Monday Morning Halfback: Round 14
The code hopping Jillaroo set for the Olympics, the Women's Origin team looking to make it 17-in-a-row, Manu Vatuvei sets a record that may never be broken, the call for squad numbers and how the NRL beat the NBA, NHL and NFL.
Mahalia Murphy – the Jillaroos debutant who burst onto the scene with a scintillating match-deciding hat-trick against New Zealand in the Women's Test match on May 3 – has been named to play for the Australian Women's Rugby Sevens team to compete in the Pacific Games in Port Moresby. It is an interesting development.
Murphy is an extremely talented athlete who wanted to follow Cathy Freeman's footsteps and become an Olympian in track and field before finding rugby and then rugby league. Before her triumphant Jillaroos debut, coach Steve Folkes told NRL.com that she was the kind of player who he could build a team around and would potentially be a superstar for the next decade.
She certainly started her international rugby league career with a bang. But will we continue to see her for the Jillaroos?
Jillaroos players are currently not contracted to rugby league, meaning they are free to play other codes. While there is potential to juggle both league and union, similar to what Ellyse Perry does with cricket and football, the opportunity to play Rugby sevens at the Rio Olympics in 2016 might be very tempting for Murphy.
The talented 19-year-old is set to become a dual international superstar. For rugby league's sake, I hope she is not lost to the sport.
Qld looking for 17 straight!
Still on the Women's Game, the Queensland squad was announced for the upcoming Interstate Challenge against New South Wales in Townsville at 1300SMILES Stadium on Saturday 27 June.
The Maroons are aiming to make it an incredible 17-in-a-row against the Blues when they play the curtain-raiser to the Cowboys' Round 16 clash against the Sharks.
While they will be without Jillaroos halfback Ali Brigginshaw (broken leg) - praised by immortal Andrew Johns as everything he looks for in a quality halfback - they have still named a team boasting over 11 current or former Australian players.
It will certainly be a tough task for New South Wales to break the streak in Townsville.
Congratulation to Manu Vatuvei who became the first player in the game's history to score 10 tries in every season consecutively for a decade. The most prolific New Zealand try-scorer just keeps breaking records.
The streak started in 2006 where he scored 10 tries in 18 games. Since then he has reached double figures in every season and it could have been more. In 2005 Vatuvei scored nine tries in just 12 appearances for the Warriors.
The streak is a record that might never be broken.
2005 - 9 tries
2006 - 10
2007 - 10
2008 - 16
2009 - 13
2010 - 20
2011 - 12
2012 - 12
2013 - 16
2014 - 17
2015 - 10*
Career haul - 145 in 206 games
Marvel jerseys win international acclaim
The NRL has beaten a hot field including NHL, NFL and NBA at the international licensee of the year awards in the United States for their exclusive range of Marvel Super Hero themed jerseys that were launched in 2014.
ISC was announced the winner of the Sports or Sports-Themed Entertainment Licensee of the 2014 Year for the ISC/Marvel Super Heroes program. The nomination was included within a group of global licensees and international sporting codes.
The Marvel-inspired jerseys worn by the Cowboys, Sea Eagles, Roosters, Dragons and Raiders in Round 21 last season were all big sellers and gained mainstream media attention across the world.
ISC is the first Australian company to win an International Licensing Award.
Well done to veteran NRL Licensing manager Elisabeth Vitale and everyone involved.
Time for Squad Numbers?
Another concept that has been on the drawing board for some time at NRL HQ with varying levels of interest is squad numbers on the back of jerseys.
The basic idea is that players have their own unique number with their name on the back of their jersey, similar to other major sports like the English Premier League and the NBA.
Australian basketball player Matthew Dellavedova’s Cleveland Cavaliers No.8 jersey rocketed to the top of jersey sales this week off the back of some incredible performances in the NBA Finals. His jersey is currently outselling every other NBA player in the USA, including superstar teammate Le Bron James and other jersey behemoths Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
The appeal of being able to buy a Billy Slater No.1 Storm jersey, Johnathan Thurston No.7 Cowboys or Shaun Johnson No.7 Warriors jersey would be great for both fans and clubs alike.
The model most mooted would involve clubs declaring their top 30 players at the start of the season. Starting fullbacks would still wear No.1 and halfbacks would still wear the No.7.
It would be a way for fans to connect and indentify more closely with their favourite players while also giving clubs and players a new revenue stream.
As always, the devil is in the detail.
Two points earns Roosters two points
Last week's column touched on a current trend in the modern game with teams increasingly taking penalty goals. There has certainly been a fair bit of debate about the tactic.
What has largely been missed in the Roosters' dramatic last-minute win over the Warriors was their decision to take a penalty goal when trailing by eight points with 26 minutes remaining.
James Maloney's penalty goal brought the margin back to a converted try, and in the 71st minute, the decision was vindicated when he levelled the scores with a show-and-go to score under the posts.
While the last five minutes were frantic with Maloney kicking the go-ahead field goal, only to see the Warriors equalise and then Blake Ferguson win the game with a try in the final minute, none of it might have happened had it not been for the Roosters' seemingly odd decision to kick the penalty goal.