Round seven saw the bottom dwelling Wests Tigers fresh off an upset victory over the Parramatta Eels playing the top eight South Sydney Rabbitohs who continued to search for better fluency in attack.
South Sydney appear as a team still searching for its attacking identity since the departure of Adam Reynolds, compounded by an injury to fullback Latrell Mitchell.
While the Wests Tigers are engaging in another rollercoaster of a season. Neither side looks particularly slick, but for a two week period, the joint venture managed valuable one point wins over the Parramatta Eels and Rabbitohs as the media drums beat louder and louder for Michael Maguire’s head.
Maguire eventually lost his job following round 13.
Much of the focus has been on Luke Brooks and his position at Concord. The one-time NRL Dally M halfback of the year has struggled to get anywhere near to that form again as the Tigers careened from finals contenders to cellar dwellers over the proceeding three seasons.
Maguire sought to try and relieve some of that pressure by moving new recruit Jackson Hastings into the number seven jersey and giving him greater control over the side.
There’s another discussion to be had about Brooks’ value to the Tigers. He’s never been short on commitment or effort, he’d pack down in the front row if asked to, but his value to the Tigers is often discussed alongside his hefty pay packet.
He’s reportedly on more than $1 million a season as of next year, putting him alongside Nathan Cleary. Except Cleary has a premiership and Origin jersey to his name.
On the other side of the ball, the Rabbitohs decided to extend the contract of Cody Walker, while letting favourite son Adam Reynolds walk to the Brisbane Broncos.
Time will tell how wise or foolish that decision was, but after nine rounds, Reynolds’ Broncos were in eighth, while his old team sat in ninth.
The round seven clash between Souths and the Tigers was a tale of two halves.
The Tigers with a fresh pairing thrust together out of necessity and playing desperately for a win against a Souths pairing chosen because the club decided their long-time general wasn’t worth another contract.
History beckons for the Parramatta Eels as they head into a preliminary final against the heavily favoured North Queensland Cowboys.
Recalling a legendary player or former coach is often tempting for a club trying to recapture former glory. But rarely does it work, and often it tarnishes the coach’s legacy.
Harry Grant has filled the Melbourne Storm boots of Cameron Smith and seems to be taking the hooking position to the next level.