THE JOY OF SIX: Round 26

The Joy Of SixBy STEVE MASCORD
CHANGES COULD END IN TIERS
THREE games on the final day of the regular season exposed an unintended benefit of the second tier salary cap and an unforseen danger of changing it without careful consideration. With the finals spots assured, Cronulla and Manly fielded somewhat under strength sides but still put up a fight and provided fans and broadcasters with credible entertainment. Some 16,949 km away, Super League minor premiers Huddersfield rested almost their entire side and were lapped 58-6 by Bradfordon national television. The only thing stopping the same happening here is the second tier salary cap, which limits the number of players outside each club’s top 25 who can appear in first grade. “That’s right – I definitely thought about leaving out more,” Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan told Joy Of Six. “We don’t have a problem with our second tier cap but if there was none, you’d consider resting them all.”

DE JA VU, RUGBY A XIII
RUGBY league just can’t help but go around in circles. In 2005, when 41,260 saw St George Illawarra play Wests Tigers in a preliminary final the Sydney Football Stadium, the outcry over the number of fans locked out led to a policy change which introduced greater flexibility into the scheduling of play-offs. That flexibility was gradually extended to the point where the NRL now has complete control over which Sydney venues are used for which matches. The downside of that is that venues can’t be booked in advance. This opens the door to the AFL getting in first, and that has resulted in a double header at Allianz Stadium this Saturday, back where it all started. And what will be the main criticism of the double header? That fans are locked out. Will we then see a call for finals venues to be booked further in advance?

GOLDEN POINT TARNISHED
THE chattering opposition to golden point is becoming a roar with even Australia captain Cameron Smith joining in after Melbourne’s narrow escape against Gold Coast. “It’s got no rules, there’re no rules in golden point,” said Gold Coast coach John Cartwright. “It’s good for the crowd, the fans, they cheer. But one of the field goal attempts Aiden Sezer went for, Cameron Smith was five metres offside. I understand they don’t want to give a penalty because we were doing the same thing. But does that make it good for the game? ‘Cause it doesn’t. It comes down to a lottery”. As for the try Sezer had disallowed, Gird Bird yesterday put a screen grab on Instagram which showed Ben Ridge not touching the ball as he tackled Billy Slater. Cartwright mused: “They’ll find a way to say they got it right and pat themselves on the back but they got that one wrong.”

TAYLOR MADE TO DO MORE
GOLD Coast giant David Taylor has become such an enigma that friends and foes have discarded the standard diplomacy in describing the mind-blowing extent of his unrealised potential. “He could play like that every week if he wanted to but it comes down to him, whether he wants to do it,” said Cameron Smith after a fearsome DT outing on Saturday. “Hopefully he looks at that game that he played tonight and says ‘why don’t I do that every week?’ He’s a Queenslander, so hopefully he does.” John Cartwright said now that Taylor’s switch was in the ‘on’ position, the trick was to keep it there. “It is pretty simple – as long as Dave don’t complicate things … his last two weeks, he’s been unstoppable,” the coach said. “Where that’s been all year? We’re not the only club where he’s struggled for consistency. We think there’s a player there who can win us games of football. We won’t give up on him, we’ll keep working on him.”

KING ABDICATES

EVEN if North Queensland wins the comp, coach Neil Henry says there’s no hope of him sticking around. The Cowboys are undefeated in six games since Henry was sacked, with the calls for the club to reconsider growing steadily louder. “I think it’s off the table,” Henry said on the ABC yesterday. “I think they’ve canvassed a number of potential coaches … they’ve shortlisted it down for further interviews. I’m down the track with possibilities for me. We’re just getting on with the season. I’, pretty resigned to the fact. I’ve had a lot of support up here.” Henry says the Cowboys will find it difficult to omit prop Matt Scott (finger) next week.

