The kids are killing it in the NRL this year. It would be easier to stop Payne Haas on a surge towards the try-line than stop him from winning Rookie of the Year. He was joined in Origin by another babyface, David Fifita.
Bronson Xerri is still 18 but already a jet. You can’t have missed the spectacular efforts by flying teenage backs Jason Saab and Dylan Brown, and the Storm’s Tino Fa’asuamaleaui has only needed one outing to become hot property.
But the glow of these shiny new stars should not distract us from appreciating a vintage crop of veterans. The 10 oldest players in the league will not be around forever (with the obvious exception of Cameron Smith, likely to still be playing when Halley’s Comet next puts in an appearance) and we should enjoy this bunch of quirky individuals while we can.
Gal started the year by starching John Hopoate in a boxing bout at the Hordern Pavilion, and landed plenty more big hits on and off the field once the NRL season began. This year the Cronulla captain became the player with the most losses in history, not a stat anyone wants to own, but he has proved a surprising winner as a television personality, bringing a welcome willingness to shoot straight. You might love booing Gal, but you have to admit you’ll miss him when he’s gone. Especially when his team loses.