NRL Round 9: What we learned

The Roosters have depth aplenty
Matt Ikuvalu was only called upon to fill in for Brett Morris on Sydney Roosters’ wing half an hour before the game. He ended up scoring five tries! It seems like it would be fairly easy to score tries in that Roosters side but try telling Ryan Hall that who is still waiting for his first try for the tri-colours. He even had one called back on Thursday night for a forward pass. The wry smile said it all!

Holbrook’s making progress
There’s no doubt that Gold Coast are now not the worst team in the NRL and that constitutes progress for Justin Holbrook.
They even had plenty of players missing and their star, Ash Taylor, was forced off the field in the final minutes and they were still able to secure their third win of the season against New Zealand.
There were worrying signs for the Warriors in that game. They didn’t have Kodi Nikorima and they looked toothless for the final 70 minutes.

Mitchell entertains in more ways than one
The battle between Latrell Mitchell and Josh Reynolds was the most entertaining part of the Rabbitohs’ win over Wests Tigers.
It all started when Mitchell took exception to Reynolds kicking Campbell Graham in the head by mistake. A scuffle occurred and then throughout the rest of the match, they were both seeking each other out to put shots on.
Both should have been sent to the sin bin to cool off and now Mitchell has been banned for his part in the altercation which was pretty unnecessary even if it was good to watch.

The NRL has a seemingly never-ending supply of young talent
Let’s be honest, had anyone in this country heard of Charlie Staines before he took to the field on Saturday?
Out of nowhere, Penrith Panthers stick him in the team on the wing and he scores four tries and has a hand in another as well.
This year is different in Australia, they don’t have the lower grades to keep their young players playing but that doesn’t seem to have hindered the development of their young starlets in 2020.
He has landed himself in a bit of hot water after hosting a party at his house with ten other people. NRL players are allowed to have ten people round per day but only in groups of five. Hopefully they don’t throw the book at him. He’s 19 and he’s just scored four tries on debut after all!

Luke Thompson has his work cut out
We knew before this weekend that the Bulldogs were going to do it tough for the entire campaign. They seem to lack a cutting edge to their attack and while Thompson definitely added plenty of wallop up front, that isn’t really where the Bulldogs are lacking.
When Adam Elliott returns, their pack will look pretty formidable but even if they start rolling over teams, they don’t have the quality within the side to score enough points.
Brisbane beat them comfortably and they’ve had a hellish season since the resumption.

Hodgson has no luck
Yet another long-term injury for England international hooker Josh Hodgson.
It was a completely freakish one as these knee injuries can often be. Stepping on Cameron Smith’s ankle seemed to cause the issue and now he is likely to miss the rest of the season. Ricky Stuart believes they’re still in with a shout at the title but without Hodgson, it’s fair to say their chances are significantly reduced.

Gutho is King
Clint Gutherson is probably the most important player to any team right now. The Eels are without Mitchell Moses and you wouldn’t even know it but if Gutherson were to pull up with an injury, they’d suffer because of the incredible leadership he shows.
They wouldn’t have beaten Newcastle if he wasn’t playing. It was brilliant eyes-up rugby to set up the winning try with a quick tap.
Parramatta have other quality players, there can be no doubt, but if they are to win the Premiership, which is a very real possibility, then Gutherson would be a good bet for the Clive Churchill Medal.

Manly miss Tom
Manly Sea Eagles’ record without Tom Trbojevic doesn’t make for good reading. Since his injury, the Sea Eagles have lost all their games and slipped out of the top eight.
They’d not lost three in a row under Des Hasler for years before Sunday and the Dragons, eventually, made pretty short work of them.
Daly Cherry-Evans put in an unusually error-strewn performance and in the final ten minutes, St George were running through them at will.
A special mention must go to Mikaele Ravalawa of the Dragons who was on a mission on Sunday. So many crunching tackles and a try too. There are some good Fijian wingers in the NRL that’s for sure.