Greg Prichard’s SET of SIX
Not on form … Jarryd Hayne. Photo: Getty Images
1 Instinct tells me the fact St George Illawarra forward Matt Prior had a clean record before getting sent off for his forearm to North Queensland five-eighth Johnathan Thurston's head will ensure the incident is either referred straight to the judiciary or judged as dangerous contact, rather than striking. A grade-five striking charge carries 525 points. If Prior were charged with that and entered an early guilty plea, he would escape with a three-game suspension. I don't anticipate the match-review committee letting that happen, given the severity of the hit and the fact it laid out one of the game's star players. Grade-five dangerous contact would get Prior five games after an early guilty plea.
2 Surely the public backlash to the idea of the ARL Commission selling a State of Origin game to Melbourne annually will result in it being filed under ''S'', for stupid. It wouldn't promote substantial growth of the game in Victoria - nothing will - and the reported fee of $2.5 million a year isn't remotely worth what it would mean to take a game away from either Sydney or Brisbane every year for five years. The annual risk would be that whichever of the two true rugby league cities is scheduled to host game three of the series faces the possibility of its only Origin game being a dead rubber. There is a hard core of Melbourne people who follow the Storm, but much of the crowd at Origin games down there is made up of people travelling from interstate. That is why the Victorian government wants the game because of the financial return it attracts through tourism. The commission should concentrate on gouging the networks for every cent possible in the negotiations over television rights to games and ensuring it gets the best deal when it comes to a share of betting turnover.
3 Jarryd Hayne doesn't deserve to be in the NSW State of Origin team on form, but he is bound to be there on reputation. The Parramatta team Hayne plays for at fullback has struggled all season, and he hasn't been able to repeat his superstar form of the past to drag them out of trouble. But Hayne has been man of the match playing from the wing for NSW in the past, and the Blues will rely on him to turn it on once he is surrounded by top-class players again.
4 How was leaving Chris Sandow on the bench until the game against Canterbury was out of Parramatta's reach going to help Sandow, the Eels, or the man who made the decision, coach Stephen Kearney? The right time to inject him would have been when Parramatta were leading 12-4, entering the last 10 minutes of the first half, and some Bulldogs players were tired enough for a fresh Sandow to take advantage of them before the break. Sandow needed the opportunity to play in a game while it was still a contest. Instead, he came on nine minutes into the second half, by which time the Eels had collapsed in a heap. What was Sandow going to do then?
He would have been better off having another game with Wentworthville than being thrust into that train wreck.
5 Canterbury coach Des Hasler's hair is officially out of control, but that won't remain the case for much longer. The Bulldogs are just $2000 short of the charity fund-raising target of $100,000 the club set that will trigger the most severe haircut the two-time premiership-winning coach has had in decades. Hasler agreed to have the haircut when the six figures were reached, with the proceeds going to Camp Quality. The Bulldogs are planning some pomp and ceremony to surround the haircut, in a few weeks' time. Hasler told me was ready to be shorn. But, he added: ''I'll be growing it straight back, don't worry.''
6 Fox Sports will submit its bid to retain NRL broadcast rights today, and it is set to include a drive for the pay-TV operator to have all eight games a week shown live to its subscribers. Fox Sports and Channel Nine, as the existing rights holders, have until tonight to place their first-round bids for the new five-year rights, which stakeholders of the game hope will reap the ARL Commission at least $1 billion. There is a move by the commission for a Saturday game to be shown live on free-to-air television, resulting in a rise from three to four free-to-air matches. Fox Sports is opposed to the Saturday initiative. It is understood it wants to retain its five live games a week exclusively but also simulcast the other games live.