NRL preaching to converted, not living on a prayer
Flames, biffo, Bon Jovi, a sneaky Benji Marshall flick pass, more flames, more biffo, more Bon Jovi, more spectacular tries, then to top it all off, Todd Carney puffing out his chest in what may be an expression of his feelings about the drink driving laws.
Oof! Bam! Thwok! Rugby league is back, and the NRL has cleverly ushered in the new season with an ad which is preaching to the converted, reaching out to the inner bogan in all sports fans.
The 2009 official AFL ad, where AFL players mimicked the skills found in such sporting arenas as a bullring, the Hong Kong races and the Paris Dakar rally, was undoubtedly both clever and brilliantly executed. But in retrospect, it was nudging that wanky ball of string territory. Not so this year’s NRL ad.
Yesterday, some idiot called Andy Sherwood or Art Shorewood, or some such, bagged the NRL ad on Sky News, claiming it was the same version of every NRL ad we’ve seen over the last 20 years, from Tina Turner to the Hoodoo Gurus.
Today, he must be feeling like the worst barometer of public opinion since Gary Morgan predicted a Mark Latham victory in 2004. What Sadwood totally failed to understand is that the NRL knows what its fans like, and is not afraid to dish it up in the kind of portions you’d find at Sizzler.
And by the way, there’s a terrific Sizzler across the road from Kogarah Oval, home ground of reigning NRL premiers St George Illawarra.
But back to the new NRL ad. Just how popular is it? Look no further than the official Bon Jovi Facebook page, where 10 thousand people have already given it the thumbs up. Many of these people are Americans. But many Australians have invaded the site, and voiced their approval too.
There’s now a call for Bon Jovi to perform at this year’s NRL grand final in early October. The band will be in Singapore at the time, so hey, what’s a quick 10 hour detour? Let’s just hope someone remembers the extension cord which was lacking when Billy Idol played – or tried to play – the 2002 NRL decider.
Whether Bon Jovi makes it or not, the NRL is clearly off on the right foot in 2011. While the AFL embarks on its bold, expansionist plans, the NRL continues to do what it does best, and capture working class hearts and minds in NSW, Queensland and increasingly, New Zealand.
That rugby league is Australia’s number two winter code seemingly doesn’t bother the NRL. If it reaches out and grabs new fans, good. If it doesn’t, so be it. But one thing this year’s ad makes brutally clear is that it will fight to keep the converted.
GWS coach and unofficial western Sydney AFL ambassador Kevin Sheedy must be shuddering. And Andrew Demetriou would have noticed the shot across the bow too. He may also care to note the following comment on Bon Jovi’s website from Bon Jovi fan Amy Waller, who lives in Kalgoorlie and follows the West Coast Eagles.
“What a way to kick off the NRL Grand Final in Sydney - Bon Jovi rockin the house with 100 000 madhatters!!! I’d convert to league that day to witness that!!”
Perhaps it’s time the AFL pandered a little harder to its bogan faithful too.
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