WHILE you were glued to your television set – and hopefully a grandstand seat or two – watching the colour and drama of the NRL kick-off at the weekend, the competition’s leading coach saw nothing.
Not only that, but Wayne Bennett told his Newcastle players not to view a minute of round one action on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
“I haven’t watched a game, actually – I haven’t watched one game,” said Bennett, for whom it must be said the blackout worked, given his side’s 42-10 win over Wests Tigers in Monday Night Football at Hunter Stadium.
“You kind of get braindead by Monday night if you start watching games on Thursday.
“I asked the players not to do that and I think they’ve been good … So we could get here tonight and be excited
“I think it worked for us.
“I know this much: what starts off in March doesn’t really equate to what’s going to finish up in September. I’ve seen teams go off in round one – “how you going to beat them?” – and by the end of the season, they haven’t even made the eight.
“There’s a lot out there in front of all of us.”
Speaking before his side was pummelled, Wests Tigers captain Robbie Farah said what those of us not covered by Wayne’s ban had observed – that round one featured quicker rucks and a resultant faster game.
It was too fast for Farah’s side, with the side Bennett assembled via a painful clean out at New Lambton over the past 18 months racing to a 24-8 halftime lead.
“We weren’t tough enough or strong enough to handle the adversity we came up against,” the hooker said.
“We need to turn it around quickly or otherwise it’s going to be a long year for us.”
The defeat meant all three new coaches – Sydney Roosters’ Trent Robinson, the Warriors’ Matthew Elliott and Wests Tigers’ Mick Potter – had losing starts to their seasons.
robinson lost 28-10 to South Sydney,
For Potter and Robinson, it was also their NRL debuts after being recruited from Super League. The three of them conceded 110 points and scored just 30.
“Welcome,” was Bennett’s comment when he asked for a comment on newcomer Potter.
But after his club Bradford Went broke last year and he volunteered to coach for nothing last year, the former Dally M Medallist wasn’t about to get too distraught about a round one defeat.
“The season’s not over in round one,” he said.
Just as well, or Wayne Bennett would have missed the whole thing….
BEST OF ROUND ONE: Cronulla’s stirring victory over Gold Coast despite being surrounded and besieged.
WORST OF ROUND ONE: A photo finish between the performances of the Warriors and Wests Tigers but it’s the Aucklanders by a nose.
WEIRDEST OF ROUND ONE: Chase Stanley scoring a reverse try – chasing the ball out of the in-goal and touching down in the field of play.
CLEVEREST OF ROUND ONE: Not one but two superb flick passes in Lachlan Maranta’s 34th minute try in Brisbane.
WHAT I SAW: Journos Joe Barton and Ben Horne not just going to a game on their day off but flying interstate for one.
Filed for: NRL.COM