Yesterday, Sports Writer, Jeremy Dover wrote a comprehensive article detailing the Storm's salary cap breach and the penalties handed to it by the National Rugby League. Jeremy went into some detail about the scandal and also commented on the dichotomy faced by the NRL in handing down the severe penalties; that being the need to show mercy to the fan base, while maintaining justice to other clubs that have adhered to the rules of the game.
Last week's round 7 was played in the days following the scandal amid concern the Storm players and their fans would be so adversely affected by the penalties that the football would be poor and the crowds small. However, 'the show must go on' as they say, and much to the surprise (and relief) of both players and fans the Storm pulled a good crowd to see them demolish the Warriors in Melbourne.
The fact is that while the product of Rugby League remains strong so will the competition, and the fan base will continue to support their teams.
Looking forward to round eight, it should be pointed out that this week will feature a number of what should be tight, entertaining matches. Five of the eight contests will be played between teams side by side on the ladder meaning come Tuesday morning we could be looking at a vastly different competition ladder.
NRL Round 8
â€¢ Bulldogs to beat the Eels
â€¢ Broncos over the Knights
â€¢ Warriors at home will to be too much for the Raiders
â€¢ Penrith by a nose against the Titans on the Gold Coast
â€¢ The Storm will maintain the rage in Townsville to beat the Cowboys
â€¢ Dragons to flog the Sharks
â€¢ Tigers to beat the Roosters; and
â€¢ The Sea Eagles over the Rabbitohs
Heading into the business end of the season, round 12 could be the make or break week for the Queensland Reds and the New South Wales Waratahs.
A win from the two could see them second and third on the ladder with just two matches before the finals, while a loss would see them struggle to stay in contention.
â€¢ Waratahs to beat the Highlands in Invercargill
â€¢ Stormers over the Crusaders in Cape Town
â€¢ Hurricanes to beat the Chiefs in the windy city
â€¢ Reds over the Brumbies in the Capital
â€¢ Blues to beat the hapless Cheetahs in Bloem
â€¢ Lions over the Western Force in Jo'Burg
â€¢ The Bulls at home will be too strong for the Sharks in Pretoria
We've all faced weeks in our lives like Storm faced this week - weeks where the difficulties of life seem to get the better of you – whether its health, family conflict or troubles at work.
I imagine that's what it would have been like for the Chairman of the Storm as he climbed out of bed knowing the papers would be airing more allegations and journalists would be camped outside his office seeking comment.
But as Christians we believe God has a divine purpose for our lives and we know that even in our darkest hour, when it all seems too much, we're held firm in His grip. Take encouragement from this verse in Jeremiah in which God declares "for I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."