NRL 2019 Talking points: Nene MacDonald, NRL refs, Josh McGuire


The Melbourne Storm have continued their undefeated start to the season as the Roosters, Raiders and Rabbitohs kept pace but it’s what happening down the other end of the ladder that has tongues wagging as some premiership heavyweights continue to struggle.

And as usual the actions of the referees took centre stage in a weekend where there were some shocking decisions made on the field.

Here are the talking points from round five.

THE END OF COMMON SENSE

Process, process, process.

It may be 2019 but it’s time for the NRL or at least their referees to ignore the details and actually show initiative when it’s called for.

On Friday night in Townsville that did not happen.

North Queensland Cowboys star Nene Macdonald was lying prone on the turf after snapping his leg in freakish fashionduring a collision with Cowboys’ teammate John Asiata but as the two lay on the field and trainers and doctors tended to them the referees allowed the play to continue for more than 30 seconds.

WARNING: Graphic. Nene Macdonald suffered a horrifying leg injury with the referees slammed for their controversial decision to not stop play.

Cowboys star’s horrific injury

The trainers were waving down the referees who refused to stop the game until Storm half Cameron Munster was felled kicking the ball, with the Storm awarded a penalty.

Cowboys halfback Michael Morgan then blew up at referee Grant Atkins, who explained the side needed to send their trainer to the touch judge.

Morgan slammed the referees in a post-match interview arguing “my question was that duty of care and common sense.”

Cowboys coach Paul Green didn’t hold back in the post-match press conference, revealing trainers had spoken to touch judges and the pocket referee, with vision to match.

“That was an absolute debacle,” he said.

“It was explained to our captain on field that the trainer has to go to the touchie. Our blue shirt was standing next to the touch judge asking them to stop the game, we had our doctor on the field, our yellow shirt when to the pocket ref and we got sent away.

“It’s an absolute debacle, it’s a disgrace. We had a guy there with a fractured dislocation, clearly distressed and we get sent away. They stopped the game twice for a blood nose for god’s sake when Melbourne had a blood nose. Our player’s welfare and safety was put at risk.”

It was even hard to stomach for the commentators with Channel 9’s James Bracey revealing the commentators almost felt the need to intervene with the game.

“It was outrageous,” Bracey said on Sports Sunday.

“You could see the trainers from the Cowboys talking to both the touch judges and trying to get the referee’s attention and there was nothing, radio silence. The crowd, the officials from Cowboys on the sideline yelling out – we were almost yelling out. Just to get their attention.

”They kept saying there was a process and they were saying the Cowboys weren’t doing it. They went through exactly what they were meant to.

“There are two referees and the bunker looking at it – it’s common sense out the window.”

Cowboys and NRL great Johnathan Thurston also blew up at the referees.

“Clearly I think we’ve seen two players go down, everyone has seen it in the stadium and the touch judge has kept rolling on with the play,” Thurston told Nine’s Friday Night Knock Off.

SHOULD THE NRL HAVE WHACKED JOSH MCGUIRE FOR 12?

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media_cameraCameron Munster complains of an eye gouge from Josh McGuire.

North Queensland forward Josh McGuire came under fire for an alleged eye gouge on Melbourne Storm five-eighth Cameron Munster on Friday night and NRL analyst Paul Kent said the NRL erred for not serving McGuire a lengthy ban as a result.

McGuire got slapped with a $3,350 fine in what was his third charge for similar incidents in the last three years, which left Kent outraged.

And he vented his anger on Triple M radio.

“You can end someone’s career by detaching the retina, it happens a lot in boxing,” Kent said.

“P**s off out of the game for 12 weeks.”

Despite McGuire’s history, he was hit with a grade one contrary conduct charge by the match review committee for the incident in the first half of Melbourne’s 18-12 win over the Cowboys in Townsville.

NRL: Although Cameron Munster didn’t make a formal complain, Josh McGuire has been spotted attempting an eye goug as the North Queensland Cowboys take on the Melbourne Storm.

Did McGuire eye gouge Munster?

Munster appeared to be upset by the incident initially but refused to make an official on-field complaint to the referees.

“I won’t go there,” Munster told the Nine Network “Me and Moose have a connection there. He did get me but I wasn’t going to put it on report.”

Storm skipper Cameron Smith said he did not see the incident but confirmed Munster was emotional in the immediate aftermath.

“I didn’t actually see the incident. He was quite upset by what had happened. He was quite strong with what he was saying to the referee,” Smith said.

QUEENSLAND’S NRL DISASTER

What is going on north of the border?

