Up Front with Tony Butterfield

CURIOUS how a game that delivers so much for so many can be so cruel to those that care for it most.

FEARING THE WORST: Knights co-captain Jamie Buhrer receives treatment on Saturday. It was initially suspected he had ruptured his ACL. Picture: Darren Pateman, AAP

FEARING THE WORST: Knights co-captain Jamie Buhrer receives treatment on Saturday. It was initially suspected he had ruptured his ACL. Picture: Darren Pateman, AAP

Watching Jamie Buhrer check his direction defending against livewire James Tedesco last week, there was an ever-so-subtle right knee lock. A little awkward as he hung on to effect the tackle, it appeared nothing (much) out of the ordinary.

JB, however, knew immediately something was up. Bravely showing a jumper in the remaining five tackles, he was in position to help Connor Watson successfully thwart a rampaging Latrell Mitchell near thing. Well done champion, come off.

Buhrer was familiar with the stress-pain mix pumping through his system, having been there before. Half your head in the battle, the other half on pain levels, the wife, kids, and the long road back.

Pretty quickly, in the confines of the dressing room, follow thoughts of contract talks and one’s future. Things can and do go pear-shaped in life sometimes. League is no different.

Fears of an ACL rupture were thankfully allayed by a less-imposing prognosis, which offers a chance to stake his claim for retention. Fans can be assured he’s got his rehab down pat and should be back for the final rounds. The return of a fresh and eager Buhrer, not to mention “JJ” Pearce, would be a welcome boost in what might hopefully be a desperate lunge at the semi-final cut-off line.

Best of luck pal, and to your better half.

* WHILE I’m at it, back on my hobby brumby, I wonder if the NRL took some notice and initiative and noted last Saturday night’s injury for their records. Things like external forces, grass, substrate, weather, type of boot and stud configuration?

“But he didn’t pop the ACL,” I hear you say. Yes, but something evidently went wrong in what is an otherwise finely adapted running and lateral movement machine (if I can be so clinical?).

Thankfully not this time a “full Monty”, after close to a dozen this season in the NRL, but a near miss doesn’t make a sample invalid, nor the imperative to learn less persuasive. If it was in the workplace, the issue would be page one of board papers of both union and company.

Or is it just that some blokes are prone, and that’s footy? Yeah. Nah.

* ON the subject of good boots, with the help of a mere zephyr tailwind, Cowboys drop-kicker Kyle Feldt drilled a special last week against the Eels.

The 66-metre missile soared, pitched and ran another 20 metres before an Eel slithered back to recover. Nearly tryline to tryline. Biggest kick I’ve seen in a while. Boom.

* IN bleak conditions the Knights almost pulled off an upset last week. Seeking consistency after the Parramatta breakthrough, they can be pleased with the all-round effort, if not the result. But for a few (very) sloppy moments, they were a force in the wet, in most of the key measures.

From my vantage, at game’s end the body language of the visitors betrayed the physicality of the contest, and their relief. Happy to be heading home in one piece with two precious points. Bloody Roosters!

Like I said, the Knights looked good, with room for improvement obvious. Inept defensive moments to one side, They’re playing well and will get better if they keep their heads down. But with only 12 points in the bag, time will soon be against them.

Reason enough, if they’re to fire up and kick on this season, that Sunday against the Storm be their half-yearly Test match. Well prepared, they can and must find another level. BIG GAME, boys. Have fun. Knights by four.

* CAN we leave the refs alone? Even the NRL’S CEO has come out and shafted them. Solid, Todd. Poor buggers can’t take a trick.

Now, they’re penalising anything, they’ve got multiple mates overseeing the action, and they’re calling players by their first names. What more can they do?

Cunning coaches, of course, might actually be part of the problem.

But not not everything needs to be penalised, especially if an open game is preferred.

Two referees will always confuse consistency, and, players have numbers on their back for a reason.

That said, keep penalising for the basics and keep it real with players. Otherwise, we’ll be back where we started. Hold the course, ref.

* LOOKING further afield, beyond the 13-man code, I’d like to salute our round-ball heroes at the upcoming World Cup, in particular the two men with strong Newcastle ties, Dimi Petratos and Andrew Nabbout.

So, who’s first? France? Mmmm? Smashed us 6-0 in 2013. Excellent. Nothing to lose, then.

What’s the plan? Stop them scoring, and take it from there. Getting arguably easier, Denmark followed by Peru will round out the group games and determine whether we live on or head home.

Still dark on the 2006 round-of-16 loss to Italy, I can't wait.

Meanwhile, a cheerio to unflappable former boxing world champion Jeff Horn.

Horn didn’t disgrace, fighting into the ninth round before being outclassed by American Terence Crawford.

Sitting back in Australia, many older fans have called foul on these bloody yanks. Again.

Media told of delays, pre-fight venue changes, Crawford’s reported broken hand (no X-ray supplied) and a disagreement over glove materials.

Throw in the pre-fight weigh-in stuff-up and Horn was bound to feel the heat.

 Having to sweat it out in a sauna with time running down is the worst preparation I could imagine. Sleep and rest would be the best remedy, not fighting Crawford centre-ballroom of the MGM Grand.

Some might say “only in Vegas”. All of which perhaps raised some unhappy memories for Aussie legend Jeff Fenech.