JOINING THE FOURTH ESTATE
A REALLY interesting trend in rugby league is players who have had occasionally prickly relationships with the media seeking to become journalists. Jamie Soward wants to be involved in general sports broadcasting when he retires, Jamal Idris is studying journalism and retiring Scott Prince revealed on Thursday night he was about to commence a Sports PR course at university. All three eemed willing to foster good relationships with reporters early in their careers but somewhere along the line became aggrieved. With Soward it was criticism over his form, with Idris it was unflattering pictures in newspapers and with Prince it was the Titans salary cap scandal. Perhaps their personal interest in the media makes them more aware of criticism. Maybe they want to change the system from within.\

Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

FIVE METRE GAP: Round 21

Hamish NealLike the way of the five metre gap in defence, reviewing the points from the NRL you may have missed from round 21.

It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly went wrong for Canberra as they were humbled 68-4 by the reigning title-holders the Melbourne Storm on Sunday. Trebles to wingers Sisa Waqa and Mahe Fonua suggest a flimsy defence out wide but the Raiders were also exposed in the middle of the ruck and in the air. One would wonder what benefit a video session would even have for the Green Machine given they face a rampant Roosters outfit next. Sometimes teams just need to (cliché alert) put it behind them without reflecting as they normally would and change their weekly preparation.

Friday night’s draw in Newcastle saw some monumental efforts including four players who topped 50 in the tackle count. Broncos hooker Andrew McCullough made 67 tackles in his 52 minutes on Hunter Stadium. Opposition forward Chris Houston made 62 tackles but he had 20 more minutes on the park. Brisbane’s Josh McGuire (51) and Corey Parker (55) were the other two players to crack the half-century.

As the Cowboys ran away with a 30-12 win in Townsville and the Rabbitohs had injury problems with John Sutton’s ankle concern they also had some defensive issues with centre Bryson Goodwin a target of North Queensland in attack. Goodwin, 27, was forced into making 22 tackles as the Cowboys attacked Souths’ line with eight more sets of possession than their opponents.

In another of the weekend’s big wins Penrith fullback Matt Moylan suffered a horror night as a steady stream of Roosters try-scorers breezed in for the seven tries that made up their 42-6 win. 22 year-old Moylan, who has been the subject of much attention due to the ongoing debate about the second-tier salary cap, missed five tackles in the Panther’s eleventh loss of the season.

Facing a fifth loss in succession, Gold Coast were able to dispatch the abject Wests Tigers on Sunday afternoon at Skilled Stadium. A make-shift halves combination saw the Titans add some extra force in attack and defence as representative back-rower Ashley Harrison was named to play next to Aidan Sezer. Using the extra bigger players on the edges and with players like Luke Douglas and Dave Taylor making 16 hit-ups each (despite starting off the bench), John Cartwright’s men were able to ride roughshod over a short-handed Tigers who started the game without Aaron Woods up front and then saw Robbie Farah suffer a dislocated knuckle .

 

