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NRL NEWS: Gilbert sheds inner madman, Six-again here to stay

Queenslanders expecting Tom Gilbert to channel his inner “madman” will be sorely disappointed.

The State of Origin debutant reckons that’s not him, going as far to say efforts to shed that tag are the reason he’ll complete a childhood dream and play in next Wednesday’s State of Origin decider.

Set to replace the unavailable Felise Kaufusi for the Suncorp Stadium clash, the in-form North Queensland forward has been billed as the fire and brimstone the Maroons need to respond to their game two thumping.

But the 21-year-old didn’t play to that narrative in a thoughtful and polite discussion with reporters on Tuesday, the shock of receiving his jersey from his mother and twin brother in camp the night earlier still sinking in.

“I’m no madman,” he said.

“It’s probably what’s helped me get this jersey this year.

“Times gone past maybe I was just not putting the energy in the right spot in my game and that was probably a distraction.

“Each week I get my job and that’s where my energy’s going and all the little stuff that happens around it just happens.”

That fits with rookie coach Billy Slater’s approach, the mentor sticking fat with his side despite a 44-12 loss in Perth that forced a game three decider.

“You’ve got to be thinking about your footy, it’s not just a bash and barge game,” Slater said.

Tom Gilbert

Tom Gilbert lining up for the Cowboys. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Gilbert admitted he’s found it hard to “get back to normal” after receiving a call from Slater he never thought would come.

But the perspective remains ahead of a move to new Redcliffe NRL franchise the Dolphins next season, alongside Kaufusi.

“Funnily enough, I went to the Dolphins for the opportunity to get rep honours,” he said when asked if he now felt like a marquee player.

“But I still want to develop as a player; I’m still young and have dreams to chase.

“There will be a few more dreams and goals there (at the Dolphins) and I’ll learn off the older boys as much as I can.”

Gilbert counts Johnathan Thurston as a hero and pretended to be Darren Lockyer in the family living room growing up watching Queensland play on Wednesday nights.

“That’s what Origin was about; the long day on Wednesday til 8pm kick off, wearing a Maroons jersey to school with my twin brother, my best mate,” he said.

“I’m definitely ready. It’s a full circle moment in Brisbane, in my hometown in front of my family.

“There’s something about it that feels right.”

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 04: Referee Adam Gee talks to Josh Reynolds of the Tigers during the round eight NRL match between the Wests Tigers and the Penrith Panthers at Bankwest Stadium on July 04, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Annesley: six-again here to stay

NRL head of football Graham Annesley has defended the six-again rule despite conceding Canberra could have been awarded three penalties rather than fresh sets in the last 20 seconds of their 12-10 loss to St George Illawarra.

The Raiders were attacking the Dragons’ line in search of a late try on Sunday when St George Illawarra captain Ben Hunt was guilty of three infringements.

The first two calls – an offside and a flop on prop Joe Tapine on the penultimate play of the game – were rewarded with six-agains by referee Peter Gough.

The third was where Hunt was not square at marker on the last play of the game and he rushed out to stop dummy-half Tom Starling.

Gough didn’t signal for a penalty and it meant the 11th-placed Raiders were cut adrift from the battle for a finals spot by four points.

A penalty would have allowed the Raiders the chance to tie up the game and send it to golden point. 

WOLLONGONG, AUSTRALIA - JULY 03: Dragon players celebrate winning the round 16 NRL match between the St George Illawarra Dragons and the Canberra Raiders at WIN Stadium, on July 03, 2022, in Wollongong, Australia. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

Dragons players celebrate winning over the Canberra Raiders at WIN Stadium. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

Canberra coach Ricky Stuart claimed Gough lacked “courage” in not penalising Hunt, with Annesley conceding the Raiders could have been awarded three separate penalties.

“In most cases when you see that kind of tackle (to stop Starling) it results in a penalty,” Annesley said. “In our view that should have been a penalty.

“There are three incidents; the offside, the flop and then there is the move around to tackle the dummy-half. Any of those three could have been determined to be a professional foul and a penalty and possibly a sin bin.”

Annesley said Stuart had been spoken with the NRL’s referees department on Monday.

He also claimed the six-again rule was here to stay and said the NRL wouldn’t revert to a two-referee system.

“We think that a single referee has added a lot to the game and has allowed the game to continue,” Annesley said.

“The six-again has been a bonus for the referees in allowing them to try and get a level of compliance with stopping the game.”

Annesley also said referee Gerard Sutton made a mistake by penalising Sydney Roosters hooker Sam Verrills for a tackle on Penrith’s Scott Sorensen on Friday.

In the 39th minute, Verrills made a straightforward tackle on Sorensen who nosedived towards the ground, earning a penalty which led to a try to Viliame Kikau on the next set.

Roosters coach Trent Robinson, whose side lost 26-18, called it a “horrible decision” and Annesley concurred.

“In the history of the game, most would agree that it is a copybook around-the-legs tackle,” he said.

“We don’t believe there is any reason why this tackle should have been penalised.”

Suluka-Fifita makes immediate switch

Roosters forward Daniel Suluka-Fifita has joined South Sydney this week after gaining an immediate release from his contract at the Sydney Roosters.

The Rabbitohs had already signed the 22-year-old Matraville Tigers junior for the next three seasons but he has been released mid-year so that the Roosters can accommodate former Warriors prop Matt Lodge in their 2022 salary cap.

Suluka-Fifita has played 20 NRL matches for the Roosters since making his debut as a 20-year-old against the Titans in 2020.

He was a member of the South Sydney SG Ball Cup and Harold Matthews Cup squads between 2014 and 2017, playing alongside current Rabbitohs stars Cameron Murray and Campbell Graham.

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