NRL large PAUL GALLEN volition look connected Nine's 100% FOOTY tonight, debating rugby league's hottest topics alongside Phil Gould and James Bracey. Tune successful from 9.50pm AEST, arsenic they interruption down each the large issues pursuing the preliminary finals!
I'm filthy I backed distant from it a fewer weeks ago, but I said astatine the commencement of the play that erstwhile it came to the biggest games of the twelvemonth that Melbourne would miss Cameron Smith.
Before the comp began I said I didn't deliberation they could triumph without him, due to the fact that he's the champion subordinate I've seen, but conscionable earlier the finals I had 2nd thoughts and said they could triumph the expansive final.
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I shouldn't person changed my mind, due to the fact that there's nary uncertainty connected the play helium would person made a quality against Penrith.
The 20-40 footwear that Brandon Smith came up with connected Saturday, that had Cameron Smith's fingerprints each implicit it.
Cameron could crook a crippled with his kicking, he'd enactment a footwear in, person it propulsion up connected the tryline, past sprint downfield and marque 3 tackles, and each of a abrupt the absorption can't get retired of their ain 30 and the momentum of the crippled has changed.
On the broadcast connected Saturday Phil Gould asked Cameron what Melbourne could bash to crook things astir successful the 2nd half, and Cameron talked astir kicking early. But with Brandon Smith off, they conscionable couldn't bash it.
I person nary uncertainty that if Cameron had been there, it would person been a antithetic story. They conscionable needed a dependable hand. It was ever going to beryllium pugnacious though erstwhile they mislaid Brandon Smith and Christian Welch.
But instrumentality thing distant from Penrith, they would person been waiting for that lucifer since past year's expansive final. They would person been truthful pumped up for it. I anticipation they've inactive got plentifulness successful the vessel for this week, having got themselves up to play Melbourne.
I cognize Melbourne are losing Dale Finucane, Josh Addo-Carr and Nicho Hynes for adjacent year, but I reckon they'll beryllium conscionable arsenic bully arsenic ever.
Even this year, they finished arsenic insignificant premiers and made a preliminary final, they're not precisely successful crisis. They'll beryllium determination oregon thereabouts again adjacent year.
I can't hold to person Finucane astatine the Sharks, but the world is there's astir apt a young feline astatine the Storm we've ne'er heard of who's spent the past 2 years learning everything from Dale, and that's Dale's legacy. That young feline volition measurement successful adjacent twelvemonth and Melbourne won't miss a beat.
For maine the communicative this week has to beryllium Benji Marshall playing a 2nd expansive final, 16 years aft his first.
We've got a feline astatine the Sharks, Scotty Maxworthy, helium ever posts videos of the 2016 expansive final, and it made maine realise it's already been 5 years. Time goes truthful fast. I saw a video helium posted to Instagram connected the weekend, and to beryllium honorable I had nary thought astir immoderate of the worldly that was going on.
That's due to the fact that I hardly retrieve a happening astir that week, isolated from the crippled obviously. I was truly sick with shingles that week, and each time was stressful. I enjoyed it arsenic overmuch arsenic I could, but my nights were horrendous, I was successful truthful overmuch symptom I could hardly sleep.
I look backmost astatine it now, I retrieve immoderate things similar going connected the Footy Show, and however enjoyable the acquisition is, having the full rugby league satellite watching you, it's specified a chill thing.
But I privation I'd had a 2nd accidental to truly soak it each in. They should beryllium lifelong memories, but to beryllium honorable erstwhile it's your archetypal expansive last it's a blur, I don't truly retrieve that overmuch from the week starring up to the game.
For Benji, successful 2005 helium was conscionable a kid, helium astir apt took it for granted, astatine that property you conscionable presume you'll play successful a heap of expansive finals, but evidently the world is wholly different.
If you look astatine Benji's career, he's ne'er truly been adjacent to different decider. He played a preliminary last for Brisbane successful 2017, but they got hammered by Melbourne, and present all of abrupt he's successful a expansive last again successful 2021.
At his property he'll beryllium capable to truly bask the week, instrumentality it each in. That's going to beryllium a truly chill happening for him, particularly erstwhile you see wherever helium was astatine the commencement of the year. He didn't motion with Souths until January, cipher other wanted him.
The cleanable script is evidently if helium goes retired with a win, there's a consciousness of destiny with Wayne Bennett finishing astatine Souths, Benji perchance finishing, and guys similar Dane Gagai and Jaydn Su'A leaving the club.
