NRL Predictions – Round 5

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Following another disastrous week in tipping for rugby league writer Daniel Boss, he has another attempt at restoring his reputation, as well as provides some further thoughts regarding the Alex McKinnon tragedy.

On Monday night, news broke that Alex McKinnon was diagnosed as a quadriplegic. This news was another shocking blow to both rugby league supporters and the general public. However, the Newcastle Knights later issued a statement which said that McKinnon’s condition had not changed and that there is still a chance that Alex will be able to have full function of arms, torso and legs. I know that Alex is in the thoughts and prayers of a large number of people, including myself. As long as there is hope, then we all still believe that you can make a full recovery. #riseforalex

My thoughts are also with Jordan McLean. The incident from over a week ago was a complete accident and I know if I was in McLean’s shoes, I would feel a great deal of guilt. This may be something that McLean may never get over either and he needs as much support as possible.

I will be making further comments regarding this but it is now not the right time. I will say that there has been an increase in concern over people playing rugby league and contact sport in general following this incident. There is no doubt that there will be fewer children playing rugby league as a result of this and if the NRL wants to grow junior participation levels, then they need to ensure that the safety of the game at these levels is reinforced. In current society, perception is reality and the NRL need to change the perception of the game for growth to occur and there are further changes needed to the rules at the top level as well. I’ll go into these later, but in relation to the junior levels (ages 7 to 16), I would be in favour of a different style of game that focuses on the skills rather than the physicality of the game, much like the NFL’s Play 60 campaign or the AFL’s Auskick program.

Round 4 tipping

Well, last week was another dreadful week for me in the tipping. I am back down to the bottom of the ladder in all of the tipping comps that I am entered, following my score of 2 from 8. Two of these losses included the lock and upset of the week, following the Roosters defeat at the hands of Manly and the Tigers heavy defeat to the Warriors. I may as well toss a coin to determine who I should tip. Surely that can’t make things worse??

  • Lock of the week: 1/4
  • Upset of the week: 1/4
  • I refuse to put in my season record as it is too embarrassing to post

Sydney Roosters v Canterbury Bulldogs

Tip: Roosters. The Roosters were somewhat disappointing last week in their defeat to the Sea Eagles. However, they do get Sonny Bill back this week and he will add another point of attack to the team. As for the Bulldogs, it’s hard to get a proper gauge on their form. They have looked really good in their wins but those wins were against Cronulla and Melbourne sans Cameron Smith. I expect the Roosters to be too strong in this game but it should be a close game. Napa moves from the bench to start at prop for Waerea-Hargreaves, while Aubusson moves from the back row to the bench to accommodate the return of Sonny Bill Williams. The only changes for the Dogs are the additions on the bench of Moses Mbye and Greg Eastwood.

Brisbane Broncos v Parramatta Eels

Tip: Broncos. The Broncos are the form team of the 2014 NRL competition and currently sit second on the ladder. As they are playing in Brisbane, they should be too strong for an Eels side that has been impressive over the past couple of weeks. A finals finish might not be out of the question for the Eels, especially if Chris Sandow can stay focused and keep playing as well as he did against the Panthers. The big addition for the Broncos is that of Justin Hodges, who is named to start in the centres. This forces Copley to one wing and Maranta to the extended bench. Ben Hannant also returns and is named on the 6-man bench. The Eels are unchanged from the victorious side from last round.

Cronulla Sharks v New Zealand Warriors

Tip: Warriors. The last time I tipped the Warriors, I was burned badly. The main reasons I’m tipping them this week is that they are in a good patch of form and that they are playing Cronulla. The Sharks have been woeful in the opening month and don’t have any star players returning in the near future. Todd Carney is playing on one leg, which isn’t helping their cause. The only changes for the Sharks are the naming of Gibbs to starting prop for Tagataese, who is named on the bench along with addition Tupou Sopoaga. For the Warriors, Hurrell moves to starting centre for Ropati, while there are three additions to the 6-man bench, which are Feleti Mateo, Sebastine Ikahihifo and Raymond Faitala-Mariner.

