Big League Weekly Edition 2019 - Round 23

Your weekly guide to the NRL season, including the entire Final Series, the souvenir Grand Final program and our bumper Season Review. Every week Big League will feature stories on the big names, preview the big games and continue our popular Little League section for the young rugby league fans. With official team-lists, extensive statistics and up-to-date news, Big League provides everything you need to follow the NRL.

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in this issue

2 min
sea eagles seek to bring finals home

SEA Eagles centre Moses Suli knows his voice doesn’t hold much sway when it comes to big decisions out of Moore Park, but he hopes the NRL listens to fans on the Northern Beaches when they finalise the schedule for Week One of the finals. The next three weeks will play a huge role in the make-up of the top eight, but already there has been talk about what should happen if Manly finish fifth or sixth and earn the right to host an elimination final. In years gone by there’d be no argument with the Sea Eagles forced to play at Allianz Stadium, but with the venue currently out of commission, the NRL has relaxed the rules, opening the door for suburban grounds such as Lottoland to be used for the…

1 min
kicking off

MY JAW dropped watching Broncos prop Payne Haas score his epic try against the Panthers last week. It seems every season there are new stronger, faster and more skilful forwards than there were before and he is definitely on track to claim Rookie of the Year honours. Remember the buzz around Sonny Bill Williams when he debuted in 2004? The hype around him peaked immediately. Scribes waxed lyrical about how we would never see someone like him again. Of course, they were wrong. That’s not to say Haas is anything like Williams – considering his size and endurance, plus his spot in the front row, one could argue his contribution is even more enormous. They were wrong because as rugby league evolves, it finds new players like Haas, or David Fifita,…

2 min
mitchell hits back against abuse

UNSTOPPABLE centre Latrell Mitchell has drawn praise from team-mate Isaac Liu for the way he handled horrible online abuse earlier in the week and then showed his class with another star showing against the Warriors. The powerhouse Rooster bagged a double and booted five goals to go top of the try-scoring and point-scoring charts in 2019 just days after he was the subject of vile racial abuse. “As a team, we’re very happy for him,” Liu told Big League. “When he gets his game on with the way he runs the ball, he’s almost unstoppable. For us middles, we just do our part in the middle and then Luke Keary gets the ball to him as much as possible and lets him do his thing.” Mitchell said Sydney Swans legends Adam Goodes and Lance…

1 min
wighton’s blue benefit

CANBERRA playmaker Jack Wighton believes playing State of Origin this year has put him in good stead for the finals. The gun five-eighth has played in four finals matches throughout his career, winning just one of them back in 2016, but he says playing in three fierce battles for New South Wales this year has strengthened him. “Origin was amazing for my game. I learnt so much and it definitely helps in some way,” Wighton told Big League. “Being in pressure situations helps, but I’ve now played in some of the biggest games.” Having made his Origin debut in Game One at Suncorp Stadium this year, Wighton had a mixed series. He threw an intercept pass to Queensland for the winning play in the opening match, but starred in the following two fixtures to…

1 min
ponga pushes through pressure

NEWCASTLE superstar Kalyn Ponga says he’s still learning how to handle criticism and pressure when under the spotlight. Ponga’s form has been subject to much discussion and questions were raised whether the Queensland representative is worth a $1 million price tag. The fullback silenced his critics with a masterclass performance against North Queensland last Saturday. “It’s all a learning curve for me [with criticism]” Ponga said. “I had to go back to my strengths. The past few weeks I’ve been throwing passes or trying to kick. I’ve just got to go back to what I’m good at and keep doing it.” Knights coach Nathan Brown – who earlier in the week announced he would be leaving the club at the end of this season – was proud of how his star responded to criticism. “[Mitchell] Pearce…

1 min
marsters not kicking himself

WESTS Tigers centre Esan Marsters says he’s in no rush to return to goal-kicking duties after he gave up the role during his side’s loss to Parramatta in Round 17. While he managed five goals from six attempts for New Zealand against Tonga earlier in the year, it’s been a lean season with the boot with Marsters kicking at just 66 per cent in 2019. Kalyn Ponga, Mitch Moses, Cameron Smith and Nathan Cleary are just some of the regular goal-kickers who boast an 80 per cent or better record this season, and after hooking a couple of shots against the Eels, Marsters knew it was time to step away. “I wasn’t kicking as well as I wanted to, so it was best for the team that I took a break from the…