the owner of the NRL coaching cadre’s best hair and it’s not even close. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui might take it the captain’s stakes, too, with a luxurious mane that stands out even in the crowded field of NRL mullets.
Between the pair, the press conferences will be a litany of lucscious locks – if they can keep them in shape.
Broncos – Sticky tape
Brisbane went close last year, in no small part to an evergreen performance from their talismanic halfback and captain Adam Reynolds.
He’s required patching up to play for a lot of his career even before he reached veteran status. They’ll need a roll or two of tape to strap everything in and hope that he can make it to the finish line again – and come in first this time.
Roosters – A rule book
Mark Nawaqanitawase will swap places with Joseph Suaalii next year, with one departing Rugby Australia’s sinking ship and the other taking their last few million bucks before coming back.
To get Marky Mark up to speed, they’ll need to teach him the rules of the NRL – and maybe where to stand in defence, which Joey didn’t always master.
Sharks – Anti-choking medication
Cronulla are great, right up until the point where it matters. They’ve bombed out at the finals at the first opportunity in the last two years, so something to deal with their choking problem would help – just check that the expiry date lasts beyond September.
Parramatta – A soda stream
Have you seen Brad Arthur and Trent Barrett in the box? They can barely move for all the water bottles. Hydration is important, and there’s nothing to encourage it like a soda stream. Get the bubbles flying, lads.
Souths – A DVD player
It’s a long flight to Las Vegas, where Souths will finally get a chance to catch up with their Hollywood owner. Rusty’s never been in a Vegas movie, so we’ll be recommending LA Confidential – incidentally, the best Christmas movie there is – and, for when they land, Anchorman for their San Diego training camp.
Tigers – A spanner
The Tigers are under new management, but the constant chatter that comes out of the club appears to have continued apace with transfer talk and boardroom politics is still the order of the day.
The Richo regime would do well to get a spanner to stop all the leaks at Concord Oval.
Manly – WD40
Look, if you’ve got a Ferrari, you have to look after it. Your Turbo-charger doesn’t work if it’s forever up on bricks in the garage, something that Manly know all too well. A dose of WD40 to keep their top asset in shape would go a long way.
Warriors – A safe
The Warriors are the NRL’s biggest vibes train, but that only seems to work if you’re a Kiwi. The club need a hotel safe to stick their Aussie players’ passports in…and then never let them leave.
Panthers – Trophy polish
What do you get for the team that has everything? Alright, maybe they could do with a new boombox for when Romey leaves, but until that day, it’ll be extra trophy polish to keep their Premierships shining in the Leagues Club foyer.