NRL Game of the week: Tigers v Warriors

James Tamou has had some extra motivation for Origin from an inspirational phone call. Photo / Getty Images
James Tamou has had some extra motivation for Origin from an inspirational phone call. Photo / Getty Images

1. Game of the week
Tigers vs Warriors
Leichhardt Oval
9.30 tonight

So many subplots here.
Benji Marshall versus Shaun Johnson, the master versus the apprentice. Marshall is still the man, but on their respective form who would bet against Johnson being the Kiwis' halfback at next year's World Cup? The Warriors have the chance to score three wins on the trot - for the first time since round 21 last year. It is also the first rematch since the epic semifinal encounter last year, when Krisnan Inu's presence of mind ensured one of the most dramatic finishes in Warrior history.

Expect plenty of tries - these two teams have missed more tackles than any other in the NRL - and look for Adam Blair to raise his game against his Kiwi teammates.

But be warned - the Tigers have won three of the last four clashes, and have lost only one night match at Leichhardt Oval in four years.

2. Rating the rugby converts

Former Wallabies coach Eddie Jones rates Sonny-Bill Williams as already the third best rugby convert of all time. Writing for the Brisbane Courier-Mail, he placed Brad Thorn and Andrew Walker above the Chiefs centre, followed by Lote Tuqiri, Peter Ryan (hmmm), Mat Rogers, Wendell Sailor (one memorable try against England then ... well, not much more), Berrick Barnes, Ryan Cross and Clinton Schifcofske.

3. Stat of the week

In the never-would-have-guessed-that-one category, Benji Marshall needs only six points to equal a Leichhardt Oval pointscoring record set by ... Kiwis legend Olsen Filipaina.

Filipaina, who also played for the Bears and Roosters, was a blockbusting five-eighths or centre but had a goal-kicking style that made Mal Meninga's look ahead of his time.

Still, he toe-poked 83 goals (as well as grabbing 19 tries) for the mighty Balmain Tigers.

4. They said it

"I'd never met him before. He rang me out of the blue. It gave me a bit of motivation. After hanging up the phone, I sat there for five minutes thinking "Blocker" Roach just called me'." - Ex-New Zealander James Tamou feels Origin fever.

"We've got to be careful we don't overload them. It's a simple game, especially when you play in the front row. You know you're going to get a whack around the head, or you're going to get kicked in the head or whatever you've got to do, but you do it anyway." - Steve Roach on his mentoring role with NSW as a "prop whisperer".

"They must have watched the Bulldogs [vs Titans] game and just got paranoid about the shoulder hitting the head because it was nowhere near the head." - Rooster's captain and part-time sideline eye Braith Anasta dissects Boyd Cordner's hit on Jerome Ropati. It's that kind of insight that has obviously attracted the Australian television networks.

5. Hail Hasler's hair

The most famous bouffant in league is a goner, as Des Hasler had a haircut this week - reputedly his first in more than 20 years. The "Shave Des" initiative was announced by the Bulldogs at the start of the season, in aid of charity, and reached its target of A$100,000 this week. Somewhat disturbingly, Hasler now looks remarkably like Mel Gibson with the new do. Go on. Look again. He does.

6. Blues Marooned

If NRL form is an indicator, Ricky Stuart's men are in for an uphill battle again this year. According to the stats boffins, 16 of the top 25 players in the NRL are Queenslanders. The Contribution Value Rating that measures players defensive work rate, errors and attacking impact and involvement, has Maroons on top in all but three positions.

They have the top fullback, halfback, five eighth, wing, prop and second rower and often the top two.

Only Paul Gallen (lock) and Josh Morris (centre) top their respective charts, and Kiwi Issac Luke just ahead of Cameron Smith among the hookers.

- NZ Herald

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