The Tackle: Have Broncos unearthed next Lockyer?

A player wearing the Broncos No. 1 jumper hasn’t performed so brilliantly since a young Darren Lockyer in the 1990s. Full likes and dislikes from weekend round.

I haven’t seen a player wearing the Broncos No. 1 jumper play so brilliantly since a young Darren Lockyer emerged in the 1990s.

Walsh just has it all. The blinding speed, the step, the silky skills.

What he needs to show over time is that he also has Locky’s toughness, which is one thing about Lockyer that often gets overlooked.

Right now, Walsh looks like he could conquer any dream if he puts his mind to it.

I’ve certainly had to eat my words after recently questioning if Brisbane made a potential recruitment blunder bringing Walsh back given they have Selwyn Cobbo who also wants to play fullback, and they don’t really have a standout dummy half at this moment.

But since Herbie Farnworth has revealed he’ll be at the Dolphins next season, bringing Walsh back looks to be a masterstroke because he is the X factor that could well propel the Broncos to a premiership.




South Sydney will need Cody Walker to be at his disciplined best when they take on the Roosters.

In the rematch of last year’s fiery finals showdown that resulted in seven sin bins, it is just as important that Souths keep their heads as the Roosters in this one.

And with Mitchell dealing with the fallout from the racism incident that marred the loss to the Panthers, how the star playmaker handles this assignment is key for the Rabbitohs.

Walker plays his best football when he is composed, but he showed some worrying signs in the round two loss where the Rabbitohs’ underwhelming performance was largely overshadowed in the ugly halftime incident.

Souths were off the pace for most of the game and Walker just didn’t get the opportunities because his forwards were beaten comprehensively.

But while young Lachlan Ilias also didn’t have the standout game he did the previous week in the win over the Sharks, Walker needs to remember he is the senior playmaker in this partnership.

At 33, it is his responsibility to take charge in the big games when his team needs a leader, not just when they are rolling along in front.


The images of Craig Bellamy going ‘nuclear’ in the rooms at halftime during the Melbourne Storm’s embarrassing loss to the Bulldogs were completely understandable.

There was a time when the Storm could be counted on to show up in the effort areas regardless of who was missing through either injury or rep duties.

The old adage of ‘next man up’ is what this club built its foundations on.

Yet this would have to rate among the most Storm’s worst ever defeats. Regardless of their crippling injury toll, they just didn’t turn up to play.


Here’s stat that will give Parramatta fans a migraine this week.

Because as much as the Eels management tell everyone to get off Mitchell Moses’ back as the star halfback’s contract saga drags on, diehard fans can’t be expected to bite their tongues for too much longer as the team’s season verges on the brink of collapse.

There is no question the Eels have had a real dig in the two games so far, and they are missing some key personnel.

But that doesn’t excuse the fact Fox Sports Lab has uncovered that if Parramatta doesn’t beat Manly on Thursday night then the premiership window for this year at least could be closed before it’s even opened.

History shows that the only team in the NRL era dating back to 1998 that has lost its opening three games and still gone on to win the premiership was North Queensland in 2015.

Beyond that the Warriors also started zero and three in 2011 and made the grand final.

But no team has started zero and four and won the comp, while the only team since 1998 to start 0-5 and play finals was Brisbane in 1999.

Looking ahead at the Eels draw, they play the Panthers in round four and the Roosters in round five.

The way they are travelling so far you couldn’t confidently tip them to win any of those matches.

And what they don’t need hanging over their heads any longer is the Moses contract circus.

If Moses looked fed up with the barrage of questions put to him last week, imagine what he’d be if he’s still keeping them guessing and the Eels are 0-5?

It also puts in perspective how big a decision it was for Ryan Matterson to take a three game suspension instead of paying the fine. You don’t reckon he would be regretting that now?


It is laughable that Sydney Roosters young gun Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii will escape suspension for a shocking late tackle on Warriors fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad.

In a decision sure to fire up fans in the countdown to Friday night’s Roosters-Rabbitohs blockbuster, the NRL’s match review committee has slapped the 19-year-old with a feather for what was essentially an ugly old fashioned dog shot.

Suaalii can take a $3000 fine if he accepts the early guilty plea, or a two match ban if he fights the charge at the judiciary and losses.

Meanwhile, Dolphins hooker Jeremy Marshall-King is facing a two to three match ban for a grade two dangerous contact charge for a hip drop incident involving Corey Horsburgh that Marshall-King was also sin binned for.

While neither tackle should be tolerated, it also defies belief that the only onfield punishment Suaalii copped was a penalty.

Yet the Dolphins also had O’Sullivan sin binned for a joke of an incident involving Corey Harawira-Naera, with the Canberra forward taking a blatant dive.

But there was no way of accusing Nicoll-Klokstad of diving after Suaalii absolutely jammed the Warriors’ No 1 directly in the back, well after Nicoll-Klokstad had passed the ball.

If that tackle had been made by someone like a Felise Kaufusi I just wonder if it would have sparked more outrage.

Likewise if the tackle was on one of the star playmakers of our game like Luke Keary, who has a known history of concussion issues.

But in a time where the game is doing so much to protect players from head injuries, surely this type of tackle should warrant tougher action than a penalty on the field and a fine off it.

You certainly see plenty of players binned for a lot less these days.


On that note, why in the hell did the Bunker make the call to send O’Sullivan to the bin in the Dolphins v Raiders clash?

You wonder why the fans get so upset about the constant inconsistencies.

There was an NRL directive this year that the Bunker was only to get involved if it thought a charge would result from the tackle.

On this occasion Corey Harawira-Naera was clearly staying down to win the penalty.

