NRL 2022: Cowboys win 36-12 over Tigers, Jackson Hastings crowd abuse
WATCH: A spectator has been ejected from Suncorp Stadium after Wests Tigers star Jackson Hastings was allegedly subjected to deeply personal crowd abuse.
A spectator has been escorted from Suncorp Stadium after allegedly directing deeply personal abuse towards Wests Tigers half Jackson Hastings.
It is understood Hastings complained to officials at the ground after claiming the spectator screamed out derogatory comments about his family while he lined up a shot at goal from the sideline late in the first half of the Tigers game against North Queensland.
Sources confirmed to News Corp that one of the individuals involved in the in indent has been charged with disorderly conduct. Independent witnesses as well as sources with knowledge of the situation confirmed the comments were in relation to Hastings’ sister.
Stream every game of every round of the 2022 NRL Telstra Premiership Season Live & Ad-Break Free In Play on Kayo. New to Kayo? Try 14-Days Free Now >
Officials were quickly able to identify the alleged culprit and he was escorted from the ground by police.
It is understood police were able to identify the culprit after reviewing the NRL’s Hawkeye footage.
The incident involving Hastings brought an unsavoury end to Magic Round and three spectacular days of rugby league.
MURRAY MAGIC: TAULAGI PRODUCES PASS OF THE CENTURY
Cowboys two-try hero Murray Taulagi put himself firmly in the Maroons frame and unleashed the pass of the century to go with it to lift his side into outright third.
Taulagi assured his place on highlight reels for as long as rugby league is played with an insane inside flick while mid-air and one metre beyond the touch in-goal line for Scott Drinkwater to score in his side’s 36-12 win over an injury-ravaged Wests Tigers.
Even Benji Marshall, of 2005 flick pass legendhood, said on Fox League: “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
The try, scored while Jackson Hastings was pile-driving Taulagi into the turf, set the scene for razzle dazzle footy by the Cowboys flyer who scored his first try with a one-handed put-down of class.
The luckless Tigers lost star five-eighth Luke Brooks to a hamstring injury and finished with one man on the bench.
The Cowboys, who completed all 18 sets in the first half, are fast proving they are the real deal. Defensively committed, brilliantly steered by Tom Dearden and Chad Townsend and capable of electrifying football right across the park. Back-rower Jeremiah Nanai put an exclamation mark on Magic Round with yet another incredible leap to score his eighth try of the season.
Townsend said it was an “absolute joy” to play with Nanai and Taulagi.
“They are playing with so much confidence,” he said.
“I was just gobsmacked by that Murray effort. That pass. I’ve never seen anything like it but what can you do except sit back, smile and clap your hands.”
After five wins in a row coach Todd Payten said “we ain’t done”.
“We are excited about what is ahead of us,” he said.
Pocket rocket prop Reuben Cotter, firmly on Billy Slater’s Maroons radar, was on a mission to run out of the stadium in a 65m charge to score. Fast becoming a cult hero for his charisma and million miles an hour approach, Cotter has given Jason Taumalolo a partner in carnage to be reckoned with and someone to share the workload with. His try was the first of his NRL career and included a dummy to no-one that left Starford Toa wondering what the whirling dervish was that flashed past him.
Payten said Cotter was ready for Maroons duty.
“He’d do it on his ear. The tougher it gets the better he gets,” Payten said.
The Cotter try and other lapses had Tigers coach Michael Maguire fuming. He said the Tigers “missed the mark” defensively. ”That is too many points to be leaking. These boys are capable of making sure points don’t wrack up as they did. Two tries before halftime … you can’t do that.”
Maroons coach Billy Slater would have been licking his lips watching Taulagi in action. The 23-year-old, who has played for the Junior Kangaroos and Queensland under 20s, joins his teammate Kyle Feldt, Broncos sensation Selwyn Cobbo and Storm flyer Xavier Coates in a humdinger battle for two wing spots in the State of Origin opener. Taulagi’s huge frame, physicality and skillset makes him a made-for-Origin prospect. He’s one of a suite of Cowboys rising stars driving the club’s premiership push with Nanai, Cotter and Heilum Luki all going gangbusters.
Payten said Taulagi was ready for Origin and that his combination with Val Holmes would be an asset. “They both would get the job done,” he said.
