1. Best try on (digital) record
Early indications are that we have to go back to before film and video to find a better individual try than Greg Inglis’ on Friday. Even this year, Brett Morris touched down from his own side of the tryline – but the number of players beaten and amount of contact wasn’t comparable. We have looked at efforts by Eric Grothe (1983), Martin Offiah (1994), Paul Sterling (1997) and others. Grothe’s came closest – he beat one less player. In 1954 Brian Bevan is reported to have outflanked most of the opposition by running from one side of the field and back again. Dally Messenger was fond of taking running jumps over defensive lines, in the days before they had learned to advance. But future generations will thankfully not have to rely on the likes of me to appreciate Inglis’ miracle.
2. Slammed Sam bends an elbow
Sam Burgess continues to show his commitment to South Sydney’s cause for the rest of the season, catching a 6am flight from Brisbane to Sydney on Saturday for surgery on an elbow injury. The operation was booked on a holiday weekend to maximise his recovery time before the Bunnies' next game, against Gold Coast on May 10. Burgess had right up until Glenn Stewart’s signing to change his mind about the switch to rugby union but remains committed to his decision. Captain John Sutton’s quadriceps injury before the win over the Broncos was more serious than admitted; he was in doubt right up to the warm-up.
3. Making a Bird of the rep season
Hostile crowds and controversial refereeing decisions make Gold Coast, NSW and Australia star Greg Bird a better player, says Titans coach John Cartwright. ‘‘I think he’s the form player in the comp at the moment,’’ Cartwright told Triple M after his side’s 22-6 win against Wests Tigers on Sunday. ‘‘The more the referees and crowds get involved, the better he plays.’’ Rival Michael Potter said Gold Coast players laughed at his men after a dive prevented a Tim Simona try on another obstruction ruling. Penrith’s Ivan Cleary says it’s time for match officials to start ruling on players taking dives in such situations.
4. Remember 64-10
As usual at this time of year, we are all forgetting why the mid-season Test is before Origin. Remember Australia 64 Great Britain 10 in 2002? The Test is this Friday to save the rest of the world from being flogged by Origin-hardened Australians. If sports are there to do more than make a profit then it must be to maximise participants' and spectators' enjoyment. That won’t happen for rugby league without international competition. We would be happy to see every country BUT Australia go around this weekend – but that would not give Channel Nine anything to show. Unless, of course, an Origin game was on the Wednesday before. The rep weekend needs to be co-ordinated with a pause to club football everywhere, as FIFA does. Having Samoa-Fiji attract the interest of Australian TV is the first small step in that direction.
5. Time's makin’ changes
The shemozzle on April 14 at AAMI Park led to big changes surrounding full-time and half-time sirens. Time keepers wear the communication vest that referees and touch judges have so they can deliver the countdown to the on-field officials. The problem with the fellow who pushes the button also doing his Houston Mission Control impersonation is that when he is talking to the refs, he is not pushing the button. This led to confusion last Monday that Penrith claimed cost them a field goal on half time against Gold Coast. A memo went around last week instructing time keepers not to say “zero” to the referees. It’s “five, four, three, two, one” and hit that button.
6. A Lion in the sand
AS usual, there will be an International Federation meeting in conjunction with the Anzac Test. There is a major showdown bubbling under the surface this week: the proposed 2015 Great Britain Lions tour. GB have not played since 2007 and their return is eagerly anticipated in the north of England. But Australia has shown precious little interest so far in hosting them next year. The lack of interest in a tradition that started with James Lomas’s 1910 team is seen as an example of antipodean insularity. France will be touring New Zealand at the same time.