Bulldogs boilover and Mitchell Moses drama: The good, bad and ugly of NRL round 2
The Bulldogs, Mitchell Moses and Brandon Smith have all provided major talking points after a frenetic round in the NRL.
😃 The good: Bulldogs find their bite in win over Storm
😔 The bad: Mitchell Moses saga affecting Eels' form
😡 The ugly: Shocking claims from Brandon Smith's manager
The second round of the NRL season produced plenty of talking point and moments of controversy. Check out our weekly recap:
Bulldogs live up to the hype in Melbourne boilover
It wasn't a great week to be a Bulldogs fan as their team prepared to take on Melbourne in Melbourne. The 31-6 defeat to Manly was in a photo finish with the Roosters for worst performance of round one.
That it came in coach Cameron Ciraldo's first game in charge – after an off-season of hype and much expectation – was a hammer blow. It also provided great ammunition for the Gus Gould haters, with the five-year plan jokes on high rotation.
After just 80 minutes of the 2033 campaign, many Canterbury fans were predicting a Groundhog Day of a season. By Saturday night they were celebrating the club's best victory in recent times.
The Storm were missing a few regulars but forget about using that as an excuse. Melbourne rarely get beaten on their home patch, and when they do it's rarely this comprehensive.
The visitors led 16-0 at half-time, lost their way for a little while during the second half and steadied to complete a remarkable win. It was no fluke. The Dogs' bite finally matched the bark.
All roads now lead to Belmore on Sunday when a buoyant Canterbury returns to its spiritual home to take on the struggling Wests Tigers in front of a full house. What a difference a week makes.
Parramatta fall to 0-2 amid Mitchell Moses uncertainty
Mitchell Moses has been around long enough to know the media will not drop off discussing his contract negotiations. The Eels No.7 angrily reacted to a line of questioning about his future ahead of the club's clash with Cronulla, saying "these things take time" over and over.
While Moses may not be in a hurry to work out his next move, Parramatta sure are, despite what they might say. Nothing can bring a footy club down like uncertainty, especially when it involves a marquee player.
Judging by the blue and golds' performance over the first two rounds, the contract saga is distracting them more than they like to lead on. Losses to premiership heavyweights Melbourne and Cronulla are not end of the world stuff, but the pressure is mounting nonetheless.
Parramatta has a tough draw ahead and could be winless after five rounds. If so, that premiership window will be looking more porthole than floor to ceiling.
Moses is key to prising it re-opened. For a bloke demanding a multi-year, multi-million dollar deal, the Eels simply need more from him.
Moses declaring his intentions won’t instantly result in wins, but it will at least settle things down and stop the endless questions dead in their track. He needs to put the team first and clear the air or risk the season being over by Easter.
Brandon Smith's manager makes shock salary cap claim
It was one of those 'did I just read what I think I read' moments. Flicking through the Saturday Telegraph I happened across a yarn by Peter Badel on the Roosters' pursuit – and recruitment – of star Melbourne forward Brandon Smith.
Three pars into the yarn, Badel wrote: "News Corp can reveal one unnamed NRL club suggested a payment outside the salary cap to sign Smith." He then went on to quote Smith's manager Stan Martin.
"No brown paper bags. Everything we do must be above board," Martin said he told all interested parties. "There was one club that offered me a backhander but I had no interest in anything dodgy like that."
Huh? Let me get this straight. A manager of one of the game's leading players reveals he was offered payment outside the cap and didn't report it?
Or he did report it and no-ones looked into it? Either way it's a WTF moment.
Any investigation would already have a head start, with the article going on to mention "there is no suggestion the clubs named in this story were involved in any wrongdoing". Six clubs were named – Storm, Roosters, Dolphins, Titans, Broncos and Cowboys – so that narrows the field of suspects to 11.
Surely Martin will receive a call from NRL headquarters asking if he'd like to elaborate on his astonishing admission. Surely.
Check back in every Monday for Adam Lucius' weekly recap of the NRL round that was.
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