• A refereeing howler has led to Akuila Uate's (C) match-sealing try for Manly over Newcastle. (AAP)Source: AAP
Former rugby league star and Over The Black Dot panellist Owen Craigie takes a look at the past week in the NRL.
By
Owen Craigie

Source:
Over the Black Dot
14 Jun 2017 - 11:45 AM  UPDATED 14 Jun 2017 - 11:46 AM

With the long weekend, we had five days of great rugby league, but unfortunately a lot of the talk was still about what went wrong. I’ll get to the howler, the try being incorrectly awarded during the Manly and Newcastle shortly, but first some good news.

Look no further than Johnathan Thurston comin back from injury and his kicking game alone just tore Parramatta apart. And when he took the line on he scored tries and created them and he’s just a genius.

The Origin teams were announced on Monday and I just think that even though there’s a lot of talk around NSW, I just think that with Thurston back and with the form that he showed on the weekend, the next Origin game’s gonna be a cracker.

Even though Queensland have made so many changes, it’s a hard one to read; NSW in Origin One absolutely tore them to shreds. But then again you’ve got Billy Slater back, Coen Hess is on the bench and you’ve got Thurston back – anything can happen.

The reason JT’s so special, so important, I think his kicking game and the way he organises plays - Queensland really missed that and I think that now that he’s back and he’s got world class players all around him, these other players knowing that Thurston’s gonna be there, I think they’ll grow another leg.

I don’t think NSW really have to change too much style, but they will have to give JT some attention. But probably not too much because if you focus solely on him, he can rip your game plan apart and put points on left, right and centre. It’s gonna be a tough one and I can’t wait to see Origin Two and that’s the beauty of Origin, the games are that close that you just don’t know who to pick anymore.

You think we can’t get any worse but every now and again a decision like that pops up and you think: we’ve got video ref, we’ve got sidelines, we’ve got the in-goal touch judge, you’ve got the third eye; they keep getting away with it.

Now, Friday’s 18-14 win to Manly. I thought Newcastle actually won that game and for the ref to make that decision, when clearly you could see that Akuila Uate dropped the ball before scoring the try, it was just mind blowing.

You think we can’t get any worse but every now and again a decision like that pops up and you think: we’ve got video ref, we’ve got sidelines, we’ve got the in-goal touch judge, you’ve got the third eye; they keep getting away with it. For a try to be given, when he clearly dropped the ball, I just couldn’t get it, because nine times out of 10 anyway, they normally go to the big screen. That one, he just awarded the try and then when the replay came on the big screen you could clearly see that he dropped it.

But considering what happened on the weekend and Newcastle’s still pullin big crowds, you just imagine what sort of crowds they’re gonna be pullin when they start winning games.

I’ve been thinking about it ever since and I don’t know what else can be done because I think we’ve got a bit of an overload with the bunker in there, and you’ve got the referees and I think you’ve got an overload, because those sorts of things shouldn’t be happening.

I haven’t got a magic wand and I don’t know how to solve it, but I think it comes down to the burden on the refs as well. They control the game and there’s a lot of pressure and expectation on them to have a free-flowing game, without any errors or without any real concerns, but when a ref allows a try like that to happen without even going to the big screen, you just don’t know what to think. Because that game, that two points should’ve gone to Newcastle.

It’s gotta be taking its toll on the fans, paying your money and rocking up every week and your team looks like it’s about to get its fourth wooden spoon. Mentally it’d be draining on those guys but without the fans, the game’s nothing so we need to really appreciate and love everything they do.

 

 

But considering what happened on the weekend and Newcastle’s still pullin big crowds, you just imagine what sort of crowds they’re gonna be pullin when they start winning games.

More off-field stuff continues to dominate the game as the ARLC looks like it’s getting a shake up and the CBA negotiations continue to creep along.

 

 

And the administrators should be focusing more on the players, 100 per cent, because without the players they have no competition. Without the supporters, there’s no competition. So they should be investing more in the players because they are your products.

Certain players are well looked after and that’s obviously your rep players and your top percentage of players, but I think the players should be looked after. They train two or three times a day and they have five or six weeks off in the off season, and it really takes a toll on your body. Until you retire, you don’t really realise how much you put your body through. So I think the players do deserve more money.

And more needs to be done to be finding the next generation of players and getting more kids into the game.

You go out to Group 19 in the country and it’s dead, the game’s dead. And you go to different groups around the state and the game’s dead. So we’ve got a lot of players from our game going to rugby union, AFL and soccer, which is unheard of. And the only reason they’re doing that is because the game hasn’t invested enough money in these communities to keep these groups alive.

A lot of young good players now are getting picked up by these rugby union schools and colleges and you’ve even got AFL teams going out there and grabbing some of these kids. So the game should be doing a lot more.

The game needs to go back and participate and work with community again. Because at the end of the day, people love that. Schools love it, kids love it.

To hear more from Owen Craigie and for all of your rugby league news, tune in to Over the Black Dot on NITV at 9.30pm each Wednesday, or On Demand.