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UTK

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  1. As someone in Aus I've thoroughly enjoyed watching SL throughout the year, witnessed plenty of cracking games across the season with contests often going down to the wire. I believe you have a much better interpretation of the much maligned 6-again rules, in particular retaining penalties for inside the 10m infringements. Lack of scrums and the play-the-ball situation are the only jarring rule-based issues from a spectator perspective. At times I've honestly preferred catching SL games over the NRL, the NRL has had a massive problem with competitiveness and major blowouts which has generally rendered at least 2-3 games a week as not worth watching. Sure there have been blowouts here and there in SL but outside of a hamstrung Leigh the rest have managed to compete. Salford finishing 11th with 7 wins from 22 games tells that story well. Lower-placed sides have managed to snag top scalps or create exciting games against the top teams - something that just hasn't happened over here this season. The most frustrating thing about following SL here is that unless your team is in one of the 2 games shown by Sky a week you can't watch them play. It's also obviously very rare to be able to watch a game live, so I imagine those two factors combined would make it very difficult to drive any sort of regular viewership outside of diehards/expats in Aus/NZ.
  2. I imagine the International game is what he's referring to there. I agree in premise but I actually think Queensland is the one place where Origin is always likely to be just as or more important due to the ingrained hatred of all things NSWRL.
  3. For what it's worth to anyone who wants to have a look, Toulouse have posted the match in full (and a couple of other matches) on their Youtube channel recently. I found it and had a look a couple of weeks ago, definitely agree it is by no means a foregone conclusion. The one comment I would make that is particularly pertinent to the yardage statistic you've rightly identified is that the loss of James Harrison cannot be understated. He was by far the best forward on the park, every time Fev needed a tough carry to save a poor set he delivered a 10-15m run with a quick play the ball to boot. When they were winning the ruck he again came through and skittled defenders for Fev to then play off the back of. They'll definitely need the rest of the pack to lift in order to replace what he delivered that day to be able to compete in the middle third.
  4. Yeah I'd have to imagine as Rocket has mentioned there's going to be a focus on junior ranks or youth of each side. There some strong potential upside for both sides though when you consider Ipswich are in the running to become the 17th NRL team.
  5. https://www.salfordreddevils.net/salford-red-devils-partner-with-queensland-club-ipswich-jets/ Interesting connection, not sure there's another official linkup of this nature currently active is there?
  6. I really do find it exceptionally strange when English fans (this is more prominent on other online platforms than on here) are so vehemently opposed to the idea of having Cats/Toulouse in the British system. Having these sides in the competition objectively improves the strength of the French national team - even if the French haven't been as competitive as we'd hope they would without doubt be much worse off without 2 fully professional sides. England needs France. If we want to talk about teams getting 'tonked' look no further than PNG v GB in 2019, indeed the whole tour is a much better example of an underperforming national side than the French. Fast-forward two years and we see England (granted - understrength) lose to a side cobbled together a couple of days prior, overwhelmingly comprised of guys who would not start for the other sides they were eligible for in the WC. Putting aside the unforgiveable context in which the WC postponement occurred, England's performance is perhaps the greatest benefactor of the postponement as they receive a stay of execution that allows another year for some quality young players to develop further. If the WC had gone ahead this year, England were well on track for a Quarter-Final exit. As England has slipped further behind, it has become painfully obvious they need a competitive neighbour in their own backyard to provide regular test matches. We've already seen the reluctance of AUS/NZ admin to travel beyond their own countries to make international competition happen, in the current state of play there are likely 6 SH countries on par with or better than England. Considering the perspectives of the AUS/NZ admin, why would they travel across the world to face competition than is equal/lesser than those found at home? The consequence of this context is that England needs France to continue to develop into an opponent that can regularly challenge them and provide actual test matches that aren't just Combined Nations expats. The best way this can be facilitated at the present time is through a fully professional Cats/TO, they're both currently bringing through a strong crop of young players that provide hope for achieving competitiveness in the future. There's no guarantee they all kick on to become world-beaters but the fact they are getting the chance is hard to view as anything other than positive.
