Infotainment Factory: The insane fact you missed about Broncos

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Wednesday, 1 May 2019

The insane fact you missed about Broncos


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Wide World of Sports stats guru David Middleton breaks down Round 8 of the NRL season, to bring you the biggest talking points of the three matches broadcast by Channel Nine.

South Sydney v Brisbane

The focus on coaches Wayne Bennett and Anthony Seibold has been so intense in the build-up to tonight’s Rabbitohs-Broncos blockbuster that the on-field battle has barely rated a mention.

It has made for a far more comfortable preparation for the Broncos’ rookie halfback Tom Dearden than would have been the case in normal circumstances and has taken plenty of pressure off Brisbane hooker Andrew McCullough in his confrontation with the Rabbitohs’ NSW and Australian rake Damien Cook.

Even the 300-game celebrations for Broncos captain Darius Boyd have been muted this week as the spotlight has been directed at the Rabbitohs’ wily old mentor and the club's former coach who has stepped into his shoes at the Broncos.

Dearden, at 18 years and 49 days, becomes the youngest player ever to debut at halfback for the Broncos and the youngest player to appear for the club overall since Dale Copley in 2009. Born in 2001, Dearden will become the first player born in the 21st century to appear in the NRL … and the fun facts don’t end there! Before Dearden drew his first breath, Wayne Bennett had already racked up 344 games as first grade coach and won five premiership titles!

As for McCullough, he might have avoided attention in the build-up to tonight’s game but he will be under intense pressure to perform against Cook, who stands out as the most dangerous dummy-half runners in the NRL. Cook has run from dummy-half 70 times in the opening seven rounds while the next most prolific dummy-half runner is Cameron Smith with 40 runs.

McCullough has taken off from the play-the-ball only 24 times in his first seven games.

It hasn’t just been about quantity of runs for Cook. He’s achieved six try assists already this season – twice as many as any other hooker.

Tonight Boyd will become the 35th player to reach the 300-game milestone and the irony of bringing up the milestone against former coach and mentor Wayne Bennett is remarkable. Bennett was Boyd’s coach for 293 of those games before the veteran’s move to Souths this season.

Cronulla v Melbourne

Sharks v Storm preview: Round 8

When the Sharks defeated the Storm in the grand final in 2016 they fielded the most experienced line-up in premiership history. Their 17-man squad took a total of 2,742 first grade appearances into that game, an average of 161 games per player.

Their depth of experience across the field was a key to their success and while a number of veteran players ultimately retired or signed elsewhere, the Sharks continued to succeed with one of the most experienced rosters in the competition.

It is a different case in 2019 as injuries take a savage toll on rookie coach John Morris’ line-up. A core of experienced campaigners remain, such as 331-game veteran Paul Gallen, centre Josh Morris (270 games) and forwards Matt Prior (235) and Andrew Fifita (197) but the loss of Wade Graham, Matt Moylan, Aaron Woods, Shaun Johnson and Josh Dugan to injury has stripped away 853 games in top grade experience.

It has forced Morris to hand five players their NRL debuts, the most players blooded by the club after seven rounds since 2002. When the Sharks take on the Storm tomorrow night they will have eight players in their line-up who have played fewer than 20 NRL games.

Parramatta v St George Illawarra

Eels v Dragons preview: Round 8

Parramatta will be hoping that a recent history of success against St George Illawarra will continue into Sunday’s clash at Bankwest Stadium.

Nine’s cameras will be in action for the first time at the game’s newest venue as the Eels aim to build on a record of seven wins from their past eight games against the Dragons.

It will be the first time the teams have clashed at Parramatta since 2016, when a hat-trick of tries to flying fullback Bevan French helped the Eels to a 30-18 victory.

The Eels enjoyed their best win of a disappointing 2018 season when these teams last met. The Dragons were clinging to a place in the top four while the Eels were languishing at the tail of the field but Parramatta pulled off a classic win for the underdogs when they trounced the Dragons 40-4.

Halfback Mitchell Moses had a hand in four of the Eels’ seven tries and scored one himself. Moses was the hero of opening day at Bankwest Stadium a fortnight ago and he will be primed for another big performance.

