From The Couch: October 10

Filed in From The Couch, NRL by on October 10, 2011

Des The Dog: Welcome to Belmore, Des. No need for a haircut. Make yourself comfortable. Stay awhile. Here’s the keys. Lock the door when you’re done.

In one of the most astonishing coups in rugby league history, Canterbury pinched premiership winning coach Des Hasler only days after he took Manly to the Grand Final. He has been locked in for four years. It will long be remembered as Todd Greenberg’s finest moment. When Hasler was announced as Canterbury’s coach from 2013 onwards, it was a magnificent day for the club, which should return the club to the powerhouse status it has slipped from over the last half-decade.

The best thing about Des Hasler is that he is not Ricky Stuart. For so long, all hope seemed lost. Ricky Stuart was the name constantly being mentioned. Good candidates like Rick Stone and Daniel Anderson were passed over. Others like Michael Hagan didn’t want the job. Names like Nathan Brown, Jason Taylor and Jim Dymock have all been bandied about.

The best hope was that the Craig Bellamy rumours were true. It was wishful thinking though. We were going to be saddled with a fool like Stuart or Dymock who, while I respect, I find it hard to forget him walking out on the club and suing the Bulldogs in ’95. But then Hasler’s name was all of a sudden in the mix.

I was a doubter, no risk. I questioned what the board would do. I wasn’t sure that they would find someone even competent, let alone one of the best in the business. I was wrong. Todd Greenberg has done a magnificent job in bringing a two-time premiership winning coach to the club. He did it in secret and he did it while the coach’s old club was on its way to the premiership. He did it while talking the current caretaker into a one-year deal.

The biggest problem with the deal is 2012 if Manly don’t do the smart thing and just move on, releasing Hasler and bringing in Geoff Toovey as they surely will. Jim Dymock is a lame-duck coach. Regardless of what you think of Dymock, he is going to find it very difficult to win the respect of the playing group as someone with eight games experience who won’t be running the show in 2013.

But it is a problem that could not be avoided and to Dymock’s credit, he said he will happily step aside whenever Hasler becomes available. Perhaps it is this selflessness that will help him ease the pain of darker days gone by.

Nobody wants 2012 written off but the upside is far more significant than is the down of next year.

It is onwards and upwards with Doggie Des though and that is what the faithful are excited for.

I have always considered him only a step behind Wayne Bennett and Craig Bellamy but perhaps I was wrong about that, looking at how each of the three performed over their first eight seasons.

                                                Record                                  Premierships     Grand Finals       Finals Campaigns
Craig Bellamy                     140-70-1 (63.3%)               2                              4                              7
Wayne Bennett                    129-63-2 (66.5%)              2                              3                              5
Des Hasler                          122-84 (60.2%)                  2                              3                              7

Against those two, he has a 9-7 record against Bellamy and a 5-8 show against Bennett, both eminently respectable.

Perhaps the single biggest reason Hasler will be such a rousing success is the mix of his love of the scientific side of the game and Canterbury’s resources. With the salary cap, you struggle to gain an edge in playing talent. So the real opportunity to get a jump on the opposition is to devote resources efficiently in the football department. Hasler made plenty of it with few resources at the Sea Eagles. At the Bulldogs, he is going to have a field day.

If he brings along players, and there is every opportunity a couple will tail him, the Bulldogs will be near favourites for 2013. If we get the likes of Noel Cleal in recruitment and the raft of training staff he has at Manly, then the club is in a great position.

The Bulldogs needed a big name, they needed a winner and they needed hope. Des Hasler provides all three.

Tandy Gets Off Easy:Convicted match-fixer Ryan Tandy can consider himself extremely lucky to have avoided prison. The punk deserved to be locked away for the rort he tried to put on rugby league because he couldn’t control himself on the punt. To get a small fine and a suspended sentence was a joke but not really surprising considering how punters’ money is treated much more differently than the cash of others. If Ryan Tandy was trying to rip off somebody’s superannuation or was conning little old ladies, the outrage would be greater and the penalty steeper.

