Question: What do you get when you match a New Zealand rugby team against a team from Sydney and stage an NRL game in Perth?
Answer: Round 1 of the Telstra 2018 NRL Premiership competition.
The powers that be must feel bad for Perth, as the fine city in Western Australia has lost the Western Force from the Super Rugby competition. The Force departed with financial solvency in question and while the estimates vary, they left Super Rugby League holding the bag for millions of dollars in debts.
At least no one will claim that the $1.5 billion dollar Optus Stadium is not being put to use.
The game is set for Saturday coming, but given their druthers, the Warriors might have preferred their first round opponent to be the team they will play in Round 2, namely the Gold Coast Titans, one of only three teams behind them on the 2017 ladder.
The Warriors and the Titans had identical seven win, 17 loss seasons, but the Titans were further down on the basis of point differential.
Instead, the Warriors start the 2018 NRL season against the side that finished just above them. They should feel fortunate that they do not have to play the other Sydney side, at least.
None of the experts seems to think the Warriors have a chance at beating the Rabbitohs. Such consensus is rare.
The bookmakers we surveyed seemed to be in agreement, as well. Ladbrokes, for example, favours the Bunnies by better than two-to-one, with backers of the Rabbitohs being offered $1.44, versus $2.9 for Warriors backers. The Warriors are 6.5-point underdogs, the widest spread of any of the eight games for Round 1, save the Bulldogs v Storm, or the Roosters v Wests Tigers.
It is shaping up as another difficult season for NRL supporters of the Warriors, but until Saturday at least, they are unbeaten in 2018 and it would be nice to see a Kiwi rugby squad other than the All Blacks and any of the Super Rugby sides do well.