Savage dead rubber that breathed life back into league
THERE are certain things you’re supposed to say when people ask what makes you proud of your home state. Nice things like the shimmering Harbour, the Opera House, the SCG or the Olympics.
I would trade them all for the bloodied grin that Brett White gave Justin Hodges in the moments after knocking out Steve Price on Wednesday night.
As the flashy Hodges ranted about payback, positioning himself behind bigger teammates, White simply poked out his bloodied tongue and smiled, mocking Hodges for the pea-hearted, adolescent sook that he is.
At that moment, NSW hearts swelled with pride. Until then, we had almost forgotten the things that make the Premier state better than Queensland. Like having a first-world economy and houses made from bricks.
When Brett White landed that magnificent right cross, he struck a blow for every NSW fan who’s been bailed up in a pub by a pissed, red-headed Queenslander dribbling on about their superior passion and commitment to Origin.
Columnist and online phenomenon Phil Rothfield started a near-riot yesterday when he claimed the game was disgraced by what happened at Suncorp Stadium. I say what happened on Wednesday night could well be rugby league’s salvation.
For 80 minutes, the nightclub brawls, group sex scandals and defecations in corridors were forgotten and the majestic speed, skill and brutality of the game brought into focus.
Who can forget the sight of Greg Inglis repeatedly brushing off David Williams like a Mormon on his doorstep? And just when it seemed Inglis would go the length of the field after another raid down the left side, along came little old Brett Kimmorley to hammer him into touch.
There were cheap shots, but none of them involved Brett White. Without the slightest irony, Hodges declared after the game that NSW lock Trent Waterhouse had committed a “dog act” by rushing in to restrain Price. As it turned out, Waterhouse was too late and Price slumped into his arms, his arms flickering like an old dog daydreaming in the sun.
Waterhouse was sent off for being third man in. White stayed. God I love rugby league.
His younger teammates were already talking revenge yesterday, but Price has been around long enough to know that if you stand toe to toe with an opponent in Origin, then you take your chances. He threw some, White threw more and Price copped one right on the button. End of story.
In a far worse incident than the White-Price fight, Johnathan Thurston kicked David Williams in the face, fracturing his cheekbone, after Williams crossed the line in the 34th minute. If it was accidental, Thurston wasn’t exactly contrite. When Blues captain Kurt Gidley told the referee: “He kicked him in the head,” Thurston shot back: “Shut up you spastic.”
If there was a coward on the field, it was Hodges. He spent the night calling opposition players out, dragging his finger across his throat in murderous gestures, inciting the violence but never wanting to put his own body on the line.
When Queensland went looking to avenge Price in the last two minutes, it was Hodges who called on Darren Lockyer to put the ball in the air on the first tackle after a penalty.
Brave Hodges was the first there to put the shoulder into the defenceless fullback Gidley, a soft target the Queenslanders had decided to use to save face in front of their seething fans.
When the Blues backrower Ben Creagh came in to support Gidley and give Hodges a shove, he too was sent from the field.
In Origin as in life, there are those who mouth off and those who get the job done. As Hodges yapped away like a CWA lady, the NSW enforcer Brett White held his bloodied tongue.
His work was done the moment the Medicab carrying his opposition front rower left the field.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…