NRL set of six: Preseason in ... Wigan

The Warriors are building an alliance with their Super League namesakes. Photo / Getty Images
The Warriors are building an alliance with their Super League namesakes. Photo / Getty Images

1. Preseason in ... Wigan

It's good to see the Warriors are building an alliance with their Super League namesakes but the idea of a preseason game against Wigan is hard to understand. Flying 30 hours to play in Lancashire in freezing mid-February is hardly great preparation for an NRL season while bringing Wigan here would also be questionable, as they surely wouldn't be a bigger drawcard than any NRL team. What about just building towards one day winning the premiership, which then entitles you to play in the World Club Challenge before the season?

2. Tiddlywinks or netball?

For once, the tired cries that league is turning into tiddlywinks may have been justified. For the second straight game in this year's series, State of Origin was overshadowed by fisticuffs, or, in this case, a lack thereof. Straining to appear tough on fighting in the sport's showpiece, referees Shayne Hayne and Ashley Klein rendered Wednesday night's second game a farce.

The 11 v 11 contest which resulted from the second-half "brawl" also prompted Sonny Bill Williams to tweet: "Seriously? This ain't netball!" Another fight and identical sanctions, however, and it very well could have matched the non-contact sport in numbers.

3. And justice for all

Even if the offences did not warrant the punishment, it was strangely satisfying to see the men in the middle brandish the yellow cards. Unlike in game one, when Paul Gallen was placed on report and later banned for a club match, the participants in the Origin melee were sanctioned on sight. Surely if a player offends it is hardly helping the wronged opposition when the player is suspended for subsequent games. Instead of the transgressor potentially injuring an opponent, forcing him from the field and still being allowed to play on, justice is better served using the bin.

4. Stat of the week

The Warriors face the Broncos on Sunday. After playing them in their inaugural match in 1995 (a 22-25 loss) the Warriors endured six seasons without a win against the Queensland outfit. Since the breakthrough win in 2001 the ledger has evened up considerably, with 12 wins in 22 matches (55 per cent) to the Auckland side.

5. Quote of the week

"You abide by the rules and still get punished - I don't understand," said NSW second-rower Greg Bird, wallowing in self-pity after his sinbinning in game two of the State of Origin. "I tried to break the fight up and still somehow got 10 in the bin for not even throwing a punch. I should have just unleashed, I would have got the same penalty ... an apology would be nice because I didn't break the rules."

Although it looked harsh, it's hard to feel much sympathy for Bird, generally recognised as one of the dirtier players in the NRL with an extremely chequered history. Bird's claim that he was just running in to "break the fight up" is about as believable as Kevin Rudd's "changed man" soliloquy yesterday.

6. Game of the week

The pick of the round 16 games will come on Monday Night Football when the Roosters host the Sea Eagles. With the Rabbitohs expected to bank another two points against the Raiders tonight, only one of the Sydney or Manly sides will remain within touching distance of the pacesetters. Fullback Brett Stewart should be fit for the visitors after a couple of months on the sidelines with a chipped bone in his back, while the star-studded match-up will be completed by SBW, who is likely to return to a roving role.

- NZ Herald

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