By NICK TEDESCHI
All Laud The Warriors: Let the game never forget what the New Zealand Warriors have done for the great and glorious game of rugby league. They have remained in Australia to allow the competition to remain operating in full. They are isolated from their families. They are without a full squad. They are missing their gear, their stuff, their homes. And they are sticking on. It is a tremendous sacrifice, particularly with no end date not only in sight but at all likely soon. This is one of the greatest commitments to the game rugby league has ever seen. The Warriors are on a hiding to nothing. They are an ordinary team and trying to play in extraordinary circumstances. This effort from the club, though, is truly remarkable. The game needs to do all they can to help. Australians need to do all they can to help.
Saint Peter’s Miracle: Peter V’Landys got the NRL through another round. He has also seemingly strong-armed the government into providing support to the NRL. He has also shown the toughness to not let the threat of a single player getting the virus derail the league. In these dark and dangerous times, there is no better person to be leading the game. He has performed his miracles. He will be canonised. He is $1.01 to win the inaugural Making The Nut Man of the Year award.
Never Change Ricky: Ricky Stuart is many things – many of them unlikable. One of those things is that Ricky is always on brand. So he was in the lead-up to the clash with the Warriors. When asked about the Warriors situation, Ricky replied that they had no excuse and he wishes the Raiders were locked away at Kingscliff for six weeks. Ricky may actually be cheering the coronavirus! Never change Ricky … never change.
Lewis Had To Go: Dean Pay made the right call in hooking Lachlan Lewis. Lewis has one major problem with his game – he is always on the back foot. Against big and aggressive packs, it makes him a sitting duck. He tackles his heart out and he gives no inch but he is never going to lock down a top grade spot if he doesn’t start threatening the defensive line and playing off the front foot. In a season that looms as putrid for Canterbury, Dean Pay needs to get a look at all he has available.
The Differential Penalty is Back: There could not have been more than a half-dozen differential penalties across the last two decades. Through two weeks there have probably been twice that. It is a fantastic development as there is no more exciting officiating display in the great game than seeing a referee move an unbent arm up and down and up and down and up and down.
The Punters Guide NRL Tips Sheet: Just sign up. Don’t be foolish. For $300 bucks you can be tipped into a squillion winners. Best of the week Round 2 subscribers hit the Raiders and Sea Eagles, among others. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details. Let’s keep this column going and have you find plenty of winners.
2020 Field Goal Update – 2: Daly Cherry-Evans booted a superb match-winner to down the defending premiers at Leichhardt Oval.
Fun Fact #1: The New Zealand Warriors’ only try this season has been a penalty try.
Fun Fact #2: Michael Oldfield played his 50th game on Saturday … 11 seasons and five clubs after making his debut for Manly back in 2010.
Fun Fact #3: Adam Blair has made 130 handling errors over his career.
Betting Market of the Week: Joey Leilua’s chances of taking a job in the finance profession as:
$10001: Reserve Bank Governor
$10001: Federal Treasurer
$10001: Financing Guy at Used Car Dealership
$10001: Wests Tigers Social Club Treasurer
Rumour Mill: Cameron Smith is rumoured to have been given a severe dressing down by NRL HQ for his call to suspend the NRL season. Matthew Eisenhuth, Tommy Talau and Moses Leota are three players who have been linked to the Warriors as loan players.
Moronic Coaching Decision of the Week: Wayne Bennett needs to eat the call to sign Latrell Mitchell under the provision that the former Rooster play fullback. Mitchell showed up to Souths out of shape. He has made little effort to get into shape. And he has then been handed the No.1 jersey, forcing club stalwart Alex Johnston to start from the bench. Mitchell needs to be moved to the centres at best and reserve grade soon. He has been poor on the field and the favouritism is likely not sitting well with senior players, who expressed their frustration during the game on Friday night.
The Coaching Crosshairs: It is hard to see how Paul McGregor will see out March let alone the remainder of the season. The Dragons are completely lifeless. Their best player on Friday night was Matt Dufty, the player he continues to overlook at fullback and has done almost nothing developmentally for him. The Dragons play without an idea in attack. They display very little heart. Their skill level is below where it should be. McGregor has survived about six seasons too long. The Dragons need to cut bait immediately.
Beard Watch: Stephen Kearney clearly didn’t bring his electric razor with him when coming to meet Newcastle and still hasn’t made it down the Kingscliff shops to get himself a razor. The coaching beard has been a rarity over time but Kearney seems willing to join Michael Maguire with one.
Watch It: Leading into the season, we sadly lost iconic Newtown player Manfred Moore at just 69 years of age. Moore made the incredible leap from winning a Super Bowl to join the Newtown Jets just three months later. Here is a wonderful tribute to Moore.