Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Base Over Apex

"I am large. I contain multitudes."

- Walt Whitman

Some have expressed bewilderment at the fact I publish interviews such as the previous one with Carolyn Cassady, and before that the aesthetic and existential quandaries faced by Sufjan Stevens, alongside what I hope are fairly lucid musings on both rugby union and rugby league. As if I'm a reckless hooligan in my secret life. A closet moron.

I can't help it. It is a combination of indulgent Proustian nostalgia (following league as a youth, playing rugby union as a youth and adult) and a genuine fascination with the brutal ebb and flow of these strange and bitter contests, particularly rugby league. To watch a game in the NRL is to essentially witness a series of mathematical - even philosophical - equations being worked out, alongside the familiar extreme rough and tumble.

One reason rugby league in Australia is so irresistible is that that it has always thrown up its own peculiar breed of heroes, even today. We have the noble, community-minded, wise old statesman in Parramatta's Nathan Hindmarsh; the aging, battle-hardened leader in Darren Lockyer; the troubled intellectuals like Jamie Lyon and poor old Cory Paterson; the old nag that just refuses to be taken up to the back paddock and shot, Steve Price; and the countless enfant terrible sorts from Todd Carney to Brett Stewart to Willie Mason. We can even cast the distinctly unlovable ex-player Matthew Johns as a kind of Caligula-like figure if we really want to push this thing further.

So to love rugby league is really to love all the caverns of life, as well as the perfect symmetry of the game when some deft attacking move, instigated by Jarryd Hayne or Johnathan Thurston, fulfils itself. It just so happens that the NRL is the most exciting it has been for some years; no less than ten teams have squads worthy of being called elite, and every other game, it seems, features a miraculous recovery from the jaws of defeat or some feat of extraordinary athleticism as to verge upon the yogic, the latest being the Panthers' Lachlan Coote.

And so it is at this time of year the speculation mounts as to State of Origin selection. Here is a suggested NSW squad for Origin 1.

1. Jarryd Hayne (Eels)
2. Josh Morris (Bulldogs)
3. Jamie Lyon (Sea Eagles)
4. Michael Jennings (Panthers)
5. Brett Morris (Dragons)
6. Jamie Soward (Dragons)
7. Brett Kimmorley (Bulldogs)
8. Brett White (Storm)
9. Michael Ennis (Bulldogs)
10. Michael Weyman (Dragons)
11. Ben Creagh (Dragons)
12. Anthony Watmough (Sea Eagles)
13. Glenn Stewart (Sea Eagles)

14.Trent Waterhouse (Panthers)
15. Josh Perry (Sea Eagles)
16. Kurt Gidley (Knights)
17. Greg Bird (Titans)

The biggest problem is that there is not a single right wing in the whole of NSW really making a claim. So some positional manoeuvring, regarding Michael Jennings and Josh Morris, is required.

Next post is an interview with Fritz Senn, one of the world's foremost James Joyce scholars.

Three songs: 'Canada' by High Places, 'Motorbike' by Luther Russell and 'Heart Thief' by Giana Factory.

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