O’Sullivan could not have pulled out of that if he tried, and as Wayne Bennett said post match, if there was any head contact it was accidental.

But what it now does is open the door for more players to stay down to try to milk a penalty.

Sure, they will also run the risk of having to go off for a head injury assessment.

But when the match is up for grabs like it was in Redcliffe on Saturday night, it’s probably worth the gamble.

It’s worth noting O’Sullivan’s name was not on the match review charge sheet that came out on Sunday. Surprise, surprise.



The individual comeback of the round belonged to young Dragons fullback Tyrell Sloan who deserves huge praise for his gutsy fightback after that Charity Shield shocker.

The Titans certainly went out to target the 20-year-old and in the early exchanges he copped a hammering.

But instead of buckle, Sloan ignited the Dragons’ fightback.

It sets up a ripping clash against the unbeaten Broncos on Saturday night when Sloan goes head-to-head with the electric Reece Walsh.


What’s that saying you could use about a future Premier wearing a Nazi costume at his own 21st birthday party now condemning a 15-year-old boy accused of a racist slur? Those in glass houses …

Seriously, I hate letting politics get in the way of sport but this can’t be ignored.

Nicho Hynes gave NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet a lesson in maturity and understanding in the wake of the abusive racial comment directed at Latrell Mitchell.

While the Premier was calling for the 15-year-old boy who called Mitchell a “black dog” to be banned for life, the Cronulla playmaker showed his class by reaching out his hand in support of Mitchell as well as the teenager.

In no way condoning the ugly racial comment, Hynes also conceded: “I’m an advocate for mental health. I’m saying it’s wrong what he did for sure but I feel we’re also obliged to check in on him too because he’ll be copping a lot at the moment.”

Hynes also suggested the boy should be invited into the Indigenous All Stars camp next year provided it is okay with Mitchell.

Meanwhile, the Premier got on his high horse, putting aside the fact it was less than two months ago Perrottet himself had to apologise after it was revealed he wore a Nazi costume to his own 21st birthday.

“I am deeply ashamed of what I did,” Perrottet said in January.

We can only hope the 15-year-old boy is sorry too.


While Mitchell Moses weighs up whether or not to take up a reported $5 million offer Parramatta has put to him, it can be revealed bargain buy recruit J’maine Hogood signed for considerably less than $200,000-a-season to come across from Penrith.

The talk is Hopgood is earning between $160,000 and $170,000 this year, which only goes up slightly in 2024.

Admittedly, he’d only played nine NRL games for the Panthers were he was stuck behind Isaah Yeo.

But this is looking like it will turn out to be another piece of shrewd recruitment from coach Brad Arthur, who previously backed another long shot in Isaiah Papali’i who was picked up for a bargain from the Warriors.

The way Hopgood has started the season, it wouldn’t surprise to see his name thrown up in the Origin debate for Queensland in the coming months if the Maroons suffer any injuries.


Still on that game, and doesn’t the Panthers’ co-captain just continue to show what an outstanding player he is, although Yeo rarely gets the credit he deserves on a week-to-week basis.

And while the accolades last Friday night went to Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai, who had terrific games, this game was won on the back of how the Panthers dominated through the middle, with Yeo and James Fisher-Harris leading the charge.


For another flashback, what about the ball playing from young Isaiya Katoa to get the Dolphins home with a magical piece of deception for Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow’s match clinching try.

The double pump and that ability to hold up the pass just long enough to put the defence in two minds would have given Wayne Bennett memories of the genius of Allan Langer in his prime.

What’s more, to do it with the match on the line and halfback Sean O’Sullivan in the sin bin just spoke of Katoa’s obvious footballing maturity.

It looked a huge gamble when Bennett dropped Anthony Milford to bring the teenager into his starting side for round one.

But once again the old super coach has proved his many critics wrong.


Let’s forgive the Bulldogs for their first round performance. If they continue to turn up with the same mindset we saw against the Storm, then there is no reason why they can’t be playing finals footy this year.

It was just an extraordinary turnaround from what they dished up the previous week against the Sea Eagles to absolutely dismantle the Storm on their home turf.

Across the park they dominated but it was the wingers Josh Addo-Carr and Jacob Kiraz that really got you excited.

If this is going to be the new style of play under Cameron Ciraldo, look out.


Luke Keary came out last week and spoke intelligently about the need to keep independent doctors in the wake of Phil Gould’s ridiculous comments over the concussion debate.

And it was great to see Keary’s reaction when Roosters teammate Egan Butcher copped a knock during the win over the Warriors.

While Butcher was assessed and allowed to stay on the field, Keary showed his only priority was to Butcher’s health as he pointed to make everyone aware the backrower had copped a knock.

In years gone by, a playmaker would have been barking at his forward to get back in the line. It again highlights how far the game has come in this area.


There was a time not so long ago when Felise Kaufusi was one of the most despised players in the NRL.

Yet I reckon if you did a poll on the NRL’s most admired hitmen right now the Dolphins enforcer would be right on top of the list.

After his brutal but legal shots on Roosters players Brandon Smith and Egan Butcher in round one, Kaufusi came up with another cracking shot on Canberra’s Hudson Young that rocked Kayo Stadium on Saturday night.

It was up with the biggest hits we have seen in years.

Again, totally legal.

Back in 2021 you’ll remember Kaufusi’s image copped a hammering when he smashed Ryan Matterson with an ugly elbow to the face that caused huge outrage at the time. But it goes to show the veteran forward doesn’t have to play dirty to make his presence felt.

Originally published as NRL Tackle Round 2: Broncos recruit Reece Walsh evokes memories of Darren Lockyer

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