From The Couch: February 7

Filed in From The Couch, NRL by on February 7, 2012

The Optus Fall-Out: The NRL received the worst news possible last week when the Federal Court allowed Optus to sell a product whereby consumers can "record" and watch sporting events on a delay as small as two minutes.

In one moment, the court theoretically ruled out the value of the $153 million online broadcasting rights deal the AFL made with Telstra (though Telstra agreed to maintain the deal). The NRL is not so lucky. Having pissed around for over two years trying to set up an Independent Commission, the NRL has no deal in place. If this is allowed to stand, the NRL will not get a cent for online broadcasting rights, losing potentially $200 million over five years. There is no signed contract to hold up.

Even though it looks like legislation will be introduced to protect sporting bodies and disallow this kind of copyright submarining, nothing will happen soon. The appeal will take months and legislation, particularly given the parlous predicament of the current federal government, even longer.

The NRL will negotiate in an environment of complete uncertainty. This will severely limit the hopes of a $1 billion television deal and scuppers any hope of matching the AFL's number.

And essentially, it is all because of the intransigence of rugby league powerbrokers,

This is to say nothing of the fact the television rights to the NRL have not been sold in New Zealand for the 2012 season.

Rugby league, once again, has shot itself in the foot.

Happy Anniversary David: Congratulations must go out to David Gallop, who last week reached his 10th anniversary in charge of the NRL.

Gallop, only the seventh rugby league boss since Jersey Flegg assumed control in 1909, becomes the fifth to survive the job 10 years. By the time his new four-year deal ends, he will be the second longest-serving boss in Australian rugby league history.

I have not always seen eye-to-eye with Gallop. I am still appalled at the treatment of the Bulldogs and to only a slightly lesser extent, the Storm during their respective salary cap scandals. Television has been a constant issue, particularly the refusal of the NRL to force Nine to show games nationally. The high-and-mighty treatment of Brett Stewart was wrong. He did little to address refereeing issues when Robert Finch was in charge. The treatment of Sonny Bill Williams was not strong enough.

But overall, Gallop has been the right man for the job over the last decade. After the unquestioned failings of Neil Whittaker and David Moffett following the Super League war, the game needed a conciliatory boss, a non-controversial and cerebral figure who could help calm the waters and drive the game forward while being significantly hamstrung by the structure of the game. Gallop was the right man for the right time.

And there is no questioning the results. Could rugby league have achieved more success? Perhaps. But overall, rugby league has gone through a golden age on Gallop's watch. Crowds are up. Television ratings are through the roof. The on-field product is sensational. The game is as stable as it has ever been. The game has never been as financially prosperous. Games have returned to suburban grounds. Rugby league is the fastest growing game in Australia and has been for most of Gallop's reign.

So happy anniversary, David. It has been a good spell and he has earned the right to lead rugby league into the next bold new era.

The All Stars Game Must Stay: It was with much excitement that the 2012 rugby league season officially kicked off on Saturday night with the annual NRL All Stars match. It was the third clash and it again showcased the game's best players on a stage that has developed an increasing importance.

The game was exciting, the players big, the scene proud.

So it is with a good deal of astonishment that I read the snipers from the sideline professing its death and calling for it to end. Why? It is a wonderful and unique way to start the season, a fitting tribute to the great number of aboriginal players past and present and an honourable way for the game to get its finest together.

In a game that constantly hurts itself through its own ineptitude, the All Stars concept is one that the NRL should be extraordinarily proud of.

The All Stars game is here to stay. And rightfully so.

Plus, we had the added bonus the coloured in-goal, bringing back memories of better days gone by. How excellent!

Trial Injuries: There were a number of serious injuries picked up over the weekend with Greg Inglis the most notable. The South Sydney centre, who appears to be stripping much fitter this season, did his ankle in the process of scoring for the Indigenous All Stars on Saturday night. There seemed to be little in it but a high ankle sprain seems to be the diagnosis and he is out at least six weeks with some believing he could miss three months of the season. The most likely scenario is an Inglis return in round three.

The Warriors lost prop Jacob Lillyman to a bicep injury. Lillyman, who played for Queensland last season, is out for three months and possibly longer with bicep injuries major worries. His loss is a blow for the Warriors' depth.

Get on Nine to Screw League (Again): Channel Nine has a decision to make on March 2, the first Friday of the NRL season. They have to decide whether to show the opening Friday Night Football of the season – Brisbane v Parramatta – or a meaningless One Day International cricket match. Nine has yet to make a decision but be sure and certain, it will be rugby league who will be raped. The NRL has already made concessions with a Thursday night season opener and a change in timeslot on Sunday afternoon coverage. But that won't be enough for the punks at Nine, who are looking forward to another season of smacking the NRL around again.

Back to Belmore: This Sunday, for the first time since 1998, big time rugby league returns to Belmore Sports Ground with Canterbury taking on the Sydney Roosters in a day full of trial matches. Hopefully it is the start of actually playing competition matches at the fine suburban ground, similar to the way the Wests Tigers play at Campbelltown and Leichhardt. It is a travesty, as a Canterbury fan, to watch matches only at the hideous Homebush. Moving back to our spiritual home will inspire the Canterbury faithful, bring back an identity to a team that sorely needs one.

