Holbrook calls for early overhaul of 18th man rule after Titans’ big win over Knights

Gold Coast Titans coach Justin Holbrook says the NRL’s new 18th man rule needs a rethink already after he lost a player to foul play after just five minutes but was unable to access his extra player during the side’s resounding win over Newcastle.

The Titans were far too good for the Knights at Robina, running away with a 42-16 victory on the back of three tries from the unstoppable David Fifita, who somehow looks a bargain at $3.5 million over three years given his early season output.

The Knights’ Connor Watson struggles to contain a rampaging David Fifita.Credit:NRL Photos

“And it’s putting too much pressure on the referee … that wasn’t a sin bin offence but he’s clearly banged his head into his shoulder, which is no fault of Frizell either. He hasn’t meant to do it.

“I do think so, yeah [that should invoke the 18th man rule]. Even if there is a time frame on it, the first 20 or 30 minutes of a game. But it’s not for me to decide, there’s enough people looking at those rule changes.”

It was about the only low point for the Titans as they ran Newcastle ragged, attacking from all over the field and used gun back-rower Fifita to perfection as he continued to shine for his new club.

Knights coach Adam O’Brien was down on troops after a run of injuries but did have Kalyn Ponga back in uniform, with the fullback easily the best player on a beaten side as he made his first appearance for 2021 after off-season shoulder surgery.

But he said their lack of commitment in defence, which included conceding a basic try to Fifita off a tap, was nowhere near good enough at NRL level.

“Hard to defend some of that performance. We got exposed on our edges a lot, a couple of the combinations we had just got found out. We just made some really poor concentration errors in the first half, schoolboy errors, and weren’t prepared to defend them,” O’Brien said.

“I was really concerned with our goal line D in the first half. It was way too passive. Taps, kick offs, line breaks off kick offs, just schoolboy errors, concentration errors.

“There’s no doubt all week with the new players coming in, they were getting their heads around how to attack. It was clear to me in the first few sets that defence wasn’t our priority today.”

This was Newcastle’s third defeat in a row and they are yet to face a team from last year’s top eight. They get the Sharks next week, possibly without Frizell, but Ponga will only be better for the run he could be joined by Kurt Mann and Bradman Best in the backline.

Sport newsletter

Sports news, results and expert commentary delivered straight to your inbox each weekday. Sign up here.

Most Viewed in Sport

From our partners

Source: Read Full Article