NRL talking points: Tom Burgess banned, Ryan Sutton impresses and transfer news

Jenna Brooks has the latest from the NRL with plenty of player movement and another week another Englishman shines. Plus a massive brawl, four yellow cards, suspensions and fines in one game.

Fiery brawl

Tom Burgess has been handed a one-week suspension for ‘striking’ Knights prop Daniel Saifiti on Friday night.

Burgess appeared to head-butt Saifiti late in the first half of Newcastle Knights’ 20-12 win over South Sydney Rabbitohs.

Saifiti retaliated by punching Burgess, before his brother Sam took offence and approached the Newcastle prop from behind, which then sparked a huge melee between the two sides and resulted in four players being sin-binned.

South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Penrith Panthers

June 15, 2019, 8:25am

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Sam accepted a fine of £630 for contrary conduct despite footage which looked very much like both players head-butted their opposition.

Newcastle playmaker Mitchell Pearce demanded that the referee send Sam off.

“Sam Burgess comes in from behind and dog-shots him when no one’s looking,” Pearce said.

“Our boys are just breaking it up. So that’s two from them that have got to go. One’s got to get sent off.

“He (Tom Burgess) head-butted him (Saifiti) first and our guy’s reacted. How’s that not our penalty?”

Both Tom and Sam joined Lachlan Fitzgibbon and Saifiti on the sidelines for 10 minutes, after all four were shown yellow cards.

Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett defended the brawl and Burgess calling it ‘what the game is’.

“No, I saw Sam come in, but I didn’t see a head-butt,” Bennett said. “But I’m sure they will sort it out before the week is out.”

Bennett will be without his captain for at least the next five weeks due to a planned shoulder operation.

Sutton stands out

Ryan Sutton is the latest Englishman to make a name for himself in the NRL.

Canberra Raiders team-mate John Bateman has stolen much of the limelight this season, but the NRL are starting to notice what Sutton is capable of too.

The 23-year-old has appeared in every game so far this season for the Raiders, starting in 10, while coming off the bench in three.

He was outstanding during Friday’s 28-0 thumping of the Wests Tigers. Sutton played 65 minutes, making 163 metres and 46 tackles.

Melbourne Storm vs Newcastle

June 15, 2019, 5:55am

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Despite this impressive form, the prop knows exactly what needs to improve.

“For me it takes me five or 10 minutes to get into the game, I’m not one of these people who can come on for 20-minute bursts and go off,” Sutton said.

“I feel like I can pace myself well, but when I am on for those 20 minute bursts I feel like I’m rushing.

“I’ve seen how tough the competition is and how the rotations change and if I can get better at that 20-minute stint when I know I’m coming on it’s going to make me a better player.”

Sutton’s numbers speak for themselves. He’s made 393 tackles with an efficiency of 91.5 per cent and he has a total of 1,287 running metres.

Player movement

Canterbury Bulldogs have signed New Zealand captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak on an 18-month deal effective immediately following his release from Penrith Panthers.

The 23-year old, who is in his fifth season in the NRL, was wanted by both North Queensland Cowboys and Wests Tigers, but it was the Bulldogs who secured his services.

Tim Mannah has asked for a release from the final few months of his contract with Parramatta Eels to join the Tigers before June 30.

Reports suggest Dane Gagai, who is signed with South Sydney until the end of 2021, is seeking a move away from the Rabbitohs.

Parramatta Eels vs Brisbane Broncos

June 15, 2019, 10:30am

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Ever since James Roberts came into the club, Gagai has been used more frequently on the wing, and it is believed the player is unhappy with that position, instead seeing himself as a centre.

Brisbane 16-year old Sam Walker has signed with reigning premiers Sydney Roosters on a two-year deal from next year.

Eleven NRL clubs, as well as Rugby Australia, were targeting the teenage playmaker, who is the son of former Broncos half-back Ben Walker. However, it was the Roosters who got his signature.

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