Cameron Murray during South Sydney Rabbitohs training ahead of their first game of the season against the Sharks. Picture. Phil Hillyard
Cameron Murray during South Sydney Rabbitohs training ahead of their first game of the season against the Sharks. Picture. Phil Hillyard

Why Bennett must admit defeat on Murray move

South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett is sticking with Cameron Murray on the edge but Brisbane great Corey Parker believes the move has an expiration date.

Bennett has switched Murray out to the left edge in 2020 after the rising forward enjoyed a breakout season in 2019 at lock, earning him a call-up into the NSW Blues.

Former Broncos backrower Parker, who played 10 seasons under Bennett at Red Hill, said that while the move was likely a defensive decision to shore up the left edge, it was still a 'kick in the teeth' to the other second rowers at the club like Queensland Maroons second rower Ethan Lowe.

"Cam Murray is a middle player every day of the week, for Wayne to put him on the edge he either doesn't have trust in some of those other guys to fulfil that role or he doesn't have the right player to put in that role," Parker said.

"Knowing Wayne he makes decisions like that based on defence but that's a kick in the teeth if that's the decision made when you have Lowe, for example, sitting on the bench."

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Murray has yet to replicate his form from last season. Digital image by Grant Trouville/NRL Photos.
Murray has yet to replicate his form from last season. Digital image by Grant Trouville/NRL Photos.

According to Fox Sports Lab, Murray's game time has increased 10 minutes per match in 2020 compared to 2019 but his overall average run metres have dropped from 91 metres in 2019 to 78 metres in 2020.

"Murray epitomises where the game is at and where the game is going, but they aren't getting the value they could be out of Cameron Murray when he's in the middle. If you just look at his numbers, you'll see his runs are down on last year," Parker said.

Bennett has been starting Murray on the left edge and playing him in the middle after about 20 minutes. It's a tactical decision that 347-game veteran Parker doesn't believe is sustainable over the long run.

"His [Bennett's] middle forwards like Tom Burgess and Liam Knight can't play huge minutes, so that gives him the opportunity when one of those guys do gas, to Murray into the middle and Lowe goes onto the edge but by that stage Murray could be 25 minutes into a game and behind the eight ball," Parker said.

Murray announced himself as one of the best locks in the world last year. Picture by Phil Hillyard.
Murray announced himself as one of the best locks in the world last year. Picture by Phil Hillyard.

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Murray, who re-signed with the Rabbitohs until the end of season 2025, was named in the second row again for Friday night's clash against the Melbourne Storm at AAMI Park.

The 22-year old backed Bennett's decision to start him on the edge and then move him back to the middle but admitted it was somewhat 'chaotic'

"I feel comfortable when I come back into the middle, I've done that for the last couple of years. It's a matter of executing my role on the edge then switching my mindset when I come onto the middle and dealing with that little bit of chaos of moving from the edge into the middle and back out to the edge. But I think it's an effective game plan and I'm with Wayne, I'm all for it," Murray said.

Should Murray go back to lock? Digital image by Shane Myers/NRL Photos.
Should Murray go back to lock? Digital image by Shane Myers/NRL Photos.

The man who has replaced Murray at lock in 2020, Liam Knight, revealed he struggled to keep up with the frantic pace of the game against the Sydney Roosters last week under the one referee and six again rule.

"100 per cent [fatigue was a factor]. I watched the first game, the Broncos and Parramatta game and it was fast. We were ready for a fast game but to be honest personally I don't think I adapted well enough and blew out pretty quick which I'm pretty upset about but I've been working hard and I'll do a better job this week," Knight said.

In team news, Patrick Mago has been named on the bench ahead of Tom Amone with centre James Roberts named on the reserves.

Originally published as Why Bennett must admit defeat on Murray move


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