Brutal schedule: Eels’ 2am landing after Broncos win
This is a story about the big wait.
But please, don't mistake it for those 67 days we've been without The Greatest Game Of All.
No, for Parramatta fans that's a blink.
Which is apt.
For in a year where COVID-19 has made waiting as much a part of rugby league as, say, Mad Monday atrocities … well, what chance the Eels could finally end a premiership drought stretching back to 1986?
Which after three rounds is, of course, ridiculous talk.
But the Eels did themselves no favours in flying under the radar with the 34-6 smashing of Brisbane - make that an accumulated 94-6 from their past two clashes - as they kicked off the season reboot in style.
Their reward? landing at Bankstown Airport just after 1am tired, weary, and having just completed a dominant hit-and-run mission into Queensland.
No wonder Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was so hell bent on locking down the borders to keep New South Welshman out.
In terms of stopping the Parramatta talk - you've got more hope with Eels winger Maika Sivo.
Despite entering an empty Suncorp Stadium as betting underdogs, Parramatta put on the type of performance that not only welcomed back the NRL in style, or keeps them atop the competition table, but is sure to get everyone talking.
Which is great for rugby league, right?
Better, the stories are everywhere.
Take Sivo, who looked like Wesley Snipes in Demolition Man and played accordingly - racking up 175m.
Elsewhere, his peroxided partner, five-eighth Dylan Brown, also had some strong touches.
Not the greatest blond Parramatta playmaker ever. But, geez, where could he be by the end of this season?
Same deal Mitch Moses, who was strong at seven, as were the entire Eels pack who ran hard, defend strongly and, almost to a man, can offload.
But really who do you leave out?
Certainly not skipper Clint Gutherson, centre Michael Jennings or even referee Gerard Sutton - notable for the wonderful fact he wasn't.
Better, the Eels seemed to epitomise a faster, ad-lib style of play under the new six again rule.
Peter V'landys can now call the game whatever he likes … because it will be right.
After months of being whacked from all quarters, the ARLC Chairman has seen the game return on the date he wanted, with the new rule he wanted and with the one referee he wanted.
Which all worked.
Hell, even the chairman's fake crowd noise proved a success in a rugby league return where the spectacle looked nothing like you would expect of athletes who have been training in backyard sheds for months.
After opening with a minute's silence for one half of the Gladiators - the late, great Arthur Summons - the game exploded into exactly the type of spectacle that would impress new audiences around the world.
Undoubtedly, rugba league is back, baby.
SIX AGAIN RULE
V'landys insisted his new 'six again' rule would make rugby league more entertaining.
And guess what?
He was right. Again.
With the new rule few but the ARLC chairman wanted bringing fatigue and everything else that comes with it - namely space, an additional quickness and the type of change that is Eels winger Maika Sivo scoring in the corner instead of his side opting for two points.
Obviously, one night does not a rule make.
But the open, ad lib nature of this match was outstanding.
While the Eels were outstanding, the Broncos were left to rue several handling errors, including twice dropping the ball over the tryline. First time, it was Anthony Milford, Second, Darius Boyd. With the two clangers proving crucial misses at a time when the game was still far from decided.
The Broncos were also without key forwards David Fifita and Tevita Pangai Jnr, while Alex Glenn was transported to hospital at halftime with a bad cut to his knee.
As usual for Brisbane, Payne Haas was outstanding - running for 164m while also making 38 tackles.
Originally published as Brutal schedule: Eels' 2am landing after Broncos win