The Gold Coast Titans have hardly ever been premiership heavyweights and the Cowboys are trying to recover form the loss of Johnathan Thurston and an injury to Jason Taumalolo but the Brisbane Broncos have been awful to startthe season.

If it weren’t for the Bulldogs all three Queensland sides would be at the very bottom of the NRL ladder.

The Queensland teams have won just three games after five rounds – the same amount as last years’ wooden spooners the Parramatta Eels.

And with the Broncos rolling over to lose 22-16 to the Wests Tigers, Queensland great Wally Lewis cut loose, slamming the halves combination of Anthony Milford and Kodi Nikorima.

Brisbane, I see their next two or three weeks as being the control of their season, if they don’t win each of these – and they don’t have an easy draw coming up – it’s going to be a very long and painful season for them, it’s going to be disastrous and the criticism will snowball,” Lewis told Macquarie Sports Radio.

“They’re the most important positions on the field for me, (the halves) and the hooker, and it’s probably reaching boiling point now for Brisbane, they can’t deny they’re not feeling the pressure, they can’t deny that they don’t have that organisation.

“The confidence is at an lowest for Brisbane, I’ve never seen it like this.”

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media_camera‘Nothing to see here’ Darius Boyd of the Broncos during their round five loss.

Gorden Tallis has also been a strong critic of the Broncos this season, lashing out for the third time in less than a week on Thursday night’s The Late Show with Matty Johns.

“As a kid when I was growing up, Wally Lewis was my hero, so when he went to the Broncos and every great player in Queensland all aspired to be a Bronco and play for them, I don’t think they do any more,” Tallis said.

“It’s probably a little sad and I know that the Cowboys came in ‘95 and the Titans are down the road now but I just think the jersey deserves better.”

EL MAGIC’S SMASHING PRAISE

Bulldogs great Hazem El Masri has delivered the NRL’s all-time pointscoring crown to Cameron Smith in the most hilarious way.

The star, who retired at the end of the 2009 season, has been paraded around for the past few weeks as Smith edged closer to the 2418 point milestone.

Finally on Friday night, Smith kicked the points to move past El Masri and claim the title for himself. El Masri would have you believe he wasn’t as pleased.

After smashing his mate’s TV, the former Bulldogs star offered his congratulations as his mates cried in the background.

“Hey Smithy – congratulations mate for breaking my record,” El Masri said.

“Well deserved. You’re breaking every record out there. So I just want to wish you all the best. You’ve been a great leader, on the field and off the field.”

He then returned to smashing the tele.

Smith became just the 17th player in history to break the point scoring record on Friday night, passing the mark in his rugby league record 389th premiership match. He praised the past record holders post-match.

“It’s a special moment, it’s hard to take in while you’re playing…but it’s quite a humbling for me to be now the highest point scorer in the history of our game, it’s quite surreal,” Smith said post match.

“Going past the legend Hazem El Masri, who is just a magician with the boot, being up the top of that table with guys like Andrew Johns, it’s quite surreal. It’s very humbling and it’s quite a special night.”

El Masri can hold onto the fact he had the record for a decade, while it also took him only 317 matches to score his points.

The 2019 NRL season will be live and on demand on Kayo Sports for just $25 per month for two devices at once on Apple, Android and Telstra TV, for Apple and Google Android smartphones, on web browsers and via Google Chromecast Ultra devices. Click here for your free trial.

ALARM BELLS RINGING OVER SHARKS INJURY LIST

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media_cameraAndrew Fifita is helped from the field after a hamstring injury.

The Cronulla Sharks are set to be without 1000 games of experience as the club struggle with injuries to start of the 2019 NRL season.

The club have claimed two wins from five to start the year but much of their feared forward pack is sitting on the sideline.

With Aaron Woods (foot), Wade Graham (ankle) and skipper Paul Gallen (ribs) are already in doubt but Andrew Fifita added to the woes hobbling off with a hamstring complaint in the 30-16 loss to the Roosters on Saturday night.

Additionally star fullback Matt Moylan is on the injured list.

If Fifita sits out with the rest of the stars, the Sharks will be without 1034 games of NRL experience when they take on Penrith on Thursday night.

Rookie coach John Morris said it’s been a headache for the side with injuries sidelining many of their representative stars.

“He had a hamstring complaint, we’ll hold our breath on that one with a short turnaround,” Morris said of Fifita.

“Hopefully it’s not as bad as what they think. I think with him out it takes us to 1000 games of experience sitting on the sideline. Our depth is going to be tested once again. That’s footy, someone will come in and put their hand up hopefully.”

Originally published as ‘Absolute disgrace’ the NRL must stop



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