England warns, Crowe goes, SBW’s problem

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    What are some of rugby league’s talking points over the last week?

    Melbourne’s Origin hopes in good health
    The Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) has today released its five year schedule for State of Origin matches, which will see Queensland and New South Wales each have two series in which they host two home games, NSW in 2013 and 2016, Queensland in 2014 and 2017.

    Of big interest to Melbourne rugby league fans is the remaining match in 2015 is yet to be decided, although talks are going on within Melbourne to secure the third spot. You’d think after a fantastic, near-capacity crowd turning out to Etihad Stadium this year they should get it.

    The southern capital has hosted the Cane Toads and the Cockroaches on just six occasions – 1994, 1995, 1997 (all at the Melbourne Cricket Ground), 2006, 2009 and 2012 (at Docklands/Etihad Stadium). Let’s hope they get another go.

    England sound warning to Kiwis and Kangaroos
    England’s complete domination of France and Wales in their Autumn International series, which finished last week, bodes well for their World Cup preparation. Not so much for their tournament counterparts.

    Wales and France round off the top five countries in world rugby league and to be hammered by 80-12 (Wales) as well as 44-6 and 48-4 (France) isn’t very promising for these two countries.

    Despite this, the signs are positive for France: they will have extra motivation to perform well after an increased uptake within their domestic competition and Les Catalans making the semi-final of the Super League for the first time.

    Wales will be better for the experience and played with good structure in 2011 Four Nations, as well as being able to play at home too. For the rugby league tragics, nothing would be better than the French to play well next year. It’ll be like the 1960’s again!

    Russell Crowe bows out on a high
    South Sydney Rabbitohs co-owner Russell Crowe is selling his share in the club at the end of the 2013 season. He should be commended by the Rabbitohs’ fan-base for his role in taking the club (finally) to where it should be – a strong position.

    According to Rabbitohs CEO Shane Richardson, they are aiming to move to 25,000 total memberships next year and their 22,000 memberships in 2012 was the highest of any Sydney club.

    As well as adding passion, support and a big name backer behind the franchise, Crowe also added a celebrity wow factor to the club, which probably gave renewed interest too.

    Nathan Tinkler has certainly added some wow factor back into the Newcastle Knights’ set-up.

    The shoulder charge one step closer to going
    The ARLC has accepted a recommendation to outlaw the crunching tackle from all competitions in 2013. NRL Interim CEO Shane Mattiske said, “the Commission has gone through a thorough review process and has been public in warning the players about the risks of illegal play…

    “With the increase in size and strength of the players, we believe this is the time to eliminate a potential risk.”

    Sure Greg Inglis, Frank Pritchard and others were banned over shoulder charges last season, but how will Sonny Bill Williams feel when his stock weapon is banned? Another reason the Bulldogs fans can brand him an outlaw I guess.