• Over the Black Dot's Timana Tahu analysis the past week in rugby league. (NITV)Source: NITV
OPINION: It's been a lively week of league. Timana Tahu reflects on some of the highs and lows of the game.
Timana Tahu

11 Jun 2019 - 5:12 PM  UPDATED 11 Jun 2019 - 5:12 PM

Rugby league’s rep season is well underway and already, it’s taken some big casualties such as the Roosters losing three in a row and NSW losing game one. But there’s no need for panic and there’s plenty more to be excited by, like upcoming Tonga’s Test match coming up against the Kiwis.

As someone with Kiwi heritage, the form Andrew Fifita and Jason Taumololo on the weekend makes me nervous for New Zealand. With those two players, Tonga has taken the international game to another level.

Let's face it. Everyone has gotten sick of Australia dominating and only having New Zealand for competition. Nowadays, things are starting to level out and it's great that rugby league is getting bigger on the international stage. Tonga is bringing so much to the game.

The crowds are just phenomenal and it’s going to be an exciting game.


Online abuse, especially racial abuse, must stop 

We have a number of players struggling right now.

Something that isn't good is the online abuse of Greg Inglis and his family. It’s got to stop, especially any racist abuse.

They’re quick to shoot Greg Inglis down when he’s at his lowest point and you can’t get any lower than that.

Greg’s gonna come out of this and he’ll come back out on top, but for people on social media to start laying the boot in is so insensitive to a person that has done so much.

Those people don’t have morals if they’re going to racially slur someone and verbally abuse him on social media.

It doesn’t just affect Greg Inglis, because when you attack Greg Inglis, you’re attacking his family, his kids, his wife and his friends and you’re attacking all of these people and people who respect him outside of those circles as well.

I feel for Greg Inglis at the moment because it’s just something he has to get out of himself. He’s got professional help and it’s something that he’s been battling for a while.


Professional sport: Is calling it "pressure" an insult to regular people? 

Ash Taylor seems to, unfortunately, be struggling a bit at the moment too.

It’s a difficult situation for him because at the end of the day, your job is to focus only on football and play football.

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And you’ve played football for so long; as a kid through your junior career and then these players now they’re earning a lot more money than in the past and that shouldn’t be pressure.

Damian Lillard, an NBA basketballer, was asked about pressure during a big game, and he responded that it's all about perspective.

Lillard said, "Pressure, nah. Fam, this is just playing ball. Pressure is the homeless man, who doesn't know where his next meal is coming from. Pressure is the single mom, who is trying to scuffle and pay her rent. We get paid a lot of money to play a game. Don't get me wrong — there are challenges. But to call it pressure is almost an insult to regular people."

Ash Taylor is a young kid and he’s being paid an abundant amount of money and of course, there are big expectations.

I’m not doubting Ash Taylor’s mental difficulties because it’s a serious and sensitive topic, but everyone’s got to try and find a way to go to work and do their job. I think it becomes a mindset thing where you’ve just got to switch off your outside life at times and try and perform for your team because Gold Coast need him. They really do need him, but at the same time, he needs to sort out his off-field situation when he’s not playing football.

All the best to him and hopefully he gets back as soon as possible.


State of Origin: What went wrong for NSW?

As far as Origin goes, it was a disappointing second half for NSW. They could have won that game still and I know everyone was looking at Queensland’s defence, changing the game. But when you’re playing at that elite level, a minute of defence doesn’t win the whole game.

What I saw was the attacking plays going through the two locks, Jake Trbojevic and Cameron Murray. They were always standing at first receiver in the attacking zone and it just became too predictable.

When you’ve got two locks that play at first receiver, they’re really good passers but they’re not creators; and when you’re not creating in the attacking zone, you’ve only got a limited opportunity. Last week, Queensland were reading it.

So I feel like NSW picked a team on attack, but had locks in the positions where your attacking halves are supposed to be. It took away their game, it took away their confidence and I’m not saying that NSW shouldn’t do that but, I felt like they did it too many times and they became predictable.

Cody Walker’s a person that you’ve just got to get the ball to and he’ll create something for you.

For NSW in Game 2, you don’t have to change the team, it’s the structure of the attacking zone.

Cody Walker was picked on form and because he’s a creator. I felt like those locks need to get out of his way and out of Nathan Cleary’s way when you’re in the attacking zone, because they’re the key players in the team.


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).