THE JOY OF SIX: Round 11

There is a debate over whether State Of Origin teams should be picked before Monday Night Football because some players will be distracted. But the real issue is State selectors playing us all for fools. Most stars over the entire weekend knew they had been picked, with Greg Bird, Jarryd Hayne and NSW assistant Matt Parish arranging to share a car to Sydney last night hours before the Parramatta-Gold Coast game in Mudgee kicked off. Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson said on ABC that “discretion” was a quality our representative institutions lacked when it came to representative teams. Clubs have to cop the consequences of distracted players; Queensland picks a team on a Monday and they are already there in the room. If the players are going to be told days before the public, it’s time for the media to stake out airports and report players coming and going. Stop treating us like idiots. Tidy this up please.
THE federal government’s decision to ban in-game betting odds was only a matter of when. It’s gratifying, in a way, that the same public which supports the gambling industry could recognise when things had gone too far. But rather than think of it as victory, perhaps those who united against a outrageous and exploitative practice should think about whether what we are left with is good enough.Y our kids, who are now spared live odds on Friday night, are still confronted with perimeter adverting at the footy, odds being spruiked in commercial breaks and partnerships with every NRL clubs. Surely this is harmful in the same way that the advertising that has just been banned was. In the view of Set Of Six, all gambling advertising should go the same way as cigarette advertising. The NRL has survived not being the Winfield Cup, after all. One product promotes cancer, the other IS a cancer.
HALF an hour after Manly beat Canberra 16-10 at Brookvale Oval, rival coaches Geoff Toovey and David Furner were seen in animated coversation behind the grandstand. No, there was no danger of the 80th minute fisticuffs between Anthony Watmough and Dane Tilse being repeated. Your correspondent couldn’t hear what the were talking about but judging by the hand signals, it had to do with rucks and defensive lines. Toovey later told Triple M it was “two frustrated coaches” and – after being pressed by former referee Bill Harrigan – conceded his successors were the source of the frustration. “My major concern, and I’ve had it for the last few weeks – I just think it’s become laughable,” said Toovey.
PARRAMATTA’s welfare officer and former iconic winger Luke Burt had the sort of husky voice at Glen Willow Sporting Complex yesterday that could get him work at a 1300 call centre. He guested as a Channel Nine commentator and appeared on the ABC beforehand. How did he come to sound so throaty? It depends where you listened. He told the ABC that he had “a sore throat” and that his wife and child had the same problem. “I must have got it kissing them goodbye,” he said. But on Nine, he said “I was wrestling with the young fella and he whacked me in the throat” Could both these stories be true? By sheer co-incidence, several people who reported a night on the town on Mudgee on Saturday had voices that sounded very much like Burty’s.
THE term ‘car crash’ gets thrown around too readily these days to described anything disastrous. Referee Gavin Reynolds planned a big weekend around the Parramatta-Gold Coast game in Mudgee with family following him over the mountains to watch him co-control a game on a ground curated by his brother, Brad. But he came unstuck by crashing his car en route on Saturday. Family members had to double back and get him and the car was towed to a nearby town. But the rest of the weekend went swimmingly, with the perfect surface a credit to Brad and Gavin plus Matt Cecchin getting it right by disallowing a try to Albert Kelly for deliberately propelling the ball forwards. Sadly for Gold Coast, the match officials only learned to get this right by getting it wrong when Shaun Johnson scored a try against the Titans on May 6. That’s right, a call has gone an opposite way on two occasions this month, and the same team has been the victim each time.
THE idea of importing the Magic Weekend deserves another look after a successful promotion at Manchester’s Etihad Stadium. An entire round of Super League is played at the same venue and after a nomadic existence for the concept, it seems to have found a home, close to the game’s heartland. OK, the day one crowd of 30,793 yesterday wasn’t great but we’d do much better; the argument against a similar weekend in the NRL is that all our games draw big attendances anyway. It’s fair to say that argument has been weakened this season. We need events, cities would love to bring all 16 NRL teams to town and it’s more likely to attract travelling fans than the Auckland Nines.


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