By STEVE MASCORD
THE most embarrassing bombed try in international rugby league history? Not according to those who saw Martin Offiah’s clanger 23 years ago.
“Embarrassed to not score, but nothing wrong with a lil humble pie,” Sonny Bill Williams tweeted after his left foot slipped over the dead ball line as he attempted to touch down with no defender near him in the 42-24 win over Samoa at Warrington’s Halliwell Jones Stadium.
But while Williams’ gaffe will be replayed for years to come and dominated social media on Monday, it wasn’t the worst of its type. In 1990 at Christchurch, winger Offiah – who danced during the opening ceremony to the current World Cup – spilt the ball behind the posts without a hand laid on him.
“It was far, far worse than Sonny tonight – definitely,” Denis Betts, who played in the 21-18 defeat in 1990, tells Sin Bin.
“Sonny did a lot to get there and just slipped. Martin dropped the ball with one hand while waving to the crowd with the other – and it cost us the game and a 3-0 series win.
“We were in front at the time and the Kiwis went up the other end and scored.
“Personally, I think they should have given Sonny that try anyway. He earned it.”
The New Zealand-Samoa game was a genuine World Cup tie, full of colour (Williams’ gaffe and the video referee Thierry Alibert pushing the wrong button), pageantry (the hakas) and even romance (the crowd vocally adopting Samoa).
Williams got the tradition “Who Are You?” chant – reserved for perceived tall poppies – from the festive Warrington crowd.after the slip-up.
“I told him it’s his shout for brekky tomorrow morning,” said prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves. “Hopefully he scores two next week.”
Coach Stephen Kearney added: “I’ve seen a few things in football but when you get them all in about 20 minutes like we did tonight, it’s a bit of a surprise.”
RUGBY League’s looming difficulties in dealing with concussion were underscored on Saturday when Welsh forward Larne Patrick was left dazed making a tackle against Italy.
The Huddersfield player staggered back into the defensive line, cleared his head without being examined by medical staff and soon after made a try-saving hit on an Italian attacker.
Unlike American Football, league does not have the stoppages which allow injured players to be properly examined. It does not have the specialisation which means most players spend more time off the field than on it.
The continuous nature of the game makes it difficult to properly assess concussed players and easier to just leave them out there.
But it still has similar dangers to the NFL when it comes to head knocks. It is also possible to manipulate base scores on cognisance tests which make readings during matches unreliable.
US concussion researcher Chris Nowinski is to visit Australia next month as NRL doctors scramble for the exits amid concerns over the issue.
BACK to SBW briefly and television viewers were surprised he did an interview with Premier Sports at halftime on Sunday night.
The explanation is simple. The broadcasters can pick who they want for these new interviews and the teams must comply under tournament regulations.
Premier’s Australian-based researcher chose Williams. They’ll only get him once.
Elsewhere, captain Simon Mannering told the Kiwis on the field at fulltime that the performance was not good enough for a World Cup, with a 36-4 lead becoming 36-24.
“It’s obviously not a good enough performance to carry on in this tournament,” said Mannering.
“Hopefully it’s a shot in the arm and gives us something … well, a lot of things to work on.”
Sydney Roosters’ Waerea-Hargreaves said: “You want to be priding yourself on defence and it’s disappointing we let so many tries in.
“The skipper touched on it straight away – we should be very disappointed in the way we defended. We’ve got t control the ruck a lot more.”
For players who were new to English crowds, the New Zealand-Samoa game was an eye opener.
“The crowd were unreal, even though they were going for Samoa,” said halfback Shaun Johnson. “We were talking about it in the sheds just then – the chants they got going and just how the crowd was on top of you.”
Winger Manu Vatuvei played on with an ankle injury while forward Frank-Paul Nuausala was cleared of concussion.
Filed for SYDNEY MORNING HERALD