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Round 10 Preview

Knights to bounce back

Round 10 Preview

It’s nearly impossible to explain the level of emotion that goes through your body when you are a head coach and a decision (or two) goes against your team in the pressure cooker of the NRL.

Dean Pay copped the first hefty fine of the season $25K after his post-match comments where he questioned a number of decisions in the Bulldogs last gasp, shattering loss against the Broncos.

The NRL in my view has over reacted to his comments that labelled some of the official’s calls as “ridiculous” and “disgraceful” and suggesting that his team wasn’t meant to win.

The straw that broke the camel’s back for both parties was his outrage that Moses Mbye was sinbinned late in the game for a professional foul – which was correct under the current rules – and his emotions went haywire at the post match press conference.

However, the call made by Gerard Sutton that Jamayne Issako didn’t knock the ball on after he failed to catch a cross-field bomb reminded me of classic “howler” in the 1996 Grand Final when Manly’s Mathew Ridge was tackled and allowed to get up and keep running for his team to score a vital try to help his team beat St George – the referee was David Manson.

Post-game the referee’s wife was interviewed about the call and she said “he was the only bloke in Australia that didn’t think he was tackled”. Coincidentally the referee’s boss Gerard Sutton post game report said his brother got the call right and he was “pretty confident” the ball went backwards.

For me – the punishment doesn’t fit the crime and the standard $10K penalty would be sufficient, especially with the amount of emotion involved and that Pay is a “Rookie” head coach.

Don’t be surprised if a few calls go the Bulldogs way against Parramatta this weekend.  

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The game has increased in pace and intensity over the past 20 years as the size, speed and players in our game have developed rapidly.

The number of collisions has increased and type of injuries have changed as we see a high number of players on the sideline in the lead up to Rd 10.

I will be astonished if Trent Merrin who suffered a dislocated and fractured finger last week in Bathurst takes his place in the Panthers’ line up to face the Knights tomorrow night.

The Panthers are without a number of starting players – and I am sure Merrin would not be considered if a few more of his team mates were available to take the field.

The NRL is considering reducing the number of changes from 8 to 6 as early as next season – which is seen as a way of reducing the impact of injuries because this may assist in slowing down the frenetic speed of the game.

With the game already struggling to cope with eight changes – due to the increased number of HIA’s and serious injuries – I remain ambivalent to this concept because I am not sure it’s the answer.

The game has increased the number of contracted players from 25 to 30 under the new salary cap limit of nearly $10 million and we have to accept injuries as part of contact sport.

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The Knights were given a footballing lesson by the Rabbits last week as their big, mobile forward pack rolled up field comfortably and their halfback Adam Reynolds had his best game of the season as he kicked superbly and built pressure for his team.

Nathan Brown has reacted accordingly by dropping a couple of forwards and re-instating Brock Lamb who has a strong kicking game and is an accomplished goal kicker.

They will need to find their successful formula of completing a high % of sets and controlling the middle third of the field in defence – if they hope to overcome the Panthers tomorrow night.

The Panthers have a fantastic general play kicker and goal kicker in James Maloney who is playing behind one of the NRL’s most aggressive forward packs who are being led up front by Regan Campbell Gillard.

I am tipping Maloney and RCG to be two of the first players picked for NSW when the Origin teams are announced later this month.

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My tips:

Cowboys, Panthers, Bulldogs, Warriors, Storm, Broncos, Rabbitohs, Raiders

 

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