NSW Blues contenders Cameron Murray and Cody Walker are in doubt for the State of Origin opener after both were reported in the South Sydney Rabbitohs’ 38-20 win over the Parramatta Eels.
On his return from a three-game injury lay-off, Murray had one match to fine-tune for the opening Origin fixture, but he may have dashed his selection chances with a crusher tackle on Parramatta winger Blake Ferguson.
Incumbent NSW five-eighth Walker is also in strife after collecting Eels playmaker Jakob Arthur high.
And rounding out the list of reported players from the Indigenous Round clash are Parramatta lock Nathan Brown, who started on NSW’s bench in the final two games of the 2020 Origin series, and Eels second-rower Ryan Matterson, who had been an outside chance of making his Blues debut.
It must be noted, though, that both of Brown’s crusher tackles seemed very minor.
Brown was twice placed on report, for crusher tackles on Walker and Keaon Koloamatangi, while Matterson was reported for a high shot on Tevita Tatola.
Former NSW hooker Michael Ennis worries most about Murray.
“The big one is Cam Murray. A lot of talk around that him coming back into the side tonight would do his chances of being picked in the NSW side a lot of help …” Ennis said on Fox League’s coverage.
“The one with Cam Murray – the problem with the crusher tackle is it’s 200 points, so any crusher tackle that they deem is a crusher means you’re out for two weeks.”
Brisbane Broncos second-rower Jordan Riki was hit with a two-match suspension for a crusher tackle on Manly’s Haumole Olakau’atu in Magic Round, which he accepted in an early guilty plea.
Ennis was baffled at the fact that Walker wasn’t sin-binned for his high shot on Arthur.
The 2016 Cronulla Sharks premiership-winner questioned if the NRL’s interpretations of high shots had changed since the crackdown was introduced in Magic Round.
“The Cody Walker one for me, if we’re being fair dinkum, what’s changed in the last couple of weeks?” Ennis said.
“We saw Ben Cummins at Kogarah Oval a couple of weeks ago say, ‘It’s contact to the head, it’s 10 minutes in the sin bin’. Now, there wasn’t a lot in it (Walker’s tackle), but it was contact to the head, so I don’t know what’s changed.
“I’m finding it hard to get a read at the moment of what’s a sin-bin and what’s not – since Magic Round, to be honest.”
Adding weight to Murray’s crusher tackle were teammates Damien Cook and Jai Arrow, which rugby league Immortal Mal Meninga believes could work in his favour.
“Well, they’re (Murray and Walker) both in trouble,” Meninga said.
“If they continue on the same vein as they have over the last couple of weeks – a crusher tackle, albeit he had two guys on top of him pushing him down, so it didn’t look like there was any force so he might have a challenge there.
“But Cody Walker, again – it was like a swinging arm basically, but he hit him with his shoulder.
“They could be in trouble.”
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