SET OF SIX

Mothers' Day scare: Nigel Plum is stretchered off.

Mothers' Day scare: Nigel Plum is stretchered off. Photo: Getty Images

Concerned at poor attendances so far this season, the NRL has targeted 24 games over the remainder of the regular season for a promotional push. That’s good news if you play at a venue such as ANZ Stadium or Allianz Stadium where there’s plenty of space for the improved number; not so good if you are based at Brookvale Oval or Remondis Stadium. Making matters worse is the Moore Park administration’s reluctance to tell the clubs exactly which 24 games are to get the big push. Set of Six hears Cronulla were particularly vocal in their disapproval at the CEOs’ conference last week.

Centrally reactionary

From an administration that came to power on the back of not being reactionary, the central contracting provision announced last week by the NRL appears to be nothing but. When the idea was discussed by clubs in Auckland during February, not one of them supported it – and clubs are usually happy to be given any sort of financial assistance. The League cannot compel a centrally contracted played to accept the highest club offer. So if it pays someone to stay in the game, it is by default helping a strong club stay strong  – because it cannot make the star player leave. The system actively works against salary cap. It’s nothing more than a poorly conceived buffer against criticism that the sport isn't doing enough to hold onto its stars. David Smith’s admission he may only use the powers once in 10 years underscore the vanity of it: Why do we need a decision now then?

Twisted fairytale

It was a twisted Mother’s Day fairytale: mum brings home from hospital the newest addition to the family in the morning, dad gets knocked out playing footy in the afternoon. Sunday was supposed to be a happy day for the Plum family but that all changed when dad Nigel was rendered unconscious – and placed on report at the same time – during the first half of Penrith’s 32-10 win over Newcastle. “I came to when they were rolling me onto the stretcher, and I freaked out because I don’t like being tied down,” said Plum, 31. “I spoke to my brother and he said I’d been put on report for it. We had third little bub [Evie] on Wednesday. Nepean Private didn’t have Foxtel so we had to make sure [wife Nicole] got home to watch [the game]. I’ve got a 4-year old daughter [Miller], and they had to send her out of the room when it happened.”

Mistaken identity

You know a try is unusual when there is confusion over who scored it. Twenty minutes into an otherwise unremarkable game at Hunter Stadium yesterday, Penrith fullback Matt Moylan chased Peter Wallace’s kick and had his foot on a Darius Boyd’s back as he scooped the ball into the in-goal from out of bounds. There, Newcastle’s Joey Leilua tried to pass in his own in-goal and Penrith’s David Simmons had a chop at it before Moylan – who seconds earlier had been on the ground, out of the field of play, dotted down. Telecasters Fox and NRL Stats gave the try to Moylan. Video referee Steve Folkes told Set Of Six in the lifts that Simmons had got to it. And ground manager Bob Lanigan double-checked with all the match officials at full-time – Simmons finished with two tries, Moylan with none.

Viva la rep football

South Sydney either supported Alex Johnston’s reticence to play for NSW Under 20s or encouraged it. Penrith coach Ivan Cleary reckons there’s too much international football. Yet both clubs acknowledged they benefited from representative footy at the weekend. Dylan Walker, straight out of the City side, scored four tries against Gold Coast with captain John Sutton saying he was “buzzing” when he returned from Dubbo. Cleary, meanwhile, said fullback Matt Moylan had tangibly benefited from playing in the same team with “his best game of the year”. “He’s definitely come back ... with increased confidence. Adam Docker and Matty Moylan, it’s given them a real buzz. Even Jamal [Idris], he’s done it before but I think he got a buzz out of it too. First hand, it’s definitely helped those boys.”

Gone troppo

Even the seemingly humdrum strain of rugby league reporting known as ‘‘team changes’’ can throw up some surprises from time to time. Take Queensland’s Intrust Super Cup at the weekend, where PNG Hunters captain Israel Eliab was ruled out with malaria. Certainly beats a hamstring strain.  The Hunters are the success story of the year, beating Tweed Heads 32-22 at the weekend. Another one from the Something New Under The Sun file: Moranbah recently led Sarina 36-0 with 20 minutes remaining – and lost 40-36.