From The Couch: February 21

Filed in From The Couch, NRL by on February 21, 2012

Ten Cheers for Ten: Rugby league fans should be weak at the knees, moist under arm and chattery at the teeth over the prospect of Ten making a big-money play for the NRL.

It was reported last week that Ten chairman Lachlan Murdoch is behind a huge push for the NRL rights, either in their entirety or part thereof. The reports went as far as to say that Ten would show all eight games live a week if given the opportunity.

Ten can't jump into negotiations on an official level until June but the NRL will be smart enough to wait for their offer. Ten want to be serious players in sport and they realise that can only be achieved by having the NRL or the AFL. Lachlan Murdoch loves his league so the NRL it is.

The benefits are plentiful if the game went to Ten.

For starters, the game coverage will get a polished new look. There will be new callers, new analysts, new camerawork, new shows. The game on Nine is stale. Nothing changes around there with the focus always on hiring big names, big names that are usually morons. The Ten look will skew much younger and much edgier, exactly what the game needs.

The game will get paid plenty. If Ten is to get some part of the pie, it will pay significantly for it. It is cash the NRL needs.

Most importantly though, Ten will showcase the game nationally. They will ensure games are replayed on One, showed live across Australia on One and make sure panel shows are nationally promoted.

Moving to Ten would be perfect for rugby league.

It Didn't Take Long: The Independent Commission has been in existence just over a week and already the clubs are again seeking to win back the power lost by forming an association signed off on by all NRL chairmen and chief executives. The idea behind it is that the clubs will get what they want and if they don't, they will kick up a stink and threaten another Super League-like competition. It would be unbelievable if you didn't know rugby league. The man behind it, Nick Politis, cannot stand being away from power and is now, in what should be a great period for rugby league, trying to win it back by making the clubs more influential than they should be. It is, of course, the clubs who have put the game in trouble for 100 years. The quicker the grubs who sign up to this association are thrown out of the game, the better off we all will be.

Dragons Shift Attack: The major lesson learned from Saturday night's Charity Shield is that St George Illawarra have changed their attack with halves Jamie Soward and Ben Hornby switching sides while being given a greater licence to roam. It is a smart move from new coach Steve Price considering how disjointed the Dragons' attack was at the backend of 2011. The move of Soward to the left will ensure he is protected defensively by top defensive centre Matt Cooper while it allows him to link with the club's best line runner, Ben Creagh. Hornby, who was poor in 2011, gets to link with the more creative Chase Stanley while getting the option to step out to second receiver at times. This switch benefits the Dragons, no risk.

Nine Does The Right Thing: For once, Nine has made the right call in abandoning the cricket to ensure the first Friday night match of the season is shown live on its main channel throughout New South Wales and Queensland. It would be too much to hope, however, that the NRL would be shown throughout the rest of Australia on Gem or Go.

Kudos Freddie: I like how Brad Fittler thinks. Sure, at times, he can be a moron. But his left-field thinking occasionally hits the mark and his call for a pre-season competition just reiterates the stance of this column for many years. The NRL is missing a major opportunity not to make the trial season mean something. Crowds are already big, the game is taken to new areas and the big dogs play. The NRL simply isn't feeding the need league fans have for the game come February. We already have four weeks of trials. Those can continue in the framework of a simple knockout. Get a sponsor, make it worth something, build excitement among the fanbases, get easy television ratings. Hopefully the Independent Commission gets cracking on this must. It is so easy and so positive. It is astonishing that it hasn't come to fruition yet.

Watch Out Manly: There is no question that the World Club Challenge favours the English Super League champion. They play at home, they are more advanced in their season, they get more suitable conditions and they avoid the long round-the-world trek. So results should usually be taken with a grain of salt. But this year, Manly fans would have been horrified by how abhorrently poor the Sea Eagles were. It wasn't so much the result but the way the Eagles played. Manly were everything they weren't in 2011: ill disciplined, stupid, lacking in commitment, poor defensively. Life under Geoff Toovey is very different to life under Des Hasler, as stark as that lived by George Milton and that lived by Tom Buchanan. The Eagles were sluggish, slow at the point of attack, careless with the ball, lacking intent and, at times, downright stupid. I am not convinced Manly are a top eight team this year, particularly with a draw that sees them away from home for the first five weeks and a recent history of starting poor after premiership success.

An Annual Tradition: It has become an annual tradition every February for wonderful ideas to be tossed up regarding how to improve the World Club Challenge. Two years back it was a match in Dubai. Last year it was a tournament in Las Vegas. This year, it is the top eight teams going to Hawaii for a knockout. It would be great to liven up the World Club Challenge. At the very least, the game should be controlled by the NRL and the RFL, it should alternated countries and it should be a far bigger event than it is. It would be wonderful to have a tournament in some far off venue to spread the word. But it isn't going to happen so let's stop talking about it until rugby league can actually prove that it is capable of looking after its own backyard and is capable of making this match actually matter.

Another Stain: Issac Luke will miss the season opener after being suspended for pushing referee Jason Robinson in the Charity Shield. It is where Luke deserves to start given his recent heel turn.

Five Fantasy Sleepers: For Supercoach players or home-style fantasy players, here are five sleepers for the upcoming season.

Cameron Ciraldo (Penrith – $182,700): Backrower Ciraldo has made the move from Newcastle to Penrith and his game-time will go up markedly at the Panthers, who are struggling for class in the backrow and have lost Nigel Plum for the year. He is going to make a lot of tackles.

Tautau Moga (Sydney Roosters – $87,500): Boom Roosters 18-year-old centre who scored 38 tries in SG Ball/Toyota Cup last season. He was super impressive when I saw him at Belmore and Brian Smith won't be able to resist the temptation to play him. He is a beast.

