NRL round 25 preview

By Steve Deane

Would Craig Bellamy sign on as Warriors coach if they could attract Cooper Cronk to the club? Photo / Getty Images
Would Craig Bellamy sign on as Warriors coach if they could attract Cooper Cronk to the club? Photo / Getty Images

A look ahead at round 25 of the NRL and the key matchups and talking points.

1 - Game of the week: Storm v Sharks
We'll have to wait for Monday night for the most engaging match of the round but it should be a cracker. Both sides have plenty to play for. A win for the Storm would all but guarantee second place thanks to their healthy points differential, while if the Sharks win they'll guarantee finals football for the first timesince 2008 and just the third time in 10 seasons.

2 - Money ball
With the NRL having landed its billion-dollar TV deal (if you include a good chunk of change for contra advertising), the streets should now be lined with green for footy players. The salary cap is tipped for an immediate rise from $5m to $6m, while clubs are expected to receive an immediate $500,000 early Christmas pressie. The five-year deal is valued at $1.025 billion - $925 million in cash and $100 million contra in the form of $10 million per year in free advertising from Channel Nine and Fox Sports.

3 - No free lunch
As Sydney league scribe Buzz Rothfield pointed out, there is a sting in the tail of the megabucks telly deal - five more years of Phil Gould. Oh well, better the devil you know and all that. Who knows, another network may have turned to Jason Costigan to front their coverage.

4 - Coaching rumour No1
It was never going to take long for the rumours to start to flooding in to the Herald about the identity of the next Warriors coach. We'd never reveal the identity of our sources, so let's just say this one came from a well-connected bloke who assures us that Craig Bellamy is coming to the Warriors if the club can make salary cap room for Cooper Cronk, who in turn has a get-out clause in his Storm contract should the supercoach leave.

5 - Curse of the wolf
For the second year running, Manly wing David Williams has suffered a season-ending injury that will see him miss the finals. Almost a year to the day since he was stretchered from Brookvale Oval with a broken neck, Williams hobbled off with a knee injury against Newcastle on Sunday. The injury-plagued winger has played just 65 games in five years in the top grade. Manly are also dealing with injuries to Jason King, Matt Ballin and Jamie Buhrer.

6 - Lozza time
While it's tempting to think Daley got the NSW job because he's a Blues legend with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the game, the reality is that he just happened to be better than his rivals at using PowerPoint. Daley was awarded a two-year contract by the board of the NSWRL after he, Brad Fittler, Trent Barrett and Daniel Anderson each made presentations and faced interviews. NSWRL chairman John Chalk said last night it came down to a difficult choice between Daley and Barrett. "We wouldn't have gone wrong with any of the four," Chalk said. "They all interviewed very well, and made PowerPoint presentations. But you can only give the job to one man." Or, as Daley put it: "GIVE - IT - TO - ME - YOU - B*******S."

- NZ Herald

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