Like any decent armchair critic, we like to take apart that week that was.
Trawling through the video, analysing the stats – it’s our opportunity to hold the players accountable and show off our rugby league knowledge (and cliche writing expertise).
Here’s the top five takeaways take from the NRL weekend:
1. Mid-season transfer madness
The transfer system in the NRL is nothing short of farcical. Seeing Mitchell Moses (above) suit up for the Eels in their loss to the Raiders was a reminder of how damaging the lack of a transfer window/free agency period is to the game.
Moses treated his Tigers club (and teammates) poorly in a bid to get an early release. He gave little effort in his final two games for the Tigers, and once granted, left the Tigers having to play Jack Littlejohn and Jordan Rankin. With respect to them both, they are not a top-grade halves pairing.
The same can be said for players that see out their contracts but announce their moves to new clubs before the end of the season. Josh Dugan’s an example – he recently signed with the Sharks for four years.
The cloud that these situations create in the minds and hearts of players, clubs and supporters is ruining the game.
2. Who would be an Origin coach?
Both Origin coaches face some difficult decisions.
Kevin Walters faces having to decide between Billy Slater and Darius Boyd for the Queensland full-back spot. Both are in solid form and both have provided expert service in the past. Loyalty will definitely see both players selected – and we suspect Slater will be at full-back and Boyd on the wing. Boyd’s probably a better player on the wing than Slater is – he finds that transition easier.
Laurie Daley on the other hand is dealing with a number of injuries. Preferred rake, Peter Wallace was badly injured in the Panthers loss to the Knights. This comes after Tom Trbojevic’s injury a week earlier.
The injuries add to Daley’s other selection headaches, including what to do with tried and tested veterans, Robbie Farah and Mitchell Pearce.
Expect Pearce to make the cut, but Farah to get the chop.
3. Who’d be an NRL club coach?
If you think Origin coaches have it tough, spare a thought for the club coaches.
Panthers coach Anthony Griffin has had to deal with 28-6 and 14-0 deficits over the past two weeks. The Panthers have clawed (pun intended) back on both occasions to win the games, but the starts must be giving Griffin concern.
Nathan Brown experienced the opposite of that. His Knights side was the team leading Penrith at half-time before losing their way.
If it wasn’t ‘Beanies 4 Brain Cancer’ round, both coaches would have torn their hair out.
4. The NRL does some good
Speaking of which, The NRL cops a pretty bad wrap most of the time. In part due to its poorly behaved players (we’re looking at you Jesse Bromwich and Kevin Procter).
However, it was nice to see them get behind former player, Mark Hughes and his ‘Beanies 4 Brain Cancer’ initiative. Hoping to raise $500,000 for brain cancer research, they will smash the target and end up with over $1 million.
A nice little story about the support of the drive emerged from Newcastle. The captain of the Knights U20 side, Zac Hosking, noticed that the top side would run out with their beanies on and asked that his side do the same. The problem: the club didn’t have enough beanies. Hosking bought enough for his squad using his own money to make sure they were part of the occasion.
5. The top four set in stone
After eleven rounds the likely top four at the end of the season is starting to take shape. With the Panthers no longer a chance of a top four spot, the Raiders too inconsistent and the Cowboys decimated by injury, the current top four should finish that way come the end of the season.
The Roosters as surprise-packets have shown enough during the opening rounds to suggest they’ll be firmly in the mix come finals football. And despite some fluctuation expected over the origin period, we don’t see the top four drastically changing from Round 11’s status quo.