Belmore isn't the most picturesque ground. It isn't the easiest to access. It doesn't have the most personality. But it has been Canterbury's since 1936 and hosted Bulldogs games for over six decades, seeing 605 matches, 550 of which featured the blue and white. Canterbury's record at the ground is 326-207-17.

I couldn't be more excited to be going home.

The Punters' Guide to the 2012 NRL Season:It has all been written and will be out next week so get ready for the best rugby league guide anywhere in the world.

The Punters' Guide to the 2012 NRL Season is the must have guide for every rugby league fan. Respected rugby league writer and pricing consultant Nick Tedeschi has put together this thorough guide that is a no-holds barred assessment, unique statistical evaluation and comprehensive betting appraisal all rolled into one. With the legendary Mr Rugby chiming in, the thoughts of leading bookmaker Jason Sylvester of Flemington Sportsbet and a comprehensive array of information sourced from within the gambling industry, there is no better tool for the rugby league punter no matter how seriously one takes their betting. It can even be used to win your tipping competition or fantasy league.

The Punters' Guide to the 2012 NRL Season includes:

* All the latest team information with complete squad listings for each club
* Detailed betting information from the 2011 season including analysis of head-to-head, line and total points betting for each club and the NRL as a whole
* Notes on betting information for the last two seasons
* The thoughts and premiership prices of Australia's top rugby league gambler and former Punting Ace guru, Mr Rugby
* Comments from leading bookmaker Jason Sylvester of Flemington Sportsbet
* An in-depth and original statistical analysis of all 16 teams
* Detailed betting data for each and every team
* Recruitment analysis, positional and coaching assessment and draw evaluation for every club
* Predictions and betting advice for the 2011 season
* A full list of blue-chip players

This product is a must for every NRL fan. It is useful for those who bet on NRL games regularly, casual footy punters, those in tipping competitions and fantasy competitions and those who just want the latest on the upcoming footy season. There is no guide quite like The Punters' Guide to the 2012 NRL Season.

The Punters' Guide to the 2012 NRL Season is on sale for only $19.95 and is extraordinary value for every rugby league fan. It will be available next week.

Moniker XIII of the Week:With Wayne Bennett coaching the NRL All Stars to victory last Saturday night, we this week find the greatest Waynes.

The Waynes
1. Wayne Smith (179 games for Western Suburbs/Cronulla)

2. Wayne Bennett (7 games for Queensland)

3. Wayne Wigham (160 games for Balmain/North Sydney/Western Suburbs)

4. Wayne Miranda (91 games for Balmain)

5. Wayne Stewart (1 Test for Australia)

6. Wayne Lindenberg (4 games for Queensland)

7. Wayne Simonds (131 games for Wests/Parramatta/South Qld/Adelaide)

13. Wayne Pearce (192 games for Balmain)

12. Wayne Bartrim (232 games for Gold Coast/St George/St George-Illawarra)

11. Wayne Chisholm (111 games for South Sydney/Gold Coast)

10. Wayne Richards (109 games for Newcastle/Illawarra/South Sydney)

9. Wayne Collins (106 games for Canberra/St George/South Queensland)

8. Wayne Sing (63 games for Balmain/Eastern Suburbs/North Queensland)

The Waynes' Analysis: The Waynes will struggle. They have one of the great lock forwards in Pearce but little other talent around him. Bartrim was honest enough, at least on the field, while Chisholm and Richards were hard-heads. Miranda could kick.

Correspondence Corner: Mitch, Doubter is right. The Ben Roberts push is tiresome. Let's try not to get too nasty this year.

AJL, thanks mate, good to be back. Michael Bani is total rubbish but surely he doesn't play first grade. The Raiders take a double hit at the start of the season: a brutal draw and the fact they do not start any season well. Canberra are going to be playing from behind in 2012.

Col Quinn, that is fascinating stuff about Larry Corowa. A shame his career was derailed by racism and Lloyd Martin. Old timers are adamant Ken Irvine is the fastest to play the game. It would be great to see how he would have stacked up against Larry. That Dubbo gift time is astonishing.

Rabby, I can't disagree more with you regarding the All Stars game. Yes, it is essentially meaningless but the players play hard and it is a wonderful way to open the season. The players seem to get right behind it, the indigenous boys take great pride in the game and it is nice to see so many greats in February. An expanded WCC is a good idea but should be in October, not now.

Writer Congratulations: A big congratulations to Making The Nut writer Tim Napper, who was thoroughly endorsed by print blogger Peter Fitzsimmons on Sunday. Sure, Fitzsimmons is anti-rugby league but we can let bygones be bygones for giving our man Napper a push.

Watch It: With the Bulldogs returning to Belmore this Sunday, it seems appropriate to remember one of Canterbury's great wins at the old venue. This one came in the final round of 1991 with Canterbury needing a win to force a playoff with Wests. Down 16-0, all hope seemed lost. That was until Jonathan Davies stepped up to the mark. Watch it here.


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  1. Anonymous says:

    I love reading your articles but surely you jest "I have not always seen eye-to-eye with Gallop. I am still appalled at the treatment of the Bulldogs and to only a slightly lesser extent, the Storm during their respective salary cap scandals" The Bulldogs and the Storm got what was coming to them …they cheated!!! end of story