Round 23 NRL gets underway with an intriguing Thursday night match up between old rivals Parramatta and Canterbury.
Parramatta winger Blake Ferguson has showcased his football nous after he exploited a little-known rule in Saturday’s NRL win over Cronulla.
It was the play that had the rugby league world scratching their heads but Parramatta coach Brad Arthur has revealed Blake Ferguson’s moment of touchline brilliance was premeditated.
While it didn’t have a bearing on the result of Saturday’s 24-12 win over Cronulla, Ferguson’s ability to exploit an obscure rule showcased his considerable football smarts.
Early in the first-half, Sharks half Chad Townsend drilled the ball downfield and it looked set to stop just short of the touchline.
Had Ferguson picked it up, he risked being bundled into touch as the Sharks defenders bore down on him.
Many fans believed Ferguson had suffered a brain fade and had turned the ball over deep in his side’s own half.
But under a little-known rule, if a ball is still moving after being kicked by the opposition and a player touches it while having a foot in touch, their side receives the feed at the scrum and it is equivalent to the ball going into touch.
Arthur said that since arriving at the club from the Sydney Roosters, the in-form winger had been harping on about the rule to his teammates and practised it regularly at training.
“He’s been trying to talk to our boys about that at training,” Arthur said.
“He’s too smart.
“At the time I wasn’t real happy. He knows the rules, he knows the game well. He’s told our boys before about that, he’s practised it, he’s done it before at training, it’s not a fluke.
Asked if he had ever seen a similar incident in an NRL game, Arthur said: “Not that I can remember. Not in one of our games.”
The Eels farewelled ANZ Stadium in fitting fashion with a Mitchell Moses-inspired four-tries-to-two victory on Saturday night.
The club will move into its new home, the 30,000 seat, state of the art $340 million Bankwest Stadium for their western Sydney derby against the Wests Tigers on Easter Monday.
“We’ve had a couple of years here now,” Arthur said of the Olympic stadium.
“A couple of years ago our record here wasn’t great but it’s probably not too bad if you take last year out of it.
“We’ve enjoyed coming here. It’ll be nice to go back to a stadium were the crowd is going to be right on top of us, hopefully the Easter Monday game is a sellout.
“The crowd can definitely help you at periods of the game. At the end of the day we’ve still got two weeks until we get (to Bankwest Stadium).”