Robert Dillon: Seven Days in League

THURSDAY

RUGBY league’s unofficial “Retro Round” kicks off and, to be honest, I am slightly underwhelmed.

This could have been such a fantastic promotion. Just imagine the possibilities: players using leather balls and toe-poking shots at goal off mounds of sand, old-school cotton jerseys and shoulder pads, electrical tape around the ears … maybe even an all-in brawl or some eye-gouging in a scrum. But nope, nothing. It’s basically just another round of footy.

It doesn’t help that the Dogs continue their recent form (ie going like busteds) in tonight’s clash with their traditional rivals, Parramatta.  One moment sums up their plight. They're chasing the game and Josh Reynolds tries a miracle play. Early in the tackle count, deep in his own territory, he produces a cross-field kick to an unmarked man on the right wing.

It's a piece of genius that appears certain to result in the winger catching the ball and streaking away to score.

Except that instead of being fielded by a lightning-fast try specialist, it ends up in the hands of Josh Jackson, who’s not a bad second-rower, but not much of a long-range finisher.

It’s hardly worth the effort. A bit like Canterbury’s season.

FRIDAY

MANLY enforcer Marty Tapau conducts a radio interview with the same don’t-argue style he shows on the field.

Asked about the Silvertails' recent form slump, big Marty admits they have “leaked a shitload of points”.

That’s one way of putting it.

Later in the day, Broncos coach Wayne Bennett offers a unique defence for why Josh McGuire stomped on Tim Mannah's ankle in last week's loss to the Eels.

Benny reckons the Origin enforcer has no vision in one eye and simply didn't see Mannah's protruding limb.

Suddenly I'm looking on poor old McGuire in a different light. There I was thinking he was just a serial cheap-shot merchant, when really he's doing well to get through each game without his guide dog.

ROMPER STOMPER: Josh McGuire treads on Tim Mannah's ankle. Accidentally, according to coach Wayne Bennett. Picture courtesy of FoxSports

ROMPER STOMPER: Josh McGuire treads on Tim Mannah's ankle. Accidentally, according to coach Wayne Bennett. Picture courtesy of FoxSports

Meanwhile, does it get any better than Saints versus the Bunnies on the hallowed turf of the SCG?

Well, yes, actually it does. For starters, try scheduling that game for a Sunday arvo, rather than in the 6pm Friday graveyard shift that nobody attends/watches/cares about.

Long after full-time has sounded, I learn that the Bunnies have won in a thriller. Would have been nice to have watched it.

SATURDAY

THE NRL don't need parking inspectors or radar traps. Their revenue-raising scheme is as simple as waiting for coaches to blow up.

A week after Mary McGregor donates 10 grand to the whistle-blowers' Christmas-party fund, Cows mentor Paul Green offers to match it.

“That was the worst refereeing display I have ever seen,” Greeny says after his team's loss to Melbourne.

“I said to the boys after the game I’ve never been involved in a game where so many things have gone against us ... it’s just a shame the refs ruined the game.” 

Ka-ching. There goes another 10 large.

At McDonald Jones Stadium, the mighty Knights notch back-to-back wins for the first time in living memory as Dane Gagai reaffirms his reputation as one of the game’s all-round good guys.

As players head to the sheds for their half-time oranges, the great Dane is intercepted by Foxtel’s Hannah Hollis. He is not only happy to be interviewed, he greets her with a kiss on the cheek. Nice touch.

Up on the Gold Coast, it’s good to see someone is taking Retro Round seriously when Broncos forward Joe Ofahengaue produces a textbook spear tackle on Titans forward Max King.

SUNDAY

THE NRL issue their match-review charges from Saturday’s game and I’m interested to note that Newcastle’s Chanel Mata’utia is facing an $1100 fine for a trip against the Warriors.

It was only a few weeks back that Chanel’s elder brother, Peter, also copped a hip-pocket hit for a trip against the Bulldogs.

There was no harm done in either case, but I guess it just goes to show the backyard games growing up in Raymond Terrace must have been no place for the faint-hearted.

MONDAY

INTERACTION between NRL players and fans should be encouraged … but there is a time and a place.

And the time and the place is perhaps not in the dressing room after a loss.

That is Seven Days’ reaction to a report that a Bulldogs fan fronted David Klemmer after the defeat by Parramatta and suggested it was time to add an offload to his skill set.

“After that, a few seconds later, he walked past me ... and he looked at me really aggressively,’’ the fan said. “His eyes were wide open and he said: ‘Why don’t you keep your opinions to yourself.” 

Mr Inappropriate continued: “I wasn’t going to take that. If he wants to be a man and get the gloves on, I’m happy to do that.”

Surely the Dogs need look no further for pre-match entertainment before their clash with the Bunnies this week.

TUESDAY

EELS coach Brad Arthur asks business owners for a collective favour in an attempt to drum up a crowd for Friday’s home game against the Knights. 

“To whom it may concern,” Arthur’s open email reads. “Please allow passionate Parramatta Eels supporters to leave work early on Friday, August 11.”

No worries, Brad. We’ll just close the banks, shops and post office an hour early.

Here’s a better idea. How about addressing the following email to NRL HQ: “Dear Todd, please stop scheduling games for 6pm on Fridays because nobody can get to them.”

WEDNESDAY

GOOD player, Adam Blair. Good enough for a four-year deal at the age of almost 32? The Dragons and Warriors apparently think so. 

As for the Knights, watch this space ...

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