Steve Mascord, NRL.com
“See you later, iPhone!”
It’s fitting that week two of the NRL “silly season” should finish with a silly comment. That’s what South Sydney hooker Issac Luke was heard saying to debut team-mate Deon Apps as he left Centrebet Stadium on Monday night.
“iPhone” Apps. Geddit?
At least the cheeky New Zealand Test rake had not lost his sense of humour after a 22-10 loss to Penrith in teeming rain that left his coach John Lang referencing “nervous Nellies” and “lambs to the slaughter.”
It was the seventh and final game of a strange Round 12, in which Gold Coast had eight tries disallowed, the Sydney Roosters (20-6 losers to North Queensland at Dairy Farmers) seemed to set a world record for fumbles in a 40-minute period and Cronulla (8-14, AAMI Park) almost beat Melbourne at home.
Meanwhile Monday Night Football, St George Illawarra’s 24-18 win over Wests Tigers at WIN Jubilee on Sunday and the Friday night Suncorp Stadium double-header matches were entertaining enough.
Certainly, Canterbury fans welcomed the end of a winless month with their 28-6 defeat of Gold Coast while there was nothing boring about Manly fullback Brett Stewart’s magician’s pass to halfback Dale Cherry-Evans for a try earlier in the night during the 34-10 win over Brisbane.
But the other matches seemed to lack a certain something – and according to 200-game Melbourne captain Cameron Smith, the ingredient is no mystery.
“The standard of footy this weekend’s probably been a little bit low because ... you take the best players out of a lot of the teams and the standard goes down,” hooker Smith said.
“Then you’ve got guys coming back fatigued and the standard goes down again. That hurts clubs and it’s not good for the fans, going watching that footy.”
Fear not, a possible solution is at hand!
On The Road can reveal league fan Warren Young has been in contact with the NRL and clubs over his idea for a separate competition to be played during the representative season.
Nominally called the “Origin Cup”, it would run from May 29 to June 29 and could be sold as a separate television property and used to take matches, well, “on the road”.
“The Origin Cup Series is a four-round competition plus two semi finals and the final held over a five-week period during the State of Origin,” Young writes in his proposal, “between Rounds 10 and 11 of the main competition.”
Like the All Stars game, the competition will be an opportunity to trial new rules.
“Points will be obtained by a victory, losing by less than seven points, and tries scored,” he suggests.
We think another advantage of a separate mid-season competition would be the opportunity to add new teams – such as Gareth Ellis’ proposed combined England side. Young suggests representative Under 20s teams, with the Toyota Cup also in recess for the five weeks.
No doubt there are sound reasons why such an idea won’t work – like surrendering valuable airtime to rival codes by staging a lesser competition.
There’d be debates about it. Rugby league has always been a sport to move with the times – whether it’s competition structure or players’ nicknames.
By the way, we think “Android” Apps is a better moniker for the young lad.