Big League Weekly Edition

2020 - Round 02

Your weekly guide to the NRL season, including the entire Final Series, the souvenir Grand Final program and our bumper Season Review. Every week Big League will feature stories on the big names, preview the big games and continue our popular Little League section for the young rugby league fans. With official team-lists, extensive statistics and up-to-date news, Big League provides everything you need to follow the NRL.

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in this issue

3 min
players primed amid virus uncertainty

AS the NRL enters unchartered territory this weekend due to the COVID-19 outbreak, a number of players have spoken about the priority needing to be the health of the players and their families, but backed the NRL’s decision to continue the season. For the first time in rugby league history, Round 2 matches will be played behind closed doors with no fans allowed in to venues to limit the spread of COVID-19. The decision comes following an Australian Government directive to cancel all events that have 500 or more people attending. There were initial suggestions the season would be indefinitely suspended (just like the NBA, Premier League and a number of other major sporting leagues across the globe), but at the time of print, games are set to proceed. “If it’s a choice between…

1 min
kicking off

WOW. I must admit, a couple of months ago when I first heard of COVID-19, I didn’t really think much of it. In fact, I teased my husband when he suggested we should slowly build on our pantry staples just in case. While I might hold on a little bit longer before I admit to him that I was wrong, the ever-changing situation with the virus and its impact on the NRL has been staggering. Around the world, other sporting codes have shut down to try and stem the impact for those who who have compromised immune systems, and in the NRL we’ll see games played without fans in attendance in Round 2. We go to print on Tuesday night and I’m sure the situation has changed once again by the time…

2 min
new rules suffer growing pains

THE coronavirus pandemic has rightly dominated the news cycle for weeks, but lost in the crisis was a round of rugby league in which the NRL’s new rules came into effect. The captain’s challenge was always going to be the most scrutinised innovation, and while the players struggled, the added scrutiny on decisions was a huge win for on-field officials who often had their original decisions supported by the Bunker. It’s hard to see Parramatta’s Reagan Campbell-Gillard making a captain’s challenge plea again after he became the first player to come up with an incorrect challenge, while the Warriors at least had something to celebrate during a tough week as they became the first team to successfully review a decision. Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett isn’t a fan of the rule, arguing it’s counterintuitive…

1 min
dogs determined to bury past

CANTERBURY skipper Josh Jackson has spoken about his desire to make Bulldogs fans proud again following last week’s drama involving Jayden Okunbor and Corey Harawira-Naera. The duo have indefinitely been stood down for breaching the NRL’s code of conduct after allegedly bringing schoolgirls to the team hotel. The actions of the two players have reportedly cost the club a $2 million major sponsorship. The Bulldogs have worked hard over the past few seasons to change the image of the club, but a couple of off-field dramas have tarnished their reputation. It’s also been a tough time on the field with the club missing the finals for three consecutive seasons. Although Bulldogs fans have had a rough trot, Jackson is thankful the fans have stuck by them and said the club will make them proud again.…

1 min
familiar feeling after first-up loss

LOSING in the opening round has never really been a problem for the Roosters and they have no reason to panic following their loss to Penrith last Saturday night. The Tri-colours have now lost six of their past eight opening round matches – including their past three seasons, after which they were able to recover to finish inside the top two. Their past three premiership years (2019, 2018 and 2013) all started with first round losses. “It would’ve been nice to win from the start, but we’ve been in this position before and we know we can turn it around quickly,” Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (pictured)told BigLeague. “We haven’t started well in previous years but have been able to bounce back, so the boys will have the confidence they can do it again.” The New Zealand international…

4 min
1 nomad teams

8. Warriors (2014) A desire to capitalise on bumper crowds at Eden Park and Wellington’s Westpac Stadium meant the Warriors didn’t play at their Mt Smart Stadium base until Round 12 of the 2014 premiership. Notoriously poor at alternate venues around New Zealand, the Warriors lost their first two Eden Park fixtures to St George Illawarra and Canterbury. But the club earned its first victory in six attempts at the rugby union bastion courtesy of a 54-12 thrashing of Canberra and vanquished a 13-year hoodoo with its maiden win in the capital by beating Wests Tigers 42-18. 7.. North Sydney Bears (1999) As Sydney clubs clambered to remain viable amid the NRL’s late-1990s rationalisation, Norths – who had played out of North Sydney Oval since 1910 – made the controversial decision to relocate…