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Big League Weekly Edition 2019 - Finals Week 1

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

2 min
young gun sivo fired up for finals

HE’S the Fijian phenom who looms as Parramatta’s trump card during the finals, and the scary thing is Maika Sivo is only going to get better in the years to come as he hones his skill as a bulldozing winger in the NRL. Sivo’s three-try haul in the win over the Sea Eagles last week saw him shoot to the top of the rankings, overtaking Roosters centre Latrell Mitchell to become the first rookie since Melbourne’s Suliasi Vunivalu in 2016 to score the most tries in a regular season. The softly-spoken fan favourite only managed two tries in his first five games, but burst onto the scene with four-pointers in each of his next eight matches to establish himself as one to watch in 2019. His brutal fend and powerful running style have…

1 min
kicking off

I DID ask for a little drama to kick the finals off in 2019 – but I didn’t expect that would amount to three judiciary hearings and an asbestos scare on the northern beaches. Now that all that is out of the way, we can focus on the four lots of 80 (or 90) minutes that will put teams on track for glory or spiral them into Mad Monday. I often get asked who my tip is for the premiership and as per usual, I stick strong with the favourites so can never go past the Storm. That’s yielded pretty great results over the years and I’ll do the same now. But we all know what happened the last time the Raiders visited Melbourne, so who knows? The other obvious favourites, the…

2 min
simmering sam backs brothers

SOUTH Sydney enforcer Sam Burgess has backed his brother George to make a noticeable impact if he returns from suspension on Friday against the Roosters. George (pictured) hasn’t played since copping a nine-week ban for an eye gouge on Robbie Farah, but has been named in the extended line-up and should play this week. Although Sam will miss the qualifying final due to his own suspension for pulling the hair of Roosters rookie Billy Smith, he thinks the Rabbitohs will lift with George back in the team. “He’s been great and when you have an end in sight it’s easy to work back,” Burgess said. “George has been doing that and he’s been enjoying every minute. He’s doing everything he needs to. He’s been running well in the second team, he’ll do whatever job…

1 min
cleary’s captaincy claim

PENRITH skipper James Tamou has called on Nathan Cleary to be the next captain of the Panthers following the halfback’s star performance against Newcastle in the final round. Cleary scored four tries and kicked nine goals in a 34-point haul that broke Michael Gordon’s single game pointscoring record for Penrith of 30, set back in 2010. With veteran five-eighth James Maloney departing for France, Cleary will be responsible for taking more of a leadership role in 2020. There have been whispers the 21-year-old will be named captain of the club next season and the current skipper has no objections if that’s the direction the club takes. “Easily he should be the next captain,” Tamou told Big League. “I think he’ll flourish next year. He knows he’ll have to do his best to step up.…

1 min
history no foregone conclusion

IT’S the stat that has trainspotters giddy leading into the finals, but try telling Storm skipper Cameron Smith that his side is a lock to win the premiership because of past performances. Melbourne have had an uncanny knack of bouncing back from adversity and nothing proves that better than the fact they’ve always won on grand final day the year after losing a decider. They downed the Sea Eagles in 2007 after losing to Brisbane, they edged the Eels in 2009 after their blowout loss in 2008 and they trounced the Cowboys in 2017 following their 2016 heartbreak against Cronulla. It’s why statisticians are backing them to go all the way 12 months after they went down to the Roosters, and while Smith says that game is motivation for them to improve, he…

2 min
‘underdog’ broncos ready for a fight

UNDERDOGS is a tag captain Darius Boyd said the Broncos will embrace when they face Parramatta in an elimination final at Bankwest Stadium on Sunday. The Broncos may have scraped into the top eight with more losses than wins and were smashed by the Bulldogs last Saturday, however Boyd is confident his side can still give the competition a shake. “It’s backs-against-the-wall going against Parra this weekend and no one gives us a chance of winning – but that’s when we seem to play our best,” Boyd said. “We’ve got nothing to lose and we’ll be going there to have a red-hot crack. “With the start we had, no one gave us a chance of making the finals. Internally, with the players and coaching staff, I think we’ve done a great job to get…