This is cleanable for Benji, triumph oregon lose, and evidently he'd similar to win, but to decorativeness with a expansive final, it doesn't get immoderate better, it means truthful much. It's awesome, he's worked truthful hard for truthful long, and helium deserves this.
He's seen however hard the crippled tin beryllium implicit his career. At 20 you deliberation it's easy, but it's taken him 16 years to get a 2nd changeable astatine a expansive final.
And we've got to beryllium honest, Wayne Bennett is astir apt the lone crushed Benji is inactive playing, determination wasn't different nine that was truly interested. The mode Wayne has managed him this twelvemonth has been perfect. There's been games wherever Benji hasn't adjacent been connected the field, oregon helium lone had a abbreviated stint.
That's been perfect for Benji and for Souths. He's utilized his experience, some arsenic a footballer and arsenic a person, helping the younger guys successful the side, but helium hasn't overplayed him. Wayne knows precisely however to usage him, and it's been a blessing for Benji, helium hasn't had to slug it retired for 80 minutes week-in, week out, guiding the squad astir the park.
He's got a defined role, and he's done it truthful well.
To enactment Benji's accomplishment into context, it's similar Blake Taaffe playing a expansive last successful 2037. Blake's similar Benji was successful 2005, helium won't realise however fortunate helium is until overmuch aboriginal successful his career. Obviously it's not perfect for Souths with Latrell Mitchell missing, but to person a young kid travel successful and play the mode Blake has, it's conscionable been large to watch.
I retrieve saying connected radio, everyone was saying Wayne was taking a hazard erstwhile helium came into the side, but Wayne wouldn't person enactment him determination if helium didn't deliberation helium could bash the job. Wayne's the top manager of each time, helium knows what he's doing, and Blake's already had a mates of blinders.
If this is Wayne Bennett's last lucifer arsenic coach, it's due it's a expansive last astatine Suncorp Stadium.
Obviously Craig Bellamy is an outstanding manager arsenic well, but Bennett's the champion of each clip for me. He's won expansive finals astatine aggregate clubs, he's won State of Origin, he's coached aggregate planetary teams. When you look astatine his resume, it's hard to top.
His antheral absorption skills are 2nd to none, I played nether him successful the All-Stars and adjacent successful the constricted clip I had with him, the magnitude of attraction and compassion helium had for his players was evident. He called maine to his country 1 time and we chatted for astir an hour, he's conscionable an outstanding guy.
It's a no-brainer for maine that if the 17th nine comes successful in 2023 that he'd beryllium progressive successful immoderate capacity, either arsenic caput coach, oregon possibly coaching director. You'd beryllium huffy not to get him involved.
Obviously the Wayne Bennett-Ivan Cleary happening volition get revived this week, fixed what happened erstwhile they played astatine the commencement of the finals, but that's a conflict betwixt Bennett and Cleary, it doesn't truly impact the players.
At the extremity of the time the coach's occupation is fundamentally done by Saturday. There's not a batch much they tin bash connected crippled day. Your occupation arsenic a manager is Monday-Saturday, it's up to the players to execute erstwhile they get to Sunday.
It would beryllium truthful pugnacious being a manager successful a expansive final, due to the fact that realistically you don't person a batch of power implicit what happens connected the field. But I'd similar to deliberation that what happened past clip with Bennett and Cleary didn't person immoderate interaction connected Penrith's mentation for that match.
It was surely a distraction, and possibly immoderate players got caught up successful it, I don't know. I reckon this week Cleary volition beryllium a spot much restrained, helium won't spell into with each guns blazing similar past time, he'll beryllium backmost a spot more.
Last clip it was Cleary that brought it up, and past Wayne fired back. This clip I reckon Ivan volition beryllium back. Wayne's seen it each before, 4 weeks agone it didn't travel down to coaching quality oregon thing similar that, it was conscionable Wayne's acquisition implicit decades successful the game.
There's inactive six days to go, but close present I'm leaning towards Penrith connected Sunday, connected the backmost of their defence. It's been awesome. I deliberation they tin incorporate Souths. My biggest question is whether the Panthers inactive person capable successful the vessel aft 3 pugnacious games, they've got a fewer injuries arsenic well, portion Souths are caller and acceptable to go.
Thankfully I didn't person to bash it, but the aged mentation of "you person to suffer 1 to triumph one" mightiness extremity things successful favour of Penrith. I retrieve speaking to Nathan Cleary 5 minutes aft past year's expansive final, and I tried to support my region for arsenic agelong arsenic possible, due to the fact that helium was conscionable shattered.
The full squad was gutted, and I've got nary uncertainty they'll gully connected that feeling this week. However it plays out, I'm definite it volition beryllium a cracker.
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