Disgrace: How Tony Archer and Todd Greenberg did not resign immediately after firing Matt Cecchin for the outlandish decision to award Kane Evans a try last week does not surprise but it does disgust. These two are a cancer on the game, rotting the game away from the inside with their incompetency, incapability and inability to hold anyone under their reign of terror to account. In no alternate dimension of the game was Evans’ try a try. He clearly dropped the ball. He did so short of the line. Matt Cecchin had no clear line of vision. The video referee had clear evidence of no try yet hit the green light. It was a decision that fundamentally turned the match and ended Canterbury’s season. The Bulldogs did not deserve the win but they deserved a chance. They never got it. The decision to award the Roosters a try showed all that was wrong with officiating in the NRL: the failure of process, the arrogance of officials, the unaccountability within the game, the inconsistency of video referees. The list goes on. I – along with every fan in the game – is sick to death of this rubbish. If I was as bad at my job as these clowns were, I’d be on the street with my pants around my ankles singing Johnny Horton songs for loose change. Sack the lot and start again … that best be the theme of Shane Richardson’s much-vaunted strategy paper.
When Rugby League Gets Weird: Even for a couple of maligned Rugby League journeymen like Tim Smith and Kevin Locke and a coach like Brian Smith that has a long history of putting players offside, it must be said that it was nothing but astonishing that the duo were dropped after being alleged to break into the car of the coach and then smash it. Wow. That story speaks for itself.
Moses Oh Moses: Never has a player’s value dropped so significantly because he played. Health may have been the worst thing to happen to Moses Mbye over the last 12 weeks.
Fun Fact #1: Leeson Ah Mau and Jesse Bromwich are the only two players to start 24 games at prop forward this year.
Fun Fact #2: Andrew Fifita topped the front row tryscoring tally with seven in just 16 games. Jesse Bromwich, Kade Snowden, Matt Scott and Jake Trbojevic all finished second with three each.
Fun Fact #3: Not a single starting prop kicked a goal this year. Tim Browne kicked three off the bench after coming on as a prop in the final match of the season.
2015 Field Goal Update – 39: One of the smartest plays in Rugby League is the field goal just before the break – no matter what the score – as it is often a free point that could come up handy. Johnathan Thurston is a smart player and did just that on Saturday to put the Cowboys up 19-0 in what turned into a 39-0 win.
Rumour Mill: There remains speculation that the Gold Coast Titans could be in for a change of name to the Bears in what would be one of the dumbest moves in the history of an incredibly dumb franchise. The Dragons have emerged in the race to sign Robbie Farah though the Knights and Rabbitohs remain favourites. Martin Taupau is unlikely to be at the Tigers next season with the Titans and potentially the Dragons looking to sign him. Tim Grant is expected to sign with Parramatta in the coming weeks.
Betting Market of the Week: Tony Archer and Todd Greenberg will this week come out and declare:
$11.00: The Big Bang Theory the height of television comedy
$6.00: The existence of the Loch Ness Monster
$3.00: That Elvis is, actually, still alive and living in a caravan in Parkes
$1.10: That fans have faith in both of them to do their job even marginally competently
Manly Collapse Update: The Sea Eagles have now added Isaac Luke to their team in what may not be the sign of the apocalypse but is not a brilliant sign for a club with such a long history of bringing through juniors and having depth at all the key positions.
What I Like About … A Brisbane Grand Final: The NRL needs to understand the value of competition and set about a bidding process for the NRL decider with cities – much like the Super Bowl – bidding for the game. Sure, the NRL disregarded the value of competition in negotiating TV rights but hey, they may have learned something from the backlash. The Grand Final should be an event, a celebration and it should be a major payday for the game. Let states pay. The majority should be fought over between Suncorp, ANZ and the SFS with perhaps the odd decider to be played in Melbourne or Auckland if the price is right. Tradition is tradition but let’s not hold sweet to a ground that has only hosted since 1998 after the previous held by it for just 10 deciders. Let’s get serious about taking the game to the people and bringing money to the game.
The Coaching Crosshairs: The drums continue to bang that there is a three-way coaching switch in the wind with Michael Maguire moving to New Zealand, Ivan Cleary to South Sydney, Garth Brennan promoted at Penrith and Andrew McFadden left without a chair. Maguire would be a perfect fit at the Warriors, who are craving discipline and structure, and it is clear he has run his race at the Rabbitohs. Cleary and Phil Gould have fallen out at Penrith and Cleary remains arguably the best coach in the NRL not to win a premiership. Brennan is the clear heir apparent at Penrith and is ready to step up. McFadden has had his chance at the Warriors, going 17-21 with a defence that ranked a lowly 11th. He failed to make the finals in either season despite the Warriors having the easiest draw both years. It all makes perfect sense for all clubs involved.
Referee Power Rankings: The referee power rankings officially end this week as a recognition that all hope is lost with NRL officials and the NRL administration that oversees them.
Game of the Year Nomination, Finals Week 2: Sydney Roosters-Canterbury, 38-12. The less said about the second weekend of the finals, the better.
Ricky Stuart Stat of the Week: Ricky Stuart has never been named Dally M Coach of the Year.
Beard Watch: The 2015 NRL All-Facial Hair team presents as follows:
- Brett Stewart (moustache)
- Josh Mansour (beard)
- Steve Matai (beard)
- Michael Jennings (beard)
- Semi Radradra (beard)
- Blake Austin (goatee)
- Ben Hunt (moustache)
- Aaron Woods (beard)
- Damien Cook (beard)
- Junior Paulo (Lincoln beard)
- Tohu Harris (beard)
- Frank Pritchard (beard)
- Sam Thaiday (beard)
- James Tedesco (beard)
- Marika Korobiete (beard)
- Bryce Cartwright (moustache)
- Sam Kasiano (beard)
Coach: Des Hasler (hair)
Watch It: Astonishingly, it has been 50 years since the famous 1965 Grand Final – where punters hung from the roof, the trees and a nearby automobile show just to get a glimpse of the mighty Dragons tackling the emerging Rabbitohs. There were extraordinary scenes in what turned out to be Norm Provan’s final game. Watch it here.