Well done to the NRL on a great weekend of Magic Round and good luck to Dylan Walker on his return, who has a lot to offer the game and has hopefully learned from the experience, writes Timana Tahu.
By
Timana Tahu

14 May 2019 - 3:50 PM  UPDATED 14 May 2019 - 3:54 PM

As always rugby league’s dished up a bit of everything with Magic Round, some great football, some ordinary football, and a few off-field headlines with Dylan Walker now eligible to return to the field.

Magic Round was an awesome concept and proved to be a great success. I think it was good for the game and to have something new, something fresh and having it up in Brisbane, the capital of rugby league, it was just awesome for the fans.

I think the players got a lot out of it as well and it was just good for the game in general. The ground did get torn up a little bit in the later games, but I think everyone’s going to walk away from that knowing it was a positive event.

People are naturally now keen to talk about moving it around and if that happens, Newcastle would be a really good place for it. It’s a footy town.

Newcastle would be a really good place for it. It’s a footy town.

 Wollongong’s another good place but probably the best place right now would be the new Bankwest Stadium. Everyone’s been loving that stadium so far this year and that would be a really great crowd puller for Western Sydney.

 

Things Looking Up for NRL

The NRL needs a positive story because we’ve had so many negative stories and the thing is, the AFL is dominating the sporting codes and then the soccer’s been really good lately as well.

NRL, I think a lot of people, especially spectators, are getting sick of the negative press, but there’s a lot of good stuff going around, it’s just not getting put into the media.

It’s just awesome for people who wanted to go and watch their teams or even a couple of games in one spot, I think this is gonna help pick up the sport as well.

Magic Round is also a perfect lead in towards Indigenous Round which is next weekend and I’m looking forward to talking about that in next week’s article.

From a players’ perspective, coming up to rep footy as well, these big weekends provide a perfect opportunity to show you can perform on a big stage and you get used to playing in front of big crowds.

One of the reasons of playing rugby league at a higher level is that you want to play in the big games with the big crowds and make the big plays. If you’re a player and you’re just worrying about getting your jumper, you’re in the wrong sport because a lot of players have pride in their jumpers.

 

Struggle Leads to Success 

Probably not too many at the moment with the teams that are going poorly, but I think for a young player coming into the NRL and experiencing big crowds and big games, it does prep them up for the rep season. If they can perform on that stage, then selectors and coaches look at that as well.

From the weekend’s footy I watched Parramatta pretty closely in that blowout against the Storm, and also the Penrith Panthers, they’re still struggling too.

Penrith’s in a slightly double-edged position where a number of their players, such as Waqa Blake and Josh Mansour, have just signed long-term contracts with the club.

A lot of the core of those players who have taken those long term contracts have potentially taken a bit of a back seat, maybe even just mentally. Whereas last year, people were playing out of their skin and it was almost like they were playing for contracts. But regardless, they were on another level and the club was firing.

But this year, they’re inconsistent, not rolling their sleeves up and having a go. At the end of the day it’s just about performing and doing your best out on the field and I don’t feel like a lot of those players are doing that. That’s a bit of a disappointment.

 

Dylan Walker Returns 

The NRL’s ‘no-fault’ stand down policy has been big news and one of the players ruled out of playing because of it was Dylan Walker.

He’s now eligible to play again, and just coming from a player’s point of view, people make mistakes and sometimes when you’re in the NRL system and you’re in the headlights all the time, maybe sometimes your ego gets ahead of you or maybe something might’ve happened to make you tick and you’ve done something out of the norm.

For me, I’m glad that he’ll be back playing soon because at the end of the day, his wife and kids need someone to help bring home some income, playing rather than just training.

Sometimes as an athlete, when you’ve put so much time and effort and when you’re coming up through the system which probably Dylan came through the system as a young kid, you get pushed through and the things you have to focus on is football and rugby league.

Then when you come onto the big stage and earn big money and then something like this happens, a lot of athletes aren’t qualified to do something else but play their sport.

For me, looking from a father’s point of view and husband’s point of view and for someone who would probably be the bread winner for the family, not for only his wife and kids, but maybe for his family as well, a lot of athletes have the pressures of not just looking after their wife and kids but their whole families: their mums and dads, their cousins, their siblings.

For Dylan’s case, he’s dodged a bullet and hopefully he can learn from it. Manly need him and he needs to come back and play some good footy. He’s a crowd favourite for Manly and I wish him all the best and hopefully he’s learnt a lesson.

 

 

Timana Tahu is a former rugby league, rugby union player and dual international, husband, father and a vegan advocate and panellist for NITV's Over the Black Dot

Over The Black Dot airs Tuesdays, 8.30pm on NITV (Ch. 34).