Fair Dinkum Department: Does Luke Keary need a role change to re-ignite Roosters?

Welcome to ‘The Fair Dinkum Department’, where we dissect the biggest debates to come out of the last weekend of NRL action and assess whether they’re a case of ‘real’ or ‘ridiculous’.

Here’s how we’re seeing things after round eight.

Luke Keary needs the No. 6 back to re-ignite Roosters

Real or ridiculous? Ridiculous

Some have attributed the Roosters’ slow start to the season to Luke Keary and Sam Walker’s partnership on the field.

Keary played next to no football last season, out injured with an ACL, while Walker burst onto the scene in his absence and led the Roosters’ attack.

With Keary returning this season there was vast anticipation for how his partnership with Walker would lead the Roosters to another premiership, but so far it simply hasn’t gone to plan.

Keary looks burdened by the responsibility as the more experienced player of leading the team around the park with the No. 7 on his back, and there’s a sentiment emerging that until he can play with the freedom he’s used to having playing five-eighth, their issues will continue.

But a role change would be a band-aid solution and wouldn’t achieve anything in terms of re-igniting the attack.

MORE: What we learned from round eight

Keary has shown in the past he’s capable of being the go-to man in attack, such as in the 2018 Grand Final, when he was forced to do most of the playmaking with Cooper Cronk hindered by a shoulder injury and led the Roosters to victory over the Storm.

Keary, Walker and the Roosters in general just need time, and as they’ve shown in the past, all it could take is a commanding win to set them back on the right path.

Luke Keary

Kalyn Ponga shouldn’t be Newcastle’s captain

Real or ridiculous? Real

Kalyn Ponga is the face of the Knights, their No. 1 player and at the moment the only one that seems to be having a genuine crack on the field.

However, off the field in addressing the Knights current woes, his leadership has been deeply exposed over the last couple of weeks, raising serious questions around whether or not he’s ready for the added responsibilities that come with the captaincy.

Ponga has been somewhat unexpectedly thrust into the role, whereas he’d usually be sharing the duties with the injured Jayden Brailey. But his readiness for the role altogether has come under the microscope, particularly after a certain moment following the Knights’ 50-2 loss to Melbourne on Sunday.

The 24-year-old was asked on Fox League how he’d address the players following the defeat as captain, to which he replied: “Probably not much… I don’t know. I did a fair bit of talking throughout the week but I don’t know. I’ll think of something.”

While it points just as much to the fact the Knights as an organisation are simply out of answers, it was hardly the type of message Knights fans will have wanted from their captain.

Don’t get us wrong: Ponga is an outstanding leader with his actions on the field. However, it’s becoming clear in the midst of Newcastle’s form slump that he’s lacking the fundamental ability to drive a message to players and fans of the struggling club.

Perhaps a player like Tyson Frizell or David Klemmer would be a more suitable option at this stage to allow Ponga to focus solely on his own form.

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Karl Lawton’s tackle on Cameron Murray wasn’t send-off worthy

Real or ridiculous? Ridiculous

Phil Gould and Brad Fittler’s claims that Karl Lawton didn’t deserve to be sent off for his tackle on Cameron Murray are way off.

Lawton will sit out the next month after a tipping tackle on the Rabbitohs captain that saw the Sea Eagles forward marched in the 40-22 loss.

Murray’s body was far past the horizontal and the back of his head hit the turf before anything else, in what was one of the worst tackles seen in a long time.

The decision to send off Lawton was a no-brainer yet Gould and Fittler immediately made headlines after the match when they scoffed at the call.

“It’s a little bit of a flip but to be sent off for that when there’s absolutely no injury to the other player, I find that extraordinary,” Gould said on Channel Nine.

“You want your prime time TV show to now be 12 on 13, if that’s your product I give up.”

“I thought that could have been an awful lot worse and I really can’t believe Lawton is walking past me on the sideline,” added Fittler.

Sorry, but if that’s not a send-off, then they may as well scrap the rule altogether.

With the number of variables that go into tackling in the game today, it doesn’t take much for a shot like Lawton’s to become more severe and land the opposing player in serious trouble, as we saw with Alex McKinnon back in 2014.

Karl Lawton Manly Sea Eagles

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