Onto The Gurglers NRL Round 18 preview – the weekly Kick to Come, and here it comes again, another bumper 4 game, State of Origin affected NRL Round.
Cue the whinging from The Gurgler one more time for 2016, and rightly so.
But we have a point – NRL Round 18 is the exact reason the NRL sucks at this time of year, and also why the NRL needs standalone State of Origin, and from 2017.
First of all there’s the round of just 4 games. Absurd and a complete devaluing of the competition.
Throw in that some of the teams are affected by Origin selections and are missing many players and we’re talking a round that is piss poor at best.
Then there’s the Sydney centric delegation of games for the Channel Nein coverage. But surely everyone knows by now that Rabs doesn’t want to leave Sydney on a Sunday and Gus loves his Sunday football. The best game of the weekend would have been Canberra and the Cowboys, but that’s on the Monday night, and it features a decimated Cowboys side anyway. So many boxes ticked for NRL at this time of year.
Here’s our preview for NRL Round 18 in point form for the Five Bits of Interest for this weekend’s action.
ORIGIN HAVE NOTS V ORIGIN AFFECTED
NRL Round 18 has a lot to do with Origin, games are set up with teams that have players unlucky not to be playing Origin against teams affected by it. Will the teams with the unlucky few take it out on their opposition.
Players like Bryce Cartwright, Josh Morris, any of the in form Raiders, even Mitchell Pearce and especially Matt Moylan all have claims to be hard done by from Origin selectors. Although not too many changes can always be made, surely two of the players that survived into game three should have been playing in the NRL instead this weekend. The mind boggles how Michael Jennings kept his place, not just for his Origin 2 performance, but a general underwhelming Origin career. Blake Ferguson has done even less, so should think himself lucky he wasn’t booted too.
So with the sting of an Origin exclusion fresh, those four teams face the Cowboys and Sharks (both of whom are heavy contributors) and Wests Tigers (who lose their in form superstar James Tedesco. Parramatta are affected, but as it is Michael Jennings, debate will swirl if that’s a disadvantage or not.
WILL SEMI FEEL THE LOVE THIS WEEKEND?
Former cult hero Semi Radradra returns to a Parramatta home game for the first time since he disappeared, seemingly for French Rugby Union. Hopefully for his sake he will get a better reception than the boo-a-touch Sharks crowd.
He needs some big performances and show his loyalty to League to win all of his fans back. Some have even changed the name of their office tipping competition trophy in disgust at his attitude towards rugby league. Hopefully he can start winning hearts with a length of the field special this weekend.
There’s always Bevan French to take over if it goes pear shaped again.
SHARKS DEPTH TO BE TESTED
On a run of record wins in a row, the Sharks will have a chance to prove their real deal status when they field a far less experienced side this weekend against Penrith. Five of their best are gone, but it does give those fringe guys a chance.
One of those is Kurt Capewell, one of a number of recruits from last year’s successful Ipswich Jets premiership winning side. He looked to have been stuck in the NSW Cup like a lot of the off season recruits from the Queensland Cup, but has his chance now.
DRAW UNFAIR ON COWBOYS
The four game round is clearly going to hurt more clubs that others, and the Cowboys can feel reasonably hard done getting scheduled twice in the 4 game round. With all the Origin players missing, and having to travel twice on the road to Wollongong and Canberra.
HAS THE WESTS TIGERS FORM ALL BEEN ABOUT TEDESCO
Will the fullback’s inclusion in the Origin side, will the Tigers fall apart without his brilliance? The Dogs are unaffected by origin and will make life tough.
Why not catch up with this week’s teams here.
This week we’ve celebrated the 4 game round with a multi, and this week we’ve attempted to get the best possible payday. Four figures from 4 games.
ROOSTERS to win 13+
BULLDOGS v TIGERS – draw at Full Time
SHARKS to win 13+
CANBERRA to win 1 – 12
$1 for $2000