1. Manly legend Steve Menzies has responded to rumours surrounding his involvement in ASADA investigations into the Sea Eagles. As the scrutiny centred on Cronulla last week, there were unsubstantiated rumours about Menzies’ co-operation with ASADA. So quickly did they spread that Menzies, who plays for the Catalan Dragons in Super League, was forced to publicly deny them. Menzies said via Twitter: ”Just want to let u all know Ive had no contact with ASADA at all. I know Manly are co-operating with ASADA & r doing all they can to help.” Manly, which employed controversial sports scientist Stephen Dank, was named in the ACC report into drugs in sport. General manager David Perry has declared the club is a ”small to medium” risk in the ASADA investigation.
2. If we do get around to dissecting the on-field action any time soon, it should become clear that rugby league this year will be quicker, and perhaps more entertaining, than it was. The shoulder charge has been banned, but what the rules officials have done in the off-season has cleaned up that area significantly. Referees have come down hard on infringements in the ruck, particularly hands on the ball. It’s early days, but it appears the pre-season fears of Wayne Bennett that the game would be blighted by slow play-the-balls will not be realised. One thing that might not change is the conjecture about obstruction interpretations. By the laws of the sport, Parramatta should have been penalised against the Warriors on Saturday night for an obstruction, but again common sense would point to a different interpretation. Feleti Mateo’s tackle on Fuifui Moimoi, who had effectively stopped his decoy run, could open up a can of worms.
3. Sonny Bill Williams must surely play on the edge for the Roosters from now on. Williams’ reintroduction into the NRL came in the middle, and he alternated to the left edge during his first-up match against South Sydney last Thursday night. He was clearly more comfortable, and more potent, out wider, running at halfbacks rather than front-rowers. It would be a surprise if Roosters coach Trent Robinson plays him in tight too much as he eases himself back into league.
4. The Bulldogs’ round-one performance was an early sign of how much they will miss Ben Barba as the fullback sorts out his personal life. But the rumblings are growing that Barba will return sooner rather than later – the latest suggestion being that he might be back on the field in the next month. Drury Low showed glimpses of his potential, but the Bulldogs were a shadow of the side they were last year.
5. The Cowboys were able to take advantage of having a brilliant playmaker on their books and on the field against last year’s grand finalists. And it’s becoming more likely Johnathan Thurston will spurn the advances of other clubs, specifically Penrith, and re-sign with the Cowboys. Thurston told Channel Nine’s Sunday Footy Show he was ”very close” to making a decision, and suggested he would be in a position to announce it ”in the next few days”. He was brilliant against the Bulldogs, and with the decision off his mind, the Cowboys will surely profit from his flair this season.
6. Parramatta, last year’s wooden spooners, produced one of the most surprising performances of the start of the competition. But their opponents, the Warriors, looked like wooden spooners-elect. They didn’t seem fit in the first-up effort, and appeared cumbersome.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.