At least the NRL has indicated they will bar him for life. And so they should. He is the lowest form of filth there is in rugby league and hopefully he will never be spotted anywhere near the game again.

Oh, Gold Coast: I will give the Titans credit for this: they realised early how bad things were going to be in 2011 and they went hard at 2012 on a big name recruitment drive that included Jamal Idris, Beau Champion, Nate Myles and Luke Douglas. They have bitten off more than they can chew now though by believing they can reform Todd Carney on Australia’s most outrageous and drink-happy strip. Good luck with that. It is absolutely bound to end in disaster and why you would risk your club’s reputation and chemistry on such an insane pick-up is beyond me.

It is apparent that Todd Carney will never learn. He is the most selfish footballer in the NRL and he is undeserving of another chance. He spouts off his woe-is-me redemption tale, acts contrite and then gets on the lash all over again.

I couldn’t care less about Todd Carney drinking. I couldn’t care less about Todd Carney the person. There are a million people with a million problems. I care about rugby league and Carney continually embarrasses the game and worse, he negatively impacts the teams he plays for. The Titans should be ashamed of signing him.

Helping him link back up with recidivist Nate Myles and Greg Bird, another player who has found his share of trouble, is begging for disaster.

The Titans have found themselves plenty of glitz but they are going to find themselves wanting next year when they require some grit.

2011 Top 50: Check out this link for my annual list of the top 50 players in the NRL.

Much Ado About Nothing: There has been a whole heap of chatter in recent days about where Tim Moltzen will be next year. He was controversially announced as moving to the Dragons midseason. It was assumed he was on his way, even by his disgruntled teammates who wanted him to stay. But with Robert Lui’s future at the club in significant doubt, speculation arose that Moltzen would stay. That speculation gathered legs when it became apparent that Moltzen wasn’t granted an official release by the Tigers. The NRL says they have only the Tigers contract registered. For all this hullabaloo though, Moltzen is absolutely certain to be a Dragon in 2012. This is nothing but posturing by the Tigers, who are after some credit with the Dragons and perhaps a youngster. Expect the Tigers to chase a halfback and it would come as no surprise if that half was premiership winning No.7 Scott Prince. Prince is on the outer at the Titans, particularly after the signing of Todd Carney, and the Tigers are in desperate need of a half. It is a good fit.

2011 Awards: Most of this year’s awards have been handed down…

Warren Ryan Medal (ABC Radio): Cooper Cronk
RLPA Player of the Year (RLPA): Akuila Uate
Rugby League Week Player of the Year (RLW): Corey Parker
Paul Morgan Medal (Brisbane): Darren Lockyer [3rd Morgan: 02,03,11]
Mal Meninga Medal (Canberra): Shaun Fensom
Dr George Peponis Medal (Canterbury): Aiden Tolman
Monty Porter Medal (Cronulla): Paul Gallen [4th Porter: 07,08,10,11]
Paul Broughton Medal (Gold Coast): Luke Bailey [2nd Broughton: 10,11]
Manly Player of the Year (Manly): Glenn Stewart [2nd POY: 08,11]
Melbourne Player of the Year (Melbourne): Cameron Smith [4th POY: 05,06,07,11]
Newcastle Player of the Year (Newcastle): Kurt Gidley [3rd POY: 07,08,11]
New Zealand Player of the Year (New Zealand): Simon Mannering [2nd POY: 08,11]
Paul Bowman Medal (North Queensland): Ashley Graham
Ken Thornett Player of the Year (Parramatta): Fuifui Moimoi
Penrith Player of the Year (Penrith): Luke Walsh
St George-Illawarra Player of the Year (Dragons): Jason Nightingale
Jack Gibson Medal (Roosters): Jake Friend
Jack Rayner Award (South Sydney): Chris Sandow
Wests Tigers Player of the Year (Tigers): Gareth Ellis [3rd POY: 09,10,11]
Col Pearce Medal (Referees): Shayne Hayne
Willie M Medal (Making The Nut): Blake Ferguson

