NRL fans were divided over whether Sydney Roosters player Joseph Manu faked an injury in the win over Dragons
Roosters star Joseph Manu delivered perhaps his greatest game NRL career in the team’s 28-point win over the Dragons on Saturday, but fans were divided over a moment he faked a leg injury before making a try.
Manu, who spent much of his Roosters career with 131 games in the centers, was a superlative with five eighths; He scored two tries, set up two more, ran almost 200 yards and made three line breaks.
One of those line breaks came under scrutiny, with Manu appearing to fake a leg injury or cramp before singeing through the Dragons defense and launching a try.
Commentators were divided on whether he was actually having a cramp or just faking it – but either way they were in disbelief at what they had just witnessed.
With just 10 minutes left in the game, Manu got the ball 35 yards from the Roosters’ try line before stopping and latching onto the back of his leg, causing the defense to stop.
He then sprinted through a gap between Dragons defenders Billy Burns and Blake Lawrie, overcame a Moses Mbye tackle and put down a superbly weighted cultivator for Paul Momirovski, who scored.
Paul Momirovski scores a try from Joseph Manus Grubber in the Roosters’ win on Saturday
One fan asked: “Is Manu’s fake cramp the most unsportsmanlike play in NRL history?” while another believed, even if it was fake, the defenders should have “played to the whistle”.
“Oh no, the knee, wait Manu, well, what was he doing there? He sold the dummy with a knee injury, it’s a fake knee injury that gave Momirovski a try,” exclaimed Fox League commentator Andrew Voss as the moment unfolded.
“We all stopped, the doctor is almost out there and Manu took off to arrange the attempt.”
Joseph Manu (centre) bursts through the tackle of number 14 Moses Mbye after faking an injury before setting up a try for Roosters center Paul Momirovski
Fellow commentator Shane Flanagan wasn’t exactly sure if it was a sneaky act or not.
“I don’t know if it’s a fake injury, I think he got a cramp, he saw the room openly and said, ‘I have to take it, whether I have a cramp or not,'” he said in the Broadcast .
Voss, at his effervescent best, summed up the moment with great power.
“What a beauty, Manu, the cramp, the fibber, then takes off to prepare the attempt,” he laughed.
Joseph Manu (center) was superlative for the Roosters in their dominant win over St George
Manu himself admitted that a bit of “foxing” may have taken place before the attempt.
“My calf has been a bit tight for the past few weeks but it’s just been a little bit of a move on,” he said after the game.
Fans were divided on whether it was clever or bad form.
“Disgraceful sportsmanship,” wrote one Twitter user, while another wrote it was “shameful conduct,” before one wrote the act was “wildly against the spirit of the game.”
Even the official Dragons account got in on the action, calling it “boy who called wolf stuff.”
Joseph Manu (left) celebrates with his half partner Sam Walker (right)
However, some said it was ‘brilliant’ while another dismissed the concerns, calling Manu ‘one of the fairest, most decent and respected players in the game’.
Many also raised legitimate concerns that faking an injury could lead to players who are actually injured being attacked and further injured, as defenders may doubt whether or not it was a real injury.
For others, the “poor sportsmanship” reminded them of another act on the pitch that has sparked major debate in the footy community – NSW player Jarome Luai standing over an unconscious Selwyn Cobbo in a spiteful moment during the Queensland win .
It sparked an all-in melee with Queensland players furious at Luai’s behavior, though the man himself has denied doing the wrong thing.
Queensland players get caught up in Jarome Luai in Wednesday night’s Origin game
Many fans believed that if another player had committed the crime, it would have sparked far more outrage.
One even went so far as to write that Luai and Manu had “killed the spirit of rugby league,” similar to a tweeter who commented, “People would be furious if Latrell (Mitchell) did that.”
Roosters fans probably won’t care in the slightest, however, such was the dominance Manu showed in the five-eighth jersey.
The powerful utility stood in for an injured Luke Keary alongside boom youngster Sam Walker – and it will be quite the headache if the former is able to return.
Manu put in a similarly exceptional performance at full-back for New Zealand earlier in the season, running a remarkable 401 meters against Tonga.
Joseph Manu grabs a break for New Zealand, one of 401 yards he took for the game
After the game, Trent Robinson said he was “lucky” to coach such talented superstars as Manu.
“I’m really happy to coach guys like ‘Teddy’ (full-back James Tedesco) and Joey (Manu),” he said.
“You don’t have to coach them much at all. They know the game better than you. They have to create an environment for them to perform, that’s all our job.