Women in League. A strong win over the Titans. It was a great round for the game and another pleasing round for our Eels.
However, amongst the goodwill and the good footy, from the stands there’s two important aspects from this past weekend’s round I’d like to discuss. Be warned! In doing so I’ll be raising some concerns I have with regard to NRL leadership.
I really liked the Parra jersey for Women in League round and congratulate the club on the design. The idea to put important women in players’ and staff’s lives on the jersey, as well as the name of select female Parra members young and old, was spot on.
Every player would no doubt have a significant female in their life who has helped them. Maybe it was their mum who drove hours each week to get them to training or maybe it is their partner who has attended numerous family events alone because the player is preparing or recovering from a game.
Likewise, I’m sure there are member’s names on that jersey who just like my mum have spent many hours doing canteen duty, or field duty, washing uniforms, organising presentations, writing newsletter reports and organising family life around training and playing days, with nothing but a hug or thanks at the end of the year.
Unfortunately, in a week that the NRL should have been celebrating the combined effort of thousands of women who volunteer and contribute to our game at both the NRL level and grassroots, they managed to themselves create the distraction, via the Mrs Smith ring controversy.
I personally think it was highly inappropriate and insulting for the NRL to provide such a gift, however that is really not my point.
If the NRL had been transparent and not hidden the gift it would not have been an issue this week. Instead they hid the ring presentation, for reasons only they know and stupidly thought it would not get out. It did and that became the entire media focus and once again the NRL managed to derail its own celebration. The NRL leaders get paid top dollar, they need to be held accountable.
On the football front, Maika Sivo’s try was wrongly disallowed and this requires some discussion. I don’t like referee blaming but there is a big difference between the on-field officials and the video referee.
I accept on-field referees will make mistakes and they may be very costly but there is no excuse for video referee mistakes like this. Mr Maxwell has made some big mistakes this year in the bunker. He missed the Warriors winger’s foot going out against the Panthers in Rd 15, he missed Wade Graham touching the ball this round but the fact that he actually ruled against Sivo is highly concerning.
He looked at that and quickly ruled against Sivo – completely ignoring the escort runner, a thing the NRL themselves have cracked down on this year. Everyone, the players, viewers and commentators saw it. Everyone but him.
This brings me to my greatest concern.
Taking the occasional, challenging 50/50 call out of the equation, if the video referees cannot pick up a simple knock on, foot into touch or escort runner do we really want them advising the on-field officials about highly significant calls such as penalty tries and sin-bins coming into the finals? I think not.
Finally my favourite home game each season has arrived and it is extra special this year being back at our home, not ANZ.
I have many friends and colleagues who are Bulldog supporters. I’m glad they are playing better as their fan base is always good value. I never miss this game. Thursday nights are hard for us but so be it, we will be there.
I hope the crowd turn up and cheer loud. I hope our boys keep turning up and playing hard. I will be honest in saying the team has exceeded my expectations but I have a feeling they have not exceeded their own.
In listening to the players being interviewed over the last few weeks there is a confidence and determination in the group that is wonderful to see. Well done boys and please beat the Bulldogs.
Work will be hard on Friday morning for thousands of Parra fans if you don’t.