Rumour Mill: There is plenty of speculation about at present that Des Hasler will be at Canterbury in 2012. The Manly board will meet soon but they are believed to be pushing for the immediate appointment of Geoff Toovey. Hasler will be welcomed at the Bulldogs straight away. He will bring with him a number of staff and quite possibly a few players with Brett Stewart, Anthony Watmough and Kieran Foran all believed to have get-out clauses in their contract if Hasler leaves. Krisnan Inu and the New Zealand Warriors will part ways. Inu has been linked to Cronulla. Scott Prince, as mentioned above, could be in the sights of the Wests Tigers.

Moniker XIII of the Week:With Glenn Stewart winning the Clive Churchill Medal, we will name the all-time team of Glenns and Glens.

The Glenns/Glens
1. Glenn Burgess (81 games for St George/Gold Coast)
2. Glenn Coleman (123 games for Cronulla)
3. Glenn West (7 seasons for Penrith/Parramatta)
4. Glenn Miller (88 games for Penrith/Newcastle)
5. Glen Nissen (91 games for Penrith/Canterbury)
6. Glenn Frendo (59 games for Canterbury/Newcastle)
7. Glenn Stanton (4 games with Balmain)
13. Glenn Stewart (140 games for Manly)
12. Glenn Morrison (222 games for Balmain/North Sydney/North Queensland/Parramatta)
11. Glen Hall (117 games for Canterbury/Souths/Roosters/Manly/North Queensland)
10. Glenn Grief (145 games for Western Suburbs/Newcastle/South Sydney)
9. Glenn Taylor (1 Test for New Zealand)
8. Glenn Lazarus (254 games for Canberra/Brisbane/Melbourne)

Analysis:The Glenns have a nice pack with Lazarus and Stewart seasoned internationals and Morrison and Grief decent types. The backline is extremely ordinary with Burgess, Coleman and Nissen the best of an ordinary lot.

Correspondence Corner:Shane, nice to meet you too. I assume Shane, though, is just a pseudonym for Danny Wiedler.

Machine Head 94, what a wonderful sense of humour you have and what a delight you seem to be. I never called for cigarette advertising to return. I called for coloured in-goals. And as you will see above, I am delighted with our new coaching arrangement. Keep on reading chief.

JohnJ, mate, I am also one who enjoys laughing at how sensitive some of these commenters are. It is highly amusing watching them work themselves into a frenzy.

Danny Green, ha, if Shane isn’t Danny Wiedler then he is Tony Mundine.

LP1, you are right, Brett Stewart is carrying on like a pork chop. I don’t think he deserved to be suspended in 2009 but I think all this carry-on is utterly childish.

Polo, regardless of what side of politics you are on, the Prime Minister should be there to present the Grand Final trophy and the Dally M Medal. It is a total disgrace that she wasn’t.

Dragons68, I’m not upset about everything…I just find the angry rants tend to get more of a response. I thought 2011 was a wonderful season.  We all love the greatness of our game and I try to get the balance right but I’m in the business of commenting on pertinent rugby league matters and those matters tend to skew negative. In regards your games list, it is tough to argue with any of those with the Dogs-Parra game coming very close.

Gino, I can assure you that Krisnan Inu, Ben Roberts and Adam Cuthbertson have all been in my sights but none have ever slept with any female companion of mine. I just find their attitude to the game and their lack of smarts highly irritating.

DaveyG, thanks so much for the kinds words. They really are appreciated. This is no game of poker but I hope it makes do.

Watch It: There is something great about watching old lower grade Grand Finals and this classic from 1993 between North Sydney and Newcastle was one to remember, the Bears winning 5-4 on the back of a Peter Jackson first-half poke. Look out for a young Andrew Johns, Mark Soden, Alan Wilson and Tony Herman. Watch it here.

100 Bonus + Refund for 2nd

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