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Set of Six: Not much of a World Club challenge

SET OF SIX

Anthony Minichiello of the Roosters celebrates a try against Wigan.

Anthony Minichiello of the Roosters celebrates a try against Wigan. Photo: Getty Images

1. NOT MUCH OF A CHALLENGE

With the score at 24-4 at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night, plans for a six-team World Club Challenge next year were looking somewhat dodgy. South Sydney and Brisbane have already told English officials they are interested in being the second and third teams for the mini-tournament next February if neither of them wins the NRL this season. Whichever finishes higher will take on the second-placed Super League team on a Saturday and the other will play the No.3 SL side on the Friday, with the WCC proper on the Sunday. Huge gate receipts are anticipated.

Ill-tempered: Frank-Paul Nuuausala.

Ill-tempered: Frank-Paul Nuuausala. Photo: Anthony Johnson AWJ

2. FRANK PAUL NAYSAYER

One of the most notable aspects of the WCC was the ill-tempered display of Sydney Roosters forward Frank Paul Nu'uausala (right). FPN had plenty to say - he especially enjoyed riling Michael McIllorum - and was cautioned by referee Gerard Sutton for abusing Wigan players. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, who managed extreme aggression minus the compulsion to verbalise it, told Triple M: ''It's not English, definitely not English. He's got his own fresh language going.'' Jokes aside, the feistiness could be a chink in the Roosters' armour.

3. A KIND OF MAGIC

Previous NRL administrators have looked into the ideas of the Magic Weekend and deduced that few of the advantages it affords Super League apply in the southern hemisphere. The Magic Weekend gets an entire round on the television for the only time in the Super League season - not an issue in the NRL. The crowd attracted over the weekend is often more than the round would get at separate venues - not likely here. Far from being an unqualified success, the concept was on death's door until it returned to the heartland of Manchester two years ago. For the NRL, a big fat cheque from the host city and/or venue would seem to be the big advantage. Having said all that, Set Of Six likes the idea.

4. THE PLOT THICKENS

If the Rugby Football League and Australian Rugby Union continue to plot playing each other at Wembley, they are likely to unsettle quite a few NRL clubs. It goes without saying the Burgess brothers, Gareth Widdop (right) and James Graham won't be released from their clubs. If they are then denied huge match payments, they will likely become disgruntled. This will encourage players to sign short-term contracts, which in turn will help entrepreneurs staging off-season events. As Discord wrote last week, the result could be the governing bodies in both rugby codes being severely undermined.

5. BOYS OF SUMMER

Trent Robinson's broader point on Saturday night - aside from supporting the WCC expansion outlined elsewhere and criticising the NRL for not promoting this year's match - was that the pre-season is being wasted commercially. Last week, Sonny Bill Williams (left) played in front of a crowd on the Central Coast that got in for free. Someone would like to televise every one of these games, someone would like to sponsor them and someone would like to call them on radio. But there wasn't even a match program whereas British fans have collecting societies. Yes, I was once in one.

6. SAM THE MAN

Sam Tomkins (right) may not qualify for some rookie of the year awards - but he'll win those he is eligible for based on the couple of glimpses we've already had of him. In fact, if you can still bet on the Dally Ms, he'd be worth a flutter to win the thing outright given what are no doubt generous odds right now. It's safe to say he was feeling better about his weekend than Brisbane coach Anthony Griffin and St George Illawarra's Steve Price, who were already said to be under pressure and whose sides were comprehensively beaten.

16 comments so far

  • Steve Price and Anthony Griffin both must be "dead men walkin"......the hammerings their sides got in their trials has resulted in significantly increased pressure.......

    NRL clubs are all about winning.......notch up them losses and the executioners start sharpening those blades

    Commenter
    Orange Head
    Location
    Bilgola
    Date and time
    February 24, 2014, 12:19AM
    • How the Soward situation was handled last season was a bad sign for Price as a coach IMO.

      Soward led them to a premiership in 2010 and yet he's dropped to the Cutters in 2013 and booted from the club two weeks later? I can understand when players are underperforming that sometimes they need to be dropped to give them a chance to regain form and a confidence. But when you're looking at halves of Fein and Hornby a couple of blokes on their legs as first grade NRL players. Wow.

