NRL Expert @JennaBrooks
NRL Talking points: Billy Slater accused of diving
Last Updated: 17/04/18 1:41pm
Jenna Brooks has the latest as the 2018 NRL season serves up some big upsets, Billy Slater is accused of diving. Plus details of a boost for the sport Down Under.
The 2018 NRL season continues to deliver surprises, with this year proving to be the most unpredictable in recent seasons.
Parramatta's horrendous start to 2018 continues after they lost their sixth straight game of the season, keeping them at the bottom of the ladder without a point to their name.
The Eels lost 18-2 to Canberra but head coach Brad Arthur refuses to panic despite it being their worst start to a season in 27 years. In fact, the last time a team lost their opening six games was South Sydney 10 years ago.
"We'll look at the game again, but we won't make any rash decisions tonight, we've got no choice but to get up and go again next week," Arthur said.
"The effort was great and we're trying really hard but it's not good enough to win NRL games."
Last year's grand finalists North Queensland are also struggling to win NRL games. On Saturday the Cowboys lost 27-10 to the Bulldogs, their fifth defeat in a row.
The Cowboys were pre-season favourites, but are second from the bottom with just one win, and Johnathan Thurston is adamant they can get their season back on track.
"There's a lot to work on but it's not the end of the world," Thurston said. "It's a big challenge but I've got full confidence in the playing group and the coaching group that we can turn things around."
Cowboys head coach Paul Green also has full confidence in his players, he has signed a new three-year deal with the club, keeping him in North Queensland until at least the end of the 2021 season.
Green isn't the only one at the club to sign a contract. It looks like the NRL will register Todd Carney's contract with the Cowboys in the coming days.
The former Dally M winner played for North Queensland feeder club - Northern Pride at the weekend. He began training with the Cowboys last week and could make his NRL return as early as Saturday against the Gold Coast, which is LIVE on Sky Sports.
Manly have dropped to 12th and were booed by their own fans. They lost 38-12 at home to the Wests Tigers.
At half-time the Sea Eagles trailed the Tigers 26-nil and their fans turned on them as boos could be heard around their home ground, something captain Daly Cherry-Evans says he has never experienced.
"It hurts (to get booed off)," Cherry-Evans said. "When you play like that, people wear their heart on their sleeves around this joint which is fair enough."
St George Illawarra remain the only team in the competition still unbeaten after the Warriors suffered their first defeat of the season, they were beaten 27-18 by Brisbane.
The Dragons' 40-20 win over Cronulla was their sixth straight, and Gareth Widdop continues to be the form player of the competition. The England international played a starring role, kicking four conversions and as many penalties.
St George Illawarra are the first team since Melbourne in 2013 to go unbeaten through the opening six rounds of a season.
They take on the Warriors in New Zealand on Friday in what will be Widdop's 100th game for the club.
Billy Slater is being accused of diving in Melbourne's 40-14 win over Newcastle last week.
Knights second-rower Lachlan Fitzgibbon was sent to the sin-bin after a quick tap saw Slater tumble to the ground.
It's the second time in three games that the Australia and Queensland representative has been involved in a similar scenario and rugby league legend Peter Sterling has criticised the full-back.
"I don't like it. It's kind of embarrassing in a way," Sterling said. "We criticise other sports for other incidents. There's gamesmanship and there's gamesmanship and to me that's going to a level I don't want to see.
"I don't want to think of Billy Slater being associated with something like that. I have such a high regard for him and the way he is received in our game and lauded in our game. This shouldn't be in his nature."
There is just over a month until Super League's annual Magic Weekend gets underway and there's plenty of talk Down Under that the NRL will replicate the event next season in Brisbane.
Similar to Magic weekend, the plan will see a full round of NRL games staged over four days at Suncorp Stadium, with bumper crowds expected and economic benefits estimated at close to £11m.
If it does go ahead, like Magic Weekend, the historic round would also be played in May next year, and would take the place of the double-header, that has drawn more than 95,000 fans over the past two years.
A nice acknowledgement to an initiative formed by the RFL.
Melbourne are in for a treat. Between 2019 and 2025 the NRL will take two State of Origin games, two Test matches and an All Stars fixture to the Victorian city.
In a bid to grow the sport in Victoria, the game's governing body has struck a deal with the Victorian government. NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg believes it will be a huge boost for the game.
"This agreement will see some of our biggest events played in Melbourne over a seven-year cycle," Greenberg said.
"State of Origin is the biggest sporting rivalry in the country and it will be great to further set in stone the schedule over the next period with two more matches in Melbourne.
"The Rugby League World Cup showed there is real passion for international rugby league across the country and it will be on show in Melbourne in 2022 and 2023."