NRL Expert @JennaBrooks
NRL talking points: Brown v Bennett, Dragons domination and Parramatta panic?
Last Updated: 10/04/18 1:58pm
Jenna Brooks looks at the latest in the feud between Wayne Bennett and Nathan Brown, plus two England internationals continue to dominate Down Under and is it time to panic for Parramatta?
Bennett v Brown
Former St Helens head coach Nathan Brown has butted heads with England and Brisbane head coach Wayne Bennett.
Brown, who began coaching Newcastle in 2016, a year after Bennett had left to return to the Broncos as head coach, has hit back at comments made by Bennett.
In the build-up to Saturday's game that saw Bennett's Broncos beaten by Brown's Newcastle, the veteran coach suggested Brown had "unbuilt" the Knights in the last few years.
"He (Brown) has done a good job there, but we didn't leave it in bad shape," Bennett said.
When asked what Brown had done well, the England boss said: "I'm not sure yet… well he unbuilt it, so I suppose if you unbuild it, the next thing you've got to do is rebuild it."
Brown hit back at the post-match news conference after Newcastle's 15-10 win, before promptly walking out.
"The old fox, he's won seven premierships, he's coached for 30 years and I ain't ever publicly bagged Wayne or anyone," Brown said.
"And then he comes and has a shot at me. I just don't think he needs to behave like that.
"The reality is when Wayne came to town, if he thought with his big head rather than his little head, I wouldn't have had to rebuild the joint."
While Brown didn't exactly elaborate, the comment has been taken as a reference to Bennett's relationship with his new partner, who he met while coaching Newcastle.
The former Saints and Huddersfield head coach has since spoken to Bennett and expressed his regret over the comments.
"If I've offended anyone, I apologise," he said.
"We move on and prepare for Melbourne now. I'm not going into it any more. As I've said, we had a chat and I put my point, why it happened. Wayne had his few things to say. As I said, it's done now for me and we move on."
Bennett has accepted the apology and has also put the incident behind him.
England internationals Gareth Widdop and James Graham inspired St George Illawarra to their fifth straight win as the Dragons maintained their unbeaten run this season, beating South Sydney 16-12.
Widdop's stats for the season are impressive. He leads the NRL with the most points scored so far this season on 62, four-points ahead of Manly's Daly Cherry-Evans. Not only is he scoring points, but the playmaker also leads the league in try assists and line break assists.
St George Illawarra take on Cronulla on Friday for the second time this season, despite it only being the sixth round.
If the Dragons can continue their success, they will become just the fifth team since 2007 to open a season with six straight wins, and Graham admits with success comes pressure.
"The results obviously are great, this is how any team would want to start the season. We've got to continue with it now, each week the pressure's going to come, but I'm confident in this group that we can handle that pressure."
The Warriors are the only team keeping the pace with the Dragons. The New Zealand-based side are also undefeated this season.
They handed last year's grand finalists, North Queensland, their fourth straight defeat of the season with a 22-12 victory last weekend.
Panic for Parramatta?
While St George Illawarra and the Warriors are yet to taste defeat this season, worries continue to mount for Parramatta, as they stare down their worst start to a season in almost 30 years.
The Eels slumped to a fifth straight defeat of the year when they lost 12-6 to Penrith, meaning they are now the only team yet to record a win this season and coach Brad Arthur admits the situation is becoming desperate.
"At some stage a bounce of the ball (will go our way) or an opportunity will stick, but if we don't stay in the fight those opportunities won't come."
"We've got to stay in the fight and it will be tough, but it's become pretty desperate now," Arthur said.
Parramatta will be boosted by the return of Clint Gutherson, who is set to make his first appearance since suffering a serious knee injury late last year.
You can see if the Eels can complete their first win when they take on Canberra live on Sky Sports on Saturday.
Off the mark
Just a week after Ricky Stuart called his Canberra players 'soft', the Raiders secured their first win of the season.
The 26-10 victory over the Bulldogs stopped Canberra from recording their worst start to a season in 36 years, with the result moving them from second-last to 13th on the ladder. Stuart hailed it a courageous victory.
"It's nice for me to see what I see every day in the effort and the grind coming out in what I believe is one of the toughest wins I've ever been involved in with the green jumper."
Canberra completed the win without star fullback Jack Wighton, who missed the match due to the birth of his second child.
Wighton is expected to be available for selection for this weekend's game, despite the 25-year-old facing nine court charges, including five counts of common assault, for an alleged nightclub incident.
Court proceedings are set to begin later this week, and both the club and the NRL are waiting for the outcome of the case before making a decision on Wighton's future.