Almanac Rugby League – NRL Round 8: Coping with injuries – it’s all about depth

Just when I thought that the season was headed for an ‘upstairs eight’ and a ‘downstairs leftovers’, a series of injuries to key personnel has the potential to rock the boat. If anything, it might help us to discern which clubs have the depth to cover for their losses. It might go something like this.

 

Cameron Munster is the Melbourne Storm player best suited to the hoped-for, new style of game we’ve seen post-break. Now he’s out for a few weeks at least with knee issues. It’s unfortunate for Melbourne that this coincides with them facing the Roosters and the Raiders in their next two matches. We’ll learn a lot about Melbourne in that time. I expect them to struggle. By contrast, I expect the Roosters to continue to thrive even though they’ve lost Victor Radley and Sam Verrills for the season. The Bondi boys have depth in their squad to the extent that Mr Versatile, Mitch Aubusson, can only score a spot on the bench alongside the very talented Lindsay Collins. Luxury!

 

Last weekend we saw that Manly really struggled without Tom Trbojevic although, to be fair, they were probably still recovering from their heroics against the Raiders the previous week. This weekend they face the Knights who will want to show that last week’s loss to the Cowboys was an aberration. Plus the Knights have Ponga as their lively, lurking attack weapon. Both sides might get a better idea of their real status in the competition on Sunday afternoon.

 

The Eels will be without Mitchell Moses for a week or more, so they too will need to find something extra to cope with that loss. I expect that Clint Gutherson may well get more involved to support the youngsters Field and Brown. A home ground advantage against the inconsistent Cowboys will work in the Eels’ favour also. With the Knights and Sea Eagles in the following two weeks, let’s see if the Parra boys can hold top spot. They certainly have the energy and spirit.

 

In other games this weekend, I expect the mis-firing Raiders to find some form and give the would-be resurgent Dragons a reminder of their proper place downstairs.  The Sharks finally found some form last week and should be too good for the Titans who did win last week but only against the hapless Broncos. Can Shaun Johnson put a few decent games together in succession?

 

The 14th v 15th Warriors v Broncos match-up will struggle to get anyone through the turnstiles. They are where they are because they deserve to be there. I’ve said before that you can at least feel sorry for the Warriors. But without RTS (suspended), they’ll battle to stay in this one. A win for Brisbane won’t mean much; another loss will see Red Hill live up to its name next week – there’ll be blood everywhere!

 

The Tigers are showing a bit more character than I thought they had but, unfortunately for them, the Panthers have demonstrated even more. Keep an eye on the once-called ‘Chocolate Soldiers’ – they may have enough in their armoury to crack a top four spot. The Bulldogs will stay rooted to the bottom of the table when the Rabbitohs take them to the cleaners on Sunday.

 

So my winners this week are: Roosters, Raiders, Eels, Sharks, Broncos, Panthers, Sea Eagles and Rabbitohs.

 

From Round 7: Match of the week is awarded to the Eels v Raiders clash, a rip snorter of to and fro footy which neither team deserved to lose – a classic example of why a draw after 80 minutes is a legitimate result instead of the confected, ‘someone has to win’ creation of the money spinners. Team of the Week goes to the Roosters who lost two key players early and trailed on the scoreboard but found the resolve that only the best teams have to fight back and score a strong win over the plucky Dragons. Player of the week goes to Luke Keary who took charge of the Roosters v Dragons game when the chips were down to lead and direct his team to a gutsy win. Also a special Spirit of the week award to Cameron Smith, Craig Bellamy and Ryan Hoffman for their sportsmanship and grace in acknowledging and supporting the Warriors in the sheds after their clash.

 

There have been a few changes to the original schedule for this weekend’s Round. It now looks like this:

 

Thursday July 2

Storm v Roosters, Suncorp Stadium, 7.50pm

Friday July 3

Raiders v Dragons at GIO Stadium, 6.00pm
Eels v Cowboys at Bankwest Stadium, 7.55pm

Saturday July 4

Titans v Sharks at Cbus Super Stadium, 3.00pm
Warriors v Broncos at Central Coast Stadium, 5.30pm
Tigers v Panthers at Bankwest Stadium, 7.35pm

Sunday July 5

Sea Eagles v Knights at Lottoland, 4.05pm
Bulldogs v Rabbitohs at Bankwest Stadium, 6.30pm

 

@blenheimboy2

 

Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.

 

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About Ian Hauser

A relaxed, Noosa-based retiree with a (very) modest sporting CV. A Queenslander through and through, especially when it comes to cricket and rugby league. I enjoy travel, good coffee and cake, reading, and have been known to appreciate a glass or three of wine. As well as being one of Footy Almanac's online editors, I moonlight as an editor for hire - check me out at www.writerightediting.com.au

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