A Nichey Niche Convo - NRL Finals Don't Need Jarryd Hayne Anyway

Sometimes the Diggity Doc and the Wildcard talk to each other....

Diggity Doc -  El Wildcardo, will we see Jarryd Hayne this weekend and if so, how?

Wildcard - Ah, Doc you've stumped me already! Just making the 53 man squad doesn't mean he'll play. There are always a number of players inactive each week. It depends. As a running back it's unlikely since he's almost certainly fourth on the depth chart. But then there's his return game. If Hayne has done enough to convince the coaching staff that he is worthy of taking punts and/or kickoffs on debut then there's no reason to hold him back. If I'm gonna lay my reputation on the line here... I think he'll play. In some capacity. Probably on special teams. We'll find out on Tuesday.

DD - Where does he rank on the kick return depth chart ... depth charts; we're all caught up in the American way now aren't we?

WC - Haha, well we're trying anyway. It always looks a little painful when rugby league commentators use words like 'blocking' and 'plays' and 'touchdown'. I don't know where Jarryd Hayne is on the return chart, it's impossible to say yet. Like, he's done plenty in pre-season but that was usually with (and against) second and third stringers. Does he get the same opportunities with (and against) better players? I'd like to think he does but they're not telling.

DD - How then would you explain it to rugby or rugby league people or even football etc - he did all this against second stringers?

WC - I mean, he did it in pre-season. So he did it against not strictly second and third stringers, but players competing for places just like him, in some regard. Every team approaches it differently but nobody's going out there with their best players for four quarters to win those exhibition games. In fact plenty of people are moaning that they don't need four games of pre-season stuff, just a couple would be enough. Dunno what that would've done to the Hayne Plane Hype, doesn't really matter. It's a hypothetical. I suppose in a football context you could say it's like scoring a hat-trick in the League Cup. Great stuff, just not as great as a Premier League or Champions League hatty.

DD - In a weird way that four week pre-season has done the Hayne story wonders hasn't it? It won't be so crazy now as he'll get a few plays of action in a good week and might not feature at all so it was good to experience some Hayne mayhem. What's the deal with the NFL this season?

WC - The deal? Are you alluding to the one between Roger Goodell and satan? Because that's not been confirmed yet by either party. The season itself, it's the same as ever. All the same teams should be competing for the title, your Broncos, your Seahawks,  your Packers, your Patriots, etc. Plus I reckon both our teams are in for the long haul too, the Cowboys and Colts. There are always a few unexpected teams that burst through into serious competition (the Cowboys were that team last year) but you never know until a few weeks in who are legit and who ain't. I'm finding it hard to think of reasons why Aaron Rodgers won't win another MVP award. What's your Super Bowl prediction at this extremely preliminary stage? Packers vs Colts for mine, Doc.

DD - Mate to be honest I'm not even sure who is AFC and who is NFC, but either way Andy Luck is leading us to glory this year. What makes Aaron Rodgers so good? I always see his name pop up as the best player but I've never really known what it is about him that has everyone singing his praises.

WC - You're asking me to play John Gruden here, mate, I dunno. All I see is a bloke that makes plays. He's just so accurate, so smart with his throws. Hardly ever intercepted. His stats are otherworldly but most of all it's that feeling you get when you come up against him. Like, the knowledge that he's gonna make this throw, he's gonna lead his team to this touchdown. It's not even a hunch it's a definite fact. You know on the Niche Cast this week we were talking about Greg Inglis as a Spiritual Player for the influence he has on the Rabbitohs? Rodgers is a bit like that. And he's been there long enough that they've built a superb team around him in Green Bay. Scary stuff. Hey remember that time I threw a bottle at the intern in the office last week? Turns out I shoulda got a two week ban for it.

DD - Then why aren't the Packers up there with the Seahawks over the past few years and then the Patriots? Who is dumber there between the NRL judiciary and George Burgess?

WC - That's the thing, they have been. Cast your mind back to the NFC Championship game last season, the Packers were up 19-7 with around three minutes remaining and somehow they managed to throw that lead away and lose in overtime. The Seahawks then famously threw away the Super Bowl on that 1 yd interception by Malcolm Butler. That's how tight the thing is, minutes away from glory and yet if you don't get there, then nobody is gonna remember the team that fell short. But even since they won in 2010, the Packers have won the NFC North four times in a row (including when Rodgers got injured). Oh, though I gotta say, they were damn lucky to beat the Cowboys last season. As for Burgess, what a stupid thing to get suspended for. I mean, at least I hit the kid when I threw mine. It's way too heavy handed by the judiciary but as soon as it became an issue they had to go through with it. It was a dumbass act and he can't blame anyone else whether it was fair or not because he left it in their hands by throwing the thing. Both parties are dumb here but one was dumb first and the other was just dumb in relation to the first act of dumbness.