Danny Buderus (Newcastle – $167,200): He may be 34 but Buderus is well under the odds at $167,200. Buderus will tackle all day and should get more than the average hooker in try assists, line breaks and metres. He is a real nice get.

Adam Reynolds (South Sydney – $87,500): Reynolds has well and truly locked in the No.7 jersey at Souths with a composed performance in the Charity Shield. He does a lot of nice things and in a traditionally high scoring team, can reap plenty of rewards.

Kyle Stanley (St George Illawarra – $185,000): Stanley is going to be an absolute star and is magnificent value at his price. He is going to get plenty of metres with his speed well suited to a kick return and he is going to record plenty of tries and try assists. Grab him now.

QRL Makes Move to Nine: The Queensland Cup has reportedly made the move to Nine, ditching the ABC in pursuit of the bells and whistles Nine have offered. It is a monumental mistake and one I hope the League does not go through with. Nine will talk it up for a while, show it live until it abandons it completely, showing matches only after midnight. Let's the powers-that-be reconsider and stick with Aunty, who has honoured the Queensland Cup for so very long.

James Tedesco, Star: I haven't seen him play at all but I have high hopes for young Tigers fullback James Tedesco, hoping he can do the name proud. With the likelihood of a Tedeschi in first grade small, I am hitching my wagon to Tedesco. "Tedesco, Tedesco, Tedesco".

Quote of the Week: A-League franchise owner Clive Palmer: "I did say I liked rugby league better than football".

Quote of the Week #2: A-League franchise owner Clive Palmer: "I think it's (soccer) a hopeless game. Rugby league's a much better game."

Soccer even bores club owners. What a sport.

Moniker XIII of the Week: After a stellar performance from Sam Burgess in the Charity Shield, his comeback game after an injury-ruined 2011, we this week look at the greatest Sams in premiership history.

The Sams
1. Sam Vucago (5 games for Canberra)
2. Sam Joe (2 games for Penrith)
3. Sam Tagataese (63 games for Melbourne/Gold Coast/Cronulla)
4. Sam Perrett (133 games for Sydney Roosters)
5. Sam Huihahau/Latu (4 games for Wests Tigers/South Sydney)
6. Sam Harris (64 games for Manly/Wests Tigers)
7. Sam Williams (18 games for Canberra)
13. Sam Stewart (81 games for Newcastle)
12. Sam Thaiday (147 games for Brisbane)
11. Sam Burgess (26 games for South Sydney)
10. Sam Rapira (122 games for New Zealand)
9. Sam Obst (7 games for Sydney Roosters)
8. Sam Backo (130 games for Canberra/Brisbane)

Analysis: It is two tales for the Sams. Their forward pack is outstanding with five renowned internationals, all hard men. The backline though, well, the less said about it, the better, with Perrett the only player of note out wide.

Rumour Mill: Parramatta are reported to offer a big deal to prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves. That would fit right in with the Eels' recent recruitment style. South Sydney behemoth Dave Taylor has been linked to the Gold Coast, North Queensland and Canterbury in recent days but amazingly, considering the Titans' forward pack, Gold Coast are favourites. If he does go, Greg Bird will return to Cronulla. Again, the Stewart boys have been linked to Canterbury, as they will be all year. Jamie Soward is rumoured to have fallen out with coach Steve Price with overseas rugby clubs believed to be interested in his services. It would be madness if the Dragons let him go.

Correspondence Corner: Chris Riediger, lets hope the new IC bring in some people with vision. Knowing John Grant's background in IT, it is hopeful that he will be on the forefront of where technology is at.

Col Quinn, I couldn't agree more about the oppression the British and French games have suffered. The British game has shown some resilience but one of the great sadnesses in the rugby league world has been the decline of the game in France.

Tim Blazey, my information wasn't incorrect. It was my opinion. But I do hope you are right. The smart move would be for Cronulla to move west, bring the Bears in and get another Brisbane team. But if the Sharks don't move, the Central Coast Bears, sadly, won't be admitted. Renegade, Perth must be the top priority when it comes to expansion.

Dragons68, it is good for the city of Canberra that Josh Dugan re-signed but if he had of left because of the incompetence from board level to coaching, it should have come as no shock to the Raiders.

Mike From Tari, yes, rugby league is making the right moves in regards concussion. We are still tailing the NFL but we need to keep up with the times. Look for Dallas Johnson's minutes to be cut in half this year though.

Zig, a boutique stadium of 35,000 in western Sydney, with easy accessibility from Central, would be ideal. Homebush is a monstrosity and impossible to get too. The new IC needs to start rallying councils and the state government now.

Rabby, a two-tier competition in Australia simply won't work because it will create two separate classes of teams. English soccer is not something we want to be. Teams that drop down will lose horrible amounts of money from reduced TV, smaller gates etc. They will also lose their best talent to teams playing in the top tier. When they return, they won't be competitive. It simply isn't viable.

Warriorman, time zones should not enter into whether Perth get a team or not. They should be there. That simple.

Ferret, to some, the war will never be over.

Watch It: With the Super League War now over, we look back on the '97 Super League Grand Final from QEII Stadium in Brisbane. It was the first night Grand Final in Australia, the only one played outside of Sydney and one of just three contested by Cronulla. The rains teamed and the in-goals were coloured. If you were going to watch this for one reason, watch it for Steve Renouf. One of the finest centres ever, The Pearl was on fire in the decider. Watch it here.



Comments (2)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Anonymous says:

    Nick – you talk about pre season comps.. What's your thoughts on bringing back the world 7's? Surely it's worth having a run around once every 2 years at a minimum? John S.