Blocker Roach: initial Bird ruling was rotten

Greg Bird talks to the media in Sydney after the NRL judiciary agreed to downgrade his dangerous throw charge. Picture: GETTY IMAGES
Greg Bird talks to the media in Sydney after the NRL judiciary agreed to downgrade his dangerous throw charge. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

I thought the world had gone mad when the charge sheet came out after last weekend's round with Greg Bird facing six weeks on the sideline for that lifting tackle on Bryson Goodwin.

Granted, I'm a dinosaur in rugby league terms but the biggest problem we have is there are too many business people running our game now.

Before I get howled down, we need these type of people with the business smarts in our game. The NRL is a highly professional sport and a billion-dollar game in the modern era. They are more important than ever.

But we also need a balance with footy savvy people involved, too.

I don't think there are enough of them making football-related decisions in the game these days.

When we have the suit and ties coming up with blanket bans on lifting tackles and charges to accompany, that's when we get ourselves into a situation like the Bird one earlier this week. We need more people who understand the game making these important decisions.

Was the Bird tackle dangerous? Goodwin found himself in a delicate situation so, probably, yes.

Was it worthy of a six-week suspension? Absolutely not. The hardest part is getting the ball carrier off the ground and Bird managed to do that and I thought when the tackle was getting a little out of hand he softened the impact.

Maybe in another era it would have been considered a textbook tackle.

The only saving grace is Bird's charge was downgraded so he will miss only two matches - including the State of Origin opener.

My argument is he never should have been forced to seek a downgrade in the first place as he faced the prospect of missing the entire series.

Now on to the impact of his absence for the first match at Suncorp Stadium. He and Paul Gallen are NSW's Bruise Brothers. It's going to sting NSW with Bird not there.

Can NSW win without him? Of course they can. We've got enough in-form back-rowers running around to be adequate replacements. Cronulla's Luke Lewis and Wade Graham are two who spring to mind, while Beau Scott can add some starch to the pack.

Maybe this will free Trent Merrin up to start at lock if Gallen is promoted to the front row.

A quick word on the fullback race: I'd be including Jarryd Hayne and Josh Dugan in my side. Dugan is such a devastating broken-field runner, I'd be shoving him on the wing and alternating with Hayne at the back.

NSW need as many weapons as possible to trouble Queensland.

I can't wait to watch them go head-to-head at club level on Saturday.

Stuart deserves credit

I'll tell you one thing about Ricky Stuart - he should be getting a lot more credit for how Parramatta are going this year than Brad Arthur.

It was great for Sticky to go home to Canberra this year but he simply just doesn't have the cattle at the Raiders. Back-to-back floggings prove that. He's going to need time to turn the Raiders around.

I don't know if he can take a broom through the joint like he did at the Eels because Canberra traditionally struggle to attract players. They need to pile all their resources into their kids and hopefully a good batch come through soon.

The dirty work he did at the Eels is bearing fruit now. The likes of Nathan Peats and Corey Norman were lured to the club by Stuart.

Parramatta fans may despise him now but they should be thanking him at the end of 2014 if their form holds up.

Persist with Pearce

The break won't affect Mitchell Pearce one bit if Laurie Daley sticks with him for the State of Origin opener.

Regardless of what you thought of his punishment after an alcohol-fuelled run-in with the police in Kings Cross (I thought it was harsh, for the record), I'm backing him to be right if he's the NSW No 7 in a couple of weeks' time.

He's been in pretty good form for the Roosters of late and I don't think the three-week lay-off will affect him too much. He'll be fine.

Maybe if Daley snubs Pearce then it will adversely affect the chances of Roosters teammate James Maloney being picked, but I'd still be backing Pearce to be ready to go when the Maroons come calling.


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