All 16 NRL Auckland Nines jersey designs have been revealed!
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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 Raiders return to form, John Cleese appearing for the Bulldogs, the boardroom drama at the Dragons and a very special social media campaign. All those, plus a wrap up of all the injuries and suspensions from the weekend. Let's get into it....
Performance of the Round
After the last few weeks most would be stunned to find we've nominated Canberra as the best of the bunch. Granted, it was a shortened round and yes, the Cowboys were without a host of stars, but it was good to see the Raiders playing some ad-lib footy and the forwards pushing hard. If they can replicate Sunday's form throughout the season together with the way they overcame Melbourne in Round 8, then all may not yet be lost for the mighty Green Machine. Hopefully signing news like Tedesco joining the club next season also provides a welcome boost.
The Paul Carige Award for the Worst Performance of the Round
He didn't get charged for it but I think Canterbury interchange forward David Klemmer has this award tied down. Whether it was a homage to Monty Python's Ministry of Silly Walks or just a really eager guy having a muscle spasm, "Klem" won't want to be repeating his bizarre actions. The hulking mass of a human kicked out twice in possession as he surged toward the Roosters' line on Friday night and while he escaped without punishment this weekend, one doubts the Match Review Committee will be so forgiving in future weeks.
Special mention in this section goes to Cronulla, who on Monday became the first side to not score against the Rabbitohs since the nineties. While the Sharks were missing primary strike weapons like Gallen and Lewis, they still should've been able to create something against an Inglis-Te'o-McQueen-less South Sydney side. Surely.
Oddly, in a bye week, St. George Illawarra are our surprise packet. Following their Round 10 thrashing at the hands of the Parramatta Eels, it was time for plenty of soul-searching at the Kogarah-Wollongong based club. The result was a Monday-morning bye weekend sacking of coach Steve Price!
Several questionable actions have fans confused and many angry about the direction of the club - many are still asking about the worth of signing Benji Marshall, others about the appointment of Paul "Mary" McGregor as Price's replacement. The latter is very much a question of "is it jobs for the boys", and leaves many wondering what the Dragons will do when it comes time to appoint a permanent head coach for 2015 and beyond.
The rumour mill is already throwing up a return for 2010 premiership coach Wayne Bennett... could it be?
Pretty quiet week on this front. There were a couple of absolute howlers on Friday night at ANZ Stadium but aside from that, the boys in pink and their companions controlling the buttons had a relatively good weekend.
We will, of course, offer special mention to Steve Chiddy and Luke Phillips - Friday night's video referees. No sooner had they denied Canterbury what looked like a fair try to Moses Mbye had they been called upon at the other end to rule on a try to Roosters' debutant Nene Macdonald than they had a "wrong button" moment, flashing up the incorrect decision on the stadium's big screen before hastily correcting it. Poor Ashley Klein had to cop the brunt of the error from disgruntled Bulldogs players.
Bumps and Bruises
Willie Tonga (Eels) - ribs - Round 13
Jack Stockwell (Dragons) - foot - Round 13
Kevin Locke (Warriors) - ankle - indefinite
Beau Champion (Rabbitohs) - wrist - indefinite
Isaac John (Panthers) - achilles - season
The Naughty Chair
Tariq Sims (Cowboys) - Grade 2 Dangerous Throw
Todd Lowrie (Broncos) - Grade 1 Careless High Tackle
Around the Social Media Traps
With State of Origin approaching, the folks at NRL's One Community have come up with an outstanding ad to raise awareness about mental health issues. Think Paul Gallen, think Nate Myles, think a random car park in the middle of nowhere.
The tweet and video appear below:
— NRL One Community (@rlonecommunity) May 24, 2014
In all seriousness guys - don't be afraid to talk it out. Organisations like beyondblue and The Black Dog Institute (and plenty more) are there for a reason.
Check back next week for more expert analysis from the seat of my pants.
- The Armchair Expert