1. Who are the Bulldogs looking at to sign in the 2020 season? Rumours saying that Jayden Brailey is coming to Dogs is this true? – Nicholas Pana
G’day Nicholas, as I said in this column last week, they were chasing a back row in Joe Stimson & have officially snared his signature. Now the hunt begins for a hooker & they have had no such luck. I don’t believe the Sharks will release Jayden Brailey from the final year of his contract (2020) as there is no real incentive for them to do so. Tigers hooker Jacob Liddle is off contract after this season & the Bulldogs have previously chased him. Don’t be surprised if we see him in a Bulldogs jersey next season.
2. Any updates on Scott Drinkwater? – Aiden Redmond
Hey Aiden, the Cowboys remain extremely keen to secure his services. His NRL pathway at the Melbourne Storm appears blocked at the moment with Jahrome Hughes & Ryan Papenhuyzen playing out of their skin! Despite this, the Storm will not just simply hand over their young star. They are seeking something in return from the Cowboys. If the Cowboys can offer up a forward in an adequate player trade, we may see Drinkwater in a Cowboys jersey in 2019.
3. Everyone seems to be happy with the ref’s after every Origin, why can’t they have that effort week in, week out? – James Hart
Hi James, I don’t necessarily believe it is an effort thing. Due to the high pace nature of State of Origin, as fans, we may not notice the little areas around the play the ball as we do on a weekly basis. Further, generally the best performing referee’s are selected for Origin & we are only assessing the performance of 2 men as opposed to many more in a regular NRL round. Overall I think the refs have been consistent & fair this year. It’s not perfect, but we shouldn’t expect them to be.
4. If the Tigers are offloading Packer, Taylor etc, who are they replacing them with? – Glen Nielson
Great question, Glen. At this stage we can only speculate however, Madge will have the wheels in motion behind the scenes. He doesn’t give too much away, as we saw at last nights post-game press conference. Madge loves consistency & players he knows he can get the best out of, that is why he is currently chasing the man he named Kiwis captain less than 12 months ago, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak. Look to forwards he has coached at the Rabbitohs or NZ Kiwis & definitely stay tuned to Zero Tackle, there is more to come on this for sure.
5. Who comes in for David Klemmer for NSW in game 2? – Riley Beauchamp
Hey Riley, I’d look to bring Jordan McLean straight in. He is the current vice-captain of the North Queensland Cowboys & brings qualities such as leadership & experience into the fray. He’s the current Australian Kangaroos front rower & I can’t see value in starting rookie prop Payne Haas at this stage of his career.
6. You said on your post Bryson Goodwin to Souths, why then has Souths not told us members? – Sammy Bordonaro
G’day Sammy, the Rabbitohs cannot announce anything until his current Super League side Warrington Wolves do. Don’t worry but mate, I can assure you my source for this cannot be incorrect.
7. If Dallin Watene-Zelezniak goes to the Tigers, does that mean Moses Mbye looks elsewhere? If so, where do you see him going? – Jacob Thompson
G’day Jacob, great to see your name again. I think the Tigers are in the box seat to land Dallin Watene-Zelezniak. He shares a close bond with Michael Maguire after he appointed him captain of the New Zealand Kiwis in 2018. Maguire has said Mbye is going nowhere however, Rugby League is a strange sport & things move very quickly. Cowboys make the most sense at this stage. They have the most salary cap space of all NRL clubs & are also chasing a fullback!
8. Do you think the Broncos are contenders in this year’s final series? – Aiden Binskin
Hey Aiden, it’s tough to say at this stage. The Broncos are that one genuine smokey side this year. They have a lot of young players in their first full season of NRL. Mental & physical fatigue could start to set in, especially given Haas & Fifita are now playing State of Origin. Dearden & Milford’s halves combination continues to develop with each week & how this team performs come finals time is anyone’s guess!
9. Changes to the NSW Blues side for game 2? – Elomaro Jack
Hey mate, I am only looking to make 2 changes to this side. A lot of speculation surrounds the side as the media pressure piles however, we can’t forget this is a side that only lost by 4 points. I’d take Jack Wighton out of the side & replace him with Ryan Matterson. I’m a big fan of large utilities in the Origin arena & Matterson was 18th man in the series opener. He experienced the entire week & lead up. I’d also remove Angus Crichton for Dale Finucane. He is a genuine workhorse with a lot of big game experience. He has played in 19 NRL finals matches now & 4 times for NSW Country. I think carrying another middle forward will enable Brad Fittler to better utilise his prop rotation & avoid his starting prop playing 51 minutes straight & then missing the crucial final period.
10. Why is Ash Taylor having a hard time if he is on 1 million? – Duggan Jack
Hi mate, money isn’t everything & the Titans have asked the media to respect his privacy during this time. Taylor will talk about it when he is ready, but until then I think we should all respect his privacy.
11. How do you see the media disrespecting Latrell? – AJ Lucantonio
A bit of a strange one given his leave was already approved by the Sydney Roosters before the State of Origin opener. He has returned to Taree to attend a funeral. If the Blues won the opening game, no one would be discussing how “poorly” he played.
Thank you for reading my weekly column on Zero Tackle. Hopefully, some of my answers helped keep you up to date in this crazy world of Rugby League. If you would like to ask me a question for next weeks column, you can find me across social media @clarkeys.nrl.column