From The Couch 2011: Round 2

Filed in From The Couch, NRL by on March 22, 2011

The Necessity of Monday Night Football: The Daily Telegraph reported on Monday that there would be no Monday Night Football after the new television deal was negotiated with clubs pushing for the Monday night game to be slashed because crowds are traditionally down. There is no more short-sighted organisation in sport than that of the rugby league club and their bosses, the same fools that have held rugby league back for so long.

The article quoted Shane Richardson, who called Monday Night Football a “disgrace” getting confirmation from David Gallop that the move away from Monday night’s is a “very real option”.

Shane Richardson should concentrate more on getting his team the right players and coaches to win a game before he concerns himself with scheduling matters. The short-sightedness of scrapping Monday night football would be too much to bear and may force me to even watch ten minutes of a Waratahs match or the like. The disgrace would be if it was cancelled.

Yes, crowds for Monday night games aren’t what they would be on a Friday night or a Sunday afternoon. But the NRL pays compensation to all clubs and if clubs showed some initiative, like the Tigers often do by playing these games at suburban grounds as one example, then clubs will break even.

All that isn’t important though. Monday night is about the television fan and the long-term growth of the game. Monday night is about putting league on four nights per week. Monday night is about putting league on in a competition-free timeslot. Monday night is about putting league on when most punters stay in. Monday night is about growing the game nationally.

Not only should the NRL keep Monday night football, they should sell it to One HD, who would broadcast it nationally. Nothing would help rugby league’s growth than having the best television product in the world given a free run into unchartered waters.

The NRL cannot bend over as self-interested clubs attempt to dictate terms and once again stifle growth. Stand up David Gallop. Be counted. Keep Monday night football.

It is also imperative that the debate over a fixed versus a flexible schedule be kept separate. Shane Richardson’s biggest concern seems to be the ability of Fox Sports to pick who plays on Monday night, just as Nine gets to pick who plays on a Friday night. Broadcasters should not play any role in selecting matches, least of all Nine, who continue to rape the game. Whether it is a fixed schedule or the NRL allotting games now, the NRL must produce a fair draw that is decided without input from the broadcasters.

Most importantly though, the NRL must keep Monday night football.

The Resurrection of Tony Tupou: There was no NRL player more excited than Anthony “Tony” Tupou to hear of Ricky Stuart’s ascension/demotion (personally, I lean towards demotion) to New South Wales coach. For reasons not entirely clear, Ricky Stuart finds himself with a permanent erection whenever Tupou’s name is mentioned. Stuart took Tupou from the Roosters to the Sharks with him and Anthony Tupou’s entire Test career began and ended with Ricky Stuart’s reign as international coach. Stuart loves Tupou despite the fact Tupou is nothing but a lazy fringe runner who rarely offers anything in either attack or defence. Either Anthony Tupou has a gift for fellatio or Ricky Stuart has a different understanding of rugby league than I do but whatever the case, Anthony Tupou is now right in contention for an Origin jersey. It doesn’t matter than he does not rate in the best 56 backrowers in the NRL, Ricky Stuart loves him. And the smart money is on him getting an Origin recall.

I’m Too Old for this Shit: I couldn’t help but bend over in laughter when Fox commentator Gary Belcher referred to Rhys Wesser as Danny Glover. The comparison is apt and as Rhys Wesser walked off the field after a critical sin binning and another ordinary performance, I swear he muttered under his breath “I’m too old for this shit”.

Video Referee System Overhaul: I have advocated this before but I shall push it again. It is time for a total overhaul of the video refereeing system so that decisions are put back in the hands of the on-field officials.

I can live with the on-field screw up in the Feleti Mateo try. What I cannot live with is the stupidity that provided Ben Pomeroy with his second try and the Sharks with the winner. Pomeroy clearly bounced it yet the clown in the box reached to award it and subsequently did. A disgrace.

A complete overhaul his required. This does not mean the end of video replay. It means the end of the video referee.

It is time we introduce a challenge system similar to that employed in the NFL. It will work like this.