Myles Has Regrets, Will Encourage Taylor To Have None

Nate Myles/wikipedia

By STEVE MASCORD
AUSTRALIA forward Nate Myles admits he has plenty of regrets – and hopes to remind one man he has kept out of tonight’s Test against New Zealand not to make the same mistakes.
Myles, 27, has had a stellar year despite the mediocre campaign of his club Gold Coast, putting previous off-field controversies behind him and clinching the State Of Origin man of the series.
He had previously not won even a man of the match award since he was a child.
“You can look back and think ‘shit, I could have done a little bit more. I could have done more there, I could have done more here, prioritised a lot better’,” Myles told the Herald in the lead-up to the Dairy Farmers Stadium international.
“I definitely could have done all those things in my time at other clubs.
“It’s just part of a learning process. I’m a pretty stubborn, slow learner I suppose – if that’s they way of breaking it down
“I probably just wasn’t doing what I should have been doing. I got a great opportunity at two good clubs and now I’ve got another opportunty and I don’t want to let that go to waste.
“I look back now and realise I could have done a lot better and I don’t want to be looking back on my time at the Titans and thinking that.”
Next year, he will be joined at Skilled Park by the enigmatic Dave Taylor, the South Sydney giant who has fallen out of favour with selectors since starting for the Australians in the last match against New Zealand, on April 20.
Myles says it is the “responsibility” of Taylor’s new team-mates to make sure his potential does not remain unfulfilled. “I’m really excited for Dave to be coming over,” Myles says.
“I think he’s a fantastic player. Everyone knows the potential he has and I think it’s a bit of a responsibility for the team to get the best out of him. I spoke to him the other day and I think he’s really looking forward to it. (It is) a little bit better, maybe, for him and his family too, to be in that sort of environment.
“And I think it’s going to be exciting for us to have him there. It’s a little bit nerve-racking, the amount of back rowers and front rowers we’ve got now.
“It will create a competitivelness through the side and that will be beneficial for us.”
Myles concedes that if he had done more work, he’d have played more than just three Tests. “I wouldn’t say for sure but I probably think so,” he theorised.
“It’s in my own thought process. We’ve had some rough times (at other clubs) before in regards to the team and where they’ve finished and stuff like that but I always found the (Titans) boys were upbeat at training and that helped.
“I was feeding off that. No-one let anything bother them. They just went there and they enjoyed themselves and they trained hard and that’s what I enjoyed.”

Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

THE WRAP: Round 17 2012

By STEVE MASCORD

TRENT Merrin has no doubt why some of the stars of round 17 were players released by State of Origin camps.

“To prove a bit of a point,” the NSW squad member, a strong performer in the hoodoo- perpetuating 22-18 loss to Canberra last night, tells NRL.com.

“…and to let some frustration out, I’d say.”

South Sydney’s Dave Taylor, North Queensland’s Matt Bowen and Merrin all found themselves leaving Origin camp, like contestants voted off a reality show, less than a week before the biggest show in town.

It wasn’t just that they responded – that much could have been safely expected of our elite – but also that the standard of football at the weekend belied the absence of 34 of the best players in the country as well as a whole game on Friday and two on Saturday.

Friday night’s 26-12 win by Cronulla over Brisbane had as many thrills and spills as a WWE bout while Saturday’s 20-12 victory by Newcastle over Parramatta featured some of the most cohesive attacking raids either side has mustered this year.

Maybe it’s not the missing players that creates the lull in intensity and interest around Origin time – it’s the fatigue of those who are left. Once a bye or two kick-in, the spectacle at club level actually returns to the level it was at, even with the key players still missing.

Certainly North Queensland missed Johnathan Thurston when they trailed 16-0 after 14 minutes to the Warriors on Sunday. That placed more pressure on Bowen to lift his side and despite spending most of his career as a strike man rather than a creator, that’s exactly what he did.

He threw assists, booted conversions and pulled off a try saving tackle on opposite Kevin Locke but it was not enough to avert a 35-18 defeat – something which he quite unreasonably blamed himself for.

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NRL round 17: SOUTH SYDNEY 38 PENRITH 12 at ANZ Stadium

By HAMISH NEAL

QUEENSLAND  forward Dave Taylor gained some sort of redemption for his Origin axing as South Sydney buried Penrith.

Released from the Maroons squad on Friday ahead of the game three decider in Brisbane, Taylor returned to ANZ Stadium (the site of the game two 16-12 loss) to lay the platform for the victory which moved the Rabbitohs to sixth.

Taylor helped lift the Rabbitohs to their ninth win of the season as the rampaging back-rower scored the first try, set-up another, and ran for 142 metres – the most of any player in the match. He was ably assisted by emerging halfback Adam Reynolds and doubles to veteran Nathan Merritt along with 21 year-old Nathan Peats.

Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire praised the effort of 23 year-old Taylor. “Dave responded very well,” he said.

“For him to come back and perform like that, I think he responded really, really well. I spoke to Dave quite a number of times over the last couple of days. He understands with selections and being a player, everyone’s looking at your performance.”

