Following the NRL’s first instalment of Magic Round, the below article published by news.com.au discusses all of the talking points from the round.
The NRL’s first Magic Round has been given a tick of approval by many with crowds swarming Suncorp Stadium for eight straight games at the ground.
The festival atmosphere has seen the best and worst of the NRL with scintillating tries contrasted with devastating injuries and sickening hits.
Here are the big talking points from Magic Round (round nine) of the NRL in 2019.
SICKENING DISASTERS SOUR NRL MAGIC
The NRL Magic Round has been a success with big crowds across the board.
But nightmare vision of some of the biggest and most important players in the NRL going down through injury has hit teams hard.
Currently there are more than 65 players sitting on the sidelines with several players already ruled out for the remainder of the season.
The weekend’s injury list is long with at least 17 injuries littering the Suncorp surface.
Some, like the Roosters’ Latrell Mitchell, would have sent shivers through fan bases of both Sydney and NSW when he limped off with a groin injury, until he returned for the second half in his side’s thrilling win over Canberra.
But teammate Daniel Tupou was transported to hospital after he was taken from the field with a neck injury.
He wasn’t the only one in the match with Jordan Rapana collapsing with a suspected posterior cruciate ligament tear which could see him sidelined for two weeks.
Despite appearance of non-contact mechanism for Jordan Rapana, thinking injury may have occurred moments before. Here 2 blows to front of knee brings concern for PCL injury; initial report from Raiders med staff is PCL sprain. If complete rupture 6-8wks worst case #NRLMagicRound pic.twitter.com/xTv4YTWFa7
— NRL PHYSIO (@nrlphysio) May 12, 2019
Other stars such as the Broncos’ Jack Bird, Manly’s Toafofoa Sipley and Melbourne’s Curtis Scott all appear to have suffered long term injuries.
Bird’s season is over after he ruptured his ACL against Manly on Friday night, while the Sea Eagles’ Sipley was taken from the field with an apparent broken leg, with Moses Suli and Api Koroisau also copping injuries.
Scott, who was returning for the Storm, was dominating in his side’s 64-10 humiliation of Parramatta before suffering a broken foot and is set to be out for 12 weeks. Storm coach Craig Bellamy lamented the injury with a scan on Monday to reveal the full extent.
“He played great but as you can imagine he is very disappointed with what looks like a reasonably major injury,” Bellamy said after the match. “To the kid’s credit he took the demotion really well.
“He is shattered at the moment and looks like he might have a broken bone in his foot — he was playing so well.”
The Raiders’ Joey Leilua was struck down before the round with a neck injury which is set to keep the star out for three months.
The mounting injury list has also left NSW coach Brad Fittler scrambling.
While Mitchell, if fit, will be certainty at centre, last year’s other centre James Roberts was dropped by his club side Brisbane.
But with options dropping like flies, the likes of Newcastle’s Jesse Ramien or retired representative star Josh Morris may come into the equation for the Blues.
Speaking on Channel 9’s Sunday Footy Show, Fittler admitted there may be a player selected out of position.
“We still have a couple of weeks to go. Hopefully we have got some outside backs coming back,” he said.
“There is an opportunity there for someone but they (options) are dwindling with Curtis Scott and Jack Bird out and some playing reserve grade too.”
Physiotherapist Brien Seeney, who tweets as NRL Physio, said the disintegrating surface wasn’t to blame after eight games of football over the weekend.
“There have been heaps of injuries this weekend — we’ve seen five or six again today — as an objective observer, somebody who looks an injuries pretty closely, I can’t see an injury this weekend where I’d point to the surface,” he said in a Twitter video.
MAGIC ROUND BRINGS THE CROWDS
While the on-field woes will have a lasting effect on the NRL and the State of Origin period, Magic Round has been an undoubted success for fans.
Eight games over four days at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium has provided a festival spectacle with big crowds throughout the weekend.
While Thursday night’s game between the Sharks and Titans drew just the fourth highest crowd for a game in the same timeslot with 17,113 fans, it was easily the biggest crowd the Titans had drawn or played in front of this season, while it was the third highest for the Sharks after away games against Brisbane in round 6 and Newcastle in round 1.
In fact it’s given every timeslot that’s had a game a boost this round.
But the official crowd figure of people through the gates for Friday and Sunday double headers and Saturday’s triple header had an official crowd figure of 134,677 for the weekend.
Most timeslots recorded their highest attendance of the season and as a cumulative tally across every game came in at more than 260,000 in attendance across the eight games, beating the next most attended round of the season by more than 110,000 fans.
The weekend had six of the top 10 most attended games of the season so far.
Crowd for Magic Round over 135,000 for 4 days. That is over 33,000 a day. What a success for fans. Thank you #nrl
— Peter Beattie (@SmartState1) May 12, 2019
Must say, based on my experience, Magic Round is a winner. Crowd has been pumping last few nights, vibe is great and it’s fun to see a mix of team jerseys in the stadium for a change. #MagicRound #NRL ???????????? pic.twitter.com/LAxVIKRHgO
— Veronica Eggleton (@veggleton) May 11, 2019
— James Smith (@JamesSmith1001) May 12, 2019
Magic Weekend…….fellas, it’s pretty great #MagicRound
— Nick Campton (@campo37) May 11, 2019
NRL Magic Round was simply amazing! It has come to an end with a big win for ???? and loss to my @nthqldcowboys ????
What a superb four days of #NRL #NRLMagicRound Thanks Brisbane!!!!! Thanks Suncorp!!! @NRL pic.twitter.com/0pXRY7BIMU
— Prof M Davis [-0-] (@mdavisqlder) May 12, 2019
TO SEND OFF OR NOT TO SEND OFF…
The Eels’ Maika Sivo hit the Storm’s Jahrome Hughes with a high shot which immediately started a debate.
While most people on social media and in the commentary box were happy with the sin bin or found the Eel lucky to escape a send off, the Clint Gutherson immediately started in on referee Henry Perenara, arguing Sivo should stay on the field.
At 30-6, it was out of desperation but the Parramatta skipper put forward the point of Eels forward Daniel Alvaro being concussed out of a game a couple of weeks ago.
“We did not get sent off the other week for this, if he gets sent sir, then that’s a bad call,” Gutherson told the referee. “We did this the other week, I questioned it and you said it’s a different story. Our player did not come back, you can’t do this.”
While Storm coach Craig Bellamy expects Hughes to miss the next game against the Wests Tigers, Parramatta coach Brad Arthur asked the referees for consistency, although he admitted he needed to take another look before making a proper decision.
“As long as we are consistent,” Arthur said post-match. “A couple of weeks ago Daniel Alvaro was hit in the head and there was no sin bin.”
Storm coach Craig Bellamy bit his tongue when asked about the sin binning offence.
“I thought it was a penalty but having said that I only looked at it once — the refs and the bunker had a close look at it,” he said.
But as the Storm demolished the Eels, Parramatta great Peter Sterling slammed his former side over the contract debacle that appears to be playing out.
Sterling told Channel 9’s The Sunday Footy Show that the side should be playing for “credibility not contracts”.
“Once you cross that white line, whatever’s taken on during the week, whatever has been happening in life, you forget about it. You go to work,” he said.
PEARCE RESPONDS TO NRL ADMISSION
The Newcastle Knights’ Mitchell Pearce admits he’s moved on from the 2016 incident that changed his life.
The Knights skipper was in the headlines during the week when NRL CEO Todd Greenberg conceded his 2016 punishment for a lewd video was “overcooked”.
Pearce, who was playing for the Sydney Roosters at the time, was suspended for eight NRL games and fined $125,000 for his drunken Australia Day antics in which he simulated sex with a dog.
“I didn’t even read it. I’m just looking forward,” he said. “I don’t have any regrets from the past and I’ve learnt a lot in my life in all different scenarios.”
But in The Sunday Telegraph, Pearce admitted it “changed his life”.
The Daily Telegraph reported the Roosters are considering seeking compensation from the NRL, claiming Pearce’s suspension ruined their 2016 season and cost the club more than $60,000 in legal fees.
“We are looking at all our options. We said at the time it was wrong and now they are saying it was wrong,” Roosters chairman Nick Politis said.
— with AAP
WALKER SET FOR RETURN
Manly coach Des Hasler has refused to take aim at the NRL over their “no fault” policy after star centre Dylan Walker was found not guilty of domestic violence charges.
Hasler kept his fingers crossed that the NRL integrity unit would clear Walker as early as this weekend to make his long awaited return for the Sea Eagles’ round 10 clash with Cronulla.
The coach said he wasn’t making any presumptions over Walker’s availability despite the NRL star being found not guilty but hoped “common sense prevails”.
“We have had to abide by what’s been played out and he’s done that, it’s gone through it’s course, natural justice and been found not guilty so it’s now up to the integrity unit to pour over that,” Hasler said of Walker’s fate. “I am not going to get caught into any judgment on the NRL — what’s the point? The ball is in their court now. But I am sure common sense prevails and they will reach a decision.
“We were abiding by the no fault policy, that is now terminated, he has served that, he has been found not guilty — it is now with the integrity unit.”
Walker has not featured in the first nine NRL rounds after being stood down under the game’s hard line “no fault” stand down rule. Under the rules, which were rubber-stamped in March, the game can stand down any player charged with a serious crime which carries a jail sentence of 11 years or more.
Walker was charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm and common assault after his partner Alexandra Ivkovic suffered grazes to her shoulder, leg and feet in December 2018.
The NRL said via a statement that they would review the court documents in case it was appropriate to apply further punishment. However that seems unlikely given he has already missed more than two months of the 2019 season.