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Geoff Toovey calms fears of Sea Eagles exodus

Set of Six

Competitor: Anthony Watmough.

Competitor: Anthony Watmough. Photo: Getty Images

1. Stars to stay

Manly coach Geoff Toovey says Anthony Watmough and Steve Matai are going nowhere. Watmough has been linked to South Sydney and Parramatta next year and Matai to a return to home soil with the Warriors, despite each being tied to the Sea Eagles. ‘‘They’re contracted here for next year and that’s where they’ll be,’’ Toovey said after the 36-10 loss to the Broncos in Brisbane. The coach described that performance as ‘‘flat – very flat. They came out with plenty of enthusiasm and we struggled to match it. We matched them personnel-wise but the offloads just killed us. We know we’re a better side than we showed here today.’’ Kieran Foran finished the afternoon with ice on a twisted ankle but Toovey said it wasn’t serious.

2. Time for change 

Back in play: Luke.

Back in play: Luke. Photo: Getty Images

If what happens on the field really stayed there, we’d still have no replacements, a no-metre rule, brawls, head-high tackles and blood everywhere. Hell, we’d probably still have breakaways. Name one change in the game of rugby league which has been conceived by the players. Real change comes from courageous decisions OFF the field, such as Brent Tate’s to speak out about lifting tackles last Wednesday night. To say a man with a known neck problem would exaggerate his experience in a lifting tackle just to get an opponent suspended says more about the accusers than about Tate (right). He didn’t even know Reynolds had been charged. The players’ code of silence does not help the game, it does the opposite.

3. Whistleblowing

When Canberra coach Ricky Stuart was asked about a clearly incorrect penalty against Josh Papalii that led to a Sydney Roosters try on Saturday night, he threw the question back at a reporter. “What did you think?”. Quietly he added: “I don’t want to be excessive, mate”. Stuart was fined for “excessive criticism” of referees a fortnight ago. Still at Allianz Stadium, where the Tricolours beat the Green Machine 26-12, referee Gerard Sutton invented a new word: “delibracy”. His partner, Jared Maxwell, also chuckled when Raiders captain Terry Campese claimed the Roosters were “going early” in defence. “That’s the talk from upstairs,” Campese said. “Oh,” said Maxwell, “you’re just the messenger. Don’t blame you.”

4. Truth hurts

It’s the most important rugby league column you’ve never read. Former NZ league and England union international Shontayne Hape (right) penned a story for the New Zealand Herald about concussion that forced him into retirement. “I couldn’t bear to listen to music. Sunlight was a problem too. My tolerance for my three young kids was zero.” On pre-season cognisance tests: “Players can manipulate it by under-performing. In my league days the boys all beat the test and everyone kept on playing.” And: “Most coaches don’t care about what happens later on in your life. Players are pieces of meat.” And this, which is relevant to item one: “More people need to speak out about it, tell the truth if they are suffering.’’
 

5. Luke returns

Expect hooker Issac Luke to play for South Sydney against St George Illawarra on Monday night. Luke will almost certainly be a late inclusion with the Kiwi international making an early return from a shoulder injury. Souths are close to confirming their involvement in an expanded World Club Challenge next year, regardless of where they finish. Brisbane will be the other NRL side involved – but they have more pressing issues on their hands than the 2015 pre-season. The third Australasian side involved in the Friday-Saturday-Sunday WCC will, of course, be the premiers. The idea of exhibition games in Perpignan and London the previous week has been scrapped.
 

6. Crying shame

NRL players, pay attention because this is going to happen  and you’re going to get blamed. Great Britain first toured this country in 1910 and  did much to popularise rugby league  – after inventing it, of course. The Lions have not conducted an Australian tour since 1992, nor  played anyone since 2007. The NRL has drawn up a schedule that will see them bussed around, playing in provincial centres just like the old days as well as in three Tests after the 2015 season. They are about to be told to stay home; NRL players don’t want to play them. Are you comfortable with killing off the revival of a 104-year-old  institution that would breathe life into the game in the bush, dear player? We’d rather see the 2016 Four Nations exclude Australia.

