By LARS ROY
What an intense end to the episode! I for one was not expecting Daniel to go home. Three key things to take out of that:
1. The competition is so close
2. Having the ability to make a captain's call is critical
3. Freddy means business
The quality of the NRL Rookies has already been showcased by their two wins, showing that they can play as a team as well as perform individually. This has also meant that to slip up in the slightest could easily see you in the bottom three.
Factors out of your control, such as injuries, have proven to deny the Rookies any further opportunities – as seen by Hamza Anwar's cut from the Top 28 and now Daniel Caprice being cut from the Top 14.
This week the NRL Rookies travelled to sunny Queensland with their first stop being the beautiful Moreton Island. The captains challenge involved kayaking the crystal clear waters round the Tangalooma Shipwreck before diving down underwater to retrieve an NRL Rookie flag. With the flag in hand the Rookies then had to complete the kayak leg and get to the top of what appeared to be one of the world's steepest sand dunes.
As the challenge progressed Lou showed that he was not willing to give up his captaincy, which gave him immunity for another week. Royden and Chris were also impressive whilst Karo's lack of mental drive and experience with a canoe resulted in him coming last. A few tips on paddle technique beforehand would have certainly benefited him!
There was controversy between Matt Gorman and Matt Johnstone when they crossed paths on the water. Ultimately, Matt Gorman just wanted to catch up on the week he missed, showing his competitive edge, yet some of the boys saw this as cheating. His hunger to succeed continued into the game when the coaches saw a lot of potential to use him in different positions.
This motivation only grew for the Rookies when they were given the opportunity to meet both Wally Lewis and Darren Lockyer pre game! For Elias this proved to be a life highlight!
As a result, there were no weak links, putting together a polished team performance, which saw the NRL Rookies come out 36-4 victors over the Queensland Combined Universities team.
Jordan Martin's father and former Canberra Raider, Paul Martin made the trip to watch his son play, which was well-worth it after he crossed over for a remarkable five tries in the first half. However, with the risk of tearing a hamstring the doctors encouraged Jordan to rest the second half, which he reluctantly did.
The Rookie's left edge led by Royden and Reece saw them create all sorts of problems for the Queensland defence. David was another standout and showed his ability to improve in a short amount of time, after he steamrolled his opposition on many occasions. Along with this, his short-term fitness goals were being met, which pleased the coaches.
With Elias' family in the crowd, and being the only Queenslander of the Rookies, there was a sense of added pride for the backrower who was caught blowing kisses to his girlfriend in the crowd!
However, back in Sydney in "The Sheds", both David and Matt Johnstone addressed an area of Elias's game as selfish, after running the ball on the last tackle on two occasions. Elias openly admitted there were elements of his past Rugby Union background which he needed to fix quickly. This saw Elias, Matt Gorman and Karo voted as the weakest three.
At "The Cut" Lou decided to exercise his power with the captain's call by swapping Karo for Daniel in the bottom three. This was justified due to the belief that he felt comfortable playing with Karo and unsure if Daniel could learn the rules in time – due to also coming from a Rugby Union background.
As Elias and Matt both had strong games and Daniel did not have the opportunity to play due to injury, he was the next Rookie to face the cut and leave the competition. This now leaves Luke Frixou as the sole English representative. The look on Lou's face dropped when he realised that he had single handedly influenced the elimination of the happy go lucky Daniel Caprice. It was a stern reminder from Head Coach Brad Fittler that if you choose to exercise your power then you need to be comfortable with your actions.
This has definitely put the pressure on Gary-John Hill to come back from injury. He alongside the rest of the NRL Rookies will be doing everything in their power to put their best foot forward, in order to take out this once in a life-time opportunity - to be the last Rookie standing and begin their professional rugby league career in the NRL.
Head to www.NRLROOKIE.COM to watch full catch up episodes of the NRL Rookie as well as online exclusive extras.