NRL fans were repulsed on Thursday night when George Burgess blatantly eye-gouged Robbie Farah in full view of the TV cameras.
Burgess has form in this area and was banned for four games after being found guilty of eye-gouging Dallin Watene-Zelezniak in November in a Test match between England and New Zealand.
This is the third case of eye-gouging in the competition this year, which is alarming that an act so grubby and distasteful – something that should be left in the past – seems to be making some sort of comeback.
Burgess is facing a 12-game ban for the gouge, which would end his 2019 season. It’s no less than what he deserves for such shocking behaviour.
Ponga’s loss makes Maroons’ job harder
Queensland is going to have it to do it the hard way in State of Origin Game III without Kalyn Ponga.
The Newcastle Knights fullback has a calf strain that is expected to rule him out of the series decider.
It’s a big blow for the Maroons, with no other standout fullback of similar pedigree to replace him.
Darius Boyd is horribly out of form and Greg Inglis has retired, meaning Queensland will most likely select a makeshift fullback in the form of Michael Morgan, Cameron Munster or Anthony Milford.
It will be a risky ploy and moving Morgan or Munster to the No.1 jumper could upset the balance of the team.
Coaches anything but ‘zipped’
Coaches Paul McGregor and Paul Green went head to head on Friday after the Dragons downed the Cowboys.
North Queensland boss Green was unhappy that Tariq Sims had faced no penalty for his hit on Cowboys playmaker Michael Morgan. It forced Morgan to leave the field.
Green believed the tackle was “late and high” by Sims, but McGregor was having none of it.
The Dragons coach retorted: “He blows up a fair bit,” McGregor said of Green.
He had a go at Freddie last week too. He has got a lot to say. Am I comfortable with the tackle? Absolutely.
“He wrapped his arms around him. How can you stop in that momentum? It was looked at, there was a scrum packed, move on. Zip his mouth.”
Parra’s 22 minutes of power
Canberra was 16-0 ahead after 30-odd minutes in Darwin on Saturday night and cruising. It looked a regulation win for the Raiders, and another bad night for the blue and gold, but Parramatta turned it around brilliantly.
It was a remarkable comeback over 22 minutes in the humidity of the Northern Territory, as Jack Wighton went from diamonds to rocks with his personal performance.
The Eels remain the NRL’s No.1 yo-yo team and no one personifies this more than their in- and out-of-form playmaker Mitchell Moses.
Sunshine turns to gloom in Queensland
Are there serious problems developing in the Sunshine State?
Yes it is only 1-1 in State of Origin, and the Maroons may go on to win Game III and win back the Shield, but it won’t be easy for them in Sydney and there are some real issues in clubland.
Gold Coast notched its 11th loss on the weekend, falling 30-12 to Manly in another poor performance.
The Titans are a basketcase. The Cowboys also lost again, beaten by the Dragons, and they remain 12th on the ladder.
Then there’s the Broncos, who were dire against Newcastle. They sit in 13th and have won just five games this season.
Time to grow the game
The past seven days have seen NRL games played in Perth, Adelaide and Darwin in front of good crowds.
Origin Game II was a success at Perth’s Optus Stadium, the City of Churches was treated to a fantastic spectacle between the two best teams in the NRL, while Darwin turned out as Parramatta was back in town.
It’s great to see NRL games go around the country and not just being fixed in Queensland and NSW.
Surely it’s time to create an ‘on the road’ round, with a whole round of night matches played across regional areas and cities in Australia and New Zealand.
This has been done more recently with Penrith going to Bathurst and the Roosters linked with Adelaide.
If the competition thinks big it could stage NRL games in exotic locations like Suva, Apia, Port Moresby and maybe even Singapore.