Wednesday 24 January 2018 / 02:55 PM

Golden Points – NRL Rd 3

Taupau tackle highlights need for send-off change

The send-off parameters need a major overhaul after yet another team was left significantly disadvantaged by their opposition’s foul play. Manly lock Martin Tapau’s ugly high shot left Cronulla centre Jack Bird concussed on the Monday night clash at Brookvale; Taupau was put on report and played out the match, while the Sharks were left with a three-man bench as Bird took no further part. The Sea Eagles went on to win against an undermanned Sharks outfit.


Martin Taupau high tackle on Jack Bird

Manly Warringah Sea Eagles got off the mark for 2016 with a hard-fought 22-12 defeat of Cronulla Sharks at Brookvale, but they’re likely to be without their enforcer Martin Taupau after this ugly high shot that ended Jack Bird’s night.Credit: YouTube – Sports Tube#NRLSeaEaglesSharks

Posted by Commentary Box Sports on Monday, March 21, 2016

For many years referees have been reluctant to send players off, with only the most severe actions earning an early shower. And it’s understandable, with the ramifications for a team having to play on with 12 men massive in the modern game. But it’s not fair for a side, like Cronulla did, to receive no recompense. Taupau will cop a (laughably brief) one-match ban, which only benefits the team Manly plays next.

The obvious solution – which had a groundswell of support after a rash of dubious send-offs during the 1987 premiership – is to give referees a free rein to dismiss players, with help from the Bunker, and provisions for that player to be replaced. The team in question would use an interchange (perhaps two) and be down to a three-man bench. Seems inherently fair at the very least given the rough hand the Sharks were dealt.

There will always be blurred lines when it comes to send-offs, but the Taupau-Bird incident was so cut-and-dried, and we’ve seen many like it where the balance would be restored by this simple law change.

I made the same point last year after Tyson Frizell’s sickening high shot on Tim Browne, which earned a two-match suspension but no send-off – despite Browne being wiped out of the game. The NRL’s (quite rightly) strict concussion guidelines make a redraw of the send-off rules a no-brainer.

Kangaroo bolter Radradra to create intriguing precedent

Semi Radradra is unquestionably the best winger in the game, producing yet another stellar display in Parramatta’s upset of Canterbury on Friday. More than just a powerhouse ball-runner, the ‘Semi-Trailer’ has deft skills and an innate football sense than precious few big wingers in the game’s history have possessed.

He has firmed as a possible Test debutant for the Kangaroos in May, with the Fijian international qualifying due to recently gaining Australian residency. There have subsequently been howls of protest following suggestions that he should be eligible to play for NSW, which the stricter Origin rules prevent him from doing.

Isn’t it a bit ridiculous to have a player wearing the green and gold, but despite having played all his rugby league in NSW, not being allowed to don a blue one? Those who don’t want him to play Origin are being a touch hypocritical, and putting the interstate series on a higher pedestal than Test footy – an increasingly irritating phenomenon, given how far New Zealand and some emerging nations have come in recent years.

Surely, the same eligibility rules should apply for Origin and Test football. Either Semi is eligible for the Kangaroos and the Blues, being a legal resident of Australia and NSW, or he is entitled to play for neither under the guidelines that current govern Origin eligibility. Even setting aside the fact that the best result for international rugby league would be Radradra continuing to play for Fiji, having different rules for representative teams that are as closely aligned as NSW and Australia is farcical.

Oh Henry!

You’d probably have to go back to France in the 1970s to see a more incompetent refereeing performance than the one Henry Perenara dished up in the Warriors-Storm encounter on Sunday. The initiative of former players getting involved in refereeing is to be applauded, but the former Kiwi Test backrower – who ironically had stints at both the Warriors and the Storm early in his career – has a disturbing lack of feel for the game. How else can his decision to penalise and report James Gavet for an around-the-legs, one-on-one tackle, despite having controlled almost 100 NRL games, be explained?

Melbourne marched up the field and scored a crucial try on the back of that absurd penalty. But that was just one of myriad dusty calls. The penalty he blew that allowed Cameron Smith to kick an equalising goal in the 68th minute was an absolute joke, while Jesse Bromwich’s botched offload just before Cooper Cronk’s decisive field goal would be ruled a knock-on 99 times out of a hundred. Embattled Warriors coach Andrew McFadden was fuming post-match and did well to keep a lid on his emotions – his side was robbed by a ref who is getting by on his name rather than his ability with the whistle. 

