Welcome to the NRL, Mark


It’s always nice to have someone new around, especially at this time of year, and a spot of hospitality is required.

So come in, Mark Nawaqanitawase – it’s lovely to have you here in the NRL.

Now obviously, things will be a little different to how you’ve had it over the road at the Waratahs, but don’t worry: you’ve joined the poshest club in the league, so it won’t be too tough for you to adapt.

There’s plenty you’ll recognise at the Roosters. Even the stadium is the same, just with more people in it.

Lucky for you, they’re still all from the Eastern Suburbs, so you know they won’t throw their beer at you. These people have been supping iced lattes and fizz for years.

The empty seats are there too, just not as many of them as with the Waratahs. A lot more than you’ll see at away grounds, for sure, but still plenty of space for you to gaze upon while waiting for the ball to come your way.

Things might change a little on that front compared to what you are used to.

See over here in the NRL, you might have to do a little bit more work. Rugby league is the game of the working class, after all, even if not many of them support the Roosters.

Last year, seven runs per game was your average, but over here, that’s not going to fly.

Joseph Suaalii – that’s the old guy, but we don’t talk about him anymore – managed twice that and, to be honest, he wasn’t that good. We’re still laughing that your boss gave him all that money.

Let’s hope you’ve spent the last year getting yourself fit, because you’ll need it once all the shuttle runs kick in.

When you get the ball, by the way, there’s a crucial difference. We know you’ve spent your career trying to avoid the blokes trying to tackle you, but in our world, it helps to run straight at them as hard as possible.

Sure, you might get a knock on the bonce and a couple of tickles to the ribs, but hey: that’s what the punters love. Head down, bum up, don’t you dare pass the ball.

(Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

The good news is that you’ll never have to kick the ball again, and instead, your job will be catching all of the kicks.

All of the time, too, because everyone in this league will assume that you can’t catch until you’ve caught 700 bombs from Nathan Cleary.

In a choice between Marky Mark and the 2m tall, 107kg Pommy bloke on the other side, it’s a no brainer.

Don’t expect a breather, either.

Sure, both games last 80 minutes, but over here in Leagueland, we prefer to fill our rugby matches with rugby, rather than standing around waiting to watch the floppiest haired bloke on the team practice goalkicking, so there’ll be a lot more packed into your time on the field.

You’ll have to earn your pay packet over here, Mark. It’s a hard day’s work but at the end of it, you’ll get a big cold beer. We even invented a metric to work out who is most deserving.

We’ve heard that you’ve had a crack at our game before, and that will certainly help.

A word to the wise, though – in league, you’ll actually have to tackle the bloke in front of you. Not just grab at them, but run up and tackle them like you mean it.

We’ll stick you on the wing, of course, so it shouldn’t be too hard to work out when it’s your time to get involved, but our wingers tend to be a bit physical and won’t think about running around you. They’ll go straight over the top if you stand still long enough.

There’s a good reason all the blokes who’ve been teaching you to tackle in rugby union had strange povvo accents, because we’re really quite good at the whole defending thing and have cornered the market in teaching the rich kids how it’s done.

On that, you might notice that the company changes a little bit.

You better forget the names of your old mates, because there’ll be very few Frasers, Hughs and Theos around this side of Driver Avenue. We do have an Angus, but he’ll probably be gone by the time you get here.

Spencer Leniu confronts future teammate Jared Waerea-Hargreaves. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

Instead, welcome to the land of the Jared and Brandons. They’re the lovely Kiwi blokes who’ll be trying to knock your head off on day one.

When you meet those two get used to their accents, because you’ll hear a lot of them.

We know that there’s plenty in your world, too, but in ours, it’s pretty much all there is. The Wallabies gave you the jet-setting lifestyle, but now, the furthest you’ll go is Auckland.

Yes, yes, it’s not quite as glamourous as Paris, Tokyo and London, but look on the bright side. In rugby league, you might actually win from time to time.

If you miss the internationals, don’t worry – we have them too. We’ve taken the best of both worlds by playing Test footy but filling every team with Australians, so you get all the fun of the global game without ever having to go anywhere or meet anyone you don’t already know.

You can take your pick, too. We heard you’re Fijian and Italian as well as Australian, so you can decide whether you like kava, cava or Carlton Dry in our internationals.

And if you think you’ve made the wrong choice, don’t worry: you can choose again next year.

That’s what we’re like, Mark. We’re a big, welcoming bunch and we’ll chuck you a load of money to truck the ball back manfully, make your tackles and, if the chance arises, put the ball down.

You’ve lucked out with big Trent, he’s one of the sharpest around. He’s so smart he convinced your old boss to buy the winger he didn’t need anymore and then sell him you for half the price. Genius!

Just listen to Robbo, train the house down, blow off the cobwebs, back yourself, leave it all on the field and, hopefully, take it one game at a time.

Welcome to the Greatest Game of All, Mark.





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