  • Teams are given two incorrect challenges per match
  • Challenges are unlimited if they are proven correct
  • The penalty for an incorrect challenge is the loss of an interchange
  • Teams cannot challenge if they are out of interchanges
  • The captain will make the challenge though he may be advised from the sideline
  • Challenges are limited to the try-scoring play
  • The on-field referee must make a decision and that decision stands unless there is conclusive evidence to overturn the original call
  • The on-field referee will analyse the video for a maximum of 1 minute with booths located behind each goal-line
  • Video referees are abolished
  • Benefit of the doubt is abolished

The benefits of such a system are plentiful. It allows the benefits of technology to be used while circumventing bitter and arrogant ex-referees. It re-empowers the on-field officials, forcing them to make decisions. By forcing the on-field official to also act as a video referee with a burden of proof that calls for overwhelming evidence, it eliminates the ticky-tacky and nit-picky decisions currently made by video referees. The system is essentially designed to ensure egregious errors are mended but the nit-picking and illogical awarding of tries is removed from the sport. This new system is not perfect but it is sure as hell better than what we have at the moment. And the quicker we rid ourselves of Bill Harrigan and his like, the better off we all will be.

Injury Update: Things were a bit quieter on the injury front this week but some big names still went down.

Scott Anderson (Brisbane): Missed the Broncos game after going down in the warm-up with a torn calf that will sideline him for a month.

Travis Burns (Penrith): Got a hamstring twinge and came off 21 minutes from time against Parramatta. Unlikely for this week, handing Arana Taumata his first cap for the club.

Liam Fulton (Tigers): Did a shoulder in round one and will miss six weeks in a critical loss for the Tigers, who will find it hard to cover Fulton’s versatility.

Dane Gagai (Brisbane): Was having an ordinary game against the Raiders when he appeared to hurt an ankle. There has been no report on him subsequently, so the guessing is that he will be right in a week or two.

Kevin Gordon (Gold Coast): Did his ACL after 50 minutes and his season is now over, leaving the Titans even thinner in the three-quarter line than they already are. Big loss for the Gold Coast.

Isaac John (New Zealand): The promising Warriors playmaker was going okay, filling in for the suspended James Maloney when he hobbled off with a knee injury. John had his season finished by a knee injury in 2010. He would likely have been dumped anyway after coach Cleary called the side “rudderless” but that omission now seems forced.

Sika Manu (Melbourne): The injury prone Storm bulldozer has been in outstanding form but hurt his calf and will likely miss at least one week though he has been named.

David Shillington (Canberra): The big Raiders prop limped off against the Broncos in what looked a nasty knee injury but there was minimal swelling and it looks like he will be back to play the Tigers this week.

David Stagg (Canterbury): A late withdrawal on Sunday after a supposed quad injury. Fantasy teams, including that of yours truly, were killed as a result.

Michael Weyman (St George-Illawarra): Went down with a serious groin injury in the 18th minute against the Sharks and there was immediate concern from opponent Paul Gallen. Weyman was not seen again. He is injury prone and has had groin problems in the past so he is expected to be out at least two months, which will wreak havoc with the Dragons prop rotation.

Tony Williams (Manly): Went over on an ankle, which is always worrying with big men like him and more so considering Manly’s injury worries out wide. Stayed on though and should be right to go this week.

One to Watch: Gareth Widdop has only a handful of first grade games and has shifted to five-eighth for the first time in his life this season but is already playing like a seasoned professional. He has slotted straight into the playmaking role at the Storm and was brilliant again in carving up the Titans. He is a player with time and smarts and is going to be a superstar. He will one day be a part of the new “Big Four” at the storm. His poise is really something to behold. Expect big things from the young Englishman.

Field Goal Watch: Round two of the 2011 season was an outstanding weekend for the field goal. Daly Cherry-Evans slotted one as a matter of insult on the final siren against the Roosters. Brett Seymour took a couple of shots. Chris Sandow once again went the early crow, giving the Bunnies a one-point buffer before 70 minutes only to again see the lead squandered and the Bunnies lose by more than a converted try. It was the four straight game that Sandow has kicked a field goal and the Bunnies have been rolled. At least John Lang respected it. Even Cory Paterson tried to cure his depression by slotting an unlikely one-pointer. It was a sensational weekend for lovers of the field goal.