Hurrell has to want it

The groans of frustration and disbelief continue to ring out amongst Warriors fans, and throughout the rugby league social media sphere, about Konrad Hurrell failing to unseat perpetual punching bag Blake Ayshford for a first-grade centre spot.

Coach McFadden obviously had his reasons for leaving Hurrell out ahead of Round 1 but if the enigmatic Tongan international, the most destructive outside back in the NRL on his day, had shown the requisite desire he’d be back in the top flight by now.

Hurrell was lacklustre and disinterested in the Warriors’ NSW Cup clash against Newtown on Sunday, and by all reports he was no better the week before. He should be dominating teams in that grade – especially if he wants the spot that seemingly every person with an interest in the NRL believes is rightfully his.

But Hurrell isn’t playing like he cares, or like he needs to perform to get a re-call. At present, Matt Allwood, David Fusitua and Jonathan Wright should all be ahead of Hurrell in the Warriors three-quarter line pecking order. And McFadden’s hands are pretty much tied – bending to public pressure and picking an apathetic, out-of-form Konrad in his starting line-up would send a terrible message to the playing group.


Inglis laughs off incredible brain fade

Greg Inglis’ meltdown at the SCG – taking a last-second field goal when Souths trailed the Saints by one point – may go down as the most extraordinary play of 2016. But the way Inglis and his Rabbitohs teammates, led by playmaker Luke Keary, have made light of the captain’s miscalculation have turned into one of the season’s best moments. With so much at stake and the intense pressure these guys are under for six or seven months of the year, bravo to GI and the Bunnies for their good humour in the aftermath. Certainly doesn’t seem like a club experiencing inner turmoil…


“I didn’t know what he was doing” Luke Keary on Greg Inglis Brain Explosion. #TheSportBibleNZ

Posted by The Sport Bible NZ on Sunday, March 20, 2016

Stats amazing

-Six Cowboys forwards – Tamou, Scott, Cooper, Taumololo, Bolton and Hannant – made in excess of 150 metres against the Roosters, with Tamou’s 227 metres leading the way.

-Jake Friend made a ridiculous 69 tackles for the vanquished Roosters.

-The Warriors have equalled their club record losing streak with their 11th straight loss stretching back to Round 19 last season.

-Besides his magical assist and barnstorming try, Semi Radradra recorded 207 running metres and four offloads on Friday.

-If debutant Cory Denniss had made one more metre with the ball in hand, all of the Knights’ back five would have topped 100 metres.

-The workhorse’s workhorse, Shaun Fensom racked up 59 tackles and 104 metres.

-Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is a lock for the NRL’s running metres title again in 2016, topping 200 for the third straight week.

-Brett Stewart made a huge difference to the Sea Eagles on Monday, but produced the bizarre stat-line of 10 tackles and five carries for 29 metres – numbers more associated with an interchange forward.


Try of the week

It’s impossible to go past big Semi’s remarkable assist against the Bulldogs.


Semi Trailers can fly!#NRLBulldogsEels#HistoryHappens#NRL

Posted by NRL – National Rugby League on Friday, March 18, 2016

Underachiever of the week

The Broncos had it in the bag out at Penrith on Saturday, leading 22-6 with Anthony Milford running riot. But they clocked off big time, allowing the desperate Panthers back into the contest – and they were ultimately unable to halt the hosts’ momentum. It was very un-Broncos-like to surrender a match-winning lead, particularly after their clinical, resolute defensive displays in the opening two rounds.

Overachiever of the week

Newcastle copped two severe beatings in the opening two rounds and looked more like a reserve grade outfit. But with three NRL rookies in the line-up alongside a stack of journeymen, the Knights dug deep to run down in-form Canberra. They may have stumbled late to let the Raiders force the match into extra-time, but their ability to hang on for their first competition point of 2016 indicated the wooden-space may not be a one-team race after all.

Just when you thought it was safe … to get excited about the Tigers

If there’s one team that excels in the anti-climax department, it’s the Tigers. The joint venture was the toast of the NRL after despatching big-spending duo the Warriors and Manly in the opening two rounds, but they were easily accounted for by the unfancied Gold Coast on Saturday.

