Football and Sports News

Talking Points, Round 15, Rabbitohs, Cody Walker, Storm, Cameron Munster, Broncos, Kevin Walters

Souths’ senior players have come under fire in the wake of their thrashing by the Dragons.

Meanwhile, Kevin Walters’ assessment of the Broncos loss to the Storm shows how far they have come.

And Cameron Munster is arguably the best player in the game after inspiring the Storm to a come-from-behind win.

Read on for all the key NRL Talking Points in Round 15.

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Kennel ERUPTS as debutant scores! | 00:31


South Sydney’s senior players have come under fire for their lack of leadership in the Rabbitohs’ 32-12 capitulation against the Dragons.

The Rabbitohs found themselves reeling down 32-0 after just 27 minutes and Michael Ennis said it looked like the Souths players were absolute strangers at times.

“There is some real concerns for South Sydney in the fact that defensively they were really poor,” Ennis said.

“At times they looked like they had never played together.

“They had guys rushing out of the line trying to make decisions themselves. The guy on the inside was retreating going back trying to solve it in a different manner.

“They need to build that cohesion and get that back defensively and quickly.”

However, Ennis is more worried about the lack of leadership in the side, with some of their most senior players the first to lose their heads amid the Dragons onslaught.

“The huge concern for their coach Jason Demetriou is the body language and the frustration in their senior players,” Ennis said.

“We saw Jai Arrow lashing out at Jaydn Su’A. We saw frustration with Damien Cook around the ruck.

“More importantly, their star Cody Walker, who was going to have a lot of spotlight on him this year without his little mate next to him, with Adam Reynolds going.

“There has been a lot of expectation on Walker and in the first 20 minutes last night, errors are obviously a real concern for Souths.

“Again they made three at the start, but the frustration it just seeps in so quickly in their senior players and it is something that needs to be fixed.

“They were unable to get the ship back on course once the frustration set in and the Dragons smelt blood and Souths just imploded.

“They need guys like Cook, Walker and Arrow to really lead the way for some of the young guns coming through.

“They need more form their senior players to turn this around.”

Senior players at Souths seem unsettled | 05:39


Penrith Panthers halfback Nathan Cleary may be getting back to his best post-injury while Adam Reynolds is leading the Brisbane Broncos back to the top.

But premiership-winning playmaker and Fox League expert Benji Marshall believes Melbourne Storm five-eighth Cameron Munster is “the best player in the game” right now.

Munster was at his competitive best in a 32-20 win over Brisbane on the weekend, scoring a try to go with a try assist, linebreak assist, three tackle busts and 109 run metres.

Speaking after that Broncos win, Marshall credited Munster’s changes off the field as the key to his transformation on it.

“There were things happening away from the game that he was not proud of and he’s turned his life around, made a few sacrifices and openly admitted that,” Marshall said.

“He’s got consistency on his life and that’s transferred to consistency on the field. By far this is his most consistent season.”

Gorden Tallis said he had “spent some time” with Munster lately and has seen that change in the 27-year-old first-hand.

“He’s happy, he’s bouncing around and he looks fitter,” Tallis said.

“Even though he’s never going to have the superhero body… he looks fitter. He wants to be involved and I think it’s a credit to him.”

Munster is a man in demand, with rival clubs reportedly willing to offer the star five-eighth north of $1.2 million a year.

The Storm though are reportedly only willing to offer $750,000, something which Tallis said was taken as a personal challenge by Munster to lift his game.

“He got challenged and I don’t think he liked it,” Tallis said.

“The Melbourne Storm pulled the deal back. It shows a lot of courage to where they are as an organisation, losing Cameron Smith, Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk in the last five years and he’s the bloke moving them field but they say: ‘Hold on, we don’t think you’re worth that money’. “He’s taken that personally, he’s taken that as a challenge and he’s changed.”

Storm score from clear forward pass? | 00:43


They were without Adam Reynolds, Cory Paix and Herbie Farnworth and got within two tries of the Melbourne Storm on their own turf.

For the Broncos of old, that would be a win in some ways.

But this is a new Brisbane side, with higher expectations and Kevin Walters’ comments on Friday night proved just how far the Broncos have come.

“That last seven or eight minutes before half-time was a killer for us,” Walters said.

“We knew coming here would be tough. We were good, but we weren’t great and fell just short.”

Good but not great — Walters and the Broncos are building quite the culture at Red Hill, where getting close to the competition’s best is no longer something to settle for.

Finishing in 14th place last season, the addition of Reynolds has completely turned the club around.

The Broncos have recently run into some bad luck with injuries seeing Reynolds, Farnworth and Paix sidelined.

Undermanned against an in-form Storm side, the Broncos were still able to stay in touch until the end of the game, a feat that has not gone unnoticed.

While the Broncos have come a long way since the 2021 season, Michael Ennis conceded that there were still areas Brisbane need to improve on.

“Brisbane lacked patience,” Ennis said.

“There was a period at the start of the second half where it was 16-all, both sides traded sets and were just desperately trying to find the pass to break the game open.

“I think Flegler had a forced offload when they had a great opportunity on Melbourne’s line.”

Broncos Press Conference | 06:03


Dylan Edwards is a man in the right place at the wrong time.

The NRL has a plethora of outstanding fullbacks in 2022, with big guns James Tedesco and Kalyn Ponga filling the Origin No.1 jerseys while Ryan Papenhuyzen, Reece Walsh, Latrell Mitchell and Tom Trbojevic also ply their trade from the back.

