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NRL News: 'Watch the game' - Robbo fires up as Teddy vs Manu debate reignites, why Sivo's stuck in reserves

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17th April, 2024
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With Joey Manu on his way out the door at the Roosters to take up a lucrative rugby union offer, don’t expect Trent Robinson to put him ahead of James Tedesco at fullback in the Kiwi international’s final season before heading to Japan.

Manu was sensational for the Roosters in their win over Newcastle last week but has returned to centre for Thursday night’s showdown with the Storm at Allianz Stadium with Tedesco cleared of his concussion.

“I don’t think I’ll answer that question, to be honest,” Robinson said when asked whether he considered keeping Manu in the No.1 jersey ahead of his skipper.

“I’m not talking SuperCoach at a media conference. If they don’t see what Teddy brings, then I’m not the right guy answer it. Teddy is an exceptional fullback. It’s just naive to ask that question really.

“What I think about an Australian and NSW and a premiership-winning fullback and what he brings to the game … watch the game.”

Robinson fears this NRL season will be the last he’ll see of Manu, with no agreement in place for a return following a stint in Japanese club rugby.

Manu will leave the Roosters at the end of 2024 after signing a one-year deal with Toyota Verblitz, and has made no commitment his Sydney club beyond that.

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Being able to dominate in both positions is a rare talent that the Roosters will miss, according to a shattered Robinson.

“It’s a huge loss for us and the game,” the coach said ahead of their battle with the second-placed Storm.

“It was done in the right way and it was really transparent but you can’t downplay losing Joey Manu; there’s not someone who’s going to walk in and do that role.

“I don’t know if he will be back … I’d like it to be the assumption that he does return here but there’s definitely nothing there about him returning otherwise I’d be a little bit happier right now.

“After this year I’m not sure I’ll see him again in a professional sense.”

Robinson said Manu’s motivation for his move was a personal challenge, to play the code he grew up with and also to live overseas, which the Roosters couldn’t compete with.

He could look to become a dual international and base himself in New Zealand and attempt to make the All Blacks ahead of the 2027 Rugby World Cup.

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Meanwhile, Sam Walker was named in the reserves for the Allianz Stadium match but Robinson said the halfback had failed to pass the concussion protocols to make his return.

“He tried to train but didn’t quite get there so we’ve ruled him out,” the coach said.

Robinson was hopeful Walker would be available for their round-eight clash with St George Illawarra.

(Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Melbourne welcome Nelson Asofa-Solomona for his first game of the season after a pre-season hamstring injury.

It’s ideal timing with the giant prop coming in for Tui Kamikamica, who is sidelined with a calf issue, as the Storm look to continue their strong record against the ninth-placed Roosters.

They haven’t lost to the Roosters in Sydney since 2019 and have won eight of their past nine clashes.

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“Hopefully he can come in and do a good job for us,” said Storm coach Craig Bellamy.

“We just need him to go up there and play his role and just do his job.

“He hasn’t played in the NRL this year at all and didn’t play any of the trials so we’ll manage him with the minutes he plays.

“Having Tui out gives Nelson a good chance to make a mark on the game early.”

Sivo too good for NSW Cup but no NRL recall yet

Maika Sivo is “too good” to remain in reserve grade for long but may still need to wait a few more weeks for the chance to return to Parramatta’s NRL side, says coach Brad Arthur.

Sivo is preparing to play NSW Cup for a second consecutive weekend, having been dropped after Parramatta lost back-to-back games earlier this month.

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After last Saturday’s first-grade defeat of North Queensland, Arthur was pleased with the efforts of replacement winger Bailey Simonsson, who withstood extra attention from the Cowboys’ attack on a new-look left edge.

Sivo’s axing continued a turbulent season thus far for the Fiji international, rubbed out of the first three games through a suspension incurred during a trial game. But Sivo is beginning to show Arthur he is ready for a first-grade recall.

“He is taking it really well,” Arthur said. “He’s training well, he’s leaned up a little bit. He just needs to continue to do that for a few weeks, and then he’s got to wait for an opportunity.

“He is too good of a player to be playing reserve grade but we have standards that he along with everyone else needs to meet. When you are not winning, sometimes it’s taken out of my hands. I need to force change to get change.”

Arthur saw more desire from Sivo as he scored two tries in Parramatta’s NSW Cup defeat of North Sydney last weekend, and wants to see the 30-year-old sustain that competitive edge.

“His effort on effort was better,” Arthur said of Sivo’s latest performance. “We need competition for spots, we need people to feel the pressure and then be able to deliver under that pressure.”

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Sivo has done some of his best work for the Eels playing on Dylan Brown’s left edge and the playmaker believed high standards came with the territory of being an elite winger.

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“If (Sivo) doesn’t play to that then Brad obviously doesn’t want to choose him,” Brown said.

“It’s nothing against him, it’s not like he’s a bad person or anything bad has happened, it’s just we know what he’s capable of and Brad’s obviously given him a kick up the arse and said, ‘We want to see that’. 

“Our team’s better when he’s in it and we want him back at his best.”

Brown said returning from suspension into first grade came with challenges, not least because wingers have a bigger role than ever in the modern game.  “To come straight back and get straight back into it, it’s pretty tough to come straight back at 100 per cent,” Brown said.

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“Wingers, it’s getting tougher and tougher now, they’ve got to run into the line just as hard as forwards do and at the same time are expected to execute almost every time the ball comes their way. It’s a big role.”

with AAP

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