NRL talking points: Semi-finals, Cameron Smith’s future and State of Origin injury concern

Jenna Brooks has the latest ahead of the NRL semi-finals, plus the latest on Cameron Smith’s future and a State of Origin injury worry for New South Wales…

Final four

What a season George Williams is having. The former Wigan Warriors playmaker helped Canberra Raiders to Friday’s preliminary final against Melbourne Storm.

The Raiders beat reigning premiers Sydney Roosters 22-12 and Williams crossed in the first half before setting up Jack Wighton to help secure the victory and move just two wins away from the NRL Premiership.

South Sydney Rabbitohs were too good for Parramatta Eels. Wayne Bennett’s side beat the Eels 38-24 and Souths now take on Penrith Panthers, who have lost just once this year and won 16 straight.

Hooker Damien Cook was outstanding. He scored a try, had two assists, three tackle breaks, and made 47 tackles as he led his team to their third Grand Final qualifier in as many seasons.

Cook’s battle with Penrith’s Apisai Koroisau is one to keep a close eye on. Both games are live on Sky Sports.

Munster boost

Cameron Munster is set to play in Melbourne’s knockout match with Canberra in Queensland.

Melbourne Storm vs Canberra Raiders

October 16, 2020, 9:45am

Live on

Penrith Panthers vs South Sydney Rabbitohs

October 17, 2020, 9:45am

Live on

There were doubts surrounding Munster’s fitness after he re-injured his knee in the closing stages of the Storm’s qualifying victory over Parramatta, and the 26-year old will be a huge asset for the Storm in the must-win game.

“He’ll be a big plus for us if he manages to come through,” Munster’s team-mate Felise Kaufusi said. “It’s looking like he will. He can create some things out of nothing, he’d be a big bonus.”

Munster is back at training and has already started focusing on what he has to do to help his team get the win.

“I just want to take a deep breath and relax,” Munster said. “When I am relaxed the team relaxes and that shows where I make the right decision nine times out of 10.

“If I can do that for the team it mellows everyone out around me. I need to stay mellow.”

Smith finale

The future of Cameron Smith has been a hot topic this season.

After 18 years with Melbourne, the 37-year old is yet to reveal what 2021 will look like for him.

Friday’s preliminary final against the Raiders will be his 429th NRL game, and if they lose, could be his last.

Smith made his debut back in 2002 for Melbourne and would also finish with the NRL’s all-time games record and point-scoring record.

Smith, who is arguably the best hooker the game has ever seen, has played 42 Origin games for Queensland and represented Australia on 56 occasions.

The former Kangaroos captain is still delivering top performances for his beloved Storm and for the sake of the sport, I hope 2020 isn’t the last we see of Smith on the pitch.

Roosters return

Mitchell Pearce has been linked with a return to the Sydney Roosters.

The future of current Roosters playmaker Kyle Flanagan is in doubt after reports revealed the Roosters were not eager to retain him past his current deal.

That could see Pearce, the Newcastle Knights half-back, set for a surprise return to the club he won the 2013 NRL Grand Final with.

Pearce is signed with the Knights until the end of next season. It’s believed they want to hold onto him but at a reduced rate.

Meanwhile, Flanagan has been linked with the Canterbury Bulldogs.

Origin Blues

There are fears that arguably the best full-back in the world could miss the Origin opener next month.

James Tedesco suffered a knee injury in the Roosters’ defeat to Canberra last week, and the New South Wales No 1 attended his club’s awards night in a brace and revealed he will be in it for “a couple of weeks”.

“He hurt his knee early in the game against the Raiders, but he ended up playing the whole game,” NSW coach Brad Fittler told 2GB’s Wide World of Sports Radio.

“If you watch that try, the actual injury impeded his ability to stop the ball which Jack Wighton ended up scoring from.

“I spoke to him and he will spend a couple more days out of the bubble because he has a team around him, a physio who is from the Roosters and also a masseuse and some different people that he leans on to get himself in the best possible shape.

“Any time or any way we can get James Tedesco to the game, we’ll be abiding by, so I can’t wait to see him.

“There are a few more hurdles, but all in all we’re looking pretty fit and healthy at the moment.”

Game 1 is scheduled for November 4, less than three weeks away. But Fittler has the Storm’s Ryan Papenhuyzen and Parramatta’s Clint Gutherson as options – two very capable replacements, I might add.

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