Week one of the NRL finals is done and dusted, Jenna Brooks has all the big talking points, as John Bateman stars, Elliott Whitehead hits back at Cameron Smith and Sam Burgess speaks his mind.
It was no surprise that it was John Bateman who scored the late try to hand Canberra a 12-10 win over minor premiers Melbourne in their qualifying final on Saturday.
Bateman’s 76th-minute try secured the Raiders second finals away win in almost 25 years.
“These are the games I want to play in and we went out there today and got the job done and that’s what it’s all about,” Bateman said.
“I scored in a final once but we lost so that would have to be up there as one of the best tries I’ve ever scored. But full credit to the team. We’ve worked hard all year and it’s exciting what’s coming.”
Bateman’s outstanding performances this year have attracted a lot of praise, with many hailing him the signing of the year.
“People have been shocked with how I’ve gone this year but I was always confident in my abilities. I knew I could play rugby at the standard I’ve played at this year.”
Bateman and his team-mates can enjoy a week off, after they secured their place in the preliminary final next week. Canberra will host the winners between Manly and South Sydney.
Whitehead fires back
Elliott Whitehead has hit back at comments made by Cameron Smith during the Raiders win over the Storm.
Play was stopped while the former Catalans and Bradford forward received treatment for a knee injury, prompting Cameron Smith to complain to the official.
The Melbourne captain was overheard saying, “My kids have bigger scratches than that. Fair dinkum, we’re stopping a rugby league game?”
Whitehead has responded by posting a gruesome video on social media of a huge gash to his knee, captioning it ‘just a scratch.’
Sam Burgess has criticised the NRL judiciary system, calling it a ‘kangaroo court.’
Burgess, who was forced to miss South Sydney’s defeat to the Roosters, due to a one-game ban for a hair pull on Billy Smith, has been summoned to a meeting with NRL CEO Todd Greenberg over the comments.
2019 hasn’t been a great season for the star forward, who has missed 11 NRL games due to suspension.
The NRL introduced a system to allow players who have been charged with a minor offence to pay a fine instead of spend time on the sidelines, but Burgess didn’t qualify given his history.
“Everyone says there needs to be an [overhaul] of the judicial system. Who is making calls here?” Burgess questioned.
“Is there a discussion before these calls go out there? I don’t know what the process is. It’s like kangaroo court in there.”
“We are very reactive. We’re a multi-million dollar game yet we’re ruling out players for big games over things that are [minor]. Just fine the player.”
Without the England international, the Rabbitohs lost 30-6 on Friday, in a game that saw Jared Waerea-Hargreaves handed a one-game ban for tripping South Sydney centre James Roberts.
“Just fine the player. Was it bad? Did anyone get injured? Is anyone hurt? No, no. Is it silly? Is it part of the game? Is it in the contest? Yeah.”
Greenberg will meet with Burgess next week, where the Englishmen will explain why his comments shouldn’t result in a breach notice, while also having to the chance to express his views.
Burgess returns for the Rabbitohs must-win game against Manly on Friday. That’s after the Sea Eagles outplayed Cronulla 28-16 in their elimination final.
Brisbane were thrashed 58-0 by Parramatta on Sunday, their largest defeat in the club’s history, however the biggest talking point from that game was what happened the night before.
On Saturday night, Matt Gillett, Andrew McCullough, Payne Haas, David Fifita, Corey Oates and Anthony Milford were seen at a Sydney pub until 11pm.
The club issued a statement on Tuesday saying there was no suggestion that the players were drinking and all reported for the team breakfast the following day at 7am.
However it has generated plenty of discussion and criticism within the sport.
Broncos legend Darren Lockyer admits he was extremely disappointed and didn’t understand why players would be out the night before a final.
“You’ve made the finals, you’re going to a stadium you know is going to be packed full of the opposition fans. You’re in a hostile environment.
“If you’re any chance of winning that game you need to be as prepared as you can.