Friday Frenzy: Leuluai upbeat
Warriors five-eighth Thomas Leuluai insists he isn’t at all concerned by the form of he and halves partner Shaun Johnson ahead of tomorrow night’s clash with the Sydney Roosters, insisting it is up to the rest of the side to help them out by avoiding the mistakes that plagued them throughout last week’s horror 40-10 loss to Parramatta.
Although Leuluai, who debuted for the Warriors back in 2003 but has spent the past nine seasons in England, admitted it would take him some time to readjust to the NRL, he told NRL.com that he wasn’t at all concerned by his opening-round performance.
“Obviously there are always things you want to work on and that’s the same for me but with all the errors that we made [against Parramatta], as halves it made it pretty hard,” he said when asked about his own opening-round effort.
“I think there are a lot more worrying areas for us to work on. We’ll take a look at where we can improve but I’m pretty comfortable playing alongside Shaun.”
He might have fallen on his sword earlier this week but there’s no doubting the passion of former Cronulla chairman Damian Irvine. The self-confessed one-eyed Sharks fanatic has barely missed a game in the past three decades… even earning a reputation among the club’s players in the 1990s. “You know how I met Damian Irvine?” Sharks legend Mat Rogers asks NRL.com rhetorically. “I met Damian Irvine getting beat up outside North Sydney Oval in 1994, there wearing his Sharks jersey supporting the team... we saved him getting beaten up by North Sydney fans. From that day on that I can remember, he was at every single Sharks game I played in – he travelled everywhere. He’s more passionate about that club than anyone I’ve ever met.”
Their relationship was strained at times during their two-years’ coaching against one another at State of Origin level and we’re hearing that former Canberra teammates Mal Meninga and Ricky Stuart are at loggerheads again over the whole Josh Papalii affair.
Papalii, of course, signed a rich three-year deal to join Stuart at Parramatta next season before reneging a month later – a move allowed under the NRL’s ‘cooling off’ rule which gives players up until Round 13 before the deal becomes official.
The Eels camp is livid that Meninga was brought in by the Raiders specifically to talk Papalii out of the move, with officials questioning whether he used his role as Queensland Origin coach as leverage in his discussions with the young back-rower.
Papalii announced last September that he had chosen to represent Queensland and Australia over his native New Zealand.
Norrie on a roll
It’s remarkable to think that just a touch over three years ago, Melbourne prop Bryan Norrie thought his NRL career was over after being cut by Cronulla and returning to Wagga Wagga to captain-coach the local side.
Since Craig Bellamy offered him a shock reprieve in 2010, Norrie has gone on to win a premiership and a World Club Challenge title, with his 70 games for the Storm more than he had amassed in his previous six seasons in the NRL combined!
When Norrie signed a new one-year deal for 2013 last season it seemed that Norrie was readying himself for retirement but it seems that the 29-year-old has no intention of calling it quits just yet.
“The body feels better now than it ever has in my career so I’m confident I’ve got a few years left in me,” Norrie said.
Roosters fullback and captain Anthony Minichiello has no doubt his brother Mark will return to the Titans’ top 17 in coming weeks. The Gold Coast back-rower has been dumped to the Tweed Heads Seagulls in the Intrust Super Cup, but ‘The Count’ believes his little bro will be back in a Titans jersey very shortly. “I have spoken to him and he’s obviously disappointed but I’m sure he’ll be in the team in the next few weeks,” Anthony told NRL.com. “He’s a real tough competitor – he’s a winner – and he’ll be back in there soon, I reckon.”