DARWIN, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 09: (L-R) Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott and Enari Tuala of the Cowboys look on during the round 14 NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the North Queensland Cowboys at TIO Stadium on June 9, 2018 in Darwin, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

Make North Queensland Great Again

Changes were finally made to North Queensland’s flailing line-up which has seen them hit rock bottom, literally, sitting dead last on the ladder (alongside Parramatta and Canterbury) at the halfway point of the season.

Amongst those dropped were grand final heroes; Justin O’Neill, Lachlan Coote, Ethan Lowe and Antonio Winterstein. Javid Bowen returns to the side after a couple of months spent player Intrust Super Cup with Cairns based affiliate Northern Pride, Kane Linnett is promoted to the starting side after returning from injury on the interchange bench last fortnight, Ben Hampton – who has been one of the clubs best this season – returns on the interchange bench.

Scott Bolton also returns from injury, replacing the out-of-form Lowe – who was tipped to finally crack the Queensland Origin side at the beginning of the season – while Michael Morgan also returns from injury, replacing Coote at Fullback.

Miraculously however is the exclusion of young gun Mitch Dunn. Dunn was one of North Queensland’s best in their win over Manly a couple of weeks ago and I struggle to believe he doesn’t deserve a spot on the bench for the struggling Cows.

Game couldn’t be in better Shape

Plenty of journalists and broadcasts involved in rugby league media would try have you believe that this NRL season has been one of the worst in recent memory and that the game is languishing as fans fall out of love with the game as the referees continue to ‘destroy’ the game they love.

The harsh reality for this select of people however is that they couldn’t be more wrong. Crowds have never been bigger, the NRL have recorded a record number of memberships and the game continues to break free-to-air and pay TV ratings.

Meanwhile, the fans I’ve spoken too couldn’t be more happier than with the way the game has been officiated this year and that it’s the most unpredictable, fun and enjoyable season in years.

The only blight on the game, I believe, is the handling of the broadcast deal in 2015. The largest television deal in Australian history which saw the NRL rake in 1.7 billion dollars, before blowing the cash before season 2017 was even at its end. In comparison American sports entertainment company, the WWE, brokered a 1-billion-dollar deal with Fox Sports in the U.S over the same period (five years) with experts regarding it as one of the biggest deals in American History.

Retirement Fever Hits NRL

With Cameron Smith announcing his shock retirement from representative football last month, a flurry of players have followed suit. Maroon greats’ Billy Slater and Darius Boyd have both announced their retirements from representative football at seasons end as have Kiwi pair Simon Mannering and Russell Packer.

This morning, Penrith Panther’s supporters were also rocked with the announcement that fan favourite, Peter Wallace, was hanging up the boots effective immediately.


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