1. Barba questions

Questions prompted by the emergence of a photo of a woman who claimed to have been punched by Ben Barba: How was this not a cover-up, given that the highest-profile NRL player at the time was suspended by his club and we weren’t told why?

If this allegation was related to domestic violence, was the alleged victim protecting her own income by not reporting it to police?

If Barba’s mental state was the reason for keeping it quiet, and if he did not complete his counselling, why was he been allowed to return to the field?

How can the NRL employ, in a senior position, an official who allegedly presided over such a cover-up?

Should the claim have been reported to the police by the Bulldogs?

Next time a player is stood down for ”personal issues”, should we just assume that they are lying when they say there was no underlying incident?2. Caretaker or undertaker

Is there a worse gig in rugby league than that of caretaker coach? You can be rated as the next big thing but if your boss happens to get sacked and you have to fill in for him for a few weeks, chances are your career will be set back half a decade.

Think Steve Georgallis, Brad Arthur, Ian Millward  … and Andrew Dunemann. Dunemann’s added  headache is that he is a contender for the North Queensland job.

The Raiders being beaten on his watch won’t help, but he could hardly say so, could he? “We’re happy with ‘Duners’,” hat-trick centre Jarrod Croker said.

“We want to play for Duners. I know it didn’t look like it but we are busting our backsides for him and we wanted to come out and prove a point.”

The Raiders learnt of teammate Sandor Earl’s drugs-infraction notice when they hit Auckland on Thursday.3. Green with empathy

Matthew Elliott says it took him a long while to get over his departure from the Canberra Raiders and has sympathy for their current plight.

On the same weekend when Wayne Bennett saw fit to discuss Brisbane’s proud finals record after they missed the play-offs for the second time in 21 years, Elliott said: “I’ve really got massive fondness for the Raiders. They gave me my first opportunity and I love the club. I’m very confident that they’ll get back on track. I didn’t always see eye to eye with the administrators but I know how much they care and I know how keen they are to help that team do well. Man, they’ve got some real talent. I know we’re talking about players who are leaving but I watched their under-20s game and they’ve got some good players coming through.’’4. X-Factor meets Flash Gordon

”X-factor” has become one of rugby league’s abiding cliches and while it annoys many, Gold Coast winger-cum-fullback Kevin Gordon has embraced it.

Using Instagram’s new video feature, he recently mocked up a “segment” in which he was a contestant on the TV show of that name.

“I’m into X-Factor this year, I’ve been watching it,’ said the Philippine international. “So I put myself in it, singing my song Get it to Gordon. I filmed the judges [from the TV] and filmed myself, then filmed the judges and edited it together so it looked like I’m talking to the judges and the judges are talking to me.”

Gordon did a variation on Michael Jackson’s one-glove routine when he played in the win over the Roosters with one boot, because James Maloney threw the other into the bay at the southern end of the ground.5. Coupe de SBW?

New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney, speaking on radio  on Friday night, said he still didn’t know whether Sonny Bill Williams was available for the World Cup but may have given a hint of the Sydney Roosters’ intentions by saying SBW “has a title to defend”.

That’s a reference to the New Zealand heavyweight boxing title. Those who expect Williams to box instead of going to the World Cup expect him to aim higher than that. At the very least, it indicates the New Zealand title has been raised as an issue with Kearney.

The Kiwis have an extended 38-man squad with which they communicate over training camps and travel arrangements.

SBW and Benji Marshall remain part of that group. Kearney admits he is willing to give Williams as long as it takes to make a call.6. Using your head

A shoulder charge is not a shoulder charge if you wrap your arms around your opponent — and the same seems to go for aggressive use of the head.

Queensland and Gold Coast forward Nate Myles said nothing when he was criticised by NSW players for leading with his head in Origin but had plenty to say when he was struck on Sunday in the melon by Sydney Rooster Sam Moa.

He suffered a suspected torn syndesmosis of the ankle as he fell, likely ending his season. Before Moa was placed on report for a shoulder charge (the head seemed to be the initial point of contact), Myles used so many expletives as he stumbled around that referee Dave Munro advised colleague Matt Cecchin to caution him.

Taking pity on the badly injured international, Cecchin let it slide.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.