      And it's not like Soward was the only underperforming player in the squad, in fact once he was dropped things only continued to go downhill.

      There were only two worse examples of coaching last season. Ricky Stuart sacking 12 players mid-season, instantly giving up thing other than the spoon for the Eels in 2013 and Laurie Daley falling for the calls to finally pick Nathan Merritt in Origin where you need to be more than just a decent finisher to handle the likes of Greg Inglis raiding down your wing.

      Commenter
      Seano
      Date and time
      February 24, 2014, 10:11AM
    • Steve Price will be shown the door by seasons end. Laurie Daley will be sacked after another failed Origin bid. Daley is not a coach. He is terrible! His selections were terrible. Merrit's was bad but Aaron Woods was the worst ever Origin appearance! Subbed after 10 minutes gaining negative meters and missing several tackles. He threw away any hope NSW had in game 3. Daley needed to answer more for this. Bring back Phil Gould!

      Commenter
      blahblah
      Date and time
      February 26, 2014, 11:36AM
  • The WCC, has more potential to expand to a wider audience. Have best 4 from each ESL/NRL, have knockout 3 week, tournament. Have it mid-year and replace origin, or have it pre-season.
    WCC has far more wider audience appeal, than State of origin, as does test footy and the RLWC. SOO is only 2 states in OZ, hardly wider audience. City V country, ceased to be meaningful rep game, that's where SOO is going, if the NRL wanna expand the game to wider audience. Like the nines, WCC has lots of potential. Play it in Dubai,Hong Kong,Sydney,Auckland,LA,London,Toulouse, Manchester,Melbourne anywhere it has potential.
    In the super league war, in 1997, SL had an expanded WCC, it was good. Took a month of regular season, we had teams go over to UK, and teams came here. It has potential a new expanded WCC.
    The key is finding time in the calendar year. Either cut a few rounds out of regular season or cut, SOO. WCC has big wider audience, any cuts in regular season, could be off-set by big tv WCC deals.

    Commenter
    Alan
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    February 24, 2014, 12:34AM
    • @Alan - I think you'll find that there's many people that will disagree with you on almost every point. SOO is without a doubt the jewel in Rugby League's crown, consistently being the highest rating sporting event in Australia.

      Test league is barely worth mentioning, the RLWC last year proved there are really only 3 countries that play anywhere near the top level.

      The SL driven WCC in 97 was a farce, with a only a few exceptions the Aussie clubs thrashed the English clubs every week and no one cared because "Adelaide Rams def. Leeds Rhinos 34-8" speaks for itself.

      Rugby League in Australia will always be strongest in NSW & QLD, the rest of the country is AFL and that won't change much.

      Commenter
      Mostly Harmless
      Location
      Pale Blue Dot
      Date and time
      February 24, 2014, 10:16AM
    • seriously?

      Commenter
      vitas
      Date and time
      February 24, 2014, 11:58AM
    • I disagree. I don't think that changing it to mid year and expanding it makes much sense - it's all too messy.

      Instead, the NRL and ESL should simply rationalise their calendars so the finish on the same weekend, and then have the WCC two weeks after the respective GFs finish.

      Then you could crown a genuine Rugby League World Club Champion - it'd be like a RL Super Bowl.

      Commenter
      Dan
      Date and time
      February 24, 2014, 3:24PM
    • You're dreamin'!

      Commenter
      Grazzle
      Location
      Penrith
      Date and time
      February 25, 2014, 1:11PM
  • Sam was an absolute sensation in Super League. Real speed and a tough nut as well. Look forward to seeing him play this year.

    Commenter
    League fan
    Location
    ALS
    Date and time
    February 24, 2014, 9:43AM
    • Wigan really missed Tomkins on Saturday night. Roosters coasted even though it was their first hit out of the year. Wigan looked like something was missing in attack - disjointed and hesitant. I'm guessing that would not have happened had Tomkins been there. He is going to be a great asset for the NZ Warriors.

      Commenter
      Pedro
      Location
      Randwick
      Date and time
      February 24, 2014, 1:28PM

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