• Mitchell receives attention after sustaining an injury during the round 16 NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the South Sydney Rabbitohs. (AAP/Dan Himbrechts)Source: AAP/Dan Himbrechts
With 3 weeks until Finals Footy, some big shake-ups have stirred the NRL with the addition of Sonny Bill Williams to the Roosters and the loss of Latrell Mitchell for the Souths, writes Timana Tahu.
By
Timana Tahu

Source:
Over the Black Dot
4 Sep 2020 - 12:01 AM  UPDATED 7 Sep 2020 - 10:12 AM

Sonny Bill Williams

The talk this weekend is the comeback of SBW. It’s refreshing to get some good news and especially talk more about an athlete instead of the off-field drama. A player of his caliber comes along once in a lifetime. When we talk about supreme athletes SBW is up there. A Dual International winning Grand Finals for the Bulldogs and Roosters, World Cups for the Kiwis and the All Blacks plus winning Super Rugby titles, and also a talented boxer, SBW has done it all. His resume reeks of success and a winning mentality who never gives up, a perfectionist with his main drive is to be the best no matter what environment.

The big question people are talking about is will he handle today’s game? The answer is Yes! He is an asset not only for the Roosters but for the NRL brand. He is an international brand which means international viewers will be tuning into watching him perform at a high-level stage.

The doubts that critics have in their minds will be gone in a few weeks. Trent Robinson is the best at player management and knowing the fitness loads and game time his players need to reach their peak performance. I think that Sonny Bill will be looked after and come finals time he will get his timing and game fitness back. It doesn’t matter at this time what position he is playing or role he has in the team. Trent Robinson is a smart coach and Sonny knows the Roosters system and culture. I’m looking forward to watching SBW run out against the Raiders.

This week's game is not the game to judge his performance but to appreciate again a supreme athlete coming back playing in the NRL and boosting the Rooster's roster.

Marshall shown the door

One of the Tiger's greats has been shown the door by his coach making the tough call on the Kiwi International. This is a bit of a bummer that Benji hasn’t been giving the loyalty by his club after giving his time, made sacrifices, and winning the club's first Grand Final after the Tigers and Wests Magpies merged. And he's also still in great form!

It’s funny how a player is at the height of his career and is in high demand and clubs come at them with the loyalty and "we helped you get a start" talk, but when it comes to a case like Benji, he doesn’t get the choice of finishing his career on a high. He gets a handshake and a kick up the arse for his services.

I hope he gets one more year and finishes on a high with another club. You have to be a certain player, a special athlete to play at 34 in the NRL.

The reason why the average player only lasts 2-3 years in the game is because it’s a cut-throat industry, the average players bodies can’t handle the high intensity in games and training, the average player tends to crack under pressure not only in the games but also at training. All of this can take a toll physically and mentally and they just give up. But players like Benji have stayed in the game because he's not just talented he has the will. The will to win and the will to be the best.

The Tigers not only should have kept him for a year but also had a long term plan to fit him in the coaching staff or some senior roll in the club. He has the qualifications of a successful athlete and knows the game inside out. His knowledge would be an asset to the club.

Hopefully, we will see Benji play another year. Clubs like the Bulldogs, Brisbane, Cowboys, or even the Warriors would benefit with him in assisting the clubs with leadership and a winning mentality.

Game of the week

RABBITS VS STORM

The South Sydney Rabbitohs have scored nearly 100 points in two games, pounding the Manly Sea Eagles and then premiership contenders Parramatta Eels. They have adjusted to this new rule change and are playing entertaining footy.

Watching the game against the Eels, they played laterally and caught out a tight defensive Eels system who couldn’t change its defence structure and the Rabbits tore them apart with speed and skill.

Coming up against the Storm their confidence will be high. Cook, Reynolds, and Walker have worked out their combinations on who has the most touches, when to play structured, and when to play eyes up and attack using their strikes players at the right time.

The Rabbitohs forwards are not the best forward pack but do their jobs well enough to give the strike weapons of the team time and space. Wayne Bennett's coaching style is suited to the new rules too. He has won premierships with the speed of the ruck and unstructured footy.

Think of the Broncos and St George teams, they played fast footy using fast players around the ruck and strike weapons on the edges. It's a great style he has and it also entertains the fans. This will be another test for the Rabbits to try and knock off a top 4 team. I think they have got the style of footy to beat the Storm even without Latrell. It comes down to them believing in their systems and themselves.

With the Storm, I think they will be looking at their defensive systems not defending too tight. They will see the lateral style of footy South's play and will be spending a lot of their defensive structure around Cody Walker. Stopping him will stop half of the points from Souths.

With their attacking structure, I feel like they are gonna try and steamroll the middle with the Storm forward pack. They are big and tough and love an arm wrestle. They will try and dominate the field position then hit their left edge were Justin Olam and Josh Atto-Carr are, who both have been giving teams nightmares. This will also be a coaches battle Bellamy vs Bennett.

The crusher tackle and milking penalties could be rubbed out with minor tweaks to rules
OPINION: The Crusher tackle can be wiped out of the NRL by coaching players not to back into defensive lines to gain post-contact metres, writes Over The Black Dot's Timana Tahu.