NRL Expert @JennaBrooks
NRL talking points: Greg Inglis bids farewell, referee relegations and Jack de Belin's fight
Last Updated: 17/04/19 10:08pm
Jenna Brooks has the latest from the NRL as we lose one of the greats of the game, plus a referee debacle questions player welfare.
After 263 NRL games, five grand finals, one premiership, 39 Test matches and 32 Origins for Queensland, one of the most talented rugby league players we have been fortunate enough to see, has called time on his 15-year career.
Despite still having 18-months left on his contract, Greg Inglis broke the news to his South Sydney teammates after Saturday's win against the Warriors.
The news surprised Rabbitohs hooker Damien Cook, who even admitted to shedding a tear.
"I got a little bit of watery eyes in the sheds when he told us. One of the greatest ever players to play the game was calling it quits, and I've just loved my time playing alongside him," Cook said.
The Queensland and Australia representative, who hasn't played since round two, has been battling injuries, but insists his body wasn't the reason he came to the decision.
"I just think it's time and the right decision for myself. I've been contemplating it for a while now. I've come to terms with it," Inglis said.
Wayne Bennett called his captain one of the greatest players to have ever played the game and admitted that Inglis was one of the reasons he took up the coaching role at Redfern.
"What he has done for his clubs, for his people, for Queensland and for Australia over a long period of time has been exceptional, and today he starts to walk the next path in his career.
"One of the things that attracted me to come here was to work with Greg so the only thing I'm sad about is that I won't get to coach him," Bennett said.
Inglis walks away from over £800,000, preferring to free up money the club can use for new talent.
It's understood Inglis was medically assessed as being fit to play on before announcing his retirement, and if the governing body grant the club salary cap dispensation, the Rabbitohs will look to replace their influential captain before June 30.
The 32-year old will remain heavily involved in the game in a variety of roles, with both the Rabbitohs and the NRL.
Referees Grant Atkins and Gavin Badger have been demoted after allowing play to continue for almost a minute after two North Queensland players were left injured.
Cowboys winger Nene McDonald, who is unlikely to play again this season, was laying on the pitch with a fractured and dislocated ankle, while his teammate John Asiata had hyper-extended his elbow.
Under new rules to eliminate time wasting, referees are only required to stop the game if an injured player needs a doctor on the field or impedes play. Team trainers are also required to notify a touch judge if the match needs to be halted in the case of a serious injury.
The cameras caught the Cowboys trainers trying to notify officials of the incident to no avail and coach Paul Green labelled it a 'disgrace' and a 'debacle'.
"That was an absolute debacle. It was explained to our captain (Michael Morgan) on-field that the process is a trainer has to go to the touchy (touch judge) …. our blue shirt (trainer) was standing next to the touch judge telling him, asking him to stop the game.
"It's a debacle, it's an absolute disgrace," Green said.
NRL head of football Graham Annesley confirmed referees Atkins and Badger will be relegated.
"It's important for us to say that as an administration we didn't find that acceptable, that it took as long as it did for the game to stop.
"What took place on Saturday night wasn't to the standard that we expect and as a result, and other incidents in the game, the match officials will be relegated," Annesley said.
McDonald is likely to be sidelined until October, while Asiata escaped serious injury.
De Belin fight
Jack de Belin is fighting for his immediate playing future.
The St George Illawarra forward was stood down indefinitely under the game's controversial 'no fault' stand down policy, established earlier this year, after he was charged with aggravated sexual assault.
De Belin's case was mentioned briefly in Local Court on Wednesday, but his lawyer, Robert Foster admitted it was a 'short step on a very long road.'
"Mr de Belin maintains he's not guilty of the charges and unfortunately this matter's not likely to be listed for trial until mid-next year," Foster said.
Despite pleading not guilty, under the new rule, the NRL can stand down any player charged with a serious crime which carries a jail term of 11 years or more. He will be stood-down until the completion of his court case, which could take up to two years.
De Belin is challenging the ARL Commission and the NRL in Federal Court, and NRL CEO Todd Greenberg took the stand and admitted he had no evidence of de Belin misbehaving before he was stood down.
"The only evidence I had was the charge he was facing," Greenberg said.
Greenberg is arguing that he is protecting the overall image and therefore future of the game.