Maguire continued; “He knew if he came back and just played the way he did today, that’s the best way to respond. It was great to see him come in and do that for the team.”

Captain on the day Michael Crocker elaborated on the discussions he had with Taylor since his omission. “I said to him that he didn’t have to go out and prove a point and have 30 runs and do 50-odd tackles. He just had to come back and do what he’s been doing the last four weeks. That’s why he was in the Origin frame to start with, because he was playing excellent football. Every touch he had today was quality and he came up with some big plays.”

Panthers coach Ivan Cleary, whose side has now lost four games in a row, noted: “I suppose to get two blokes back in Taylor and Sam Burgess are not a bad couple to get back. He showed today that when he gets his game on he is certainly a handful. If you can’t build enough pressure through your own game guys, like that (will capitalise.)”

Cleary was not as irate as one may have expected after the side conceded 24 points in 21 second half minutes “I certainly couldn’t fault the boys with the effort they put in,” he said. “In the end (we were) just outclassed. Our inability to mount pressure through our kicking game really hurt us in the end.”

Cleary was indeed buoyant about the probable return of key players including Origin trio Tim Grant, Luke Lewis and Michael Jennings in a fortnight “It’s certainly nice to get to a few troops back but that’ll happen,” he said. “We’ve probably got six or seven guys to come back and that’ll happen hopefully after the bye.”

An ill-disciplined start to the game saw South Sydney score first after Panthers winger Josh Mansour was penalised for an incorrect play of the ball when in good field position. Halfback Reynolds found Queensland origin reject Taylor after the rookie of only 15 NRL games elected to run the ball on the last tackle and found space on the left hand edge of the Penrith defence.

Four minutes later Nathan Merritt scored his fifth try of the season to give Souths a 12-0 lead. Despite some questionable passes in the lead-up Merritt finished off a great team try which included Taylor, Dylan Farrell twice and Andrew Everingham all handling the ball in the lead-up to the try.

On the half-hour mark Clint Newton opened the Panthers account when he was lurking in the end of a right side Panthers attack. The try came at a cost for the Panthers with Blake Austin dislocating his shoulder in the lead-up with scans in the next few days to determine the extent of the injury.

Seven minutes later Penrith was in again after Coote was awarded a try following a video referee ruling. Needing two attempts to regather a Travis Burns chip in goal, Coote managed to grasp the ball safely and then convert his own try.

Souths edged ahead on the break 14-12 after Panthers bench forward Chris Armit was penalised with the Rabbitohs were on attack.

It was nearly a try in each half for Taylor as he twice had chances to open up the second half scoring. He was stopped just metres short of the line after a great run on the right-side of attack. In the same set Taylor was denied by the video referee.

Rushing a kick on the last tackle winger Justin Hunt launched a bomb and Taylor showed the agility of an Olympic gymnast to grab the ball and plant it safely in goal. However Paul Simpkins ruled Souths players involved in the play were offside.

In the 57th minute a Taylor pass saw Everingham score his tenth try of the season and the first of four second-half touchdowns to the Redfern-based outfit.

Two tries to livewire replacement Peats in a six-minute period continued the rout.

Penrith were denied a try by the video official Simpkins but he then ruled in the affirmative for Merritt’s second try of the day in the 78th minute. Merritt, who has a run of 35 tries in 26 games, was set-up for the four-pointer by skipper on the day Crocker.

SOUTH SYDNEY 38 (N Merritt 2 N Peats 2 A Everingham D Taylor tries A Reynolds 7 goals) bt PENRITH 12 (L Coote C Newton tries L Coote 2 goals) at ANZ Stadium. Referee: S Lyons/G Sutton. Crowd: 13,096.

 

Odds Shorten Of Taylor Staying At Redfern

By STEVE MASCORD

AUSTRALIA star David Taylor is looking increasingly likely to stay at South Sydney, with the club now interested in retaining him and the future of Gold Coast murkier than ever.

