I’m really excited to be able to take you further inside the world of rugby league and Australian sport through this new column for NITV Online every Tuesday.
This week, I want to take a look at the great send-off last Thursday for a champion, Greg Inglis, and have a look at the troubles at Penrith.
I’m also writing a really interesting piece on Latrell Mitchell for Thursday, so keep an eye out for that too.
In terms of what you can expect from me, I’m more of a players’ player sort of person. People don’t really see what players really go through and what teams go through and I'd to give an insight into these sorts of topics that happen during the year.
I was lucky to have a great career, and having played professionally for 16 years, it’ll be great to share my analytics and opinions with you and keep the conversation going.
Often you hear the same thing over and over on mainstream media and I'd like to provide another — somewhat diverse — opinion to balance how fans and readers interpret things.
Souths wanted to send GI on a good note
When Souths played Broncos last weekend, a few boys did a goanna celebration to give respect to Greg Inglis (aka: GI).
It was a smart move for South's coach Wayne Bennett to make that night a GI night, who, I felt, purposefully made the game about GI's farewell in order to pump up the boys and make them play well.
That’s where the energy of the South Sydney Rabbitohs was better than the Broncos — celebrating an incredible player and career of Greg Inglis.
With the boys celebrating GI's goanna try celebration, it just goes to show the emotion that the boys had running out on that field. They wanted to not only win against the Broncos, but send GI out on a good note and give him that respect for what he’s done, not only for that club but also the game.
When he went there from Melbourne, South Sydney started picking up and being a successful club. His participation contributed to their the grand final win in 2014 (their first since 1971).
For the fans, it’s great too. South Sydney’s fans have been beaten up since the early 90s. When I was playing in the late-90s and early 2000s, they just weren’t a really good side to compete with. It was just like, ‘hang in there for 20 minutes with South Sydney and then they’ll just fall apart. They’ll just give up and we’ll run over them’.
However, South Sydney was also a team where they did recruit a lot of Indigenous players — more than any other club, so I give them the respect of that. But since, there has been a lot of good players and Indigenous athletes that have been at that club, but haven’t done what GI’s done.
So the players that have been there were good players but GI’s leadership skills, the athleticism, the strong presence when you ran onto a field against him, it was just like ‘Oh GI, I’ve got to play my 100 per cent today because GI’s playing’.
He’s tall, he weighs 110 kilos, he runs like a back but he’s the size of the forwards. That was the scariest part about playing against GI because you didn’t know how to tackle him — it was just do your best.
For him, he brought a stronger presence to South Sydney than any other Indigenous player, probably since John Sattler, I’d say.
And today, South Sydney are red hot at the moment. They’re a good team and I felt like Wayne Bennett jumped into a Ferrari from jumping out of a Holden Commodore; the Brisbane Broncos.
There’s a couple of players in the South Sydney side that are just peaking at the moment in their careers and they’ve just got a recipe for being a grand final contender.
Are the Panther's in crisis mode?
The other side to that is the Penrith Panthers. I feel like they’re gonna be in crisis mode.
Throw in the Gus Gould situation and they’ve had off-field and on-field dramas.
On the weekend there was a bit of carnage. Viliame Kikau and Isaah Yeo are both gonna be on the sidelines for a while and Kikau was the go-to man and the game breaker for Penrith Panthers so that’s a massive blow for them.
Then James Maloney was put on report for a dangerous tackle and dangerous contact, so the way that the Panthers are going at the moment it just doesn’t look too good for them at the start of the season.
They probably didn’t expect Gus Gould leaving the club — that was a big outside drama and headline news. And then just the way the performances of the Panthers have been so inconsistent. It’s their attention to detail in games and they just haven’t been competing as much. They’ve been making a lot of mistakes and now there’s a lot of key players that have been injured.
I feel like they’re waiting for someone to do something for them, instead of them going out and going ‘Well this is my role, this is what I wanna do on the weekend and this is how I’m gonna do it’.
And all it is is turning up with the intensity and rolling up the sleeves and the next few weeks is probably just putting in the hard yards.
Timana Tahu is a former rugby league and rugby union player, husband, father and a vegan advocate, panellist for NITV's Over the Black Dot.
#OverTheBlackDot airs Tuesdays, 8.30pm on NITV (Ch. 34)