Wide World of Sports stats guru David Middleton breaks down Round 8 of the NRL season, to bring you the biggest talking points of the three matches broadcast by Channel Nine.

South Sydney v Brisbane

The focus on coaches Wayne Bennett and Anthony Seibold has been so intense in the build-up to tonight’s Rabbitohs-Broncos blockbuster that the on-field battle has barely rated a mention.

It has made for a far more comfortable preparation for the Broncos’ rookie halfback Tom Dearden than would have been the case in normal circumstances and has taken plenty of pressure off Brisbane hooker Andrew McCullough in his confrontation with the Rabbitohs’ NSW and Australian rake Damien Cook.

Even the 300-game celebrations for Broncos captain Darius Boyd have been muted this week as the spotlight has been directed at the Rabbitohs’ wily old mentor and the club's former coach who has stepped into his shoes at the Broncos.

Dearden, at 18 years and 49 days, becomes the youngest player ever to debut at halfback for the Broncos and the youngest player to appear for the club overall since Dale Copley in 2009. Born in 2001, Dearden will become the first player born in the 21st century to appear in the NRL … and the fun facts don’t end there! Before Dearden drew his first breath, Wayne Bennett had already racked up 344 games as first grade coach and won five premiership titles!

As for McCullough, he might have avoided attention in the build-up to tonight’s game but he will be under intense pressure to perform against Cook, who stands out as the most dangerous dummy-half runners in the NRL. Cook has run from dummy-half 70 times in the opening seven rounds while the next most prolific dummy-half runner is Cameron Smith with 40 runs.

McCullough has taken off from the play-the-ball only 24 times in his first seven games.

It hasn’t just been about quantity of runs for Cook. He’s achieved six try assists already this season – twice as many as any other hooker.

Tonight Boyd will become the 35th player to reach the 300-game milestone and the irony of bringing up the milestone against former coach and mentor Wayne Bennett is remarkable. Bennett was Boyd’s coach for 293 of those games before the veteran’s move to Souths this season.

Cronulla v Melbourne

Sharks v Storm preview: Round 8

When the Sharks defeated the Storm in the grand final in 2016 they fielded the most experienced line-up in premiership history. Their 17-man squad took a total of 2,742 first grade appearances into that game, an average of 161 games per player.

Their depth of experience across the field was a key to their success and while a number of veteran players ultimately retired or signed elsewhere, the Sharks continued to succeed with one of the most experienced rosters in the competition.

It is a different case in 2019 as injuries take a savage toll on rookie coach John Morris’ line-up. A core of experienced campaigners remain, such as 331-game veteran Paul Gallen, centre Josh Morris (270 games) and forwards Matt Prior (235) and Andrew Fifita (197) but the loss of Wade Graham, Matt Moylan, Aaron Woods, Shaun Johnson and Josh Dugan to injury has stripped away 853 games in top grade experience.

It has forced Morris to hand five players their NRL debuts, the most players blooded by the club after seven rounds since 2002. When the Sharks take on the Storm tomorrow night they will have eight players in their line-up who have played fewer than 20 NRL games.

Parramatta v St George Illawarra

Eels v Dragons preview: Round 8

Parramatta will be hoping that a recent history of success against St George Illawarra will continue into Sunday’s clash at Bankwest Stadium.

Nine’s cameras will be in action for the first time at the game’s newest venue as the Eels aim to build on a record of seven wins from their past eight games against the Dragons.

It will be the first time the teams have clashed at Parramatta since 2016, when a hat-trick of tries to flying fullback Bevan French helped the Eels to a 30-18 victory.

The Eels enjoyed their best win of a disappointing 2018 season when these teams last met. The Dragons were clinging to a place in the top four while the Eels were languishing at the tail of the field but Parramatta pulled off a classic win for the underdogs when they trounced the Dragons 40-4.

Halfback Mitchell Moses had a hand in four of the Eels’ seven tries and scored one himself. Moses was the hero of opening day at Bankwest Stadium a fortnight ago and he will be primed for another big performance.

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