Eighth Immortal Andrew Johns has raised concerns over the NRL’s 2021 match-ball claiming it feels “lighter”, “rounder” and “floats differently”.
Midway through the Storm’s season-opening win over the Rabbitohs, South Sydney halfback Adam Reynolds put up a towering bomb that caught a serious amount of air before crashing back to the turf at AAMI Park.
NRL guru Phil Gould was the first to point out he noticed the ball had floated bizarrely on its trajectory from Reynold’s boot back down to ground – and Johns couldn’t have agreed more.
The legendary halfback shared his experience with 2021’s iteration of the Steeden, claiming that despite the NRL assuring him no changes had been made to its specifications, something still felt awry.
GOULD: “Andrew am I going mad or is that ball floating funny?”
JOHNS: “I’ve been at training with the Eels and the ball feels lighter. Now, they’ve weighed the balls, they’ve measured them, they said they’re identical to the balls of past years. But for mine, they’re lighter.”
GOULD: “Would you agree, it floats differently?”
JOHNS: “It floats differently. Even the sound off the boot, it sounds different.”
GOULD: “So a new texture to the ball (perhaps)?”
JOHNS: “It feels a little bit rounder but it definitely feels lighter in your hand. And when you hit it, even the sound off the boot, it sounds a little bit different.”
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The NRL confirmed to Wide World of Sports that there have been no changes made to the physical specifications of the traditional match-day Steeden used.
“The dimensions of the ball are the same,” An NRL spokesperson told WWOS.
“The only difference is new branding through a naming rights sponsor EISS Super.”