Great to see footy back

EVERY genuine rugby league fan should be as excited today as a kid with a new toy because - at long last - the footy is back.

But as much as things change, they stay the same, and we enter yet another NRL season with a dark cloud hanging over the game.

The ASADA drug investigation just won't go away, and the Sharks continue to be in denial over the illegal supplements program to which players were subjected in 2011.

On Wednesday when NRL chief executive David Smith announced appeals by the Sharks against their $1 million fine and the 12-month suspension to coach Shane Flanagan were dismissed, the only people surprised were the Sharks - their administration, their players and their fans.

Some facts might be somewhat vague, but what is clear is that players were given banned substances and at the time Flanagan, as head coach, was in charge.

The buck stops with him and - like Essendon coach James Hird - he needs to take his medicine.

But while Flanagan continues to act as the victim, the entire NRL community suffers.

Jennings set to purr

SINCE he debuted for the Panthers eight seasons ago, Michael Jennings has

always looked like a Ferrari.

His acceleration is something to behold, but like many a youngster with loads of natural talent he never quite blossomed - until last year.

Although he did not make it into the Test team for the major World Cup game at season's end, Jennings had a superb season for the Roosters.

He played 26 of 27 games, was the leading tryscorer for the premiers and his grand final four-pointer was simply breathtaking.

Now an established Blues Origin centre, the hat-trick by Jennings in the recent World Club Challenge emphatically announced his arrival as one of the most dangerous attacking players in the game.

As the Roosters' march towards back-to-back premierships, Jennings looks set to terrorise his opposing centres.

Yes, yes, yes

RETURNING to his junior club following a six-year absence, Peter Wallace has been honoured in a manner that gladdens all who know him.

The gutsy redhead will co-captain the Panthers in 2014, alongside Kevin Kingston, which is a blueprint of the culture Phil Gould is building at Penrith.

In tradesman's terms, Wallace and Kingston are labourers who put their bodies on the line each week and get the job done.

And the popular Wallace will certainly help lead a resurgence at his old club.

No, no, no

JOHN Sutton played his 208th NRL match for the Rabbitohs last night and is four games away from the all-time record appearance by Bob McCarthy.

While longevity in the game is admirable and being a one-club player commendable, there is something incongruous about Sutton taking the crown from one of the greatest running back-rowers the game has seen.

But at least most of the other records at Souths are still held by genuine heroes - blokes like Eric Simms, Johnny Graves, Benny Wearing and Harold Horder.

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