The NRL Digest: DCE dramas, Doggies bro and blue murder

The waiting game

It’s the situation that seemingly changes day by day. Daly Cherry-Evans is off to the Titans next year. No he isn’t. DCE has bought a luxury home on the Gold Coast. No, he will rent that out and stay with Manly. Cherry-Evans is committed to the Titans. But now the Sea Eagles have matched Gold Coast’s offer and the halfback will backflip on his deal and stay at Brookie. It’s the saga that keeps going and going and going.

I’m tired of it and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. The NRL’s contracting system is a joke and needs rapid change. Titans fans are getting nervous and Sea Eagles supporters don’t know what to think. Whichever way Cherry-Evans eventually decides, his reputation has copped a pasting. Everything is on hold depending on what way the Queenslander goes. If he does head north, then Manly will step up their hunt of Todd Carney or Albert Kelly or Mitch Cornish. If he stays, they’ll have to adjust their salary cap accordingly. But they can’t do much at the moment.

It’s the same for the Titans. If DCE does back-flip, will they try and get Aidan Sezer out of his deal with the Raiders? They need a partner for exciting prospect Kane Elgey. But everything is on pause until round 13 and when the halfback finally makes up his mind. It’s enough to give you a headache. As they said on The Simpsons: “The waiting game sucks.”

Bring on a transfer window to end this farce.

Brave Bulldogs

Surely the Bulldogs didn’t have a hope in hell when they headed to GIO Stadium. No Trent Hodkinson, David Klemmer, Josh Morris or Josh Jackson. No James Graham either. Considering the Dogs had won one of their past six coming into the game, and the Raiders had been pretty impressive this year and being on home turf, the Belmore boys were up against it big time. Not so.

They were fantastic at times against Canberra and, after allowing the Raiders back into the match, pushed on to secure the two points late. It was fun to watch and crucial for Canterbury. Josh Reynolds was brilliant, Moses Mybe outstanding and the Dog’ forwards stood up.

This could be the turning point of their season. The blue and white are 11th at the moment on the ladder, surprising for 2014’s grand finalists, but these kinds of against the odds wins are what are needed to get their 2015 campaign back on track.

To stand-alone or not to stand-alone

To have a stand-alone weekend for State of Origin, or to keep the same format of a shortened, weakened NRL round? That is the question. Well, not for Shakespeare, but for the current NRL hierarchy. Saturday night’s Cowboys vs Tigers game was a dismal, boring affair with both teams robbed of their best players. An 8-0 result marred by mistake after mistake, it led many to call for a stand-alone Origin fixture in the future so the NRL isn’t so heavily impacted.

Friday’s two-point win from Souths over Parramatta was a bit better, in terrible conditions, but not a whole lot. However, let’s not forget the entertaining try-fest of Canberra vs Canterbury, or the Baby Broncos reining in the Knights. The whole round wasn’t a dud. Andrew Webster has written an engaging column on the issue of standalone Origins in The Sydney Morning Herald and I won’t attempt to paraphrase him.

Suffice to say State of Origin is the biggest spectacle in the world of rugby league, a ratings bonanza and money-spinner, the envy of some many other sports. So why change it? They tried a stand alone Origin week 14 years ago and it failed, comprehensively. I can’t see the formula being modified in the meantime. Change isn’t always a good thing.

Blue murder

Back on Origin and it’s the youth and in-experience of the Blues against the age and experience of the Maroons. At a non sold-out ANZ Stadium as well, but that’s a story for another time. It may be heresy as a proud New South Welshman but I can’t go past Queensland winning on Wednesday.

They have players in better form and that big five – Smith, Slater, Cronk, JT, GI – just looks ready to fire. NSW is trying to rejuvenate its side, which is fine, but some of those selections are peculiar. Will Hopoate has hardly convinced at Parra and this two halfback policy is a fair gamble.

Ryan Hoffman has been an admirable contributor, but he could be past his best, and the absence of Jarryd Hayne can’t be underestimated. Doggies Jackson and Klemmer are tough blokes, but they will take some time to adjust the Origin arena.

Love to be proved wrong, but I think the Canetoads will be crowing in Sydney.

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