Edwards importance for the Panthers cannot be understated, delivering week in week out – but his chances of pulling on a representative jersey remain slim.

Prior to the Panthers and Warriors clash in Round 15, Fox League’s Yvonne Sampson revealed a peculiar statistic.

“12 out of 13 players out there (for the Panthers) are representative players, the only one who isn’t is Dylan Edwards,” Sampson said.

Edwards would find it hard to break into the Blues side with Tedesco, Papenhuyzen, Hynes, Mitchell and Trbojevic all ahead of him on the pecking order, but his Panthers teammates have repeatedly said their No.1 wouldn’t be out of place in a sky blue jersey.

“There are some bloody good fullbacks out there, but ‘Dyl’ is amazing and I have always spoken highly about him. It’s good to see him finally getting some raps this year,” Cleary told The Sydney Morning Herald.

“He’d be well suited to Origin because of how tough he is and how much work he gets through.”

“I feel like the way Dylan plays, this would be the perfect arena for him. The harder the game is, the better he plays. He stood up for us in the semi-finals last year on one foot, and he was one of our best players,” Yeo said.

Cleary again went into bat for his fullback after his side’s huge win over the Warriors.

“He is rock solid… he is the glue to our defence and it is a pleasure to play alongside him,”

“I think he’d do a real good job in rep footy if given the chance.”

Edwards sits on top of the competition leaderboard for running metres, ahead of workhorse James Tedesco by a significant margin.

He has also had a staggering 42 more runs that the next best, Reuben Garrick, who has recorded 245 carries.

The 26-year-old’s workload is second to none and would not be out of place at the back for the Blues, but as it stands — Edwards is stuck behind other representative stars.

Cleary: Edwards was the mastermind | 01:11


The Titans slumped to their 12th loss of the season in a 18-10 defeat to the Sharks to leave them anchored two point clear to the bottom of the ladder.

It is a stunning fall from grace for a team that went within a whisker of the semi-finals last season.

Cooper Cronk believes the Titans are struggling with a lack of senior players and leaders at their club, but thinks the young players will develop in the coming years if the club keep faith in Justin Holbrook.

“I don’t think the Titans hierarchy would have predicted this year,” Cronk said on Fox League.

“When you have a 22-year-old captain (Tino Fa’asuamaleaui), spine players who haven’t played a lot of football, they’ve played well in patches.

“(And) I think maybe next year, and the year after, there may be a little sweet spot for the Titans, but it’s whether they can stay solid with Holbrook, stay solid with everyone in and around them.

“They’ve got (Kieran Foran) coming next year, so that might fast track a little of those learnings they’ve lost in different moments.”

Titans denied cruel consolation! | 01:05


Maika Sivo has completed a stunning return to the NRL, delivering a devastating performance against the Roosters in Round 15.

The Fijian flyer suffered an ACL rupture last year and underwent reconstruction surgery on his knee.

In late May 2022, Sivo returned to the Eels NSW Cup team before making a timely first grade return in the club’s shock loss to the Bulldogs in Round 14.

Sivo failed to make an impact in that game, but made amends against the Roosters, scoring one try and recording 150 running metres, nine tackle breaks, one linebreak and an offload.

Generally, off the back of a major surgery players can be tentative going into contact — but not Sivo.

“He is outstanding, he just came off a knee reconstruction,” halfback Mitchell Moses said post-match.

“Players that come off knee reconstructions normally take a good ten games to come back to their best and I thought he was outstanding tonight with the ball and defensively.”

Sivo’s try was labelled a try of the year contender by Fox League’s pundits, and although he only caught and put it down, the barnstorming winger had some highlights off his own.

Catching the ball off a Sam Walker bomb, Sivo launched Joey Manu out of his path breaking down the line.

Walker then tried to jump in front of the huge winger who toppled the young halfback with ease, before Lindsay Collins and James Tedesco were finally able to bring him down on the halfway line.

“He gives a don’t argue to Manu, look at him go, welcome back Maika Sivo,” Dan Ginnane said.

“Sivo back with a vengeance, how wonderful to see him back so strong,” Fox League’s Yvonne Sampson said.

Coach Brad Arthur will be hoping his star winger can deliver on a consistent bases, hoping to continue their singular game of strong form moving forward against the Rabbitohs, Tigers and Warriors.

Eels score try of the season contender! | 01:28

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Kalyn Ponga nearly led the Knights to victory playing 80 minutes despite not eating in the lead-up to their loss to the Raiders due to a bout of gastro.

Knights coach Adam O’Brien revealed the extent to which Ponga battled illness in the lead up to the 20-18 loss.

“He has had a gastro thing that I was confident he was on top of it this morning, but he couldn’t eat,” O’Brien said.

“He wasn’t in a good way. You could tell it was going to be a big ask for him, but Kalyn being Kalyn he said, I need to be out there.

“He hasn’t eaten for a few days. There is not much of him as it is, but he is just gassed at the moment literally.”

O’Brien paid tribute to Ponga’s toughness after he nearly led the Knights back from 14-0 down with two try assists in a gutsy captain’s knock.

“He doesn’t get a lot of wraps for his toughness,” O’Brien said.

“There are plenty of people that want to get into him about that.

“But the club, the players and myself know what we have got with him.

“I wouldn’t swap him for anyone.”

Thankfully for the Maroons the illness will not keep him out of Origin II.

Late-game pandemonium in Canberra | 00:49

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