According to Souths GM Shane Richardson, Gorgeous George’s 9 game suspension is a “Tragedy”.
I agree Richo- After predicting he’d go for 10 games, I was tragically wrong about something for the 148th time in 2019.
Tariq Sims is also gone, and his wife Ashleigh has already gone for the QUEENSLAND CONSPIRACY, given 2 out of the 3 judiciary members were Queensland Origin reps (Bob Lindner + ‘Debbie Does’ Dallas Johnson).
Once again, I agree- Allowing him to play would’ve been the best result for the Maroons, who now have to face David Klemmer instead.
BYES: Canberra, Canterbury, Gold Coast, Manly, North Queensland, Parramatta, Penrith, Souths
St George Illawarra vs Melbourne @ WIN Stadium, 7:50pm AEST
This will effectively be the 20th anniversary of the epic (And slightly controversial) 1999 Grand Final, although I don’t see 107,999 people turning up at the Gong on Thursday evening, or the Dragons choking away a 14-nil lead and losing thanks to a penalty try.
Forgetting of course, that Anthony Mundine knocked on trying to score at 14-2, despite having two unmarked players to his left.
It’s funny to think that this time last year, the Dragons were on top of the ladder and a huge chance of finishing in the Top 4.
Now they’re coming off a win to jump to 10th, and have to face the best team in the league without three Origin stars, and Tariq Sims.
Despite now racing 3 games clear on top, The Storm, unsurprisingly, have been the victims of their own success, losing Cameron Munster, Christian Welch, Dale Finucane, Felise Kaufusi, Josh Addo-Carr and Will Chambers to Origin duties.
On the plus side, they’ve still got Cam Smith marching towards 400 games and refereeing in superb form, Jahrome Hughes is back in the No.1, Sandor Earl also gets another crack, and one from left-field is the debut of 25-year-old Billy Walters, son of Kevin Walters, as the starting 5/8 alongside Brodie Croft.
Kev can’t be in the Gong on Thursday to see his son’s debut, but I’m sure whatever he’s doing is very important.
Also debuting is the 19-year-old giant Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, whose surname must be worth 392 points in Scrabble.
Wests Tigers vs Sydney @ Bankwest Stadium, 7:55pm AEST
Last Thursday, as we now remember for all the wrong reasons, Wests beat Souths 14-9, in a game so poor in quality, George Burgess volunteered to gouge Robbie Farah’s eyes out, so he didn’t have to watch the hodgepodge that was the 2nd Half.
On the downside, Robbie didn’t get to see Michael Chee-Kam streaking away for his second match-winning try of the season, to keep the Tigers in touch with the Top 8.
The Chooks are in the sort of form that would get a real-life chook sent to Colonel Sanders as a 10 Piece Feed, losing the annual tough contest to the Storm in Adelaide to make it 4 losses in their past 5 games, and still making them physically incapable of passing Souths for 2nd on the ladder.
Tedesco and Cordner are off with the Blues, but in some massive relief, Luke Keary is finally back to partner Cooper Cronk, after a concussion against the Knights that probably robbed him of an Origin spot, but in those circumstances, it’ll be a big effort to come close to resembling the player that won the Clive Churchill Medal.
On top of that, Jared Waerea-Hargeaves is also back, as is Englishman Ryan Hall and Sitili Tupouniua, as the Chooks slowly get back towards their absolute best team available.
After the ball-tearing they copped 2 months ago at the hands of Latrell, the Tigers won’t get a better chance to beat the team that knock them off pretty much year in year out.
Newcastle vs New Zealand @ McDonald Jones Stadium, 7:35pm AEST
With Nathan Cleary predictably pulling up lame this afternoon, Mitchell Pearce has suffered the devastating news of being recalled to the New South Wales squad (A well-earned recall I should add), so that he can once again be the scapegoat in the event of a loss next Wednesday.
A real shame, given Mitch has been scorching the East Coast with the best purple patch of any player this season.
With no Pearce or Ponga, the Knights look predictably vulnerable, plus with Tariq Sims failing at the judiciary, David Klemmer is also back into the Blues lineup, which probably should’ve been the case to begin with, and despite Tim Glasby and Dan Saifiti also off for Origin duty, the Novocastrians fortunately have Aiden Guerra to step up, and the other Saifiti twin in Jacob, playing for the first time in 2019, due to being KO’ed and breaking his leg fighting Boyd Cordner’s brother Dane outside the Greenroof Hotel in November.
One of the more extreme examples of the “My brother could smash your brother” argument.
All that talk about the Knights makes you forget about the Warriors, although their performances in 2019 will do that for you, especially after they blew a 16-6 lead to the Panthers last Sunday, despite playing 13 vs 12 for 20 minutes.
The Novocastrians have already easily knocked off the Warriors once this year, but since this game isn’t in New Zealand, and with all the Origin absentees the Knights have lost, the Warriors will probably pull the finger out and piss off their fans across the ditch yet again by winning.
Cronulla vs Brisbane @ Shark Park, 4:05pm AEST
At last, the Sharks have a chance at exacting revenge for the loss in the 1997 Super League Grand Final, which caused a die-hard Sharks fan to ‘do a doo-doo in his dacks’ inside the Engadine Micky Ds.
If having Shaun Johnson on kicking duties didn’t make things hard enough, the Sharkies will have to attempt this arduous task without Wade Graham, who now has to prepare to carry Mitchell Pearce up the slopes of Mount Doom next Wednesday night.
As for the dear old Broncs, Origin periods have been a battle to get through for 30 years, but it appears this year they’ve been hit by the unthinkable for the first time ever.
The Rebuild Express.
After the latest defeat to the Knights, the Mouth from the New South in Buzz Rothfield declared that Darius Boyd would’ve been unceremoniously flicked to the Queensland Cup, but with all the Origin-related absentees, suspensions, and the knee injury to Milford, he’s got one shot at retaining his place.
So he’ll probably score a hat-trick, but for which team, we don’t know.
Among the changes, Jake Turpin replaced Milford in the halves, and the Broncos have also picked Xavier Coates for his debut, and a Pommy bloke called Herbie Farnworth, who once played in Manchester United’s academy system as a teenager, before coming to Australia to play with an oval ball instead.
Trading one painfully underachieving powerhouse for another.
And Herbie Farnworth… wasn’t he a character from Futurama?
“Good news everyone! I’ve returned Darius to fullback!”