NRL News | Paul Gall Column


NRL great PAUL GALLEN will appear on Nine’s 100% FOOTY every Monday night of the NRL season, discussing rugby league’s hottest topics alongside Phil Gould and James Bracey. Tune in tonight at 10:30 p.m. (AEDT) after an exceptional first round!

The NRL’s new concussion rules, which involve having an independent doctor in the bunker, are another step in the right direction for the game.

There was some controversy at the weekend when the Roosters had Billy Smith and Victor Radley ruled out of the game against Newcastle by the Bunker doctor, but the whole area of ​​concussions is perhaps the game’s trickiest issue. .

I’ve always thought there should be an independent doctor to oversee the process, as we’ve complained in years past of some clubs breaking the system to get a free trade, which Trent Robinson acknowledged this weekend. end.

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No doubt this is partly driven by the prospect of litigation in the future, but you absolutely cannot fault the NRL for any change that puts player welfare first.

I would make a big change, and that would be to put the independent doctor on the sidelines, rather than in the Bunker.

I realize it would be more expensive, but they would have the best of both worlds. They can get a firsthand idea of ​​the players’ condition and also use the monitors on the touchline to watch all the action and request replays just like they would from the bunker.

Victor Radley left the field after a blow to the head. (FOX Sports)

We’ve seen in other sports where ex-players sue the governing bodies, and that’s what the NRL is concerned about, and that’s fair enough too. These days, you have to listen to the experts.

All that aside, the Roosters were very disappointing, there were a lot of shocks this weekend and this was probably one of the biggest. It was a nightmare, but I hope it will continue all year. If this is how the season goes, it will be fantastic.

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Last year we had five or six teams that were clearly better than everyone else, and it’s getting a little predictable. You knew that for much of the year there were only a few teams capable of winning the competition, and that’s how it went.

But a nightmare tip is good competition, if I’m being honest. It makes every game so important, and we saw that over the weekend.

Expectations were that the Roosters would have beaten the Knights, who I predicted would be at the bottom of the ladder. Credit where it’s due, Newcastle were brilliant and the Roosters were a disappointment.

Dominic Young scores for Newcastle against the Roosters at SCG. (Getty)

There isn’t even one area I can highlight with the roosters, it was across the board.

We saw that Newcastle’s first try was due to a mistake by James Tedesco, how often does he make such a mistake? You won’t see him again this season, it was so rare.

The Roosters need to improve in all facets of their game, but give Newcastle their due, they have been fantastic.

Hopefully it’s a sign that 2022 will be one of those competitions where we go into every game knowing that every team can win their day, which we didn’t see in 2021.

Without a doubt, I had Manly and the Roosters in my top four, so it’s interesting that one of those teams is 0-2 at this time next week, considering they face off at the second turn.

It’s a long season, Manly didn’t win a game in the first four rounds last year so it’s not panic yet, but you wouldn’t expect either of these teams is 0-2.

And if you look at Manly, they were probably the most disappointing team in the round. They weren’t in that game against Penrith at all.

On the back of the Panthers’ disappointing tryout form, I expected Manly to get the job done. Penrith came out and completely destroyed Manly, their line speed and defense was phenomenal. I know it’s so hard to win back-to-back competitions, but if they continue like this, they’ll be very hard to beat again this year.

Penrith Panthers playmaker Sean O’Sullivan pictured during the Manly Sea Eagles clash. (Robb Cox/NRL Imagery)

Their energy for 80 minutes was through the roof. And to perform like that without Nathan Cleary is a real plus, Sean O’Sullivan was remarkable in his place.

What he showed was that the essay form means absolutely nothing. It boils down to a mentality of what the game is…it’s a trial. A lot of guys, especially experienced players, are probably just here to get by. Run a race under their belt, get match fitness and hopefully come out unscathed.

Then you see in the first round a massive turnaround for some clubs when it counts. I watched Brian To’o in the trial against Parramatta, and he did nothing at all, no line skipping, no fast play, nothing. Then he comes out against Manly and he was brilliant, so dynamic.

He’s only 23 but that’s experience for you….they don’t give out comp points in tryouts, that’s what you do once the competition starts which account.

Brian To’o in action for Penrith against Manly in the first round of the 2022 NRL season. (Getty)

But it’s the middle of March, now is not the time to get too caught up in the hype of good or bad performance. Clubs and players know not to get carried away by the hype of the first few weeks, whether positive or negative.

If you’re 2-0, your fans are already talking about your chances of winning the competition, or if you’re 0-2, they might be into you.

It’s a long season, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. You see so many teams start well and then fall, and then you have teams like Manly last year that were 0-4 and finished in the top four.

This is not to minimize the first few weeks, as two comp points in round 1 are worth the same as two points in round 24. If you have a good start, it can help create a buffer so that if you lose a few games during Origin it doesn’t kill your season.

It was so hard to watch Melbourne’s Christian Welch suffer from an Achilles injury that pretty much ended his season. Add to that George Jennings doing his knee and Brandon Smith suffering a hand injury, and it was a horrible start for the Storm.

Christian Welch is helped from the field. (Getty)

Welch in particular is a big loss, their captain, an Origin player, their inspiration, he does his job every week and he left a gaping hole there.

The presence he has on the pitch and in training is irreplaceable, everyone loves and respects him, although if there is one club that can overcome something like that, it’s Melbourne.

We’ve seen it time and time again when the absolute greats, guys like Cameron Smith and Billy Slater leave the club, they just keep going.

Melbourne have Souths and Parramatta in the next two weeks, so how that plays out will be fascinating. If the next two weeks are as good as the first round, we are in for a ripper season.

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