Twelve Impostors I Hope Never Play First Grade Again:

  • Clinton Toopi: Gutless impostor
  • Paul Whatuira: Old impostor
  • Steve Michaels: Talentless impostor
  • Michael Bani: Hapless impostor
  • Chris Hicks: Returning impostor
  • Chris Walker: Journeyman impostor
  • Krisnan Inu: Overrated impostor
  • Wade McKinnon: Slow impostor
  • Rhys Wesser: Aging impostor
  • Antonio Kaufusi: Fat impostor
  • Carl Webb: Lazy impostor
  • Ben Roberts: Stupid impostor

Worst Joke of the Week: This goes out to Simon Woolford, who made some convoluted and unfunny yet clearly premeditated joke during the Newcastle-North Queensland game. It was something about waiting for Prince William to land at the Townsville airport and not collecting his own bags. There was no punchline. Seriously, this recap is nearly 100% accurate. The joke was so bad, Andy Raymond caned him from the box. Dreadful.

Well Done: Luxbet deserves a pat on the back for throwing up player stat markets including tackle and run metre head-to-heads as well as tackle and run metre groups. These are outstanding markets to bet into if you are a fantasy player and should win Luxbet plenty of clients. Keep reading Making The Nut for the best tips as Cliff Bingham and myself fire a few tips out. 

Fun Fact: Ten coaches from the ’97 Super League season coached in first grade that season. Three remain head coaches in the NRL (Wayne Bennett, Tim Sheens, John Lang) and have won six of the subsequent 13 premierships. A fourth coach (Mal Meninga) has gone on to lead Queensland to a record five straight Origin series wins while another is now coaching in Super League (Royce Simmons, St Helens). Seven of the 10 Super League coaches went on to coach at either international or State of Origin level (Bennett, Sheens, Lang, Chris Anderson, Meninga, Graham Murray and Frank Endacott).

Not one coach from the 1997 ARL season went on to win another premiership in the reunified competition with Brian Smith the only remaining coach from that season. Bob Fulton, Phil Gould and Malcolm Reilly all won titles before ’98 but never recaptured that glory post-Super League. Five coaches went on to mentor at international or Origin level: Bob Fulton, Phil Gould, Wayne Pearce, Tom Raudonikis and David Waite.

Power Rankings:

1. Melbourne (2-0) LW:3  R:1-3

2. Canterbury (2-0) LW:2  R: 2

3. St George-Illawarra (1-1) LW:1  R: 1-3

4. Wests Tigers (1-1) LW:6  R: 4-6

5. Newcastle (2-0) LW:7  R: 5-7

6. Canberra (1-1) LW:4  R :4-6

7. Sydney Roosters (1-1) LW:5  R: 5-7 

8. Brisbane (1-1) LW: 14  R: 8-14

9. Manly (1-1) LW: 13  R: 9-13

10. Penrith (1-1) LW: 15  R: 10-15

11. Cronulla (1-1) LW: 16  R: 11-16

12. Gold Coast (0-2) LW: 9  R: 9-12

13. Parramatta (1-1) LW: 8  R: 8-13

14. New Zealand (0-2) LW: 12  R: 12-14

15. South Sydney (0-2) LW: 10  R: 10-14

16. North Queensland (1-1) LW: 11  R:  11-16

LW: Last Week

R: Range

Rumour Mill: It will be very interesting to see what comes of any police investigation into wooden spoon betting on the Melbourne Storm last year. If police are as diligent in this case as they have been in the Tandy affair, they may reveal some very interesting connections with one prominent official. There is no doubt there was a leak: many heard about the likelihood of severe sanctions before the match. The interest is where the leak came from. On rugby league betting, the rumour mill has it that one player who did not play in the Canterbury-North Queensland match cleaned up when betting the first scoring play to be a Cowboys try at the inflated odds. He reportedly let it be known that names would be named if a penalty was taken off the bat. The word coming out of Redfern is that Joel Clinton is on the radar, set to replace the injured Scott Geddes. Signing Clinton would certainly fit the South Sydney MO of all bluster and little substance. The drums are beating fairly hard that Wayne Bennett is on his way to Newcastle when the Tinkler bid is complete. Bennett is most concerned about money and the care that will be required for his two disabled children once he and his wife pass on and Bennett will have no qualms taking a massive cheque from Nathan Tinkler if it provides added security for his children. All is not well at the Roosters. An off-season that was anything but ideal is starting to reap what was sowed.

