NRL Round 8 – Prop in the Canefield: You gotta love footy!




Round 7 started with a terrific game between the Roosters and the Storm. It was entertainment plus mixed with the subplot underlying all games of the approaching Origin. One thing for sure is that Coates will be in for Queensland. Over the last 3 weeks he has scored great tries, relieved pressure, out jumped everyone and on Thursday night defended like a man possessed. Whilst the Storm are still a little scrappy, they keep winning. Roosters boss Robinson needs to stop the cackling on how hard done by his side is.

Under Flanagan the Dragons have developed some stug (a favourite Rugby League word of the mythical Murray Rovers – ‘guts’ spelt backwards) and are playing a simple game. They also look fit and it won’t be long before Lomax will be thinking what have I done as Parramatta were dreadful in Darwin. All praise to Bennett and his Dolphins who put on a clinic. Anyone who follows the Q Cup is aware of the ability of Eidsvold’s Fuller and what a display he put on.

Interestingly the Oracle reminded me that I said I would pay due deference when Ethan Sanders was selected, so well-done Oracle. Sanders is at 5/8 for the Eels this weekend but, according to the Oracle, has signed a deal with Canberra for the next two seasons. Oracle believes this is a major mistake by the Eels. As always, Oracle – time will tell. Oracle also alerted me to the fact that the Warriors are in the Jersey Flegg final. First year in the comp and straight into the final. Oracle believes this is a kick in the guts to the All Black brand. As always, Oracle – I will pay due deference when required and your knowledge of the juniors seems second to none (at least until we see Saunders play).

The Panthers were predictable winners over the Tigers, but at least they showed something whilst the Titans were predictable losers to Manly. I think I described it last week as Deja vu. On the upside, however, it was at least an effort-filled performance.

The Broncos were outstanding at home and Canberra did a mighty job to keep the score to what it was, especially after the injury to Fogarty. Carrigan was outstanding for the Broncos and Walsh was exhilarating although he needs Reynolds back to reign in his over exuberance. The Broncos are again the real deal as they get ready to welcome back some of their big guns. Willison continues to impress and Cobbo says ‘pick me, Billy!’

If only I had had known Gagai was out and Ponga should not have taken the field! The Bulldogs got their win and are starting to look like a footy team. They lack big men in the middle but are potent on the edge. I’m not sure if they can make the 8 but they will trouble sides.  The Sharks completely dismantled the Cowboys who put on, at best, an insipid performance. Trindall is starting to find his feet at taking pressure off Hynes and that makes a big difference. The Cowboys defence has more leaks than Henny’s bucket and Liza is giving advice but poor old Henry’s inability to cope with the complexity of the challenge is a major concern. You could talk about their attack but, to stick with my analogy, the bucket is leaking quicker than they can fill it. Only Souths have a worse defensive record so concerns are growing rapidly.

The Analyst obviously had a bit of spare time this week as he delved into TV ratings. He said he had a debate with an AFL leaning colleague which led him to delve into the murky world of TV ratings. To the Analyst, this is by far most important metric to determine popularity as TV viewership indicates how many people actually watch the sport. Based on data for the 2023 season, rugby league is Australia’s most popular TV sport, and it’s not even close. Over their respective 2023 home-and-away seasons, the NRL drew in 118.96 million viewers compared to the AFL’s 106.27 million. That’s also bearing in mind there were six more AFL games than there were NRL games during that time. With the finals included, those numbers improve to 137.34 million for the NRL to 126.52 million for the AFL. If you were to add crowd sizes and TV viewership for the entire season, the NRL would total 140.78 million people while the AFL would reach 133.28 million people. It gets better for rugby league because those figures don’t include State of Origin, which attracted an additional 9.39 million viewers, while 2.61 million watched the international representative matches, boosting rugby league’s combined TV viewership and live attendance to 153.05 million. That’s 23 million more TV viewers or an extra 20 million people in the crowd that rugby league had over Aussie rules with only one extra game overall.  As a Prop, I take no responsibility for the information, however it is an interesting piece. Analyst assures me it is from the ABS.

So, to this week’s games. ANZAC Day has 3 clashes starting off with the Warriors at home to the Titans. Even though they have played better in the last two weeks, the best result for the Titans would be to get in and out of Go Media Stadium as quick as they can and with as little press coverage as is possible.

St George and the Roosters is the traditional clash (at least since 2002) and, surprisingly, the Dragons are 12-10 in the head-to-head stakes for this game. The Dragons are coming off a good win and the Roosters another loss. Flanagan has clearly breathed new fire into a club that was in the doldrums and this game will be a marker for where they are at. Robinson, on the other hand, is searching for a win and seems to be losing his calm demeanour as maybe Uncle Nick begins to ask questions. I think the Dragons may just be too strong.