Souths were about to withdraw their contract extension offer for the giant 23-year-old when he announced on March 19 he had signed with the Titans – but much has changed since.

Gold Coast’s future is uncertain with the NRL hinting strongly at regime change. Meanwhile, Taylor was selected in the Australian starting side and has started destroying opposition teams on a weekly basis. He was almost unstoppable in the 20-16 win over North Queensland at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.

An NRL spokesman has confirmed Souths need only to reach an agreement with Taylor before the end of round 13 for him to stay; the Gold Coast deal will be completely void in the eyes of the governing body as it will not have been registered. Souths had the option of waiving their right to a final offer before the mid-point of the season but have not taken it up.

While coach Michael Maguire is normally reticent to talk about contractual matters, his comment on ABC radio last Sunday clearly indicated he was now keen to retain Taylor.

“I haven’t heard anything from that, from Dave. At the end of the day, Dave and I are continually talking about where he’s at, what he wants to do with his career,” Maguire said. “If that event arises, then we’ll have that conversation.”

There would be nothing to talk to Taylor about if Maguire had not now changed his mind about the Queenslander’s potential value to the club in coming years. Asked to expand on this, the coach told Rugby League Week: “I don’t comment on recruitment”.

On April 18, the Gold Coast Bulletin reported Taylor had not signed anything and had reached only a verbal agreement with the Titans. RLW has learned Taylor’s agent, Col Davis, has decided to do nothing until more is known about the fate of the club, with the NRL suggesting the management may be removed if the troubled franchise receives more hand-outs.

If Taylor was to stay at South Sydney, Gold Coast could opt to take civil action for breach of trust but the general consensus is the club already has enough on its plate.

Where things could get legally messy is if a third club was to get involved.

Maguire admitted  Taylor had grown in confidence since making the Australian starting side for the April 20 Test against New Zealand. “It’s an amazing thing in any player’s career, to start in the Australian team,” the coach said.

“It’s a great honour.

“Dave himself, he worked extremely hard in the pre-season on how he could be a better player and that’s the reason he’s moving forward in his game. It’s a real credit to the things he’s been doing.”

NB: Since this story appeared, Dave Taylor has denied he wants out of his Gold Coast contract. His agent says he won’t sign with Gold Coast until the club’s future is assured.

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK

DISCORD 2012: Edition 18

By STEVE MASCORD

ONE of the things I’m passionate about – aside from rugby league and very dubious 80s hair metal – is trying to demystify journalism.

Yes, I exist in a tiny, insignificant corner of the journalistic world and having such a lofty ambition is a tad delusional. But I find it one of the strangest paradoxes that journalists demand others explain their actions in the finest detail but are often ill-equipped or unprepared to do the same themselves.

Having worked in newspapers, magazines, radio and television I can tell you the reason for this is not the one you suspect: that journalists are dishonest. Speaking generally across 25 years, it’s because they’re so friggin’ busy!

At the bottom end of this issue, when I work with trainees and students I tell them to be ready to justify their actions and form clear views on what is in the public interest and what they are doing just because their boss told them – which is not a good enough defence for someone whose profession is governed by a code of ethics.

At the top end, I try to be transparent in my dealings with people and to stick my hand up when I’m wrong. So, in the interests of transparency – and not covering my back, people deny stories all the time – here’s what happened with Dave Taylor.

It was while we were preparing to interview Michael Maguire on ABC last Sunday that it occurred to me Souths’ view of Taylor may have changed given recent events and if his contract with Gold Coast fell through, they might want to keep him.

My editor at Rugby League Week, Mitchell Dale, would have no doubt preferred I not ask this question on air. Rugby League Week pays the bills and it could make a handy story for them. But I know people feel less inclined to say “no comment” in front of a radio audience than they do on the phone to one hack. So I asked Michael whether he was interested in retaining Taylor and he said this:

“I haven’t heard anything from that from Dave. At the end of the day, Dave and I are continually talking about where he’s at and what he wants to do with his career. If that event arises, then we’ll have that conversation.”