Betting Market of the Week:

Greg Inglis to eat a triple cheeseburger followed by large fries:                $1.45

Greg Inglis to eat a triple cheeseburger followed by Chris Sandow:        $3.50

Greg Inglis to undertake some form of non-eating exercise:                     $11.00

Greg Inglis to contribute to a South Sydney victory        :                               $15.00

The professionalism shown by Greg Inglis in his preparation for this season sums it up. He wants the big money and he wants the pies but he doesn’t want to put any work in. South Sydney fans laughed at me when I said the Storm won out of the Champion-Inglis switch. They aren’t smiling now as the 120kg Inglis, on somewhere around the $500,000 a season mark, gets completely manhandled by Jamal Idris while Beau Champion slips seamlessly into the cracking Storm backline. Idris not only ran around Inglis, who now has the acceleration of Cliff Young circa 2002 and the turning circle of a 70 series John Deere STS combine harvester. Idris not only pummelled Inglis like he was the heavy bag of Mike Tyson. Inglis was disinterested and unenthusiastic, looking like he spent more time considering how to spend his weekly pay cheque than he did the game plan. Greg Inglis was knocked out by Jamal Idris and the makings of that KO came in January, when Idris was working hard on the track as Inglis sat about devouring every sausage roll in the Redfern area.

Unwittingly True Back-and-Forth: Craig Ferguson and David Duchovny were discussing a set of kangaroo testicles Ferguson has on set. “They can’t be kangaroo balls, they are too small, they must be wallaby balls.” Make of that what you will, you rugby union skirt-lifters. 

The Willie M Medal: Willie Mason may have landed with a splash in the English Super League but in these parts he is, to borrow a line from Shane MacGowan, “a bum and a punk and an old slut on junk”. Disruptive, gutless, selfish and stupid, this award honours those following in his footsteps.

A personal note: Clinton Toopi would get triple points this week if it were allowed. He turned in the most pathetic, disgraceful performance I have seen in a quarter-century of rugby league viewing and should never play first grade again. He embarrassed rugby league with his lack of effort on Saturday night and if he never plays again it will be too soon.

Round Two Votes

Parramatta v Penrith

3-Chris Hicks (Par)

2-Jeff Robson (Par)

1-Tim Mannah (Par)

Canberra v Brisbane

3-Matt Orford (Can)

2-Daniel Vidot (Can)

1-Ben Hunt (Brs)

Melbourne v Gold Coast

3-Clinton Toopi (GC)

2-Preston Campbell (GC)

1-Steve Michaels (GC)

Wests Tigers v New Zealand

3-Feleti Mateo (NZ)

2-Brett Seymour (NZ)

1-Krisnan Inu (NZ)

North Queensland v Newcastle

3-James Tamou (NQ)

2-Michael Bani (NQ)

1-Ray Thompson (NQ)

South Sydney v Canterbury

3-Greg Inglis (Sou)

2-Dylan Farrell (Sou)

1-Corey Payne (Cant)

Sydney Roosters v Manly

3-Nate Myles (Roo)

2-Tony Williams (Man)

1-Jason Ryles (Roo)

Cronulla v St George-Illawarra

3-Darius Boyd (Stg)

2-Brett Morris (Stg)

1-Matt Cooper (Stg)


5: Feleti Mateo

What I Like About…Cameron Smith: Cameron Smith digs kicking duels and wants to bring them back. In the Toyota Cup match between Canterbury and South Sydney, with Cameron Smith in the commentary box, Smith called for the kicking duel to be brought back into rugby league. His excitement was palpable when the prospect of a kicking duel arose and he talked about bringing them back. Do it Cam. Do it. If anyone will, it will be you.

Round Two Selection Notes:

Parramatta: Paul Whatuira and Chris Hicks can almost certainly be considered busts after being dropped to NSW Cup after two inept performances against the Panthers. Chris Walker returns. Anthony Mitchell still cannot get a start over Matt Keating for the bench hooker role.

South Sydney: John Lang has resisted the calls for mass change, naming an unchanged lineup for round three. The pressure continues to mount on the likes of Rhys Wesser, Dave Taylor and Greg Inglis to perform.

