THE WEEKLY: Shoes DO come in pairs
NRLW and Titans NRLM signings, BMD premiership review, a wonky looking but satisfying field goal and when knocking on to yourself is acceptable
Shoes DO come in pairs
It was only a matter of time before the other shoe dropped on the Dolphins1. A 38-12 hammering, including a full one-third of the Dolphins’ points coming in garbage time, at the scaly claws of the Dragons in Woolloongong is their first result that has matched pre-season expectations. There wasn’t a whole lot to take away from this, as it wasn’t expected to be good and turned out to be bad, but I couldn’t help but notice this passage of play.
Compare the pair:
Which instance of a player knocking the ball forward to themselves do you think gets awarded a try, and which one do you think got overturned? Hint: the black man does not get the benefit of the doubt.
April is shaping up to be tough for the Dolphins. Redcliffe are missing more than a few players through injury over the next couple of weeks. Even just within the halves stocks, O’Sullivan, Milford and Albert Kelly are all injured. Both fans and the wider league will get to see what this franchise is made of and if the trend continues, it’ll be because the Dolphins are fielding Mal Meninga Cup kids in the NRL.
It’s hard to imagine derby games against the Titans (Brawl on the Beach) and next Friday’s prime time fixture against the Cowboys (Battle for the Bruce), are going to be as motivating as the CONFLICT ON CAXTON, but it’s probably better than an incoming pasting from Souths as Latrell goes hog wild on a much slower, weaker defence. That said, the game against the Raiders might actually be winnable. The Dolphins may bounce back come May or it may become apparent that Sean O’Sullivan was the one holding this whole thing together.
The Broncos had a stroll in the park by comparison. I wasn’t expecting much of the Tigers and it was over after 20 minutes. The rest of the game was a matter of meeting broadcast obligations. Brisbane probably should have shut out Wests but it turns out those are actually pretty rare. From 1998 through 2022, there were 4977 NRL games and only 178 shutouts (3.5%). There’s still room for improvement and some lumps of dead wood being dragged around but they did what needed to be done.
For the Cowboys fans:
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Moment of the Weekend
A wobbly old field goal from Evan Child wins the game for the Northern Pride, 13-12, over rivals the Townsville Blackhawks. As always, fuck the Blackhawks.
(As a little bit of background to why this is more meaningful than usual, the Cowboys, in their infinite wisdom, tried to get rid of their QCup affiliates in November last year. It seems that either met with backlash or they otherwise couldn’t do it, and are threatening with the Titans to join NSW Cup instead, which is as pathetic as it is stupid. More on this some other time.
While North Queensland still has feeder arrangements with the Pride, Blackhawks and Cutters, the Cowboys have sent all their fringe guys to the Blackhawks, which has had the two-fold effect of giving nothing to the Pride and Cutters, and those who signed directly with the Blackhawks in good faith of getting Cup game time are being pushed out the way, both of which are shitty.
So far it’s been mixed for the Blackhawks. After a poor showing in 2022, Townsville are currently 2-2, having lost to the Capras and the Pride. I hope they lose every game. While “fuck the Cowboys” would make as much sense, it's also just general background noise from Broncos fans.)
Honourable mention to a free flying Valynce Te Whare.
Titans making moves
Speaking of dipshits, the Titans had the bye - and no one missed them - but the front office was still putting in the hours:
David Fifita, Tino Fa'asuamaleaui, AJ Brimson, Beau Fermor and protege Keano Kini all extended to 2026.
Thomas Mikaele, formerly of the Tigers and more recently a prop at Warrington, and Kruise Leeming, formerly Leeds’ rake, have both come aboard effective immediately.
This is quite the contrast of activity. On one hand, securing key players for a long period of time is sensible. I don’t know much about Kini as yet but seems like he might spend the year in Cup for Burleigh, so we’ll know more come September.
On the other hand, signing two players out of Super League to join Ken Maulolo as three new recruits only a month into the season is borderline panic stations. How can the Titans have let their top 30 be so thin that bringing guys from Super League, where Brodie Croft is the reigning player of the year, is the answer? That they are from Super League suggests some influence from Holbrook.
They may pan out, they may not, but it’s clear that the Titans’ have really messed up their planning around the roster, and the spine in particular, these last few years. If there were any Titans fans, they should be outraged.
Open season for the NRLW
In typical NRL fashion, the powers that be announced that the NRLW signing window would open with roughly twenty-four hours’ notice. This is presumably because the CBA negotiations have finally advanced to a point where there’s little risk in players putting pen to paper, although most of the stars would’ve known where they were going well in advance.
While the announcement made little mention of how the NRLW would be further expanded and the minimum wage is laughably low for a competition that should be aiming for full-time professionalism in the next few years, at least the cap will outpace inflation to 2027, after which the NRL should actually secure some broadcast income. Crucially this year, multi-year contracts are on the table which should see some stability introduced into the league.
The Titans have already announced Shaylee Bent and Jaime Chapman, in addition to the re-signings of Evania Pelite, Lauren Brown, Jessika Elliston and Shannon Mato.
Romy Teitzel is in for the Broncos with Destiny Brill, a huge coup for Brisbane and a huge miss for North Queensland. One assumes Ali Brigginshaw will return, which given her disagreement with Brill on the weekend, might be interesting (but probably not).
Racene McGregor was the first major signing once the window opened, linking up with the Dragons, along with eight others. Millie Boyle is all but confirmed to the Roosters and Tarryn Aiken is rumoured to be joining her, while Tamika Upton seems to be staying put at Newcastle.
The Cowboys have been silent so far and it’s hard to overstate how big a problem missing Teitzel’s signature is. North Queensland could be competitive if they can ring fence all of the North Queenslanders. While it seemed like most of the commentators forgot they had a licence, maybe the Cowboys did too.
Halftime in the BMD Premiership
The QRLW Premiership is half over and we’ve barely paid it any mind, which is a shame but especially so if you’re looking ahead to the upcoming NRLW season.
If you missed it, I published a summary of last weekend’s featured BMD game.
I plan on recounting the bruising encounter between the Magpies and Devils later in the week, once the QRL site gets the stats up to date.
I’ve only watched a couple of games so far but a couple of things stand out.
The 2021 grand final, between Burleigh and Valleys, was NRLW-calibre, largely thanks to the number of NRLW players on both sides. It was the finest women’s game I’d seen at the time. In 2022, the delayed 2021 NRLW season overlapped with the 2022 QRLW season, which changed the balance of power as players matriculated back to their state clubs as the Titans and Broncos, in particular, were eliminated. This year there hasn’t been a huge influx of top tier talent. Here’s an obviously non-exhaustive list of established first graders that have made appearances in the BMD this season:
Mackay: Emma Manzelmann, Romy Teitzel, Hagiga Mosby
Norths: Ali Brigginshaw, Hayley Maddick, Shenae Ciesiolka, Annette Brander
Souths Logan: Stephanie Hancock, Jasmine Fogavini, Brittany Brealey-Nati, Lavinia Gould, Destiny Brill
Wynnum: Emily Bass, Amy Turner, Karina Brown, Shaylee Bent, Shaniah Power, Julia Robinson
Burleigh: Chelsea Lenarduzzi, Zahara Temara,
Tweed: Jaime Chapman, Rona Peters
On one hand, this is good. It means that the professional tier and the semi-professional tier of players are separating out, which provides a more robust pathway and more opportunities for women coming up through the ranks. There’s less need for top tier players to spend time in the second tier. On the other, the product is obviously not as high a quality as we received in 2021 and it’s a little sad we’re not likely to get back there for some time. Such is progress.
However, we might be able to glean some hints about upcoming signings if we apply the men’s feeder relationships to the women’s sides. This would suggest Tweed and Burleigh in line for the Titans, Mackay with the Cowboys, and Norths, Wynnum and Souths Logan supplying the Broncos. The Capras, who are affiliated with the Dolphins, and the Tigers, who are with the Storm, two NRL clubs that don’t have NRLW licences, which probably partly explains their absence from the above.
There are and will be exceptions. Teitzel, obviously, and also Lenarduzzi usually plays for the Bears and the Broncos while Bent is playing for Wynnum and has signed for the Gold Coast. Some of the Souths enforcers, like April Ngatapuna, have played for the Titans most recently, so there’s like to be some overlap.
For the premiership itself, a brawny Souths Logan and a classy Burleigh lead the way, both undefeated through four games. Based on past seasons, this is likely to wind up the grand final (go Magpies!). The Cutters are one game adrift, after winning one of the worst kit clashes in the history of rugby league. The Tigers are doing better than might be expected, while Norths and Tweed occupy the bottom two rungs of the ladder and are grossly underperforming.
The defending Hostplus Cup premiers, the Norths Devils, are still winless, with two draws and two losses after the first month of play. Fellow grand finalists, the Redcliffe Dolphins, nearly joined them on the same record but Wynnum forgot how to tackle.
What happens to your ARLC chairmanship if the record TV ratings you allegedly delivered were actually because Foxtel (and, to a lesser extent, Nine) were double counting viewers like a re-elected dictator in a banana republic?4 Ratings are based on surveys of 2100 households to decide what the will of the nation looks like, and somehow that’s not even the biggest issue here.
We had Rivalry Week in the QCup which is always a bit odd because not everyone has a natural derby partner and not all of the most obvious rivalries feature. The Falcons are the former type, and get to play the Clydesdales in round 4 and the Hunters in round 15. Surely the Jets would be a better fit for the Dales now? Then shuffle Easts to play Wynnum and Redcliffe to play Sunshine Coast in the Battle of Dolphindom?
Indeed, scheduling was a huge issue this weekend as five of seven Cup games kicked off during the end of the NRL Dolphins game and the start of the Broncos game. Even I can only split screen four games. Only the featured men's game was played on Sunday when the Cowboys didn't kick off until after 6pm. Meanwhile, in Logan, the Devils-Magpies game was barely visible under sub-standard lighting. There's also the horrible kit clash between the Capras and Cutters, which is only rivalled by the Magpies and Tweed. If the intent is to turn the Queensland Cup into a broadcast product, which I assume is the point of Qplus, then the QRL has plenty of work to do.
Daylight savings ended this weekend in Sub-Tweed Australia which means they move back to God's own time, Australian Eastern Standard Time. While I appreciate Thursday and Friday night games being over by 9pm, it's a stretch to get to games with a 7pm kickoff. I can safely say I won’t be doing a Sunday 6pm recap again.
NRL North Standings
A Good Tweet
Bluey is Brisbane's main cultural contribution to the world and that includes the 2032 Olympics. Ian’s also right, it is a good listen. Highly recommended.
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The first being the Broncos loss I guess. Fans have been waiting since the season kicked off.
If some Dragons fan tells me to “cry”, I will remind them that they will die alone and unloved.
I will not be watching his briefing to find out if he does.
Does this undermine last week’s celebration of the massive ratings for Conflict on Caxton? Shhhh.