NRL great Laurie Daley has questioned the mentality of the St George Illawarra Dragons heading into the 2021 season, after being alarmed by how easily they were taken apart by a rampant South Sydney on Saturday.
The Bunnies cruised to an easy win in the club’s ninth-straight Charity Shield success, as Latrell Mitchell and Cody Walker ran riot in the first half.
“The thing that surprised me was how easily they opened up defensively,” Daley said on Sky Sport’s Radios’ The Big Sports Breakfast on Monday.
“South Sydney were good there is no denying that, but some of the tries that they scored left a lot to be desired.
“There was no desperation or full commitment to go and get the job done, make the tackle, cover for your mate. All the little things that they would have spoken about in the off-season.”
2021 NRL Team Previews: South Sydney Rabbitohs
His former Origin teammate Greg Alexander said the Dragons were lacking toughness in the middle.
“They need some grunt, they need some aggression,” Alexander said on SEN Radio.
“They need some animals and someone who’s going to stand up. Josh Kerr started on the edge, but I think he has to play in the middle.
“I know with Tyson Frizell moving on they are a bit short there. Maybe Tariq (Sims) needs to move to the middle – he only played nine games last year.”
‘I’M READY, SUAALII SAYS’
When asked on Monday morning if he was ready for the big leagues, teen sensation Jospeh Suaalii was blunt.
“I feel like I’m ready for the NRL,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald.
“But I know there are a lot of steps I need to take to get to that point.
“I’m just taking it all in, I’m learning from the older boys, learning from ‘Robbo’ [coach Trent Robinson], but I feel like I’m ready – physically and mentally – for the NRL.”
The 17-year-old looks set to make his debut for the tri-colours before his 18th birthday, with reports that the rules preventing minors from playing first grade could be waived for him.
He impressed in his first hit-out with the Roosters’ reserve grade outfit on Saturday, scoring two tries for the North Sydney Bears.
HORSBURGH ESCAPES SUSPENSION
Raiders forward Corey Horsburgh has escaped any charges from the NRL judiciary, despite being put on report for two separate shoulder charges on the weekend.
The 23-year-old was cited twice in the two matches he played for both the Raiders and their reserve grade team on Saturday, but was missing from the charge sheet that was sent around by the NRL on Monday morning.
The only name on the sheet was Broncos forward Thomas Flegler, who can avoid a suspension with an early guilty plea after a dangerous throw on Reuben Cotter.
INTENSITY LEVELS LEAVE PLAYERS BREATHLESS
The NRL’s latest rule changes have led one player in the trial match between Penrith and Parramatta to admit “I couldn’t breathe”.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the ball was in play for more than 32 minutes in the opening half of Saturday night’s trial at Panthers Stadium, nearly five minutes more than last year’s average.
2021 NRL Team Previews: Parramatta Eels
The NRL averaged 56 minutes and 16 seconds of game time in 80 minutes in 2020.
“The speed of the first half, they reckoned it was around 95 metres per minute, which is pretty high,” Eels coach Brad Arthur said. “Gutho [Clint Gutherson] was 120 metres per minute in the first 20 minutes, so it was very fast.
“F— these new rules,” one Eels said as he left the ground. “I couldn’t breathe.”