Tackle Count: When non-aligned sports fans come into their own

When non-aligned sports fans come into their own

If you're a fan of one of the four clubs left in the race for the NRL premiership, then half your luck.

You might need more than luck to get through this weekend though. You might just need some good vibes from supporters who enjoyed their own private Mad Mondays a few weeks back.

Which club would be favourite on a non-aligned fan (NAF) front? Here's a quick rundown from the coffee queue where I live.

Overwhelming tomorrow night the NAFs will be sending all their goodwill to ... Canberra. (Side note: we are deep in the blue heart of NSW, so that probably isn't unexpected.)

There was a single common reaction which could be boiled down to this: "Cameron Smith - pfft". Yes, great player. Yes, wannabe referee. No, not a warm feeling in sight.

And then there's the "they came so close last season" vibe. Only one super NAF dragged out the line about last year's grand final tackle count controversy.

The Raiders' Pommy players were spoken of with respect while there was just a love rush for Josh Papalii and "that Charnze bloke".

The all-Sydney match-up on Saturday is a little more difficult. It seems support from the NAFs is dependent on the team they support. For example, three still slightly depressed Parra fans were adamant Souths should advance. Which isn't really a shock now is it?

That said the NFAs without personal gripes were almost all backing the Panthers. As one longtime, long black-sipping, Manly fan said: "Who'd want to lose their second game of the season in a knockout game a week away from a grand final? They don't deserve that."

Fair point.

* This edition of Tackle Count was written by Janine Graham.

The footy news you can't afford to miss