Penrith Panthers v Canberra Raiders

Tip: Penrith. The Panthers were somewhat disappointing in their last start loss to the Eels. They continue to struggle to score points, which they are hoping to solve once they can get stability in the halves. As for the Raiders, they played well in the first half and that was enough to get over the very poor Rabbitohs. The main reason for this was that they relied less on Anthony Milford and the whole side worked on breaking Souths’ defensive line. I just think that Penrith will be stronger in defence, which should lead to a close victory. For the Panthers, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak is named to start on one wing for Naiqama, Peter Wallace is again named to start at halfback for John, Tim Grant is named to start at prop and this forces Plum to the 5-man bench. Also, Manu moves into the starting second row for Brown, who is named on the bench. The only addition to the Raiders’ side is Jake Foster as 18th man, who may come in for Fensom who has been named despite leaving last week’s game with an arm injury.

St George Illawarra Dragons v South Sydney Rabbitohs

Tip: Souths. I said to some Souths supporters that I wouldn’t tip them this week but I really like the changes that they have made to their side. The Rabbits need a large shot of confidence and they plan on doing this by going with an old halves combination and starting with a big forward pack. The Dragons came back down to earth last week against the Broncos and they let in some very soft tries. Their defence will need to be much better if they are to defeat the Rabbits. Josh Dugan is named to start at fullback, while Quinlan is named as the 18th man and Michael Witt returns to start at halfback for Williams. Also, Dan Hunt returns to start at prop for Stockwell, who is named on an extended bench along with addition Bronson Harrison. Souths have a few changes, with Sutton moving from lock to five eight, which moves Walker to the centres and Goodwin to one wing for Tuqiri. Sam Burgess moves from prop to lock, with Tyrrell moving from the bench to start at prop and there are three additions to the extended bench in Luke Burgess, Alex Johnston and Cameron McInnes.

Melbourne Storm v Gold Coast Titans

Tip: Storm. If there was ever any question to the importance of Cameron Smith to the Melbourne team, it was answered last week as they got thumped with Smith out to injury. My tip is based on the fact that Smith will play. If he doesn’t, then I think the Titans will win. As for the Titans, is appears that the bad loss to the Tigers in Round 2 was an anomaly. Their defence has been quite strong in the other three games but it will be tested this week against the big three. As mentioned, Cameron Smith returns for the Storm, which means that Hinchcliffe moves to the back row and Harris moves to the bench. The Titans are unchanged from last week’s win.

Wests Tigers v Manly Sea Eagles

Tip: Manly (Lock of the week). The reason I’ve taken Manly as the lock of the week is because I want the Tigers to win, given the lack of success the lock has been so far this year. Seriously, even though this game is at Leichhardt, I think Manly should be too strong. They showed last week that they can defend their way to victory, which I believe that they will do this week. The Tigers showed that without James Tedesco, they lack confidence in attack. All of us Tigers supporters are hoping that the Teddy Bear (my nickname for him) will be fine to play. Liam Fulton is named to start in the second row for the Tigers, in place of the injured Paterson, while Tim Simona and Sitaleki Akauola are added to the extended bench for Sue. The only changes for Manly are on the bench, with James Hasson and Jason King added, at the expense of Symonds.

North Queensland Cowboys v Newcastle Knights

Tip: Knights (Upset of the week). I really have little idea on who will win this game. I’m only taking the Knights as they played better last week. However, I am aware that the game is in Townsville and that the Knights may be emotionally exhausted after the events of the past week. I’m just not a believer in the Cowboys and last week’s loss to the Titans showed why, as they lacked options in attack. As for the Knights, the addition of Darius Boyd was a big one. He added class and cohesion in the backline that was lacking in previous games. Both sides have named the same 34 players who played for their clubs last week, with the one addition of Zane Tetevano as the 5th man on the Knights’ bench.

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