Big League Weekly Edition 2019 - Finals Week 3

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
top two prep for punishing prelim

STORM legend Billy Slater doesn’t expect former team-mate Cooper Cronk to get caught up in the emotion of Saturday’s preliminary final potentially being his last game in the NRL. Cronk will retire at the end of the season and will be hoping to extend his career one more week with a win over the club he called home for 14 years. “I’m sure he’s not approaching it as his last game,” Slater told Big League. “I don’t think there’ll be a heap made about Cooper playing the Storm again because there’s so much at stake for both teams. “They’re in amazing form and they’ve hit their straps at the right time. Melbourne played the best that they’ve played all year against Parramatta, so wow, I think this will be a grand final come a…

1 min
kicking off

I’M surprised that the overwhelming narrative from last weekend’s semi finals has centred around refereeing decisions. Whether it’s Jake Trbojevic’s sin-binning (which, while on the softer side of sin-binnings, I believe was correct) or a renewed debate over the punishment for slapping, the fixation on officials is bordering on unhealthy. I could potentially also be spending too much time on Twitter. If we all remember correctly, the introduction of the sin bin for openhanded contact came in 2017, after it was deemed that although it was unlikely to cause much physical damage, slapping incidents during games were a bad look. It was decided by a panel of powerful people including Trent Robinson, Michael Maguire, Mal Meninga and Clint Newton. The players all bought in and incidents reduced dramatically. Cody Walker and Cameron…

2 min
sutton still alive after semi scare

FOR a moment in last Friday’s semi-final between South Sydney and Manly, veteran forward John Sutton thought his career was about to come to a close. Trailing by a converted try with 13 minutes left on the clock, the retiring Rabbitoh knew the end of his 16-year career could have been at-hand. However after the sin-binning of Sea Eagles lock Jake Trbojevic, Sutton scored one of the most important tries of his career to level the scores before Cameron Murray crossed for the winner just moments later. Although the Bunnies looked dead and buried in the second half, they showed resilience to grind a much-needed eight-point victory to advance to the preliminary final against Canberra. “That’s been us all year – we’ve found ways to win. It’s been ugly at times, but we’ve found…

1 min
dragons taking nothing for granted

THEY survived a suspension, passport issues, team list chaos and a slow start to win across the ditch, and the Dragons now have the chance to atone for last year’s heartbreak when they take on the Roosters in a standalone NRLW blockbuster at Leichhardt Oval. The Red V piled on 26 unanswered points last week to down the Warriors to put themselves in the top two and on the cusp of a grand final berth, but they were in a similar position last year only to fall to the previously winless Roosters to miss out on a place in the decider. Things have played out identically so far in 2019, but Dragons star Holli Wheeler said last year’s memories won’t affect them against a side she believes has what it takes to…

1 min
brown leads silver lining

IT’S hard to find a silver lining when your season comes to a close on the back of a 32-0 defeat in enemy territory, but Parramatta youngster Dylan Brown provided one moment of brilliance which bodes well for the future. In the shadows of full-time, the Storm looked set to race in another try when Josh Addo-Carr broke into the backfield and linked up with centre partner Justin Olam for what looked like a certain four-pointer. But Brown had other ideas, sprinting from the other side of the field to drag down the PNG speedster a metre short of the line. Melbourne scored two plays later, but the desperate defence showed a hunger that Eels fans should be excited about. “He’s 19, he’s played two finals game and he’s probably only played about…

1 min
friends become foes

RISING Storm star Ryan Papenhuyzen looks back fondly on his time at the Wests Tigers when he served as an understudy to then fullback James Tedesco, but that friendship will be put aside when he tackles his former idol in the biggest game of his career. “He’d always say g’day if we walked past in the corridor. Those sort of people you always have a bit of a relationship with because you respect that, being a young player,” Papenhuyzen said. “We’re mates and we chat – we won’t be mates on the weekend – but after the game we’ll sit down and talk. He’s a superstar and I’ve tried to get a little bit of his game into mine this year.” As Papenhuyzen toiled away in the under-20s, Tedesco was dominating in the…