The NRL Rookie - Episode 6 Review
The personal battle between Elias and Matt was only just beginning to heat up, but it was the Queenslander who got the last say in the end.
For the second week in a row, there were two NRL Rookies cut – they being English bobsled pro, Luke Frixou and second-chance Sydneysider, Matt Johnstone.
Despite Luke stepping up in the Captain's Challenge it was some sloppy ball handling and defensive reads in the match that cost him in the end. It was a moving display as all of the boys embraced Luke in the pouring rain as they huddled round on the pitch for a post-match debrief. He had achieved so much - from the second he set foot on Australian soil. As he headed off towards the tunnel the rain that ran down his face mingled with his tears as the harsh reality of being cut sunk in.
But it showed just how serious and unpredictable the competition has become. If Freddy isn't happy, you could be gone without even having time to shower!
For mature-aged Matt Johnstone, he came from a different path, turning his life around from a rather difficult upbringing.
This deprived him opportunities with rugby league representative squads in his teens and early 20s, yet giving up wasn't in Matt's nature. If anything, it spurred him on even more so to make it.
Mark Geyer compared his enthusiasm to an "Energizer bunny", yet this also proved to be Matt's downfall with Freddy stressing the importance of selecting the right times to use this trait.
Whether Matt could produce the 'game control' in pressure situations that all halves need, was not clear to the coaches, which ultimately led to his dismissal.
The outcome could have been very different however if Jordan hadn't passed his fitness test before kick-off. As always, Freddy was straight down the line and told Jordan if he didn't pass, he would have to leave the competition.
Prior to the game, as the boys waited patiently in the sheds of Allianz Stadium, a former Sydney Rooster who currently holds the record for the most NRL games played for the tri-colours, with 302, paid them a visit.
You guessed it, it was 'The Count', Anthony Minichiello. His chat on resilience and injury rehab must have resonated with Jordan but for the majority of the NRL Rookies, they unfortunately did not play to their potential.
Perhaps it was the atrocious conditions, or maybe the subconscious intimidation of the names they were coming up against – the likes of Mark O'Meley, Andrew Ryan, Heath L'Estrange and Lee Hopkins. Either way the NRL Rookies were hit with their first loss.
Despite this, it was an important experience for them to take on as a group – not only the feeling of losing, or playing against former-NRL players, but understanding what the Men of League is all about.
'The Shed' session with Kate fleshed this out even more, by highlighting the many support systems the NRL have put in place to combat mental health issues.
As Freddy said, "if it was only about ability, there would be plenty of people playing NRL", but the boys are learning especially through the challenges, that their biggest demons come from their own lack of self-belief.
This was a stark reminder for both Peter and Reece, who as a result of their lack of consistency joined Matt in the bottom three.
So from 10 NRL Rookies to eight and it's becoming really hard now to separate the middle from the top tier. So difficult in fact that it has the coaches bickering over which players to keep and which to send packing.
But who exactly are they unsure of? And who is it that you think will be there at the end?
Don't just watch it, participate in the journey to see who will sign with an NRL club and be able to call themselves The NRL Rookie.
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AUSTRALIAN BROADCAST DETAILS:
Each episode will air five times during the week on free to air television across the Nine Network:
• PREMIERE – Tuesday – GO! 7.30PM (SYD/MEL/BRIS)
• ENCORE 1 - Wednesday - CH9 10.30PM (SYD/BRIS)
• ENCORE 2 - Saturday - CH9 1PM (BRIS)
• ENCORE 3 - Sunday - CH9 2.30PM (SYD)
• ENCORE 4 - Monday - GO! 11.30PM (SYD/MEL/BRIS/ADE/PER)
Please note: these time may vary from week to week so be sure to check your local guides.