From The Couch: January 31

Filed in From The Couch, NRL by on January 31, 2012

Rugby League is Back: After a long summer that lasted the better part of 10 weeks, The Great Game, rugby league is officially back. The tennis may just be done, the golf long forgotten and the cricket still sticking around like the stench of rotting prawns, but rugby league is back.

It all kicked off last Saturday night as a packed Redfern Oval saw South Sydney go down to English Super League team Warrington 34-28. It was great to have rugby league back. Sitting in the outer with my old rugby league mate Kendall, we chatted with a delightful old Souths fan named Sandy, saw "Tricky" Trindall in the beer queue and watched the excitement that rugby league was back.

Redfern was buzzing with rugby league fever.

The big question on everyone's lips was who would play halfback for the Bunnies this year. Adam Reynolds and Ryan Carr both played and neither stood out. Reynolds' kicking game was the highlight of his showing but his defence was concerning. Carr ran strongly and seemed to offer plenty of direction.

While the Bunnies did not field their strongest players, they had plenty of first graders so the disappointment with the defence was a worry. Mick Maguire is defence-minded but will need to get cracking by the time the season proper kicks off.

This week we have the All-Stars game and then Back To Belmore , the Charity Shield and the World Club Challenge before getting into the real stuff. How exciting.

An Ideas Man: Congratulations to Phil Lutton of the Sydney Morning Herald for trying to expand the concept of the All-Stars game. He is pushing for a race, a goalkicking competition and an NYC All-Stars match. It is genius. Let's make it a real entertainment frenzy. Perhaps we could even add a sevens knock-out tournament the day prior, a strongest player competition and even a pass-the-ball comp. Let's crank this All-Stars game up.

Still No Independent Commission? Surprise, surprise. Rugby league can say goodbye to a big money deal, I reckon. There is still a sliver of hope but the constant delays and shattered hope have the NRL well behind the eight-ball. It is a great shame that an Independent Commission is still not up and running.

April Fools Day: I could not help but laugh hysterically at the news Canberra had signed Michael Bani to help boost their outside back stocks. Bani is the club's only recruit with first grade experience outside of the ancient Shaun Berrigan.

Bani is coming off a stellar season with North Queensland, who played just two first grade games. In just 160 minutes, he managed five errors and had a missed tackle rate of 20%.

Only in 2009 has Bani managed to play more than 10 games and that year he was forced into a switch of clubs mid-year.

With just 16 tries in 41 games, a terrible set of hands and a complete inability to tackle, he is not even a Queensland Cup player. The Raiders are on track for back-to-back worst recruitment awards.

Rumour Mill: There has been speculation that Nathan Hindmarsh has decided to retire at the conclusion of the season. The Parramatta forward denies it but speculation remains rife. The halfback position at Souths seems to be creating a stir every week. The latest rumour has Canberra reject Matt Orford joining the Bunnies for a season. Surely South Sydney would not be that stupid. There is also widespread speculation that Melbourne halfback Cooper Cronk could be joining the Bunnies. He is chasing a big payday and the Bunnies need a halfback. The Melbourne Rebels are also reportedly interested in Cronk but here is to hoping he doesn't sell out to the dark side. Though the trials haven't started yet, it is believed Ben Hunt has edged his way ahead of Corey Norman in the battle for the Brisbane No.6 jersey though the trials will play a determining factor. Josh Dugan has opened talks with Canberra but Canterbury are favourites to win his services. If Dugan does sign with the Bulldogs, it will push Ben Barba into five-eighth.

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: This week, in deference to the great Eric Simms, fullback in Indigenous Team of the Century, we come up with the all-time Erics.

1. Eric Simms (206 games for South Sydney)
2. Eric Grothe (152 games for Parramatta)
3. Eric Freestone (48 games for St George)
4. Eric Hughes (14 games for Canterbury)
5. Eric Sladden (166 games for South Sydney/North Sydney)
6. Eric Weissel (8 Tests for Australia)
7. Eric Bennett (101 games for Western Suburbs)
13. Eric Grothe (142 games for Parramatta/Sydney Roosters)
12. Eric Archer (108 games for Cronulla)
11. Eric Lewis (76 games for South Sydney)
10. Eric Kennedy (10 games for Gold Coast)
9. Eric Doig (67 games for Western Suburbs)
8. Eric Chisnall (7 Tests for Great Britain)

Erics Analysis: No point in sugar coating this. The backline is top class with the likes of Weissel, English club legend Hughes, Sladden, Grothe and of course the great field goal kicker Simms. The forward pack though, well, we had to go overseas and shuffle some players around just to make one.

Watch It: With the Indigenous All-Stars-NRL All-Stars match this weekend, we pay homage to one of the great aboriginal players, Larry "The Black Flash" Corowa. Considered the fastest player in the game in a six-year career with Balmain that netted 64 tries in 96 games and saw him score a try in one of his two Tests, Corowa was a gifted tryscorer and outstanding talent. So fast was he, he defeated the Stawell Gift winner in a match race over 100 metres at Wentworth Park. He made an ill-fated two-game comeback in 1991, eight years after his last senior game, playing with the Gold Coast. Here is Corowa at his best, accompanied by special tribute song. Watch it here.


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