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Good Lord’s, let’s hope our Kiwi cousins cream the old enemy

There isn’t one. We were awful, they were great. And the only thing we can do is hope the Kiwis do the right thing and humiliate them in the final at Lord’s.

So, everyone after me.

CARN you Kiwis!

(At least until the Rugby World Cup starts.)

Go you good things: The Black Caps take on England in the World Cup final on Sunday.

Go you good things: The Black Caps take on England in the World Cup final on Sunday.Credit:AP

When will they learn?

As discussed, Origin III was a great sporting spectacle, which for once will actually live up to Phil Gould’s usual promise that “it will be talked about for years to come.” But after the carnival is over spare a thought for what happened to Queensland utility back Michael Morgan. You remember, even if he surely doesn’t. Early in the second half Morgan tried to tackle Blues fullback James Tedesco when he collided with his teammate Josh McGuire’s flying elbow. It was no-one’s fault, but the result was there for all to see. Morgan fell to the ground, face down, as if shot. He convulsed. He twitched. It was obvious to everyone that he was knocked out cold. This, mind you, was the same Michael Morgan who had been badly concussed in his last game for the Cowboys, just 10 days earlier.

And the official response of rugby league, at a time when concussion awareness, and legal vulnerability, has never been greater than right now? He was taken from the field and given a head injury assessment! I’ve made this point many times, but can’t make it enough. The bloody HIA is ONLY to be used if there is any doubt!

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In the words of Dr Adrian Cohen from Headsafe, a leading concussion expert from Sydney Uni, “The NRL’s own protocols say there are only two categories. ‘Category 1, means ‘Obvious Concussion’ with immediate removal from the game with no prospect of return that game. With Category 1, there is no HIA, because there is NO DOUBT. The HIA is only used in Category 2, when it is only suspected concussion.”

So here is the question. If Morgan was not a Category 1, “obvious concussion,” taking a hit like that, lying face down and convulsing, what exactly DOES IT TAKE? Isn’t it obvious that in cases like this, even the idea that he might be allowed back on is damaging to the game and, I suggest, exposes the NRL to later legal action that in 2019 they presided over a culture that was still too permissive in terms of dealing with concussions. Just this week Eloni Vunakece, the recently retired NRL player, appeared on Ninja Warrior and mentioned casually that he’d had 10 concussions in his last season. He what? How the hell could a bloke get that many concussions in a year and be allowed to play?

I repeat. The NRL has done well in establishing strict protocols. But both the examples above illustrate that there is a long way to go before they get it right, to fulfil their legal and moral duty to look after the players.

Move over Tedesco

TFF reader David Davies has a builder who is entirely underwhelmed by the selection of James Tedesco as the Origin man of the series.

“It should have gone to the man who spent most time on the field over the course of all three matches,” he said flatly. “Alfie Langer.”

Fair point, yes?

Just what the doctor ordered

And we now cross to some Sydney zeitgeist . . . they held the Hope Challenge at West Pymble last Sunday which, as you know, is the annual 12-hour touch footy marathon by mostly middle-aged-and older social players for the Black Dog Institute. Of course there were the inevitable injuries as hammies tore, ankles twisted, and one bloke – to use the technical medical term – “completely rooted” his knee. Even Rosie, the attending paramedic, described the carnage as “gnarly.” But to the zeitgeist . . . when the fellow with the rooted knee was taken to Royal North Shore Emergency, the attending intern arrived: tall, handsome and clearly with roots somewhere in the subcontinent. With high professionalism, he begins to check out the injuries in the broadest of Aussie accents.

Oh, the doctor’s name? Mario.

We are a great mob!

One good turn . . . 

Why is grassroots rugby in this town going so well, while professional rugby is on its knees? The guts of it is that over time people naturally gravitate to the soul, warmth and heart that the grassroots delivers in spades. A quick example was contained in an email I received this week from Darren Coleman, the Gordon head coach. With the rain, Willoughby Council shut all fields in their purvey, including Chatswood. The Gordon general manager searched Sydney high and low for a field for the firsts to train on, with no joy. But say, given Easts have the bye, perhaps we could train on their field? In desperation Coleman phones the Easts coach, Pauliasi Taumoepeau and asks “would it be possib . . ?”

“Sure!”

They shifted things around, waived the fee, allowed access to ALL their facilities, and had their own general manager stay to make sure all went well.

“In conversations with Pauli,” Coleman recounts, “I asked ‘what did the Pres say?”
“He said, ‘in 2017 we had no ground, were stuck and numerous clubs led by Luke Holmes and the Warringah Rats did us a good turn, so it is our turn to repay.”

The game. She goes on!

Team of the week

Australia. First time Oz have lost in a Cricket World Cup semi-final. Won more games than maybe they should have in round robin but all weaknesses were laid bare at Edgbaston.

England and New Zealand. Contest the World Cup final on Sunday night. Going to be a new winner for first time since 1996. Hopefully the finalists for the Rugby World Cup later in the year will be different!

NSW Blues and Brad Fittler. Nailed their second Origin series in a row in heart-stopping fashion.

Cameron Smith. Set to be the first man to play 400 NRL matches. Has done, and won, everything.

Chris Watson. The final-year Sydney Uni medical student completed a solo crossing of the English Channel to raise money for Cooper Rice-Brading Foundation, dedicated to funding research towards a cure for sarcoma and the Poche Centre, devoted to Indigenous healthcare.

Southern Districts. Host second annual Surf Club Day on Saturday, celebrating the strong bonds between the local rugby and surf clubs. Highlight is Harry Gibbons Cup between Souths and Manly (Shute Shield).

What they said

As well as playing a cracker game for the Blues, the winger Josh Addo-Carr also managed to snatch the yellow jersey for TFF’s quote of the year: “We were talking to the boys behind the try line, saying ‘believe, believe, believe’. When you believe that’s the kind of thing that happens. It’s crazy man. I can’t believe it.”

As revealed by the Herald‘s Andrew Webster, NSW coach Brad Fittler grabbed trainer Hayden Knowles when the scores of Origin III were levelled with four minutes to go, and told him to tell the exhausted players: “If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. Now, go and finish fast.” They did!

The 20-year-old Matthew Wolff, after winning on the PGA Tour on just his third try with an eagle on the final hole: “I was born for moments like these. I live for moments like these. I just proved to myself I can be out here.”

Ash Barty quotes from The Little Mermaid, when asked how she made her shot selection: “The seaweed is always greener in someone else’s lake.”

Barty on her Wimbledon elimination: “I didn’t win a tennis match. It’s not the end of the world. It’s a game … It’s disappointing right now. Give me an hour or so, we’ll be all good. The sun’s still going to come up tomorrow.”

The 15-year-old Cori Gauff on her own elimination: “I learned a lot. I learned how to play in front of a big crowd. I learned what it was like to be under pressure. Ilearned a lot and I’m really thankful for this experience.” We can see the next generation of women tennis players rising. Still no sign of the challengers to Federer, Nadal and Djokovic.

Italian Fabio Fognini is not a fan of Wimbledon: “I wish a bomb would explode on this club.” It did not go down well.

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Rafael Nadal on why he gets scheduling priority over Barty: “I am the world No.2 and I won 18 grand slams … In the world of tennis today, honestly, my feeling is today I am little bit more than Ashleigh Barty.”

US soccer star Alex Morgan after people criticised her goal celebration: “You see men celebrating all over the world … grabbing their sacks or whatever it is. And when I look at supping a cup of tea, I am a little taken aback by the criticism.”

Twitter: @Peter_Fitz

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