ICYMI, on Thursday the @NRL - National Rugby League released the 2018 #NRLDraw.
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In a new weekly feature for LeagueUnlimited, our Armchair Expert will run his lazy eye over the weekend that was. Each round he'll look at the happenings of the previous weekend, and keep you up to date with the big issues like refereeing, social media and the current controversies.
This week he looks at the rep weekend's hits and misses, *those* injuries, and a shining light on TV. That, plus a wrap up of all the injuries and suspensions from the weekend. Let's get into it....
Performance of the Round
Not often this sort of award goes to a losing side but you have to tip your hat to the "baby Kiwis" on Friday. They didn't win the Test - but after being written off all week and predictions of a record score for the Aussies, they came out and battered the 'Roos early to claim an 18-12 halftime lead. The maligned choice of Tohu Harris at five-eighth seemed to pay early dividends too. Australia eventually clicked into first gear to score an 18-0 second half victory but the men from across the ditch can be proud of their performance nonetheless.
The Paul Carige Award for the Worst Performance of the Round
Queensland. Given the longevity of the senior Maroons' success, it's quite surprising to see the Under 20 version of "the greatest team of all time" winless in three Origin clashes since the concept was introduced in 2012.
At the junior level the NSW side seems to pack more punch, show more passion and get more results than their first grade counterparts. Is Dean Pay onto something (and should Laurie Daley be seeking advice?), or are Queensland only interested in senior glory?
Injuries. In any one week the NRL might see an average of a player per club injured - if that. Stunningly nearly 30 players across the four rep matches (although to be fair, only one came from Fiji v Samoa) withdrew from representative duties across the weekend, citing various niggling injuries. While this column may not agree with the attitude, at least Tigers' coach Mick Potter had the wherewithal to be honest when he withdrew Luke Brooks from Under 20's Origin - claiming it was probably beneath him given his NRL experience.
As for the rest of the players though - the NRL is already seeking a please explain from the majority of clubs about their decisions, particularly with the farcical situation that resulted in the Country-City squads taking the field nothing like they looked when chosen the Sunday prior.
The Armchair Expert managed a pretty nice seat at Allianz Stadium on Friday night (food included!) and I can tell you, watching this test was a pleasure. "Why", you ask? ONE referee!
How good was it to sit back and watch just one man yelling at the players, controlling the ruck. There was no problem with the ruck speed, the game was entertaining and we saw eight tries scored. The only downside I can think of is play not being stopped when Sam Moa went down with what appeared to be a concussion, and Australia went on to score through Greg Bird. Luckily Moa was okay, and went on to score a try of his own later in the half.
Bumps and Bruises
Jamie Lyon (Sea Eagles) - knee - Round 11
Glenn Stewart (Sea Eagles) - ankle - Round 13
Sisa Waqa (Storm) - ankle - Round 11
Justin O'Neill (Storm) - ankle - Round 11
Todd Carney (Sharks) - hamstring - indefinite
Jason Nightingale (Dragons) - knee - Round 12
Returning from injury this week is William Zillman from the Titans after suffering a hamstring injury in Round 3. Manly's Daly Cherry Evans has a dodgy calf but has been named to play Melbourne on Saturday. The same goes for Rooster five-eighth James Maloney and his shoulder - he's been named for Friday's clash with the Tigers.
The Naughty Chair
TBA - contesting grading at judiciary
Korbin Sims (Knights/Fiji) - Grade 2 Careless High Tackle
Sam Tagataese (Sharks/Samoa) - Grade 2 Striking (Headbutt)
Around the Social Media Traps
When it comes to footy on TV, the Sunday Footy Show is generally on the more serious/analytical side of things. This Sunday however, this Armchair Expert couldn't help but chuckle when Twitter user Peter Elder identified an unusual pattern on the hosts desk...
We sense a sponsorship deal coming on for the Sunday Footy Show boys...
Check back next week for more expert analysis from the seat of my pants.
- The Armchair Expert