In the final match of the day we get to see if the soul-searching Bunnies can provide any inspiration for the faithful at the Storm’s fortress, AAMI Park. Cook’s return is a plus but I feel only an Elmer J. Fudd style ‘’vewy vewy quiet’ display by the Storm would stop them catching those ‘wascally wabbits’.

The Friday night clash between Manly and Parra should have been a blockbuster but on the Eels dismal performance last week it is hard to see how they could take a win from Brookie where the Sea Eagles have won 48 of their 73 matches against the Eels. The drums may well be banging louder for the coach’s head if the Eels ‘give up’ (coach Arthur’s words) again this week. Interestingly there is really only one significant change to a team that gave up last week and that is Sanders at 5/8 – he is a rookie who has signed for another club (see below) so that will be interesting.

Brisbane and Penrith will both be too strong for the Tigers and Cowboys. The Tigers are showing some hope for fans whilst the Cowboys have to display some steel in defence at home or Penrith will well and truly lasso them. The coach threatened the axe after last week’s performance but there is no evidence that he used it in this team list!  Cleary back for the Panthers and the Broncos starting to look like premiership heavyweights – enough said.

I am going to watch Redcliffe at Lang Park where I think they will outplay the Knights. The loss of Ponga has put the Steel City faithful into a morose mood as without him they lack attack. Gagai (as captain) back is a plus but won’t be enough. Redcliffe, on the other hand, play to their DNA. Push forward in attack and defence, minimise mistakes and hang tough. My grandson Harry is on debut for the Under 8 Albany Creek Crushers at half-time and is a keen Phins supporter so I will add a brief report on that next week as well.

Finally, the Sharks should be too strong for the Raiders. The Raiders just couldn’t go with the Broncos when the afterburners lit up but showed plenty of pluck. I have been watching the Sharks and ,as I said earlier, feel like they are performing better with Trindall taking pressure of Hynes. I expect the Sharks to win especially given Fogarty is out for a while.

So, my selections are Warriors, Storm, Dragons, Manly, Brisbane, Penrith, Albany Creek Under 8s, Redcliffe and Cronulla. The Bulldogs will enjoy their week off with the bye.

My season prediction positions after Round Four:  Penrith 4th, Broncos 6th, Melbourne 2nd, Souths 16th, Roosters 11th, Cowboys 8th, Newcastle 15th and St George 9th.


Odd ANZAC day Rugby League facts: Western Suburbs played Glebe in the first ANZAC Day clash in 1927. The Roosters wore a sky (Bondi) blue guernsey because, during the war, navy dye was in short supply; and, secondly, Cameron Smith has played in the most games on ANZAC Day (10).


You gotta love footy!


To read our library of rugby league stories click HERE.

To return to our Footy Almanac home page click HERE.

To see the full 2024 season draw for the NRL click HERE.

To see the full 2024 season draw for the NRLW click HERE.

To see the details for State of Origin in 2024 click HERE.


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.


Do you enjoy the Almanac concept?

And want to ensure it continues in its current form, and better? To help things keep ticking over please consider making your own contribution.

Become an Almanac (annual) member – CLICK HERE.


  1. Ian Hauser says

    Young Harry gets to do something on Sunday afternoon that most of us can only dream about – run out onto Lang Park to play footy. Go young Harry!

    We’ll look forward to the match report next week, Prop. (Or is that GrandProp?)

  2. Russel Hansen says

    go Harry & the Albany Creek Crushers! PHINS UP!

  3. Matt O'Hanlon says

    Oracle advised it was Harold Matts not jersey flegg- sorry Oracle

  4. Theo Hanlon says

    Prop, I’m not one to comment on your (usually) insightful rugby league instincts, but the St George/Roosters scoreline demands a callout!

    Also, as you seem to have delivered the kiss of death to Ponga and Coates I am feeling nervous about Haz on Sunday.

    Anyway, up the Crushers! And see you Saturday.

  5. Geoff Orman says

    The Roosters/Dragons game scoreline wasn’t good for old Dragons supporters like me. We Dragons have a long road ahead to get into finals in the next couple of seasons. Melbourne played very well and Munster had the ball on a string he could do anything with it. The game on Sunday will see a young fella by the name of Armstrong line up at fullback he comes from Moree and played his senior footy at Goondiwindi before the Knights got him. He also played for South West Mustangs in the under 13’s at the State Junior Carnival in Cairns years ago.

Leave a Comment