Brisbane: The Broncs receive a huge boost this week with Justin Hodges and Ben Hannant back in for Scott Anderson and the injured Dane Gagai. Those two will have a field day if the Titans are as pathetic defensively as they were last week.

Gold Coast: John Cartwright has rightly swung the axe after the embarrassing loss to the Storm. Clinton Toopi, the worst player in the NRL, is out as is Luke Capewell. Esi Tonga replaces the injured Kevin Gordon while Bodene Thompson moves into the centres for Toopi. Greg Bird shifts to five-eighth while Anthony Laffranchi returns in the backrow. Brad Meyers may also play.

Penrith: The Panthers are looking decidedly shaky with Travis Burns out hurt and Brad Tighe suspended. Adrian Purtell will come into the team at right centre meaning Penrith are fielding both Adrian Purtell and David Simmons in the one three-quarter line. Ugly. Luke Lewis shifts to five-eighth with Matt Bell playing lock. Nathan Smith is still out hurt. New signing and sure-fire bust Timana Tahu will likely be a late inclusion on the bench, probably for Sandor Earl.

Cronulla: Shane Flanagan has rightly rewarded his courageous outfit that rolled the Dragons by keeping the starting thirteen. Paul Aiton replaces Sturt Flanagan on the bench.

Wests Tigers: It's a double Schirnack attack from the bench. That probably isn't great news for the Tigers faithful, who are still missing Liam Fulton and Gareth Ellis.

Canberra: Josh Dugan remains out, reportedly only making it through three-quarters of training on Monday. There are concerns that he may actually have a bout of oesteitis pubis, which would cruel the Raiders chances no end. Brett White returns from suspension on the bench. David Furner has again opted for two hookers.

New Zealand: Ivan Cleary has made only one change, bringing back James Maloney for the injured Isaac John. Hopefully Cleary plays workhorse defender Micheal Luck the full 80 minutes this week.

St George-Illawarra: Graceful former English bat David Gower replaces "Horse" Weyman in the front row with Horse looking like he could be out for an extended period. Expect a reshuffle closer to game day with Dean Young a chance to come back and Kyle Stanley a hope of keeping a spot on the bench.

Canterbury: No Ben Roberts again! Grand times, special times, memorable times. David Stagg returns from a niggling injury, forcing Corey Payne to the pine and Chris Armit to reserve grade. Steve Turner and Dene Halatau can both consider themselves lucky to retain their positions.

SydneyRoosters: No changes for Brian Smith though come Sunday, he will have plenty to annoy the punters.

Manly: Jason King and Glenn Stewart return to a Manly side riding high after a memorable win over the Chooks.

Newcastle: Still no Adam MacDougall-surprise, surprise. Just retire already and stop annoying fantasy owners who may have picked you up as a backup centre in the latter rounds. Kurt Gidley is back in the one jersey, which is a huge boost to the Knights.

North Queensland: Hallelujah, that fool Neil Henry has finally dropped Michael Bani and selected Kalifa Faifai-Loa. It is about goddamn time. Henry has also given a chance to promising young forward James Segeyaro. Sadly, the Sims boys still remain.

Melbourne: Justin O'Neill has held out the returning Matt Duffie for a wing position after Melbourne's thumping of the Titans.

Pub Conversation of the Week:

Tedeschi: “By God, Robert Lui is 21 going on 46. He has to be the oldest player in the NRL.”

Monica: “Robert Lui: the Benjamin Button of the NRL.”

From Deep in the Bowels of Twitter:

Wests Tigers backrower Mark Flanagan to South Sydney forward Sam Burgess: “How come your head hasn't changed since you used to be Huddersfield Giants mascot?”

Clinton Toopi, after getting dropped for round three: " Getting dropped is like getting injured, hurts ya mentally. Disappointments come and go. Just gotta pick urself up!!! Proactive not reactive"

Nick Tedeschi to Clinton Toopi: "Clinton Toopi, you have played your last game ever. How does that sit with you mentally?"

Coaching Stocks

5: Wayne Bennett: Is Benny a serial paedophile? No. A loss to Cronulla won’t hurt him.

5: Craig Bellamy: Even at 28-0 up at the break, he doesn’t let up. That’s why he is great.

