As the rain lashed down at ANZ Stadium yesterday was it a case of the new NRL Champions being anointed? It certainly was the end of a drought for the Dragons and their fans and they would have been singing in the rain after 31 years without a title.
Their victory in the rain over the Roosters would have washed away all the jibes about their team being chokers and their football being boring, they were after all worthy Champions.
Coach Wayne Bennett won his seventh Championship and confirmed his standing as one of the truly great coaches in Australian sport. His comments about his team revealing more about his skill as a coach than is apparent on face value. “They believed this year. They weren’t sure last year but they believed this year. They believed they could win and they believed they could beat anyone they played. Being down at half-time wasn’t an issue for them this year, last year it was.”
A thought should be spared for vanquished coach Brian Smith whose fairytale end to the season lifting the Roosters from last place to Champions proved one bridge too far. It was his fourth time as a losing finalist, but he should hold his head up high he too has worked miracles this season. He deflected any personal pride onto his team when he said, “I think they have done a great job this season in resurrecting the Roosters’ pride and jersey.”
Faced with a scandal at the start of the season with the salary cap breaches by the Melbourne Storm Rugby League has come out of season 2010 with its head held high. The Storm deserve credit for battling on, and had they been awarded points for their victories would have again been in the finals mix. The two teams in the final and their coaches were a credit to the code and David Gallop as CEO of the NRL must be heaving a huge sigh of relief that they weathered the storm and came out of the rain with worthy Champions.