David Gallop Returns to Rugby League: Anyone who reads this column and doesn’t listen to Fire Up on FBI Radio is either deaf or enjoys self-punishment because it is the best thing that you can get through your ears this side of ‘Rocky Top’.
And if you don’t listen this Friday morning at 9am, you may need to be treated by a psychiatrist or at the very least a deranged mailman because in an exclusive for the ages, they have lured David Gallop from the wilderness of soccer. It is his first rugby league interview since he was shunted out by John Grant and company.
Making The Nut is pleased to endorse a fantastic new rugby league book: The Rugby League Almanac
Written by fans for fans, The Rugby League Almanac follows in the tradition of The Footy Almanac, the very popular book that has been selling well for five years.
Edited by Nick Tedeschi and John Harms, and featuring contributions from the entire Making The Nut team, the book covers every game of the 2012 season and features some wonderful essays from Roy Masters, actor William McInnes, Nick Tedeschi and John Harms.
This week we count down the top 25 players in the NRL. Without further ado, the top 25 players of 2012.
25. Alex Glenn (Brisbane, 50)
Without question one of the most underrated players in the game, the Broncos backrower is in the top 50 for the second straight year following another excellent season where he topped Brisbane's tryscoring list with 13 (leading all forwards) and was one of the few big names at the club to play up to his ability. He also finished behind only Tony Williams and Dave Taylor in tackle breaks by forwards. Glenn is the kind of player you build a team around.
For the fifth year, Making The Nut presents the top 50 players in the NRL. Rankings are based on contribution and performance at club level in 2012 though rep performances are noted. The performance of the team is also strongly considered.
A quick note: The number in the bracket is where the player finished last year with a * indicating they didn't play in 2011. In part two, I will provide the table of where players have finished in each of the four years.
Betting in the 2012 NRL Grand Final between Canterbury and Melbourne opened pick 'em but some strong support for the Storm has seen them firm to 1.5-point favourites. Both teams enter this off three straight covers, though Canterbury were the top cover team this year. No real betting situations stand out though the Storm are 23-9 ATS as a favourite of under 6 points the last three years.
Melbourne will go into their preliminary final clash with Manly as a 2.5 to 4 point favourite. The Storm are 7-5 since the 2007 premiership decider against the Sea Eagles, including a 3-2 record in Melbourne (across three grounds). These two met in the 2007 and 2008 Grand Finals (the Storm winning in '07, the Eagles in '08) with the Storm beating Manly in the 2009 qualifying final as well. Melbourne won 26-22 when these two met at Brookvale in round 15, their only meeting this year. The Storm are 5-2 all-time in preliminary final matches while the Sea Eagles have not lost a prelim since 1975. Manly are 7-1 outside of Sydney this year while the Storm are 28-8 all-time at AAMI Park. Manly are 7-11 ATS as a road underdog since 2010 while the Storm are 24-15 ATS at home, 22-9 ATS as a fave of less than a converted try and 41-27 ATS as a favourite since 2010. The numbers are coming up Melbourne here and with both teams out of nick, that is enough for a 1 unit play on the minus.
Betting in this match is fascinating with Manly and the Cowboys at pick 'em with some joints with the Eagles getting up to 1.5 points with other joints. It has been a rough week for Manly, who lost Steve Matai to suspension and possibly Jamie Lyon, Tony Williams and Joe Galuvao to injury. Premiership favourites one week, home outsiders the second. The Eagles have won 6 of 8 against the Cowboys and have won the last four outside of Townsville, keeping the Cowboys to a total of four tries over that period. There are no real betting situations in this but one stat from AFL football stands out: the top four team who lost the qualifying final has won 22 of the last 24 semis. With the Cows still a risk in Sydney, Manly are worth a 1 unit bet.
The minor premiership was not enough to get Canterbury favouritism in their qualifying final with Manly, the Bulldogs getting 2 to 2.5 points. Manly have won 8 of the last 12 between the two teams, but the Bulldogs won the last clash between the two, winning 20-12 at Brookvale in round 20. The Eagles have won 5 of the last 6 against the Bulldogs at ANZ. The Bulldogs have won eight in a row at the ground while the Eagles seven of eight at the venue. This will be a great match but the Bulldogs have a stronger pack and the 2.5 points seems a little big. Bet the Bulldogs for 1 unit.
Newcastle are getting 3.5 to 4 points in their clash with South Sydney. The Knights have a 25-9 all-time record over the Bunnies including 11 of the last 12 in Newcastle. Souths have lost their last two on the road. The Knights have lost their last four to top five sides (all played in the last eight weeks) but played three of those on the road. The Knights are a chance here. Take the plus for 1 unit.
There is a little interest in the under here but not quite a play. Newcastle are very much an under team while the Bunnies' scoring drops on the road.