In other words, there would be grounds to discuss Taylor having a future at Souths if the Titans deal fell through.

My instincts about asking the question in public were correct because when I asked Maguire by text to expand on this, he responded: “I don’t comment on recruitment”. People have questioned the use of texts. NRL players and coaches respond to texts but don’t answer their phones in most instances. I was speaking to a whole club a few years ago, doing a media talk, and a player – I think it was Luke Priddis – specifically said “you should text before you call so we know who it is”.

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The A-List: DAVE TAYLOR (South Sydney & Queensland)

By STEVE MASCORD

IT’S the first time of many we saw it this year. John Lang, face beat-red, metaphorical steam shooting from the ears at halftime.

That was round one, in South Sydney’s derby against Sydney Roosters. The tricolours won 40-29 and – Rabbitohs giant Dave Taylor now recalls – “I think it was the worst game I’ve ever played in my life.

“I’ve had a few shockers but none like that. Halftime, you’ve seen Langy’s head blowing up. I was on the other end of that.”

But just as 118kg Taylor had a pretty good excuse for postponing his A-List interview two months back – he had a baby the day we were scheduled to meet – his excuse for a poor showing that night was rather convincing as well.

Would you believe, a “surprise wedding” to partner Ashlee the very next day? I mean, what’s a surprise wedding?

“We’re from the country so we didn’t want anything too flash,” explains the Queensland behemoth, sat in the foyer of the Perth Crowne Plaza.

“We knew that if we told people it was a wedding but not to dress fancy, they’d still dress fancy. So we had a surprise wedding.

“We said to everyone it was going to be the baby shower. There were only limited people who knew about it.

“It was great. People are rocking up in boardies and thongs. I just wore slacks and a shirt.

“It was a good surprise. My wife, I think she was eight months pregnant at the time. She had her big belly and she looked beautiful with her dress on.

“Some people we asked to come down for the baby shower, people who couldn’t make it and they were really close to you, you’d sort of say ‘actually it’s a wedding’. I think there were only seven people out of 70 who knew.

“It was good to know that you’ve got friends … a lot of them were from Queensland. I think I paid $800 in tickets just (for them) to go to a game, the Roosters game.

“A lot of nerves were around the wedding and I didn’t really think about the game too much and that was reflected in the way I played.”

Forget what your preconceptions of this brute with the skills of an artisan might be. Coach Lang, on stage during a West Australian Rugby League lunch last Thursday, called him “the world’s biggest 10 year old”. But while Taylor may pause mid-sentence a fair bit, those sentences are better constructed and more thoughtful than those of any 10 year old and most adults.

Taylor is intent and enthusiastic during our half-hour chat – and comes up with so much gold that we are going to revert to the sub-heading format we use here only when our subject has too much to say and we have too little space.

MEDIA SHYNESS

“They put a media ban on you (in Brisbane) for the first year you’re there. So, I ran with that for – I think – two and a half years! People would come up to me and ask me for interviews and I’d say ‘sorry mate, Wayne’s got me under a media ban’. Wayne (Bennett) had them so well trained, the media up there, that whenever you said no, they’d just leave you alone. They wouldn’t try again. There were a few times where I had to do it but I’d always run with ‘I’ve got a media ban on me’. It’s always good to be in the media … for the right reasons. I always tried to not get tied up too much with media. Obviously, later on down the track when you want to get your name out there more and do stuff with your name, I’ll start working the media.”

PLAYING FIVE-EIGHTH

“I didn’t play all that much. Off scrums and that, I used to play five-eighth because I did have a good passing game. Probably the last two years at school, playing Queensland Cup and playing first grade, going back to school level it’s like playing touch. It was so much slower, I had so much more time with the ball just because of how much easier it is. I found that I was still running with the same aggression I was running at in Queensland Cup but I was doing it against kids. I was more a front row-five-eighth, I’d do the hard stuff and then I’d do the big play.”

