Tim Elbra, Assistant Editor
Try, try and try again!
Wow, we’re going to have a SENSATIONAL race for the leading try-scorer gong this season.
Our current set of front-runners is a collection of eclectic but genuine freaks who have exploded from the blocks – and a crop of the usual suspects haven't even gotten warmed up yet.
Warriors winger Glen Fisiiahi, once rated by Andrew Johns as the most talented junior player he'd seen, sits on seven tries thanks to a weekend quadruple. Level with him is Eels man-god Semi Radradra. A bunch of guns who laugh in the face of physics are in hot pursuit on four tries – Dragons superman Brett Morris, rebuilt Tigers ace James Tedesco and his former Man of Steel teammate Pat Richards, the Titans’ reformed problem child Albert Kelly, underrated Raider Jarrod Croker, Manly hardman Steve Matai and fringe Eels winger Vai Toutai.
Bunched another one back are the likes of Greg Inglis, Akuila Uate, Josh Morris, Josh Mansour and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. Recent winners of the top try-scorer award such as Ben Barba (0), Nathan Merritt (0), David Williams (0), Shaun Kenny-Dowall (1), David Simmons (1) and James McManus (1) are languishing but will surely find the stripe regularly over the long run.
We certainly look on track for last year’s mark of 19 (from Simmons, Williams and McManus) to be smashed and could see the best season since Morris’ 25 in 2009.
The benchmark remains Dave Brown’s invincible 38 tries for Eastern Suburbs in 1935. Here's a (tenuous) stat for you: If Radradra and Fisiiahi maintain their current strike rate, they will end the regular season with 42 tries. It ain’t going to happen – but what a cracking start.
Rising for Alex
One thing rugby league is undisputedly good at: Rallying around one of its own. The scenes of support at Newcastle's Hunter Stadium in the wake of a tragic injury to Alex McKinnon, a tremendous young player and man, were absolutely magnificent. So much so, stony-faced supercoach Wayne Bennett admitted he was on the verge of tears.
A romping Knights win was icing on the cake and news Alex had made some progress with his health topped the lot. Keep up the prayers and well-wishes, fans.
Why Craig's belly ached
For an insight into why Craig Bellamy’s Melbourne Storm teams have been NRL standard bearers for such a long time, watch his post-match press conference
in the wake of a 40-12 thrashing from the Bulldogs. Bellyache’s face and tone was like that of a man who has scraped something off the bottom of his shoe, wedged it between two mouldy pieces of bread and taken a bite.
It was pure, unadulterated disgust – even after captain Cameron Smith’s omission with a back injury threw a plus-sized spanner in the works 10 minutes before kick-off. With Bellamy having declared his men were a “sometimes team” and “rubbish” for most of the game in Perth, we’d love to be a fly on the wall for this week’s video review. Cooper Cronk chuckled at the impending rage during the same presser.
Matt Elliott is riding the wave of complete and utter madness that is an in-form Warriors side. Despite his blood pressure still sitting in the critical range, his winning streak sits at two and there are no neckties in sight. Wests Tigers boss Mick Potter was on the wrong end of the New Zealanders’ brilliance, a timely reminder that his young team is a work in progress. Kind of like making the leap from celebrating wins with a Happy Meal bender at McDonalds to having a few cold ones after a game with your hairy old teammates at the leagues club. Dragons coach Steve Price was forced to don the grave expression he wore for most of last season after copping his first loss of the year against the Broncos, which at least gave a leg-up to fellow Under Pressure In Pre-Season Coach Anthony Griffin, now a fellow 3-1 record holder. John Cartwright and Paul Green are chasing a nerve-settling two points in an all-Queensland shindig and as part of a friendly bet (allegedly), the loser has to survive a year living in the steamy state without any anti-chafing ointment. Wayne Bennett got his first win of the season with the Knights on Sunday – and couldn't care less. He was just mightily proud of his team’s character after an extremely difficult week.
Bulldogs five-eighth Josh Reynolds has started the season like a man who, at the very least, intends to keep his NSW utility spot. Queensland try-scoring machine Darius Boyd returned from a hamstring injury for Newcastle to positive effect. Former NSW playmaker Jarrod Mullen is nearing a return from injury with the Knights but would need to play like Joey to get an Origin recall after a delayed start to the season. Anthony Milford carved up for Canberra, as did Terry Campese, to at least give a flicker to long-shot bids for the Maroons and Blues respectively. Sea Eagles prop Brenton Lawrence is giving Queensland selection an almighty shake, as is Brisbane's Josh McGuire. Gun Cowboys back-rower Tariq Sims will tonight look to build on his juicy case for a NSW debut. In sad news for Blues fans, Manly genius Kieran Foran still hasn't changed his mind about that whole Kiwi thing.