Young tyros Corey Norman and Ben Hunt were given the play making responsibilities for the Brisbane Broncos wearing jerseys 7 and 6 respectively. Whilst Hunt was wearing the famous number 6 jersey it was Norman who stole the show, like Lockyer many times before him, in leading the Broncos to a 28-22 victory over the North Queensland Cowboys. Norman set up two tries, most notably putting lock Brendan Gibb over for Brisbane's second try with a classy short ball. In addition to potting 2 goals, he also employed his dancing feet to make two line breaks, capping a solid all round display.
Norman burst onto the scene in 2010 with an eye-catching debut at fullback but has since struggled for consistency and a regular spot in the Broncos team. With Josh Hoffman now holding a mortgage on the fullback jumper and Darren Lockyer's retirement creating a vacancy at five-eighth, 2012 shapes as a defining year for both Norman and the Broncos. How he handles the pressure of stepping into the considerable shoes (some would say the biggest) of Darren Lockyer will no doubt go a long way to determining how the Broncos fare in season 2012.
Whilst Bronco eyes were focused towards Redcliffe on Saturday night, the rest of the rugby league community turned its attention to Skilled Park where the annual NRL All-Stars match took place. The hits were ferocious and the pace of the match frenetic, especially considering this was the first match for many of 2012.
The NRL All-Stars took home the Arthur Beetson Trophy with a 36-28 win over the Indigenous All Stars in a pulsating encounter that has generated much discussion in rugby league circles. The ankle injury to South Sydney's star centre Greg Inglis has led to calls for a review of the scheduling of the All Stars match with some proposing a move to grand final week.
Injuries will always be a chance in any rugby league match and at any time but surely the NRL does need to review the involvement of their best players in such a high intensity encounter so early in the season. The experimental rules (Power Play and 6 again penalty) provided something different for rugby league fans and whilst they will not be seen this season, many, including Wayne Bennett believe, we could see them in an NRL fixture in the not too distant future.
The 6 again rule (instead of stopping play for a penalty the team with the ball gets a repeat set) allowed the game to flow and provided some memorable attacking football but also left viewers and commentators alike often times scratching their head as to why a penalty was given. Nevertheless, the All Stars match was compelling viewing for all rugby league fans and has left many (myself included) licking their lips for the start of the season proper.
Adam Schoenmaker is a high school chaplain in the northern suburbs of Brisbane for three days each week and serves two days a week in his local church. Adam loves a good book, a classic album and all Queensland sporting teams.
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