BEING A FIVE-EIGHTH IN A PROP’S BODY

“I don’t get frustrated. Put it this way: I’m a lot happier after a game if I haven’t done one big play in the whole game and I just make 30 tackles and 20 hit-ups or 15 hit-ups or whatever and 170 metres and just ‘gruel-ed’ a win away. You sit back and think ‘I had a big game tonight, I was everywhere’. I’ve played games where I’ve done eight hit-ups and I’ve made 90 metres and 15 tackles but in the eight hit-ups I might have done a couple of big plays which everyone is talking about. It’s just the little things which people forget about, which I really do think about. It can cost you the game when you keep thinking about the big play. My mindset when I go out to play a game is to get the ball and run as hard as I can and tackle as hard as I can. That’s the two things I say to myself before a game: run hard and tackle hard.

“Langy and Wayne, they’ve both said to me: as soon as you get the ball, run hard. Everything else will come off the back of that’ .”

BEING HUGE

“I’ve always been a lot bigger but I feel like I’m the same size as everyone else. I don’t feel that I’m a lot bigger than everyone else. That’s how I felt going through school as well. I feel like I’m just an average sized bloke.”

BRISBANE

“I thought that I’d spend most of my career at the Bronc’s. I loved it when I was there.

“I don’t want to get too much into it. Weight was a big issue in it. I’d battled with my weight. Everyone knows that. I think it’s one thing I need to stay on top of. I was 20 years old. Because I started at a young age, I think they thought more of me … I had not-too-much knowledge on what the right foods were to eat and all that. It was difficult , them telling me to lose weight. ‘You can’t play til you lose weight’

“Discipline’s a big one too. It was definitely what having children has made me have, a lot more self-discipline, and (to) realise it’s not just me no more. It’s my whole family.”

FOOD

“My biggest thing is not really what I’m eating, it’s how much I’m eating. I’ve got a very big appetite. I’ve cooked a steak up, I’ve cut it in half, I’ve given my missus her steak and I’ll have my steak and I’ll go back for seconds. By the end of it, I’ve already eaten a whole rump. Really, I try to stick to a pretty good diet – just meat, chicken, fish. “

THE FUTURE

“I’m heading on the right path now to where I want to be as a footballer. I want to be playing 80 minutes

“(I want to be) known as doing the little stuff and the big stuff. The little stuff’s a lot more important than the big stuff. You don’t get the wraps for doing the little stuff. Ashley Harrison, Paul Gallen … they get through a lot of work and never seem to make a mistake.

“I want the other side to not look at me as being the easy point, to know that I’m not one of them lazy people that they can point out and target me. I just want to be rock-solid in my performances and stay consistent, week-in and week-out. That’s something I’ ve stuggled to do in the past.

“I’m loving South Sydney at the moment. It would be good to go back if the Rockhampton side came along in the far future. It would be good to finish my career off with them or something like that. “

ORIGIN III

“It’s definitely going to be a ripper. The crowd’s just going to be that loud. I think every single person, NSW and Queensland players, is going to be that pumped up for it. It’s hard to describe how a big of a game it is – Darren Lockyer’s last game, NSW need to win it to end their drought. There’s a lot to play for. It gives you goose bumps knowing how important this game is to both sides.  Such a hero is Darren Lockyer. I grew up absolutely loving the way he played. He was by far my favourite player and if I get an opportunity to play in the game where he plays his last Origin, it will be a special moment for myself. I think every single Queenslander won’t want to let him down, either . Everyone knows how proud Queenslanders are. It’s hard to say because they are different eras but I believe (he is) the best Queensland player ever to play the game – to send him out on a sixth-straight series win would just be one of them games where, if you miss it, you’d probably never play in a game like that ever again in your lifetime.”

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK