Robert Dillon: Seven Days in League

Thursday

WHEN Wayne Bennett berates the rugby league media, I can't help hating myself.

MORAL COMPASS: Wayne Bennett is a graduate of the Donald Trump Media Admiration Society. Picture: Getty Images

MORAL COMPASS: Wayne Bennett is a graduate of the Donald Trump Media Admiration Society. Picture: Getty Images

Today the great man is taking the FAKE NEWS merchants to task for our coverage of Jarryd Hayne, in particular the recent inference that the Plane is a lazy slug who only has a dig when it suits him.

"You guys [the media] have gone to another level,” Bennett says, in his weekly sermon from the mount.

“One of the issues is the intrusiveness of the media right now ... you have got to a stage now with the media where I can’t believe what you guys are writing and what you go digging for."

The master coach says it's "terribly unfair" to be publicly debating the training-pitch work ethic of one of the game's highest-paid players.

"That’s for the club to manage and for them to keep in-house ... in the past, the media never went down those paths,'' he says. "Our greatest players were not great trainers, they never made a headline because of that, they made a headline because of the way they played football.”

As a journalist, it's hard not to feel like a total grub. Fortunately for myself and every other scribe covering the 13-man code, we have Wayne Bennett as our moral compass.

Friday

I've tipped the Broncos, but I jump ship midway through the second half and start cheering for the Cows.

The reason? Firstly, I can't believe the try awarded to Jordan Kahu after a forward pass from James Roberts.

That pass would have been forward in basketball. Not even Joe Montana threw them as far upfield. How the touchy missed it is beyond me. Maybe he was blinded by Jimmy the Jet's vapour trail.

I'm just as disturbed by Korbin Sims waving his arms, attempting to pump up the crowd, as he awaits the ensuing kick-off.

It's the ex-Knight's first home game since defecting to Brisbane. I'm tipping most of the punters don't even know who he is.

Mercifully, JT cruels my tip with a golden-point field goal as I punch the air in delight.

Saturday

On a day of high emotion, the Newcastle Knights launch a potential club-record 19-game winning streak with a 34-26 triumph against the Gold Coast.

The narks are quick to point out the Titans were depleted by the loss of three players to injury in the first half, in particular the aforementioned Hayne Plane. (Regular readers of this column – Mum, Dad and the Maitland Maniac – might note that Justin Bieber is on tour Down Under).

Injuries … boo hoo. Tell someone who cares.

There’s no place for sooks in professional sport.

It's a similar story earlier in the day when I arrive for my weekly game of squash against my mate the builder.

He's clearly below his best after battling a dose of the man flu.

It's a brave effort for him to even set foot in the white box (aka the war zone), but should I show him any sympathy? Not likely. I hand out a towelling he won't forget in a hurry.

It's survival of the fittest at the elite level, and it's pleasing to see the young Knights emulating my killer instinct.

Sunday 

Hindsight, they say, is a wonderful thing. And as he reflects on the train wreck that has ended his career, former Tigers centre Tim Simona must be thinking he would do certain things differently if he had his time over.

Like pay for his ex-girlfriend to get her breasts “augmented”, for starters.

In among all the confessions to illegal gambling, drug-using blah blah blah comes the revelation that, had Simona agreed to fork out 10 grand to pay for some built-in air bags, he might still be running around in the NRL.

“Last chance now, put the money I want or get my boobs done and then I’ll block them [the NRL integrity unit]. Otherwise I’ll see them next week,” was one text message from his former flame.

If you ask me it’s a no-brainer. Instead of sticking 10 large in the pokies or up his nose, invest in some renovations for the cheese-and-kisses. I would have thought that was a win-win situation.

Instead he figured he’d call her bluff and, sure enough, she dobbed him in.

Serves him right.

Meanwhile, I am astonished to learn that Illawarra – previously known as the Steelers or Cutters – are playing in the NSW Cup without a nickname, after Illawarra Coal’s decision not to renew its sponsorship. 

The region that has produced such household names as Warrilla Gorillas, Thirroul Butchers, Dapto Canaries and Jamberoo Superoos can’t come up with a moniker for their NRL feeder team. How embarrassing. For the time being, they’ll just have to be the Illawarra Blanks.

Monday

Seven Days is outraged when a rival publication lists the Knights as ninth on the NRL ladder, one place behind South Sydney.

Both teams have one win and one loss to their names. Both teams have scored 56 points and conceded 52. Both teams have 10 tries and eight goals to their names.

Adding to the weird synergies, they go head to head in Newcastle on Saturday. 

How to split them on the points table? Well as any self-respecting footy tipping comp convenor knows all too well, you have to go on alphabetical order.

Tuesday

It’s been a tough week for the Gold Coast Titans. They’ve opened the season with consecutive losses, have a host of star players injured … and now are reportedly going to be taken over by the North Sydney Bears. There goes any chance of them ever winning a premiership.

Wednesday

Sharks skipper Paul Gallen advocates a two-year ban for players busted using social drugs. “It’s illegal in general society,” Gallen said. “We’ve got this softly-softly approach. Just make it illegal all the time.” 

I wonder if Gal has the same set of principles when it comes to players taking horse steroids?