This week we take a look at the NRL's threat to move the Grand Final to Brisbane, we ponder what has gone horribly wrong at the Broncos and consider the Bulldogs' potential signing of Josh Reynolds.
We tackle some of the big talking points in the latest edition of NRL Real or Not.
Peter V'landys should take the Grand Final to Queensland
NOT REAL: Sport and politics made for an ugly mix this week when New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet reversed a decision to spend hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on updating some suburban rugby league grounds. Badly burnt by this personal slight, ARLC supremo Peter V'landys threatened to take the NRL Grand Final to Brisbane in retribution.
At a time when there are more than enough worthy causes for governments across the country to invest in, it is understandable that a couple of suburban football parks have dropped down the priority list. Floods have wiped out communities, COVID has hospitals stretched to breaking point yet again, and everyone from teachers to train drivers are just looking to earn enough money to give them a regular standard of living. Football park upgrades can wait or find funding elsewhere.
Even Manly coach Des Hasler, whose club was set to benefit from the upgrades, could see the logic behind the change of mind.
"You can see the impact that the sport of rugby league has on community. You can see the arguments for upgrading grounds," Hasler said.
"But you also have to recognise that there are other sympathetic needs that they didn't see coming with the weather and the flooding and the victims."
If the NRL does take the Grand Final to Brisbane again, it would surely face the shortfall in revenue that comes with halving the size of the crowd. Is the Queensland Government going to make up that shortfall? Because I think there would be quite a few Queenslanders hoping their state government would spend their tax dollars on a few areas of neglect north of the Tweed.
Brisbane have shot themselves in the foot with Walsh signing
REAL: After a mixed start to the year, the Broncos showed a lot of promise, climbing the ladder to challenge for a Top 4 spot. But, in the last two weeks they have really let themselves and their supporters down badly. The shock loss to the Tigers might have been an aberration, but their poor effort against the Roosters to start Round 21 was nothing short of alarming. The Roosters hit the field with more enthusiasm, greater intensity in attack and defence, and a more obvious willingness to compete at every stage of the game.
The Broncos, although fighting to squeeze into the Top 4, looked lethargic and less committed to the cause.
So why the turnaround? Coach Kevin Waters is dumbfounded.
"I'm going to sort that out over the weekend. It's probably just a mental thing, I'm not really sure," Waters said in the post-game media conference.
"It's a bit concerning it's been happening for the last three or four weeks. It's something we're going to look at.
"They wanted it a bit more, particularly at the start of the game."
The team was doing exceptionally well with either Te Maire Martin or Tesi Niu at fullback. Then a month ago they announced the signing of Reece Walsh, who had left the club for greener pastures at the height of their struggles. The signing of Walsh would seem to be a direct slap in the face of the players that were doing so well for the club at the time.
Martin has since signed a deal with the Warriors and team harmony looks to have taken a beating. The players have to give everything for the jersey out on the field, it doesn't take much of a slip in belief or enthusiasm for the club and the whole thing can unravel.
Reynolds would be a good signing for the Bulldogs
REAL: When Josh Reynolds left the Bulldogs at the end of 2017 there was a lot of emotion involved as he was a beloved local junior who had given his all for the club. He was allowed to go to Wests Tigers because the Bulldogs weren't prepared to match the money on offer for a player who often played with more passion than intellect.
At the Tigers he failed to provide the leadership qualities the struggling club expected and injuries cruelled any chance he had of really establishing himself in the team. In 2021 he took up a lucrative contract with Hull FC in the Super League and continued to struggle, with a widening gulf developing between his form and the club's expectations. He was recently released from his contract and is returning to Australia.
A meeting with Bulldogs boss Phil Gould had the rumour mill fired up about a potential one-year playing deal with the Bulldogs. Gould, however, has thrown cold water on the idea on Twitter, suggesting that Reynolds was actually interested in off field roles.
I hate having to respond to rumours. But for the record. Josh Reynolds sent me a message from UK two months ago saying he was returning to Australia and that he'd like to assist in junior league &/or community programs. I told him to come see me when he gets home. Thanks.— Phil Gould (@PhilGould15) August 4, 2022
So, if the Bulldogs are to sign Reynolds to a development and/or mentoring role it would be a great move for the club. No one can tell a junior about the experience of developing into a first grade player better than someone who did just that, at the same club.
And no one has more blue and white in his blood than Reynolds, he would be a passionate and valuable addition to the off field staff. At this stage of his career he needs to be handing out the jerseys rather than pulling one on.