Already smashed by injuries to key players the Tigers lost hooker Jake Simpkin to concussion in the first half and then, to add insult to injury, Brooks on the cusp of halftime just when he had set up a try for Luke Garner and was looking dangerous. Zane Musgrove (pec) added to the carnage in the second-half. The Tigers, who trailed 20-12 at the break. did not threw plenty at the Cowboys when they had their full complement but just ran out of gas. A bright spot was the debut of promising winger Junior Tupou who scored a cracking try from a bomb. Hastings, who did his best to ignite his team, complained to the ground manager after being on the receiving end of vile abuse while attempting a conversion, with the culprit ejected.
EXCLUSIVE: REVEALED: FIVE COWBOYS SET FOR ORIGIN SELECTION
Queensland coach Billy Slater has hailed the brilliance of Jeremiah Nanai and says the Cowboys rookie is in the mix to become the most inexperienced Maroons’ back-row debutant in Origin history.
The Cowboys’ stunning resurgence could lead to an Origin selection bonanza with the Fab Five of Nanai, Heilum Luki, Kyle Feldt, Reuben Cotter and Valentine Holmes in contention for Maroons jumpers for the series opener on June 8.
The ultimate bolter would be Nanai, who can enhance his claims for a Queensland debut with a barnstorming display on Sunday against Wests Tigers at Suncorp — the scene of his hat-trick heroics in the Cowboys’ 38-12 belting of Brisbane in Round 3.
With misfiring Titans star David Fifita (knee) racing the clock for Origin, Slater confirmed teenage sensation Nanai is a genuine consideration for a maiden Maroons jumper after his electric start to the 2022 premiership.
The 19-year-old has seven tries from nine games and has impressed with his cool head, skill and fast feet on the fringes, as evidenced by his quick stepping to score in last week’s 36-16 rout of the Knights.
Cowboys legend Matt Scott had played just 14 NRL games when he made his Queensland debut in 2006, while Fifita was 22 matches into his Broncos career when he was blooded by then Maroons coach Kevin Walters in 2019.
But Nanai, who plays his 14th top-grade game this week against the Tigers, would be Queensland’s most inexperienced back-rower if he gets the nod from Slater for Origin I at Homebush’s Accor Stadium.
“I am watching several Queensland players closely, not only the experienced guys but also some young guys who have jumped out of the ground and are making a noise for themselves,” Slater said.
“The two young back-rowers Nanai and Luki (aged 21) have been a breath of fresh air for Cowboys and Queensland fans.
“In terms of their age … I believe you are ready when you consistently perform the actions that you want to see in an Origin player.
“Although Jeremiah is only 19 and has played about 13 games, he has been really exciting.
“He has brought some fresh energy to the right-hand side of the Cowboys. He loves chasing kicks and I see that as a great sign of someone wanting to be in the game and in the action.
“You don’t see many back-rowers chasing kicks like Jeremiah does.
“I don’t look at age, I look at actions. That will tell me if someone deserves an opportunity in Origin.
“Just because you are 28, it doesn’t mean you belong in the Origin team.
“I’m not concerned about Jeremiah’s lack of NRL games played.”
Nanai is not the only Cowboy on Slater’s radar.
Feldt debuted last season and is a frontline contender for a wing berth, while incumbent Maroon Holmes is set for a move infield to wear the Queensland No.3 jumper after his sizzling shift to centre at the Cowboys this season.
Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow impressed in his Maroons debut in last year’s decider, although ‘The Hammer’ is fighting to retain his Origin spot as he makes his way back from injury on the Cowboys bench.
Cotter, meanwhile, has emerged as North Queensland’s ironman and is tailor made for Origin with his workrate, averaging 125 metres per game and amassing 95 tackles in the past fortnight — including 54 against the Eels.
“There is a lot to like about the Cowboys and their improvement is good for Queensland’s Origin stocks,” Slater said.
“I like the fact Reuben Cotter has gone through adversity, he’s had a few knee reconstructions. He is one guy I have enjoyed watching over the past six weeks. He’s a Queenslander and I want our players playing consistent football with the type of physical and mental toughness that Reuben shows.
More CoverageOrigin: Slater makes a call to Brisbane smokyFans left bloodied after ‘disgraceful’ Magic Round brawl
“Val has done a brilliant job in the centres. His leg speed makes him dangerous and he is playing well in a vibrant team.
“We haven’t had great depth in that centre position in recent years so Val is a real boost for us in that area.”
Originally published as NRL 2022: Cowboys win 36-12 over Tigers, Jackson Hastings crowd abuse