WEAKNESS has become strength and strength weakness in the Australian winter football codes' mad race to get back on the field this season.
Rugby league, known for its hatreds and patchwork of competing self-interests, has found itself united, miraculously, by a strongman, the straight-talking Peter V'landys.
The Australian Rugby League Commission chair has done the seemingly impossible in recent months: harnessed the sport's wild aggression and managed to put it to a single, laser-like focus: getting the competition up and running again.
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That made the National Rugby League the first of the three major winter codes to return - on May 28.
The AFL, long used to being number one in the country, more of a nation state than a football competition, wasn't too far behind, but was uncharacteristically second.
The AFL's selling point - a national competition not just in name, but in geographic reality - proved cumbersome in this case as it tried to deal with the borders, differing regulations and premiers of the various states.
Its aloof CEO Gillon McLachlan looked overly cautious in comparison to the whirling dervish that was Mr V'landys; indecisive in comparison to the titanic certainty of the league boss.
And then there is rugby union.
The true international game of the three Australian winter codes was the first to stop playing and will be the last to resume - more than a month after rugby league.
Weakened even before coronavirus hit, it looks to be on its knees as uncertainty remains about its biggest money spinners: the Wallabies' matches.
Union's global reach, its genuine point of difference, is proving a hindrance in more ways than one as Australian players opt to take the better money on offer in the northern hemisphere while the local game tries to sort itself out.
No one could have foreseen the coronavirus catastrophe, of course, but the ramifications that have played out in recent months for the football codes have been illuminating: bringing underlying problems into sharp relief, turning chinks in the armour into gaping holes.
It's been a brutal period for the three codes. And there might still be the odd big hit to come.