My new favourite player

Ladies and gentlemen, your Rookie of the Year. We’ve seen some fine performances by NRL newcomers over the first three rounds, but if Penrith livewire Te Maire Martin plays anywhere near 20 games, he’s a shoe-in for Dally M honours. A late inclusion in the Panthers side to take on Brisbane, the 20-year-old five-eighth ultimately outshone the game’s hottest No.6, Anthony Milford, with a score-levelling try and the winning field goal in a massive come-from-behind boilover. The comparisons with his hero Benji Marshall are obvious, but there’s something about the Kiwi’s poise and coolness that mark Martin as a special talent. I’m smitten with this kid already, with his charming interview post-match a fitting follow-up to fellow debutant match-winner Kerrod Holland’s memorable chat with Brad Fittler in Round 2.


Win the game ? Take a selfie ?#NRL #HistoryHappens

Posted by NRL – National Rugby League on Saturday, March 19, 2016

Debutant report

Te Maire Martin (Panthers): See above – this guy’s a gun and he had one hell of a debut.

Cory Denniss (Knights): Another dream start in an upset result, with the tall winger scoring two tries and making 99 metres from 11 runs as the Knights pulled off a draw against the Raiders.

Mitchell Frei (Roosters): The ex-Broncos youngster made 26 tackles and five runs, while giving away a couple of penalties in the Chooks’ big loss to the Cowboys.

Jazz Tevaga (Warriors): Pitched into dummy-half as a late replacement for Issac Luke, Christchurch-born Tevaga was magnificent. Made 30 tackles (no misses), five probing runs and recorded three offloads while combining seamlessly with the Warriors ball-runners. A tough kid, too, returning after a nasty-looking head knock and staying on the field after a punishing late tackle. One to watch.


Shades of…


Terry Lamb, Matt Dunning and Felipe Contepomi:


“It’s 8-6, Greg,” Ray Warren.#NRLDragonsSouths#NRL #HistoryHappens #PlayNRL

Posted by NRL – National Rugby League on Sunday, March 20, 2016

If you hadn’t heard of Terry Lamb’s ill-timed field goal for Canterbury against Newcastle in 1992, you certainly would have after Greg Inglis’ shocker on Sunday. Remarkably, both were captains of their sides.

Rugby union – with drop goals worth three points – has its own recent history of potting infamously pointless goals from general play. The Waratahs needed a four-try bonus to qualify for the 2003 finals when roly-poly prop Matt Dunning slotted an unlikely three-pointer.

Perhaps the most embarrassing – and costly – of the lot was Stade Francaise flyhalf Felipe Contepomi’s last-minute three-pointer against Toulouse in the 2011 Top 14 competition…when his team trailed by six. Contepomi fist-pumps before being informed of his mathematical misjudgement.

At least this trio, unlike Inglis, all landed their attempts.

Form Anzac Test Teams

A change of pace during the weeks leading up to the Anzac Test – we’re substituting our ‘Form Origin Teams’ segment to list our Kangaroos and Kiwis line-ups if form were the only selection criteria.



1 James Tedesco

2 Semi Radradra

3 Kevin Naiqama

4 Will Chambers

5 Alex Johnston

6 Corey Norman

7 Moses Mbye

8 James Tamou

9 Cameron Smith

10 Andrew Fifita

11 Reagan Campbell-Gillard

12 Bryce Cartwright

13 Shaun Fensom

14 Cooper Cronk

15 Ethan Lowe

16 Tepai Moeroa

17 Josh McGuire


1 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck

2 Jordan Kahu

3 Tim Simona

4 Peta Hiku

5 Antonio Winterstein

6 Te Maire Martin

7 Kieran Foran

8 Adam Blair

9 Jazz Tevaga

10 Jesse Bromwich

11 Iosia Soliola

12 Tohu Harris

13 Jason Taumololo

14 Alex Glenn

15 Charlie Gubb

16 Agnatius Paasi

17 Martin Taupau

[YouTube – 40/20 Rugby League]

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About the author

Will Evans

CBS’s Editor-in-Chief and lead rugby league, union and cricket writer, Will is a Christchurch-based freelancer, also writing for Big League and Rugby League Review magazines, and The New Daily website. Will has written four rugby league books.

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