8 comments so far

  • Cricket is bigger than India and India is not cricket! Rugby league is bigger than Australia, Australia is not rugby league! Brazil is not soccer! New Zealand All Blacks is not rugby union!
    In other words none of these countries or teams are bigger than the game/sports they are good at or participate in. Life goes on. Did soccer die or care if Australia never made soccer world cups for 30 years, no! If there was a 4-nations with out Australia, Test-footy or rugby league wouldn't die or be devalued, it would adapt and go on. Who knows dare to think, for the better!. You'd have Eng/NZ/France/Fiji/Samoa/Tonga/PNGCook Islands/Wales/Scotland/Ireland/Italy/US/Canada/Jamaica/
    Lebanon/Czech Republic to choose from in a 4 nations, or even a World cup, if Australia didn't want to participate in any RL events.
    Think South Africa in cricket and rugby union during the Apartheid era. Both sports had vibrant test-matches and World Cups, with out the Proteas and Springboks as world class opposition.
    If Australian rugby league keep acting as if there bigger than the game, then maybe the other RL teams should just get on with it and stage there own tournaments without Australia.
    Like the old Beatles song "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da life goes on", International RL would go on with no Australia. Think cricket and rugby union all had credible test series and World cups with out South Africa during the Apartheid era.
    And the rest of rugby league doesn't need Australia to thrive or survive in it's development.
    English Super League the top division also has a, championship semi-pro 2nd division in the English RL system. France is a big market that has a semi-pro local comp, as well as Catalans in the ESL.
    Basically RL doesn't need OZ, we should overate our self-importance to RL.

    Commenter
    Edward
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    June 02, 2014, 12:19AM
    • Playing for Australia is important for many players in the NRL and if you get rid of this pathway players will be more tempted to play Rugby Union that is,by the way an Olympic Sport. The NRL needs to take power away from the clubs and make decisions in the best interests of the game. The AFL has an international competition that isn't played by AFL rules so they would like an international competition like ours and would be much better at developing it. I suggest that we copy the England amateur touring team that is touring Jamaica and has played games against developing countries.Let's have our own Australian team to tour Rugby League outposts and develop our game.Come on guys it can't be all that difficult!

      Commenter
      Bluesbreaker
      Location
      Curl Curl
      Date and time
      June 02, 2014, 9:09AM
      • Totally bummed out to hear that a potential Lions tour is being punted....surely they could find a squad of 20 Australian players who would kill to be in the team. If the players don't get the history of the game and the Kangaroo jersey then what hope for the future?

        Commenter
        Soot
        Location
        Sydney
        Date and time
        June 02, 2014, 9:16AM
        • Well said about Tate. Reynolds, having realised that he'd just received an astonishingly-kind decision from the tribunal (some of us would put it a lot more strongly than that), should have just shut his cake-hole and thanked his lucky stars. If someone like Tate, who knows first-hand what can happen in those situations, can't comment, who can?

          Tate takes the field in a neck-brace, but doesn't ask for any favours. However, he has the right to expect that opposition players will abide by the rules, and in this case Reynolds obviously didn't.

          If Reynolds had received a proper suspension, the returning Bird could have slotted in at 5/8 in order to keep the forwards intact, and Reynolds wouldn't have been missed at all, so really all the judiciary have done is to make fools of themselves. Again.

          Commenter
          Lewis Winders
          Location
          Tasmania
          Date and time
          June 02, 2014, 11:11AM
          • Tate is a hypocrite! His cowboys team mate Tariq Sims is currently suspended for a dangerous throw, if it is such a big issue to Tate then why didn't he come out and say these things two weeks ago when Sims got charged? By not doing so his latest comments have zero credibility

            Commenter
            Greg
            Date and time
            June 02, 2014, 12:42PM
        • Instead of a 3 Test series against Australia, how about a Test against PNG, a "Test" against a Prime Ministers 13 side (or a Pacific side like Fiji) and a one off Test against the Kangaroo's?
          It would provide an increasing challenge for The Lions, assisting their preparation for the final Test, and mean that the Kangaroo's players would only be required to play one game.

          Commenter
          Patman
          Location
          Brisbane
          Date and time
          June 02, 2014, 12:21PM
          • Was always likely with the ARLC that the game would become even more "NRL-centric". Sadly alll extra revenue seems to be going to players, player agents and adminstrators whilst juniors, the bush, the lower levels and the international game are lucky to get scraps and a few token promises which are often unfulfilled.
            How could it be any other way when NRL CEO's get to vote on these things.

            Shame on you .

            Commenter
            Not Seano or El Seano
            Date and time
            June 02, 2014, 12:24PM
            • One of my fondest memories growing up and loving this wonderful game was to follow the results of the "tourists", be they the Kangaroos or the Lions. Playing in backwater locatoins against local rep teams, giving the heartland supporters (be they Australian or English) the opportunity to see their heroes. What a wonderful way for people to learn and respect each other's different cultures and different ways of life. Time, and I assume costs, are now so important these tours may never again see the light of day. That would be sad, and if we have this opportunity to reignite the passion for the game, it should be grabbed with both hands.

              Commenter
              Roy Sharkey
              Location
              Sydney
              Date and time
              June 02, 2014, 1:06PM

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