KIWIS RIPE FOR THE PICKING
New Zealand is on their way to the United Kingdom where they will face Leeds Rhinos before a three test series against England and they will do it with a new look squad that’s missing Shaun Johnson, Simon Mannering, Kieran Foran, Manu Vatuvei amongst others. England will be hungry and have picked a great looking squad while the Kiwis will rely on rookie halves Tui Lolohea and Kodi Nikorima. It’s a tall order and I fully expect an ambush starting with a shock win for the Leeds Rhinos at Headingley who will officially say farewell to Jamie Peacock, Kevin Sinfield and Kylie Leuluai. In more good news for the Rhinos fellow retiree and ex-Rhino Adrian Morley will play one final game for the club after last playing for Leeds in 2001. My tip is England 2-1 in the series and Leeds to start the pain early.
MATT LODGE NEEDS HELP
Wests Tigers were right in ripping up the contract of troubled prop Matt Lodge after it was revealed the Junior Kangaroo was again arrested, this time in New York. I don’t agree with the opinion that rugby league has done all it can for him and now that he’s been sacked by the Tigers we can simply wash our hands of him. It is obvious he needs professional help and could also mean he finds himself behind bars. Melbourne released him quietly a while back and Wests immediately signed him which makes you question why the Storm got rid of him and if Wests asked enough questions about why he was sacked.
On a side note, I saw a tweet from a punter asking why the NRL churns out so many criminals. Funny that he forgot to mention that two premiership-winning Hawthorn AFL players could be charged with rape.
DOCKER STILL A CHANCE AT DRAGONS
Adam Docker burst onto the scene with the Penrith Panthers in 2012 and was earmarked as a future State of Origin forward. But injuries have plagued his development in recent times and it has become clear Docker wants to return to the south coast (which we reported first earlier this year). A deal was almost over the line between St George Illawarra and Docker but it never got finalised. The Panthers then released Docker at the end of the season and there has been little headway since. Docker’s first preference is the Dragons and to live permanently back in Shellharbour.
COWBOYS ON TOUR
It’s been amazing to see the turnouts North Queensland has been receiving as they take the NRL premiership around northern Australia. I’ve spoken to a couple of businessmen up that way in the last few weeks and they say that while the drought is far more important than any silly footy game, the reactions of locals as the Cowboys ride into town is priceless. They’re good Australians up there and deserve to celebrate with their heroes likes Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott.
I was going to write about the Immortals debate but felt immediately drained. I’ll leave Immortality to others but I will say that the NRL needs to buy/wrestle the concept away from Rugby League Week and turn into a night just as big as the Dally M’s. I’d also immediately induct Dally Messenger, Frank Burge and Brian Bevan. A little strange that the man named after the Dally M can’t even garner Immortality just because there was no Youtube in 1908!
GIVE FORAN EELS CAPTAINCY NOW
Tim Mannah is a terrific human being and a good leader of the Parramatta Eels but I think Brad Arthur should make Mannah and incoming playmaker Kieran Foran co-captains for 2016. Foran is a leader of men and will embrace the extra pressure and most importantly he will lead from the front with his actions on-field.