  7. The Hunters managed to end the season with a strong win against the 4th placed Tweeds Seagulls, finishing 10th out of 14 with a record of 6 wins and 11 losses. I imagine after such a strong start the Hunters would likely be relatively disappointed with their final standing however when you consider the youth that has been blooded, playing the season away from home and the adversity suffered during the season there are plenty of positive signs for the future. For those who may not have seen the news, one of the Hunters' best young prospects Jokadi Bire suffered a medical episode mid-season during a training session which resulted in him undergoing serious heart surgery. Bire is now expected to live a full life however doctors have informed him his RL career is unfortunately over. Throughout the season I'd estimate I watched around half of their games in full, from that sample size if I had to pick 5 that NRL clubs should be looking at they would be: Edwin Ipape (Utility): Famous for breaking open GB just before half-time in 2019, he had a train and trial deal with Manly but got injured in their first trial game and ended up back in PNG. Covers every position in the spine as well as lock so he's built in the perfect mould for the modern day 14. Constant threat with the ball as an extremely elusive runner who can also put teammates through gaps, handles defence in the middle well. Epel Kapinias (Prop/2RF): Completing his second full season for the Hunters he played the majority of his games at Prop before moving to the edge to finish the season. Has a massive motor, getting through high loads of both defensive and attacking work while averaging around 70mins per game playing at Prop early in the season. QRL has him down as being only 23 and his biggest upside compared to most of his teammate is his size, while most of the team are below 6ft tall Kapinias is listed as being 6'1 and therefore there's no question about size constraints preventing him from taking the next step. Emmanuel Waine (Centre/2RF/Lock): 24 years old and playing his first full season in QCup, Waine would have to be the most raw physical talent in the side. Supposedly the fastest in the side over 40m, Waine recorded 46 tackle breaks across 16 games despite receiving varying minutes off the bench throughout the season before finishing the season in the centres. Has defensive issues to iron out in hitting and sticking with tackles but there's physical talent there that will no doubt entice NRL coaches. Solo Wane (Wing): Took a while to get a consistent start in the side due to the good form of established wingers Gotuno and Rau but he quickly took his chances as they came, finishing the season as the Hunters top tryscorer with 9 tries in 9 games. Demonstrated blistering speed and finishing ability in a few highlight reel specials he served up throughout the season and finished strongly with 6 tries in his last 4 games. Judah Rimbu (Half/Hooker/Fullback): Youngest player in the side at 19 who is primarily a Halfback but spent time at Hooker and Fullback throughout the season. Displays that typical livewire/chance your arm PNG style of footy that is very entertaining to watch, played five-eighth in the winning Hela Wigmen 2020 Digicel Cup GF side. Was praised by the coach as not being afraid to order the senior players around despite his lack of experience. Saved his best game for last, notching a couple of very classy try assists from fullback and easily topping the run metres for the game. Not the full package yet, but shows all the right signs for such a young talent. Unfortunately for Jokadi Bire he would've undoubtedly been on that list and was receiving significant recognition of his talents prior to his episode. Wartovo Puara Jnr (who spent time at Barrow) deserves to be on the list based on talent however I've left him out due to his age as I'd say he's missed the NRL boat now.
  8. 14 of the 21 man squad are french this week. Youngsters Florian Vailhen, Tiaki Chan and Robin Brochon in the squad for the first time this season. Currently sitting at 17 french players having turned out for the first team so far this year.
  9. The Cats v Saints game and their securing of the LLS was discussed during the Fox/Kayo coverage of the Sundays NRL games, unsurprisingly brought up by Andrew Voss who is generally quite well informed about RL activity across the globe. Maloney is also a big factor for coverage down here, his professional retirement and subsequent signing with Lezignan was probably the biggest news of the week as he's very much a RL hero following his perennial success and personality.
