Next Gen: Learning from the best
Fox Sports Commentator Matt Russell looks at all the action from Round 18 of the Toyota Cup.
Ain’t half bad
As Roosters Toyota Cup half Ryley Jacks raced away to score a fantastic individual try on Sunday, I was reminded how lucky Generation Next can be.
When Jacks was born in Brisbane in 1992, Jason Taylor was leading Wests to a Major Preliminary Semi Final in his third season of first grade.
Taylor would go on to spend 12 years at the top and finish with 2107 points from 276 games. Some career!
Now JT is coaching the Roosters Under 20s and Jacks can tap into one of the game’s great halves any day of the week.
It’s not just the Roosters. How good would it be for Blake Fitzpatrick and TJ Taotua at the Dogs, who spend time with 307-gamer Brett Kimmorley? How about being a forward at Melbourne under premiership-winning enforcer Dean Pay? The list goes on.
The point wasn’t lost on Robbie Farah, my co-caller on Sunday, who stressed how vital hooker-cum-coach Royce Simmons had been in his early days at the Tigers.
It’s not just footy skills. I am constantly struck with how much effort and satisfaction the Toyota Cup coaches get from helping their players with life skills.
Jason Taylor’s Sydney Roosters have just won three straight games for the first time this season.
Only points differential is keeping them out of the top eight and maybe not for long.
Something has clicked at Bondi.
Against Penrith, the Roosters scored four tries in 13 minutes to win 42-28.
A week earlier, they piled on 56 unanswered points in 49 minutes against Canberra.
On form, they should beat South Sydney on Saturday and set themselves for a real test in the following fortnight against top eight teams Wests Tigers and Canterbury.
See the Roosters play Souths from 3.15pm EST as part of Super Saturday on Fox Sports 2.
Driving the message home
It was good to interview a rising talent at Cronulla last weekend – Tyson Frizell.
He’s played a key role in the Sharks’ impressive NYC season.
Helping the back rower has been his lift to and from Wollongong.
The taxi driver just happens to be a premiership-winning Kiwi international, who knows the back row business as well as anybody – Jeremy Smith!
Light green... and fading
The Canberra Raiders have spent much more time in the top eight than out of it since the Toyota Cup started in 2008.
Now they face their biggest challenge.
The Raiders sit ninth, and last week took to the field missing eight regulars through injury and another three to NRL.
The Raiders have won only one of their last seven games. They won six of their first nine.
Can Canberra hang in long enough to be in contention when the players start coming back? Two points against Melbourne on Sunday would help!
Catch the action as part of NRL Sunday from 11.30am EST on Fox Sports 2.
Back three front up
Wests Tigers downed Parramatta 24-4 on Friday night and have now won eight of their last 10.
A few stats really stand out. James Tedesco had 15 runs for 239 metres, Marika Koroibete ran 13 times for 208 metres and David Nofoaluma had 17 runs for 176 metres. They also combined for 23 tackle breaks.
The back three are all 17!
The Tigers away to North Queensland on Saturday shapes as fascinating... in both grades.
Here they come
North Queensland was my pick to win the Toyota Cup at the start of the season. I’ve been less than convinced at times.
Now the Cowboys have won three in a row. In fact they’ve smashed three in a row. They scored 42 points against the Warriors, 46 against Penrith and now 50 against Newcastle.
Kyle Feldt scored four tries and kicked five goals for 26 points – a Cowboys’ record at any level.
Pity Ethan Cook who scored a hat-trick for the beaten Knights.
Goal-kicking can be a cruel job. Just ask Canterbury’s TJ Taotua.
The Dogs have lost three in a row, with kicking the difference in the last two.
Against Penrith, Canterbury scored five tries to four but was beaten 22-20. Harry Seijka landed 5/5 while Taotua’s last minute shot faded wide.
On Saturday, Melbourne and Canterbury scored five tries each. Matt McGahan kicked 5/5 while Taotua was left with 2/5.
Dogs fans will hope TJ has a happier time against the Warriors this week.
What’s the point?
The hit pads must be missing at South Sydney and Manly.
The Bunnies bounced the Eagles 52-30 in a game featuring 16 tries and 92 missed tackles.
The Toyota Cup record is 96 points, when Penrith blitzed Newcastle 64-32 last year.
The NRL has that covered – 102 points when Newcastle downed Canberra 70-32 in 2006.