NRL Expert @JennaBrooks
NRL Talking Points: John Bateman injury blow, Magic Weekend and Broncos unrest
Last Updated: 09/05/19 11:25am
Jenna Brooks has the latest from the NRL as a former Wigan star suffers a huge blow, plus player unrest in Brisbane and details of the NRL's first Magic Round.
Rugby League fans were dealt a huge blow with one of the stand out players of the NRL season ruled out until round 15.
John Bateman underwent surgery after he fractured his eye socket during Canberra's win over Penrith on Saturday.
The Raiders star has been in sensational form since arriving in Australia from Wigan.
After eight rounds the former Warriors second-rower is one of the early favourites for the Dally M and has been called the 'buy of the season' by many NRL pundits, and Bateman's team-mate Josh Papalii admits the loss is huge.
"It's a massive blow, he's been a big reason why we've been so successful at the start of year," Papalii said.
While a lot of the talk so far has been focused on Bateman, fellow Englishmen and team-mate Ryan Sutton is starting to make a name for himself as well.
Sutton played for 53 minutes against Penrith, making 27 tackles and running for 139 metres.
Super League have been enjoying Magic Weekend annually since it first took place in 2007.
The event, which sees an entire round of fixtures played over a weekend at the same venue, is being incorporated by the NRL this season and takes place in Brisbane this week.
Unlike the UK version, the NRL will see all 16 teams in action across four days, starting on Thursday.
While the concept has received mixed views down under, Newcastle coach Nathan Brown is in full support of the four-day extravaganza.
"I like it. I think it's great. I had six years in England so I had six 'Magic Weekends' over there, in some different countries, and it's great for fans," the former St Helens and Huddersfield coach said.
"If you're a rugby league fan and you like watching other teams than your own - to be there for a bit of a carnival, and the social side is very good as well - it's a concept I hope the crowds buy into and something I hope can keep happening."
The NRL is expecting more than 120,000 spectators visit Suncorp Stadium over the four days.
Sky Sports will be broadcasting every game LIVE during the inaugural Magic Round, starting with the Titans against the Sharks on Thursday morning, before the Tigers face the Panthers and Manly take on Brisbane on Friday.
Every game played on Saturday will be live on Sky Sports Arena, starting with the Bulldogs up against the Knights, Warriors vs the Dragons and Melbourne against Parramatta.
Unrest in Brisbane
A number of Broncos players are believed to want out of Brisbane.
James Roberts, who is a Bronco until 2021, has expressed to friends he wants to leave Brisbane immediately and he only signed a long-term contract because of his ties to the club's former coach Wayne Bennett.
There's speculation the Broncos star, who has been dropped this weekend, wants to head back to South Sydney.
Kodi Nikorima left to join the Warriors last week and reports suggest Matt Lodge is homesick and eager to return to Sydney.
Lodge has an option in his contract to extend until the end of 2020, and despite good friend Andrew Fifita trying to influence his mate to play alongside him at Cronulla, Fifita insists there is little truth to the rumours.
"I pepper him about coming back all the time, we were together on the weekend and I talked to him about it," Fifita said.
"But Lodgey loves where he is at the moment, he's their number one prop and feels comfortable there.
"He said he doesn't know where the talk is coming from. He said it could be how he's coming off contract or there are clauses in his contract [in his favour]. But I'd love him here."
Brisbane are in a bit of trouble after their opening eight games under new coach Anthony Seibold. They are 13th on the ladder, winning just two matches.