NRL Round 8 Talking Points: The kick-off is on borrowed time, so what replaces it?


Round 8’s NRL was a weekend of domination, with an average win margin of 21 points and some teams seeing their finals hopes really starting to flicker. Here are your talking points from the weekend.

Maybe the kick-off does need to go

Kick-offs appear to be on borrowed time after St George Illawarra centre Mosese Suli was knocked out in Anzac Day’s first tackle facing up to a charging Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves.

For all the hand-wringing about kick-offs and returns, making a change is a reasonable call, to be honest. This isn’t the NRL’s usual knee-jerk reaction to a singular event, it’s something that’s been on the table for a while.

Moses Suli appears to be out of the game after a heavy collision in the opening seconds.

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But how do we make the change? Move the tee back 20 metres, but kick chasers still go from halfway? Move the chasers forward to start from the opposition 20? Limit kickoffs to a 30-metre space? Don’t have kickoffs at all and start from the 20 with a tap after the coin toss?

There’s going to be a lot of discussion around this. So let’s come at it from a productive angle. Let’s not pretend the kick-off is some sacred part of the game that should never be touched – it’s actually something that has become more and more dialled down over the years. This would be a change for the better, whatever form it takes.

And just to tack on a personal gripe here – again, a club was left shorthanded by the NRL’s ridiculous 18th-man rule. Because Suli wasn’t knocked out by foul play and wasn’t the second Dragons player to be ruled out by an HIA, Shane Flanagan couldn’t bring on reserve player Michael Molo. The Dragons’ day against the Roosters was already hard enough without having to play a man down. This rule must change.

Speak well of the winners

I had initially planned to write an ‘all is lost’ point here and pot the Warriors, Raiders, Eels, Bunnies and Dragons but no, let’s turn it into a positive. Some great wins were had this weekend and it’s worth celebrating those who played well.

We must start with the Titans. Des Hasler’s men went to New Zealand and compounded the Warriors’ woes to the tune of 27-24, hanging on with all their might for 15 looong minutes as the Wahs bashed away at them to try and score the decisive try.

The Titans have been a decent opponent in the last few weeks. Hopefully it sticks and they can continue to cause some mischief.

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The Storm and Roosters had easy runs in their Anzac Day fixtures, winning by a combined score of 114-38. When the Chooks are up and about, they’re highly entertaining and when Melbourne have a sniff, they just don’t let the foot off the throat. Who knows what their chances are of knocking over Penrith when it matters, but if you’re playing either of these teams you need to be right on your game.

Manly and Brisbane took care of their business with Parramatta and Wests Tigers pretty comfortably, banking important competition points. The top four is going to be some contest this year.

Catch, hold or grip

Api Koroisau’s disallowed try against Brisbane was the refereeing point of contention this week, being hung onto by many as a ‘game-changing’ decision, an impressive call in a 34-10 loss.

The Bunker calls in and takes this one away from Api.

Was he hard done by?

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The Tigers hooker lost control of the ball in the act of scoring with his side down 10-4 and a little over 14 minutes left in the first half. He got back to it to put pressure and ground it, but unfortunately for fans who prefer refereeing by vibes or what looks cool, this isn’t a try. Let’s learn together, from the ‘grounding’ section of the NRL rules:

“A player who has had possession or touches/touched the ball and knocks the ball forward must regain possession (catch, hold or grip) prior to the ball hitting the ground, another player, goal post or cross bar.”

This was another of those rules which people wanted clarified so there wouldn’t be doubt. Some people will never be happy though, they’d prefer the rules go out the window when it suits.

Good games this week

Not gonna lie folks, Round 9 looks just as brutal as this past weekend. We live in hope for some clubs to outperform expectations, starting on Thursday when Souths face up to Penrith. Will the Bunnies have some life with the Panthers coming off just five days of rest?

Friday’s early game is Canberra headed to Brookvale on a five-day break to take on Manly. The Sea Eagles are in attacking heaven right now and will be licking their lips as the baby Raiders head to town.

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

We may have a decent contest primetime Friday, with the Roosters in Brisbane. Saturday’s triple header starts in Sydney with the rested Bulldogs hosting Wests Tigers. Cameron Ciraldo’s men did indeed rise to eighth spot without lifting a finger, now can they stay there?

Saturday twilight is on the Gold Coast when Melbourne visit the Titans fresh off a destruction of Souths. The Gold Coast pinched a great win in New Zealand, can they lift in class again?

Saturday night is the busted Dolphins against the Cowboys, who did have a crack at Penrith. The round ends with Sunday’s interesting matchup between the Knights and the wobbling Warriors, then Cronulla have another expected win against St George Illawarra.

Round 8’s random thoughts

– A less-than-optimal celebration of coach Ricky Stuart’s 500th game as Canberra’s streak of scoring points in consecutive games ends at 273. The baby Raiders were held to zero for the first time since Round 3, 2013.
– Huge crowds for Anzac Round with 179,337 through the gates. The increases in bums on seats in the last couple of years means a lot to the game. Hopefully next comes huge membership numbers.
– The exploits of one particular NRL journo this weekend brought to mind the words of American poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou; “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
– Can someone please, please teach Steve ‘Blocker’ Roach how to pronounce NRL players’ names? It’s getting beyond ridiculous. Do any NRL broadcasters do any research before being given a microphone?
– Rabbitohs stand-in fullback Jye Gray is turning some heads with his eagerness to get involved and play fast. Someone at South Sydney needs to tell him it’s ok to pass the ball every now and then, though.
– After giving the Dolphins a wrap last week they let me down badly in losing to Newcastle. The Knights begged the Dolphins to take that game off them in the second half, begged them. But as Bennett’s men flapped around, Newcastle held on for a hugely needed win.
– Cronulla are clear on top of the pops again… but who have they beaten to this point? They’ve played teams currently 8th, 9th, 10th, 12th, 14th, and dead last.

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What’s caught your eye this weekend, Roarers?

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