Poor crowd attendances have marred the first half of the NRL season and things took another dip last week when clubs were without their State of Origin stars. The Warriors NSW Cup side's match against Cronulla in Gisborne highlighted the issue when they drew a strong crowd of 5500, while Monday night's NRL match between the Titans and Storm on the Gold Coast attracted just 6497 fans.
McFadden not joining in the onesie party
Warriors coach Andrew McFadden showed he had a sense of humour when he was asked during the week if he would wear a onesie to Saturday's match against the Broncos at Mt Smart Stadium. The game is being promoted as a "onesie party", with fans encouraged to turn up in their favourite fleecy get-up. "No one's given me a onesie. I'd like to wear a onesie but I think I'll be in something different," McFadden replied.
Vatuvei rolls the dice
Manu Vatuvei's new reddish hair and beard colour job is apparently the result of the Warriors player-driven punishment system. Any time a player is late to training or a meeting they are forced to roll the dice to decide what penalty they must pay. Chad Townsend and Sebastine Ikahihifo are two others to have been stung this season. Coach McFadden admitted Vatuvei's new look could prove a distraction for the Broncos on Saturday, saying: "He's scary at the best of times let alone with red hair. No one likes a red head."
No punch edict contributes to niggle
The NRL's ban on punching has seen a rise in niggling tactics and this was well illustrated in Wednesday night's Origin match. Almost every tackle contained a swinging arm, a forearm to the head, and facial rubs, not to mention leg twists and knees. One can't help but agree with the notion that much of this carry-on would be eradicated if players knew cheap shots would be dealt with harshly and swiftly, the old-fashioned way.
Origin players bleating
Wednesday night's second State of Origin niggle-fest saw players from both sides constantly sniping at the referees to try to sway decisions their way. That's not unheard of in high-stakes football games but Blues hooker Robbie Farah and Maroons five-eighth Johnathan Thurston could both be heard at different stages telling referee Shayne Hayne to "take control" and warning him he was "losing control" of the contest.
Cameras in the sheds the way forward
Channel Nine's coverage of the State of Origin might be a tad overhyped but the dressing sheds access granted to their cameras gave fans terrific insight into what goes on pre-game and at halftime. Former Blues great Brad Fittler spoke to the camera in hushed tones while Laurie Daley went about rallying his troops for the second half. All Blacks fans would surely revel in such behind-the-scenes vision but it's doubtful the NZRU would ever entertain the idea.