The blind support of the NZ Warriors is unlikely to get repaid
OPINION: It's that time of year again, sports fans.
Yes, the moment has come to turn your backs on the New Zealand Warriors. Pop back at the end of August to see if anything's changed. Otherwise, walk away safe in the knowledge that this is an NRL season to mirror so many of those which have preceded it.
State of Origin isn't far away, after which the Warriors will sit third or fourth in the premiership. Whether they again sink without trace is about all that remains to be seen about 2017.
It would be easy to round on the team following Saturday's 36-28 loss to Penrith. From 28-6 up, this was a match that took some losing.
But it was entirely typical of the Warriors and they are unworthy of people's continued support. Never mind faith. Retaining an active interest in this team would actually be an act of stupidity.
The blind loyalty of their fan base hasn't spurred the club into action, but they might notice if you turned your backs.
There's little point looking forward to next year, either. Having reportedly spent a fortune re-signing halfback Shaun Johnson, the main additions around him for 2018 are backrowers Tohu Harris and Leivaha Pulu.
Beyond them, players such as reserve grade half Mason Lino have been offered deals to re-sign. There's still time to get more active in the market, but it's tough to see that trio providing the difference between success and failure.
The club's under-20 team have lost a perfect 10-from-10 so far this season, so don't hold your breath waiting for that crop of youngsters to prop the first-grade team up.
There will still be moments of Johnson-generated magic this year and the next offseason will no doubt be the most positive the club have ever had, with the players never fitter or more motivated. And then you'll get served up the same fare as this year, the year before and pretty much every year of the club's chequered history.
Speaking of Origin
The teams for game one of this year's series are due to be named after this round and Queensland enthusiasts will be loving the noises out of the New South Wales camp.
Mitchell Pearce appears destined to be halfback, while veteran Robbie Farah is said to have cemented selection at hooker with a decent outing in Souths' win over the Tigers. Loyalty and continuity are the rationale. But loyalty to what? Ten series losses out of the last 11 isn't something many people would reward.
Well done Newcastle
You had to feel pleased for the Knights' players and supporters after Sunday's win over the Raiders. The guts have been ripped out of that club, partly as a result of former owner Nathan Tinkler's financial problems, and they'll probably win the wooden spoon again this year.
But the effort the team continually put in should make a few more-talented teams embarrassed.
Elsewhere, you had to admire the Sharks' 14-10 win over the Dragons and the Titans' 38-36 victory against the Storm. Other clubs, such as the Bulldogs, Tigers and Eels, suffered pretty galling defeats.