4: John Cartwright: Horrible loss to the Storm and has selection dramas ahead.

4: Tim Sheens: Seems to be in demand and has a pretty good team on his hands.

3.5: Brian Smith: Horrible loss that may be indicative of a long season ahead.

3.5: Kevin Moore: The Dogs are off to a flying start and beat Bunnies without top team.

3.5: Des Hasler: Monster win with depleted team. Wins like that are why he is loved.

3: Stephen Kearney: Welcome back to reality, Stephen Kearney.

3: David Furner: Brutal home loss to Brisbane but there were excuses in the halves.

3: Rick Stone: The most underrated coach in the NRL who should be a long-termer.

2.5: Ivan Cleary: Gallant in defeat against the Tigers without their best player.

1.5: Matt Elliott: Bounced back well against Parra but still questions over off-season.

1.5: Anthony Griffin: Huge first win and seems to have the Broncos ticking over.

1: Shane Flanagan: The best Sharks win in many years has brought him lots of time.

0: John Lang: Lang deserves better than this for his last season.

-7: Neil Henry: Another humiliating home loss has him close to being fired.

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 2: South Sydney-Canterbury, 19-28. The match was billed as a battle between superstar centres Greg Inglis and Jamal Idris but the main event provided much of the disappointment seen in modern boxing as Jamal Idris dominated Greg Inglis in every facet of the game, the highlight coming as Idris got on the outside of Inglis after a delightful backline move from Canterbury and burned the international, who did not lay a mitten on the rising star. The Bunnies dominated early but Canterbury somehow led at half-time before the Bunnies fought their way to the lead with eight to play. Canterbury came good, however, holding the ball for the last six minutes to score two tries, the first to put them in the lead and the second to cover the spread.

Obscure Score of the Week: Limoux-Montpellier, 80-10. The Grizzlies destroyed Montpellier in a cup tie, led by skipper Mickael Murcia.and Welsh trio Geraint Davies, Gareth Dean and Anthony Blackwood. The Grizzlies have gone 10-6 this season in the Elite One Championship.

The Life and Times of the Special Needs Penguin: Penguins love the rain and seemingly Ben Pomeroy is no different, turning in perhaps his finest performance in first grade as his two tries helped guide the Sharks to a miraculous and unexpected victory against the Dragons. Pomeroy didn’t really do much. He fell on one and then knocked another on but it is about as good as it gets for the Special Needs Penguin.

Fantasy Team of the Week:

1. Lachlan Coote (Pen)

2. Ashley Graham (NQ)

3. Jamal Idris (Cant)

4. Blake Ayshford (Tig)

5. David Simmons (Pen)

6. Benji Marshall (Tig)

7. Daly Cherry-Evans (Man)

13. Corey Parker (Bri)

12. Paul Gallen (Cro)

11. Andrew Ryan (Cant)

10. Tremt Merrin (Dra)

9. Cameron Smith (Mel)

8. Aiden Tolma (Cant)


14. Anthony Watmough (Man)

15. Cory Paterson (New)

16. Chris Heighington (Tigers)

17. Simon Mannering (NZ)

Waiver Wire Advice: Those chasing down their private league title should stay pat this week, saving their remaining trades for in-season as long as they are happy with their team and key players are injury free. This week should be treated as the final trial. There is no point in risking anything that could cost you later in the season.

Beard Watch: Michael Bani has opted for the shaved head and beard this season, a popular look among many bears in the gay community. “Bani, fuck the women from Wellfleet, fuck the bears from Provincetown, heed my words and take flight.” That should go well. While I fancy the look, it is doing the talent-less winger no help not fucking up.

Watch It: There have been few documentaries that have ever exhibited the spirit, the working class nature and the passion than the 1969 Roger Mills made “The Game That Got Away”. It is a brilliant look at league in the north of England, the oppression the game suffered and the brutality of the toughest sport in the world.  The film focuses on the Featherstone Rovers and has some amazing footage that is just a delight to watch for any rugby league fan. Watch part one here.

Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images AsiaPac

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  1. Keyboard Rambo says:

    Wade McKinnon, Dave Taylor, Anthony Tupou, Feliti Mateo, Mark Gasnier remind me of people who wear helmets on minibuses.