Robert Dillon: Seven Days in League

HAPPIER TIMES: Phil Gould announces Anthony Griffin as Penrith coach.
HAPPIER TIMES: Phil Gould announces Anthony Griffin as Penrith coach.

THURSDAY

FAMOUS FOOTSTEPS: Mitchell Pearce emulates his father's trademark electrical-tape headband. Now all he needs is a pair of Wayne Pearce autograph shoulder pads.

FAMOUS FOOTSTEPS: Mitchell Pearce emulates his father's trademark electrical-tape headband. Now all he needs is a pair of Wayne Pearce autograph shoulder pads.

KORBIN Sims walks off ANZ Stadium at half-time after probably the best 40 minutes of footy he’s ever played.

The big Brisbane prop has scored two tries against the Dogs and is denied a hat-trick by the video referee, and for his efforts Channel Nine grab him for one of those on-pitch interviews before he heads into the shed.

The interviewer is none other than his big sister, Ruan Sims.

RETRO LOOK: Wayne Pearce back in the 1980s.

RETRO LOOK: Wayne Pearce back in the 1980s.

I’m expecting a hug and an air kiss, or at very least a “good to see you, sis,” or “way to go, little bro”.

But, no, it’s all very perfunctory. Ruan might as well be Brad Fittler, or Brett Kimmorley, or Braith Anasta … or any of the other myriad ex-player TV types.

It leaves me wondering if there is some underlying sibling tension. Has Korbin sparked a family feud by declaring he wants to play for Queensland when he was born and bred at Gerringong on the NSW South Coast?

Whatever the case, his heroics aren’t enough to save the Broncos from suffering a 36-22 boilover loss. 

The crowd of 6434 at 83,500-capacity ANZ Stadium is another reminder that Thursday-night football is one of the NRL’s great masterstrokes. #talkthegameup.

FRIDAY

HOW embarrassing. The self-proclaimed hard man of the Broncos and Cane Toads, Josh McGuire, is facing a one-game suspension … for pulling the hair of Canterbury’s Adam Elliott.

What a cat.

I blame former NRL boss Dave Smith.

He was the one who banned punching, which for more than 100 years had been rugby league’s greatest deterrent.

Now the likes of McGuire think they can get away with stomping on hands or shins or pulling hair and nobody will dare exact retribution.

I say bring back the biff, and then we’ll see how tough these niggling grubs really are.

Meanwhile, the proudest man at McDonald Jones Stadium must be former Balmain champion Wayne Pearce when his young bloke takes the field with an electrical-tape headband.

Back in Senior Junior’s day, taped heads and tight shorts were de rigueur for the Tigers forwards. 

Now all Junior Junior needs is some of those Wayne Pearce autographed shoulder pads and he’ll be truly following in his father’s footsteps.

SATURDAY

THE Bulldogs cop a $15,000 fine for wearing the wrong jerseys in their recent clash with Parramatta.

Apparently both teams ran out in hooped jumpers, although it didn’t seem to inconvenience the Eels, who won 14-8. Nonetheless, it’s reassuring to see the NRL are cracking down on the really big issues.

On the subject of “why bother?”, give a gold medal to referee Chris Sutton.

Sutton blows a penalty for off-side against Titans forward Moeaki Fotuaika in their clash with Parramatta.

He then sends Fotuaika to the sin-bin. The score at this point is 28-10 in Parramatta’s favour and there are five seconds left before full-time.

Still, the law’s the law.

SUNDAY

CRONULLA warhorse Paul Gallen throws down the gauntlet to Josh McGuire by inviting him to get it on in the boxing ring during the off-season.

“If he’s chasing the fight, as I’ve been told, I’m happy to accommodate him,” Gal declares.

“I heard the same thing last year and he pulled out.”

We can only hope McGuire is as silly as he looks and accepts Gal’s offer. The more likely outcome is that he changes his phone number and disappears on a long overseas holiday at the end of the season.

MONDAY

FROM the lies, damned lies and statistics file.

I am intrigued to read on nrl.com that the Newcastle Knights “have the best tackle effectiveness of any team” in 2018.

Apparently Newcastle’s 88.6 per cent ratio is top of the tree, just ahead of Melbourne's 88.3 per cent.

The website explains: “Tackle efficiency is calculated by tackles effected divided by tackles attempted; a missed tackle or an ineffective one ... lowers a team's tackle efficiency.”

I’m not sure how all that correlates to Newcastle conceding 513 points this season – the most by any team. I guess their opposition must be scoring a truckload of penalty goals and intercept tries.

In other developments, rugby league trainspotters could soon be searching for a new answer to the following trivia question: “Who is the most inexperienced coach to take an NRL team into the finals?”

The current record is held by former Knights coach Rick Stone, who replaced Brian Smith five games out from the 2009 play-offs.

Former Newcastle forward Cameron Ciraldo should get there in four games after being appointed caretaker coach at Penrith, replacing the punted Anthony Griffin.

TUESDAY 

PANTHERS supremo Gus Gould claims Griffin has been sacked after “losing the dressing room”.

This strikes me as slightly weird, given that Griffin has been at Penrith for three seasons now and, as far as I’m aware, the change rooms are in the same location today as when he first arrived.

Even weirder is the growing rumour that Griffin will be replaced by the man he replaced, Ivan Cleary.

Griffin, who has steered the Panthers into the finals in the past two seasons, is left with one overwhelming regret – that he has never fathered a State-of-Origin halfback. 

WEDNESDAY

THE old fox of the north angrily denies he is interested in the vacancy at Penrith.

“No club's made contact with me about what's happened in the last 24-48 hours,” Benny growls, much to the relief of Darius Boyd.

Gus Gould, meanwhile, appears a shoo-in for quote of the day when he says: “Anthony is a wonderful man. I really like him ... I still think he has plenty to offer the game.”

LIKE FATHER LIKE SON: Nathan and Ivan Cleary.

LIKE FATHER LIKE SON: Nathan and Ivan Cleary.

But then reports surface that Canberra prop Shannon Boyd has asked journalists: “Who’s Anthony Griffin?”