  10. Just caught the game on delay down here in Aus, farout that was a wild ride and a half. Brilliant result to end up stealing the win but we were absolutely abysmal for 70 minutes, the attack during that time was some of the worst I have ever seen. Poor Mourgue should never have gone to the wing when Yaha was ruled out, Whitley to centre and Whare to wing should've been the way it went the whole second half. Looking to the rest of the season we're really missing our best forward in Garcia, he ties up the middle defensively and provides an extra set of hands to develop the attacking shape and create some extra space for the middles. In saying that, Goudemand has really emerged as a quality player this season as well so once Garcia comes back it'll really add some extra depth to the side as Mickael reverts to the bench or starts at prop. Really hope Langi is okay as he's also been quality all season and one of the best today. No player knows how to find a win like Jimmy Maloney, did it at more clubs than anyone in the NRL during his time there and even though he's past his best he still just finds a way.
  11. I'm a Knights supporter through and through but if I had the opportunity to pick between the much lauded Bradman Best and Herbie, I would almost certainly take Herbie. I truly believe the sky is the limit with respect to where he can end up in the game and I look forward to seeing what he can do in what should be a much improved Broncos outfit next season.
  12. I was just using that hypothetical as an example to demonstrate that any number of random factors can influence the performance of a team in one game of the season. As you've previously alluded to, promotion likely has further reaching consequences than winning the SL GF in the current state of the game. The reality is promotion is decided by only one game during the season - The Championship GF. Yes, those who are higher-placed have a structurally easier run to the GF, I don't see it as a bad thing however that they should continue to reap the rewards of their regular-season performance by being entitled to a home final should they make it. Therefore, should they make the final and become struck down with random factors such as injury/suspension/etc they still maintain the benefits earned during the regular season for the most important game of the year, which ultimately may or may not help them home (See TWP v London 2018). Of course if my previous hypothetical situation were to transpire, and the lower-placed team were to beat the higher-placed team on the day then they will be more than deserving recipients of promotion. As you rightly point out that's how the cookie crumbles.
  13. Completely agree that in reality there are likely far bigger implications for the winner of the championship than SL, but don't you think that actually justifies the final being awarded to the highest finishing side of the regular season that makes it? Surely whichever team has performed the best over the course of the entire regular season should be rewarded for that performance whenever possible. Hypothetically, the dominant side of the season could lose half their team to injury the week before the final while a side could scrape into 5th on F/A and go on a month-long run that lands them in the final against a depleted opponent. In the current format of a finals system they are more than entitled to be there, but surely the team that has consistently displayed excellence over the course of the entire season should be afforded an advantage when the big day comes. Otherwise what is the point of the rest of the season other than to finish 1-5? I would think a system that rewards teams performances consistently across the season would result in a better chance of the best team in the championship being promoted and therefore most likely to make a decent fist of the uphill battle that is staying in SL. I'm not against the idea of a neutral venue but I really do think rewarding higher-placed teams has merit. It would certainly function to promote the idea that every game of the season counts, irrespective of where the two teams participating may sit on the ladder.
  14. Nobody hates Rugby League more than the people running the NRL, constantly trying to change the fabric of the game for no reason. Think Christian Welch summed it up pretty well here:
  15. Looking at the makeup of Cats squad I'm guessing Rouge will get a start alongside Maloney in the halves again, though they could just run a 4-forward bench (Cozza debuting) if McIlorum can go 80 with Mourgue starting at half. Will be interesting to see what they do next season with Maloney gone, will Mourgue suffer from his utility value and end up pigeon-holed into that 14 role which has served them so well this year? Another consideration will be whether the Storm still have aspirations to get Rouge down to Aus like he was meant to this season. Whether or not McIlorum sticks around will likely have a decent bearing on those spine plans too. Either way they're in a good position with so many youngsters pushing through at the moment while the more experienced heads are all still offering quality football as well. Both packs are depleted however Salford are missing quite a few key big bodies which should help Cats young pack. Cats by 14.
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