If the Queensland Maroons want to find the biggest grub in the State of Origin, they may want to look a little closer to home.
Meanwhile, the firing of Titans’ high performance manager Klint Hoare has put pressure on Gold Coast coach Justin Holbrook.
Read on for all the latest NRL news in Jimmy Brings†
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If Blues backrower Liam Martin – as the Queensland media has called him – is the next Paul Gallen, then I’m an astronaut.
Gallen was famously the Blues enforcer all of Queensland loved to hate after the NSW attacker called everyone north of the Tweed River “two heads”.
But all you have to do is pit Felise Kaufusi’s match-rating committee and the Queensland judiciary against Martin’s to find out who the real bad guy is playing in State of Origin II Sunday night.
Kaufusi has been charged with nine separate violations and banned for five weeks compared to Martin, who has been charged with three violations and suspended for a total of one game.
As the Eighth Immortal, Joey Johns, stated after Kaufusi somehow escaped suspension over the Sam Walker elbow in round 14, Kaufusi should buy a raffle ticket.
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If anyone is qualified to talk about playing tough in State of Origin, it’s NSW champion and Australian front rower Steve Roach.
Taking on all the hard hitting Maroons of the 1980s and early 1990s, Blocker couldn’t help but laugh at the barbs thrown at Blues backrower Martin.
“If they want to make Liam Martin a villain, they have to look in their own backyard. It’s not a competition if you put Martin against Felise Kaufusi. Look at their file. Case closed.”
Maroon striker Kaufusi’s rap sheet makes for ugly reading – seven dangerous contact charges, including two chicken wings, a headbutt, a grapple tackle and a charge of assaulting an opponent’s head.
There is also a shutdown surcharge and a carelessly high equipment charge.
Compared to Kaufusi, Martin still has the L plates on.
The Blues backrower has served just one week on the sidelines, suspended for a dangerous throw, with his other two charges being opposing contact for assaulting an opponent’s head and dangerous contact with a kicker.
You know it’s state of origin time when a dirt file is leaked to the media and turned into headlines.
It’s all part of the theater and it helps build what’s at stake.
TITAN’S DISMISSAL MAKES HOLBROOK NERVOUS
The Gold Coast Titans have quietly said goodbye to high performance manager Klint Hoare – who was a very close ally to head coach Justin Holbrook.
The Titans were one of the biggest disappointments of 2022, with the move seen as a warning shot that puts pressure on everyone at the club.
The 13th Immortal Mal Meninga has also been spotted on weekly trips from Canberra to the Gold Coast to spend more time with Holbrook.
The Gold Coast is currently last on the NRL ladder with just three wins from 15 games.
In fairness, the Titans have missed $1.2 million man David Fifita for six games and young fullback Jayden Campbell has only managed to make seven NRL appearances, but it’s impossible to overlook just how poor they’ve been.
There was genuine cause for optimism on the Gold Coast after coming within one pass last year to reach week two of the finals, but what can go wrong has gone wrong.
It was clearly a recruiting mistake to let Captain Jamal Fogarty leave to join the Canberra Raiders.
Fifita returns for the Titans round 16 match with the Knights in Newcastle, but the departure of Titans high performance manager Hoare has put everyone on notice.
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CROWE AND BENNETT LOCK HORNS OVER BURGESS
Wayne Bennett and Russell Crowe have discussed Sam Burgess’ plight, with the Dolphins and South Sydney still mired in a deadlock over who will secure the 2014 Rabbitohs Clive Churchill Medal winner as assistant coach for next season.
The Bunnies initially wanted Burgess to work in a lower rank as a coach next year, but after the Dolphins trumped them with an offer to work as Bennett’s right-hand man, South Sydney have upped their offer.
Burgess was all but off to the Dolphins to be one of Bennett’s assistants, to the point where the champion striker looked to Brisbane property last week.
But Souths and Crowe in particular refuse to lose him.
Supercoach Bennett and The Gladiator remain close friends from the time the seven-time premiership winner coached at Redfern, with the trio all spending time at Crowe’s Nana Glenn property last month.
Burgess is believed to be genuinely torn about his next move. For now, he’s focused on the team he’s coaching on the NSW Mid-North Coast in Coffs Harbor the Orara Valley Axemen.
The Axemen are currently at the top of the ladder with six wins and just one loss.
It will be a major coup for whoever puts Sam on their coaching staff.
SHARKS CIRCLE NEW CONTRACT FOR MOYLAN
The Cronulla Sharks are nearing the final touches on a new two-year deal for playmaker Matt Moylan.
Moylan, who turned 31 earlier this month, has played every game for the Sharks this season, cementing his new contract with a man of the match performance against the Gold Coast at Coffs Harbor in Round 14.
After an injury plagued three seasons in which he managed just 34 NRL matches, Moylan made the most important career decision of accepting a $450,000 haircut this season and has backed himself to win another deal.
The Sharks were initially looking for a one-year extension, but the way he has played all 14 games this year and his signing up for training has impressed everyone at Cronulla.
Expect Moylan’s new deal to be a two-year contract worth approximately $800,000.
Considering the way his combination with Nicho Hynes has developed, it’s a smart move by the Sharks.
COLLINS DECISION WAS A LOTTERY
There were many good judges shaking their heads at how Roosters and Queensland forward Lindsay Collins escaped with a penalty for his dangerous throw at Eels center Waqa Blake on round 15.
It bore a striking resemblance to a tackle Raiders star Jack Wighton made on Warriors fullback Reece Walsh in round eight when the Blues center was hit with a dangerous grade two throw and was banned for two weeks.
The conspiracy theorists suggest that Collins was only given a first-class charge and a $2,500 fine, so the Roosters prop had a saloon passage to the Maroons State of Origin side for Origin II.
We’re not suggesting that in any way, but it was a surprising decision.
ALL BITE NO BITE
We had a good laugh at our longtime sparring partner Dean Bulldog Ritchie potshotting our yarn on Luke Brooks who was in the firing line to be dropped at Wests Tigers.
This is the same journalist who not long ago complained that he was tired of journos bagging the yarns of other journos because of his contract fiasco in Kalyn Ponga.
Do you remember that one?
The Knights have sensationally revoked the Kalyn Ponga contract. The Knights have sensationally resubmitted the deal.
It’s on. No, no, wait a minute, it’s over. Hold the phone, it’s back on.
For the record, we had a phone call from Wests Tigers decision makers on Tuesday morning who wanted to know how we got the information that Brooks had been dropped.
The conversations they had had in the club had to be kept private.
Brooks was due to meet with interim coach Brett Kimmorley in Concord on Tuesday, but that was canceled after other media got wind of it.
Brooks will now meet with Kimmorley on Thursday to discuss next steps at Wests Tigers.
The plan on Monday night was for the Tigers to drop him.
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