Robert Dillon: Seven Days in League

WE WAS ROBBED: Knights fans are entitled to be filthy after Akuila Uate was awarded a try under false pretences. Picture: Getty Images

WE WAS ROBBED: Knights fans are entitled to be filthy after Akuila Uate was awarded a try under false pretences. Picture: Getty Images

THURSDAY

Sharkies coach Shane Flanagan causes a stir after he congratulates “referee Smith” for his performance in the grand final rematch, won 18-13 by the Storm.

His comments leave me with mixed emotions.

To start with, everyone agrees the referees are rubbish, so Cameron Smith with a whistle in hand would probably be an improvement.

But then I start to worry about his workload.

He’s skipper of Melbourne, Queensland and Australia. He plays 40 games a year and makes 50 tackles in each of them.

He’s recently been appointed as president of the players' association.

Now that John Grant is standing down, Smithy will probably take over as chairman of the NRL.

Poor bloke surely has enough on his plate.

Maybe next time these two teams clash, he can take the night off and hand the whistle over to referee Gallen.

FRIDAY

Speaking of referees, Knights fans claim another moral victory after Manly prevail 18-14 at Brookvale.

Deadset, if it wasn’t for the match officials this season, Newcastle would be in the top four. 

The main talking point afterwards is the “try” scored by former Newcastle winger Akuila Uate.

Knights coach Nathan Brown has regularly lamented that his team don’t get many 50-50 decisions going your way.

When the $1.01 calls also go against you, what hope is there?

Regardless of whether or not Uate grounded the ball correctly, his performance justifies Newcastle's decision to punt him at the end of last season.

The Fijian flyer gets across the line four times but scores only twice. One of the four-pointers, as mentioned, is highly dubious.

Back in his heyday, when Aku got within sight of the line, he scored. Give him four scoring chances, and you could bank on four meat pies.

Hence he is at best 50 per cent as effective as he once was, so the reported $200,000 the Knights are paying him to play for Manly is money well spent.

SATURDAY

Memories of the hallowed turf of Carrington Park come flooding back to Seven Days as the Pennies and Faiders run out for kick-off in Bathurst.

It was at the same venue that I knocked back my first cheeky, under-age twist tops, sitting on the hill watching a Tooheys Cup cricket match between Bathurst and Orange, which featured a couple of young blokes with the surname Waugh.

(For the record, it was played on a rectangular footy field, with a temporary aluminium pitch covered in astroturf, and Steve Waugh hit Mark for three successive sixes over square leg. True story.)

It was also where a potentially great rugby league career started and finished.

After making my debut off the bench for now-defunct Bathurst Railway under-18s, I received an offer too good to refuse from local rah-rah club Bathurst Bulldogs: “We need someone to make up the numbers – do you have any boots?”

The rest is history.

True, I never quite managed to play for the Wallabies, but I’d like to think I blazed a code-hopping trail for the likes of Wendell Sailor, Lote Tuqiri, Israel Folau and company to follow.

Many miles away, a bloke called Thurston scores a try against the Eels in his comeback game in Darwin.

If alarm bells aren’t sounding inside Camp Cockroach, they should be. This is starting to smell like a stitch-up.

SUNDAY

ON the subject of blokes the Knights are paying to score tries for other teams, Jake Mamo crosses the stripe four times in Huddersfield’s Super League win against Catalans Dragons.

That gives the 23-year-old fullback 12 four-pointers in eight games since arriving in the Old Dart.

Ahh, but it’s only Super League, you say.

True ... but isn’t that where Joe Wardle was playing before the Knights traded him for Mamo?

MONDAY

DESPAIRING Newcastle fans are reassured when they learn that coach Nathan Brown is backing his team to become the Giants of the NRL. The Greater Western Sydney Giants, that is.

After a meeting with GWS coach Leon Cameron last week, Browny is convinced the Knights are on the right track.

“We've basically started again, and that was the purpose of our meeting with Leon,” Brown says.

“We’ve just started with a whole heap of kids. That’s common in the AFL, but it's not common in the NRL.”

Seven Days is no aerial ping pong aficionado but I can see distinct similarities between the two clubs. Both have endured the ignominy of back-to-back wooden spoons after pinning their hopes on L-platers with potential.

From what I can make out, however, there is one glaring difference. The Giants started out with Israel Folau – who had never played an AFL game in his life – as their marquee signing. If the Knights can just poach Buddy Franklin from Sydney Swans, there’ll be no stopping them.

TUESDAY

I FIND myself querying the mental toughness of NSW forward Tyson Frizell after he reveals he will need pain-killing injections to take the field in Origin II.

Apparently Frizell has a rib problem.

Injury is an occupational hazard for elite athletes.

Tonight, for instance, Seven Days rolls an ankle on the squash court. I immediately diagnose a compound fracture and ruptured ligaments but play on to record a heroic victory.

Will I be unavailable for next week’s installment of war in a white box? Will I need painkillers?

As if! I’ll just put an extra teaspoon of cement on my corn flakes and solider on.

WEDNESDAY

YOU read it here first. A bloke bearing more than a passing resemblance to Roosters back-rower Mitch Aubusson was spotted in Darby Street this week.

Make of that what you will, Knights fans ...

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