DD - I think Burgess was rightfully punished for being dumb, and so dumb at that. The Rabbitohs now have a mediocre forward pack that won't get them up over the Sharkies. What game or players are you salivating to see in week one of the NRL Finals?

WC - The Bulldogs-Dragons game, for obvious reasons, has me drooling to the floor. It's been awhile since I've been able to rep the Red V in the playoff, I actually think their last appearance predates the Niche Cache. Not that I expect it to be a long run, probably only take 80 minutes (if that). But I'll be savouring it in a year in which the Warriors crumbled down the stretch. And to tell the truth I'm getting more confident as the week progresses. I'd say I'm up to a 25% chance of a win. Another factor: I don't have any evidence for this but I wouldn't be shocked if Gareth Widdop plays despite the talk. Late inclusion, big morale boost. You never know. Overall though it's the Queensland derby that's got me excited. I know the top four all have a second life but how they fare in the first week is gonna tell us plenty about who's legit and who'll quit. And I reckon the Broncos are legit.


DD - If your Dragons do win, it'll be on the back of an immense team effort and the late inclusion of G-Widz. I wanna see if the Storm can handle the Roosters because I low key like the Storm. Plus seeing the two best Kiwis in Jesse Bromwich and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck in action in a big game. Jason Taumalolo has had his minutes managed this season so I'm hoping we see him explode as well. If he does then the Cowboys could grab the upset.

WC - I'm definitely picking the Broncs-'Boys to be a tight one. And if the Storm can snap that Roosters winning streak, well, I won't be upset in the slightest. Did you see Sky Sports are gonna be playing a bunch of the ASB Premiership footy this season? Domestic sport on TV other than rugby!? This is exactly what we've been saying these sports need to do. The first step to being taken seriously is getting on telly. If it isn't on telly, the public assume: grassroots. And I know it's a business world but I reckon as the only major sporting broadcaster in NZ, Sky Sports does owe a certain amount of this to us. It's all about growing sports. 32 of the 59 games live on TV with a weekly 30 min highlight package, a live game every Thursday and Sunday. This day and age, it's cheaper and easier than ever to provide basic coverage, it's in everybody's best interests... I can't find a bad thing to say about this. Pretty fantastic news.

DD - The Wildcard - inventing team nicknames like Broncs-Boys since way back. Oh for sure it is great but it's not like it is on free telly or being streamed or something funky ya know. I would be a dick to be too negative though because it is obviously awesome that we'll be getting some domestic football in our lounges. Maybe we should start our own domestic sport streaming channel mate?

WC - I'd be keen for that. The trick is making enough money not to end up bankrupt, that's why I like the compromise with Sky TV. Eventually people will realise that there are profits to be had in places they've never yet heard of but for now, this is how change happens. Get this stuff an established broadcasted presence and some day down the line it ought to make it easier to get into that multimedia future. And let's be honest, there aren't gonna be the viewing numbers to hold up on free to air, it'd just collapse and people would be even less inclined to show local sports (besides rugby). One step at a time, Doc. This is how democracy is supposed to work, only people don't realise.

DD - Democracy is an overrated concept, I have always preferred dictatorships. Just how roll ya know? 

Weekly All Blacks and/or general Rugby World Cup feelings check in ... go .... now ...

WC - Dictatorships? To paraphrase Frank Herbert, power isn't always corruptible but it  attracts the corruptible. The more power you offer one person the more likely they are to abuse it. This is why we've blown it by giving John Key so many terms. I like my presidents and prime ministers as helpless figureheads. Anyway, rugby. Umm... to be honest I'm freaking out something wild. Did you hear Ma'a Nonu flew out a day after everyone else after catching a virus? This could derail our entire campaign! What do we do!? What's that, he's fine now? Oh, never mind. See this is why my general World Cup feelings are gonna be as general as possible until the actual rugby begins. I am a little worried at how little we're hearing from South Africa though, but that's probably more NZ media blindness than anything else.

DD - Mate that is some pure Wildcard genius right there. I had to laugh when I read that Stevie Larkham said that the Wallabies would field two different teams for their first two game. That's why they made so many changes for the Eden Park, which proves that kiwi rugby experts are just a bit dumb. If you had to pick a non All Blacks team to win, who'd it be?

WC - If you had to pick a non-human animal to rip you into tiny pieces then which would you take? I'm not picking a team other than the All Blacks to win it, man. No way. But I'll reiterate that thing about South Africa. It feels like they're trying to sneak under the radar with a weak Rugby Championship and not too much press since. I don't trust 'em one little bit.

DD - I'm wary of the Aussies but if Samoa get some peptides then I'd put the house on them. So as Lord Peptide-slanger I'm putting the house on them. Enjoy the sporting mayhem sir.

WC - And you as well, comrade. The NRL playoffs are your time to shine brightest so best let ya sharpen that pencil. Good luck and Godspeed.