Big League Weekly Edition 2020 - Round 01

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
challenge gets the green light

CANBERRA hooker Josh Hodgson has welcomed the introduction of a captain’s challenge but concedes it would have been better for all involved if the decision had been made at the start of the pre-season rather than a week out from the kick-off of the 2020 campaign. The NRL announced the rule last week, giving teams one unsuccessful challenge per game with a captain or nominated player able to have plays reviewed within a 10-second timeframe, so long as there’s a structured restart of play. The new rule was trialled in some of the bigger pre-season matches and looms as a key initiative this year as teams look to ensure mistakes don’t cost them victory. There were multiple instances in last year’s finals series which could have been challenged – none bigger than the…

1 min
kicking off

I DON’T know about you guys, but the past couple of weeks have been torture. With the pre-season tournaments, games and trials done and dusted and the NRL season officially launched, I feel like I’ve been sitting around just hanging for the footy to start. I picked my top eight for our Season Preview early and I still think the Rabbitohs, Roosters, Eels and Sea Eagles will be up there. I picked the Storm at fifth but in hindsight, they’re contenders for a top four finish and another minor premiership. We have a wonderful story about the first-ever Cowboys team on pages 16-17, and with the addition of Valentine Holmes in the backline, they could be anything. But I went with the Raiders, Broncos and Knights to round out my top eight…

1 min
turbo eyeing strong start

THE Sea Eagles have had injury concerns heading into their Round 1 blockbuster against the Storm, but fullback Tom Trbojevic isn’t one of them as he looks to make up for lost time following a frustrating 2019. The local junior chalked up big numbers last year and was a game-breaker from the back every time he touched the ball, however his dominance was limited to just 12 appearances due to pesky hamstrings and a serious pec injury. His influence on the team was clear – the Sea Eagles won 10 of the 12 games he played in thanks to five tries and eight assists – but things weren’t so rosy when he was on the pine, with the team clearly missing his punch. Thankfully, Trbojevic has declared himself fully fit as Manly look…

2 min
cronk backs bondi three-peat

RETIRED halfback Cooper Cronk has issued a glowing endorsement of the man who will replace him in the Roosters’ No.7 jersey this season – Kyle Flanagan. Cronk believes 21-year-old Flanagan has the temperament and attitude to succeed at the top level. “I have a lot of confidence he is going to do a tremendous job this season,” Cronk told Big League. “He’s a terrific young kid with a great temperament and attitude. ” While working alongside the young playmaker in pre-season training, Cronk has been impressed by what he’s seen. “He’s looking really good. I’m always there to lend a hand. I don’t see myself as a coach for Kyle but more as a friend who is helping out,” Cronk said. “If you were to put a number on how much I impact him, it’s 0.0001…

1 min
a round for all

WHILE Thursday night represents the return of the NRL in 2020, Round 1 is about so much more than just rugby league as the game pays tribute to those affected by the devastating bushfires. The NRL has partnered with the Salvation Army for anyone wanting to donate funds online, and there will also be dedicated volunteers at all the grounds collecting money as the competition recognises communities affected by bushfires as well as rural areas that have been hit hard by the drought. Every game will see opposing teams face off before kick-off with a group of volunteers, firefighters and those affected to be honoured on the field in what is being dubbed ‘a round for all’.…

2 min
free trade agreement

THE unique swap deal between the Melbourne Storm and Wests Tigers that looked dead and buried a few weeks ago is suddenly back on the table, with other clubs watching on to see if this could become the norm in the coming years. Under the proposed deal, the Storm would receive centre Paul Momirovski (pictured) while the Tigers would get Harry Grant for the 2020 season. Salary cap concerns are the only thing holding back the swap which would satisfy both clubs’ needs. “I thought it was locked in and that it was a matter of time before it would be announced,” Momirovski told Big League. “I never thought it’d get blocked, but it did. I was happy with the decision because I love being here and that showed last year. “For me, it’s…