Stars emerging, NRLW soaring, upredictability surging

Albert Kelly, featured, League, NRL 2022, Payne Haas



Ugh. Not again. So, we’ve had a teammate scuffle caught on camera, a player charged with assault, and the threat of more rule changes.

Once you have marked them all off your NRL Bingo cards, I thought I’d try and bring you back over to the good side. Talking about all the positives from the season so far, and the things that have had us all cheering.

Young guns on fire

Wowza! Don’t we have some superstars of the future running around at the moment?! Jeremiah Nanai has been outstanding for the Cowboys, with the youngster already being mentioned in Origin discussions. The Man Mountain that is Dominic Young has been close to unstoppable on the wing for the Knights, with his opponents struggling to contain the huge 2m frame. And Manly have unearthed a gem in Tolu Koula, this flyer is definitely one to watch. Hope the last two aren’t out injured for too long. Or that Nanai is now jinxed by my praise!

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 12: Dominic Young of the Knights celebrates victory with team mates after the round one NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the Newcastle Knights at Sydney Cricket Ground, on March 12, 2022, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Dominic Young(Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Blowouts blown off the map

One of the biggest complaints from last year was the blowout scores and thrashings. In the first four rounds we have had some spectacular games of footy, with 10 matches to only have a differential of four points or less difference.

The quality of the games has been wonderful to watch, with the close finishes only adding to the excitement.

NRLW set for grand finale

Yes, I know this is not ‘technically’ NRL. But it is part of our game, and it has been bloody sensational. We have watched six teams give it their absolute all this season, with the quality of footy just next level. The women go out there every week and leave nothing in the tank, breaking glass ceilings and stereotypes every time they lace on the boots.

This weekend’s Grand Final between the Dragons and the Roosters should be fantastic, and a brand-new champion will be crowned with the three-time premiership winning Broncos being knocked out before the big day.

We still have a standalone Origin series, the World Cup and the 2022 season to come, and with more teams to join the growing competition over the next few years, the NRLW is only going to get better and better.

Warriors get to go home

How amazing is this? We have kept all our fingers and toes crossed for so long now, hoping the Warriors would be able to play again in New Zealand. And finally, last month it was announced the team will be heading back across the ditch to play on July 3.

After two and a half seasons of being based in Australia due to COVID protocols, they will once again be back with their family and friends, running out in front of their home crowd. What a homecoming that will be. Let’s Gone Warriors!

Young halves standing up and taking the reins

There was so much speculation in the off season around Nicho Hynes and if he would succeed in the No.7 jersey. He has shown us all what he can do in the halves, and each week he just seems to get better.

The Knights were meant to fall apart without a ‘proper halves’ combination. Every time another halfback was linked to the club the fans would scream “For the love of God, just let Clifford and Clune have time to click!”

(Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

And that time didn’t take long at all, with the young pairing taking charge and leading Newcastle around the park.

Lachlan Illias is coming on in leaps and bounds at Souths trying to fill the boots of the great Adam Reynolds, Toby Sexton is making the Titans team his own after the departure of Jamal Fogarty, and Dylan Brown is just on absolute fire at the Eels, proving the perfect partner to Mitch Moses.

The next generation of champion sixes and sevens have arrived.

Milestones

It’s one thing to make it in the NRL, but to actually remain at the top for so long is something that should be applauded. In the last four rounds alone, we have seen some greats get added to this history books. Newcastle forward Tyson Frizell celebrated his 200th game, Sharks hardman Aiden Tolman ran out for his 300th match, and coaching royalty Craig Bellamy led his 500th in the coach’s box. Well done guys.

Upsets and unpredictability

The Knights trounced the Roosters, and the Broncos shocked the Bunnies in Round 1. The Cowboys smashed the Raiders in Round 2 who then came back from 18 points down to beat the Titans in Round 3. The Storm kept the Dogs scoreless last round, and the Sharks did the same to the Knights. The Warriors and the Cowboys are in the top eight, and Souths are close to the bottom. Tipping has been hard, outcomes tough to forecast, score lines difficult to guess. And that’s just how we like it.

So, there you go! Lots to love in the world of rugby league.

Yes, there has once again been some bad press around the game. Some boofheads trying to spoil the party. Don’t let them. They can stay to the side and dig their own hole. You just sit back and enjoy the footy.
The first four rounds have been tremendous, and I’m sure the rest of the season will be spectacular.

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