Almanac Rugby League – NRL Round 9: Chooks winged!





Concussion, ACLs, thumbs, hammies – ‘injuries’ seems to be the buzz word of the moment as far as rugby league is concerned. But I think it’s fair to say that it’s the Chooks who have been really stretched to date this season with a lot more to come after the loss of Brett Morris and Lindsay Collins for the remainder of 2021.


Many commentators are writing Morris off, claiming that his ACL is the end of his career at 34. That may well be and, if it turns out that way, we have seen the last of one of the code’s great wingers. But the Morris lads are made of pretty tough stuff and it would not surprise me in the least if Brett gives his recovery the total effort necessary with the hope of a reappearance in 2022. Either way, thanks and good luck to him – an ornament to the game. Collins is a major loss to the Chooks after a storming start to the season. You don’t replace ability and form like that easily. From a Maroon’s perspective, it’s a huge spoke in the wheel as Queensland seeks to retain the Origin trophy. Collins was a lock-in selection for us this year, possibly as a starter but certainly off the bench at least.


When you take the Roosters’ injury list, it’s a hefty challenge for the powerhouse club. Friend has had to retire while Tedesco and Cordner are dealing with concussion issues. Luke Keary is gone for the year while Lachlan Lam, Still Tupouniua and Freddie Lussick are a week or three away yet. Sam Verrills has just rejoined the playing ranks in a timely return after the loss of Friend – now he’s gone for another month with an eye problem! I’m no fan of the Roosters but you’ve got to admire their achievements under Trent Robinson overt the past 8 years. You’d think that if any club has it within them to deal with both the short and long term implications of this injury toll, it is the Roosters.


Round 8 threw up a few other pointers. The top five are entrenched so it will be interesting to see which one misses out on that vital top four spot come September. Then it’s daylight to the rest – they’re all so Second Division by comparison. The major disappointment has been Canberra who may be only one win outside the top eight but sit three wins out of the top four. The Knights, Titans and Dragons are fading after an earlier good run, the Warriors are brave, Manly are a bit of an enigma and the rest make up the numbers.


Looking ahead to this weekend, the Rabbitohs v Storm clash gets us off to a great start to Round 9. Adam Reynolds is out for a while but Benji Marshall is having a whale of a time. Latrell Mitchell is still cooling his heels on the sideline so you’d have to favour the Storm unless Cody Walker can keep his cool and provide the direction needed to give the Bunnies a chance.


The Panthers are likely to keep their unbeaten streak intact against the wallowing Sharks. Let’s face it, the Panthers are both hot and more resilient than they were last year and their unity both on and off the field must be the envy of the rest of the competition. Their price for the flag keeps getting shorter. Cronulla are the opposite – both on the paddock and in the boardroom. Good luck to them!


The Eels v Roosters is the other big clash of the Round. Yes, the Roosters have that incredible injury list but how often has something like that been a rallying call to a side? The Eels are going great with Reed Mahoney and Clint Gutherson is sparkling form. Their forward pack will have to be at its best to provide the basis for an Eels win in this one. I’m loathe to write off the Roosters in this one but I think the Eels just might win at home.


The Raiders and Knights meet on Saturday afternoon, both struggling for relevance and survival as they flail about in 11th and 9th positions respectively. If ever there was a ‘must win’ – for both! I can’t believe that the Raiders are in this position with their roster while I think the Knights are a bit undermanned overall. I’ll go for the Raiders to get back on track.


The Tigers had a rare win and showed a lot of enthusiasm, even if not a lot of skill last weekend, Adam Douehi excepted. The Titans have been in free fall for the past month and need to rediscover their earlier season form. I think I’ll go with the boys from the Gold Coast but without any great conviction.


The Cowboys host the Broncos in Townsville with little but pride on the line. The Cowboys were finishing fast against the Warriors but couldn’t get there; the Broncos were down and out against the Titans before exploding out of nowhere to catch up and then go on to win. It’s difficult to have much confidence in either side in this one. I’ll let the heart rule and go with the Broncos.


The Sea Eagles at home should have too much going their way against the plucky Warriors. The NZ lads were good front runners last week but ran out of puff and did well to hang on. The Manly lads took it up to the Panthers in a solid effort and deserve favouritism here – if they can reproduce that effort again this weekend, they should get the chocolates.


Finally, the Dragons and Bulldogs meet later on Sunday afternoon in an underwhelming encounter that, somehow, gets TV coverage! I can’t see the Bulldogs winning so, by default, I’ll go with the Dragons because they’re playing at home – not that that helped last weekend!


So my winners this week are the  Storm, Panthers, Eels, Raiders, Titans, Broncos, Sea Eagles and Dragons.


Thursday May 6

Rabbitohs v Storm, Stadium Australia, 7.50pm

Friday May 7

Panthers v Sharks, Panthers Stadium, 6.00pm

Eels v Roosters, Bankwest Stadium, 7.55pm

Saturday May 8

Raiders v Knights, Wagga Stadium, 3.000pm

Tigers v Titans, Campbelltown Stadium, 5.30pm

Cowboys v Broncos, Queensland Country Bank Stadium, 7.35pm

Sunday May 9

Sea Eagles v Warriors, Lottoland, 2.00pm

Dragons v Bulldogs,Nestrata Jubilee Stadium, 4.05pm


Venues and times are current at the time of publication but please check for late changes.


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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

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