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Big League Weekly Edition 2019 - Finals Week 2

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
storm refuse to shift the blame

STAR playmaker Cameron Munster said Melbourne have no one to blame but themselves following last weekend’s 12-10 loss to Canberra, despite a refereeing blunder in the closing stages of the match. The Storm were denied an opportunity for an attacking raid in the final minute when the touch judge ruled Suliasi Vunivalu had gone into touch, when in fact he remained in the field of play. NRL head of elite football Graham Annesley admitted the incorrect decision was made – however Munster said the Storm aren’t blaming the officials for the loss. “Everyone makes mistakes. We can’t criticise the referees because we didn’t give ourselves a chance to win,” Munster told Big League. “We can sit here and whinge about the referees all we want, but at the end of the day we need…

1 min
kicking off

THE FIRST week of the finals was truly the most rugby league way to start a premiership campaign series for 2019. Not only did we have upsets, incredible scorelines, superhuman efforts and excellent tries, but a bizarre injury to Raider Joey Leilua and an unfortunate referee howler rounded out an incredible few days. I know plenty of long-suffering Raiders and Eels fans who are over the moon, but it was the Sea Eagles’ victory over the Sharks that had me most impressed (just a little bit more than another stunning performance by the Roosters). I said on the Big League Podcast last week that while I was tipping the Sharks, it would be most Des Hasler-like for the severely depleted Manly team to jag a win and continue on their incredible run…

2 min
plenty of work left for green machine

CANBERRA five-eighth Jack Wighton said last Saturday’s win over Melbourne won’t silence their critics, it’ll just change their tune. Wighton said pundits have been critical of the Raiders throughout the season and he admits it was sweet to prove them wrong with a win over the Storm. The two-point victory sets up a preliminary final at home against the winner of Friday night’s match between the Rabbitohs and Sea Eagles. “We’ve had a lot of people say we aren’t capable of anything this year, but we’re now a game from the grand final, which is pretty exciting to be honest,” Wighton told Big League. “There have been a lot of doubters, but the inner sanctum has stuck strong.” Wighton knows there will be plenty of hype surrounding the Raiders over the next week as they…

1 min
addin up to finals success

THE focus leading into last week’s game against the Sharks was how the Sea Eagles would cope without key forwards Martin Taupau, Joel Thompson and Curtis Sironen, and while it sounds sacrilege, they didn’t need them. Addin Fonua-Blake did the work of four men against a Cronulla pack brimming with representative talent, singlehandedly dominating the opposition to propel Manly into the second week of the finals. His raw numbers were phenomenal – 23 carries for 187 metres, seven tackle-breaks and a try – but it was his second stint which changed the momentum of the game and confirmed his status as one of the game’s best big men. “He’s one of the best props in the world,” hooker Api Koroisau told Big League. “He’s playing amazingly at the moment and other teams can’t stop…

1 min
frank approach to tonga

FRANK Endacott believes his calming influence can help rescue Mate Ma’a Tonga’s teetering post-season campaign – despite uncertainty around the availability of their stars. After a blow-up between the TNRL board, coach Kristian Woolf and the players resulted in Woolf’s sacking, Endacott answered an SOS from the Tongan hierarchy. The legendary former Kiwis mentor is set to lead Mate Ma’a Tonga into Tests against Great Britain and Australia, while ex-Titans coach Garth Brennan will be at the helm for the World Cup Nines. “Because of the circumstances, they just needed someone who could settle everyone down and bring them together,” Endacott told Big League. “There’s no way I’d take sides. I’m a coach, not a politician. I just want everyone getting on, because if you’re going to succeed as a team, you need…

2 min
burgess return boosts bunnies

INSPIRATIONAL skipper Sam Burgess is back for South Sydney in a huge boost for the Rabbitohs after they were smashed by the Roosters in week one of the finals. The Englishman missed the game due to suspension and his absence was felt as the defending premiers ran riot through the middle in a frightening display at the SCG. Wayne Bennett’s men were blown off the park in a blistering first half but saved face in the second half to limit the damage. The second-half result ensured they at least have some momentum heading into Friday’s showdown with the Sea Eagles. “If that game blew out then it wouldn’t have been good for our confidence at all, so to go out there and be 6-4 in the second half (was important),” hooker Damien Cook…