Big League Weekly Edition 2019 - Round 25

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.

News Life Media Pty Limited
$9.99 per month after trial

in this issue

3 min
winner takes all at leichhardt

WHATEVER you do, don’t mention the war. And while you’re at it, it’s probably best you steer clear of the final round of the 2016 season, when the Wests Tigers blew a golden chance to qualify for the finals with a huge loss at home to the Raiders. A win on the final Sunday afternoon of the regular season at Leichhardt Oval would have seen the Wests Tigers sneak into the top eight for the first time since 2011, but their dreams were quickly doused by the red-hot Green Machine, who piled on 52 points in a shellacking the home crowd could scarcely believe. But three years is a long time in footy, and there are only five survivors from that day who’ll take the field this weekend in what some are…

1 min
kicking off

IT’S finally here. We’ve all put in 110 per cent, left everything out on the field and have made it to the final round of the season. And what a way to close out the competition. I must admit – and I’m very sorry to all the Dragons fans out there – I was really riding the Wests Tigers home last Sunday purely for the storylines. Here at Big League we had already bookmarked the Tigers v Sharks and Panthers v Knights as potential top eight deciders, and the game at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday afternoon will be the one for that final spot. Could it get any better? This year’s crop of retiring players is truly special. Aside from Paul Gallen and Robbie Farah, who is racing the clock to be…

2 min
strong send-off driving dragons

IT’S the match between the two bottom sides which looms as a harder sell than a week-old newspaper, but Dragons playmaker Ben Hunt says his team has plenty to play for in their final game of 2019. A trip to the Gold Coast against this year’s wooden-spooners shapes as a chance for players to let their hair down, but with pride on the line, St George Illawarra will be desperate to snap a three-game losing streak in what’s been a year the club will want to forget. “It’s extremely important on heaps of levels,” Hunt told Big League. “Jeremy Latimore is retiring and Gareth Widdop is leaving, so we want to get the job done for them. At the same time we want to get some pride back in ourselves because it hasn’t…

1 min
sharpening the pointy end

ROOSTERS forward Nat Butcher has praised the youngsters in his side for stepping up over the past month to cover for a number of experienced players. The Tri-colours have been missing nearly 800 games of experience with Cooper Cronk, Boyd Cordner and Jake Friend on the sidelines, yet they’ve shown no signs of slowing down heading into the finals. Cronk and Cordner have been named to return this Thursday against South Sydney, while Friend remains out. Butcher says the team has the motto ‘steel sharpens steel’, which represents the depth of the squad, how they learn from each other and how there’s always a player ready to step up if called upon. Last week Drew Hutchison filled in at halfback to cover for Cronk, while rookie dummy-half Sam Verrills starred against Penrith. Verrills scored…

1 min
shake-up won’t quiet the storm

AN injury to Cameron Munster has opened the door for Brodie Croft to stake his claim for a place in the Storm 17 for the finals, but even a five-star showing may not be enough to fight his way back into Melbourne’s coveted spine. Munster aggravated an injury towards the end of Melbourne’s comprehensive win over the Sea Eagles, allowing Croft – who had started the first 21 games of the season – to get a crack in the No.6 jersey. His defensive deficiencies have been exposed in 2019 and coach Craig Bellamy bit the bullet a fortnight ago, moving Jahrome Hughes to halfback and promoting Ryan Papenhuyzen to the starting side. “I’ve been there for a couple of weeks now and I played there a bit last year so I’m enjoying it,”…

2 min
grand dreams for green machine

CANBERRA veteran Josh Papalii has declared the Raiders can go all the way this season following their win over Cronulla last Sunday. The golden point victory secured the Green Machine’s place in the top four, ensuring a second chance and a home final in either the second or third week of the play-offs. Papalii is proud of how his side have been able to go from missing out on the finals last season to finishing inside the top four this time around, but he won’t be satisfied until they’re lifting the trophy on grand final day – something he believes can be a reality. “I believe we’ve got what it takes to go all the way. I know I’m being biased, but we have the belief that we can do something special,” Papalii…