From The Couch: October 24

Filed in From The Couch, NRL by on October 24, 2011

Only at Parramatta: The Paul Osborne saga continues to drag on at Parramatta with the club plummeting to new depths every day it continues and every day Paul Osborne keeps his job as chief executive.

It is apparent that Fairfax have no desire to let the story slide. They have written on it for nine straight days. This will continue until Osborne is gone.

I won’t comment on it too much. The whole issue speaks for itself, the Sydney Morning Herald are doing a wonderful job and Paul Osborne seems to be in a rather litigious mood.

I will say this though: it defies belief that the Eels have not moved Osborne on.

Regardless of the allegations of financial irregularities and workplace harassment, his performance as chief executive has been abhorrent. No chief executive has been in charge of a worse recruitment period in, arguably, the history of the code. He fired a coach a year after a Grand Final appearance only to see the team play off for the wooden spoon in the last round. The club has been rocked by instability for nearly his entire administration.

To retain him at the possible expense of the major sponsor is astonishing. He will never work in a senior role in the game again.

At some point in the next few weeks, Osborne will not be chief executive of the Eels. He will either quit or he will be fired. His position is simply untenable at this point.

Jason Ryles, Booted from Bondi: There were wild celebrations from the Coogee Bay Hotel to the Wayside Chapel in Potts Point, from the markets in Paddington to the beach at Bondi, when news filtered through that Jason Ryles had been dumped by the Sydney Roosters. Dancing in the street, it was.

With a year remaining on his contract, the lumbering and penalty-prone forward was told by Brian Smith his services were no longer required. Ryles was unimpressed that the man who lured him back to Australia was unceremoniously dumped after two seasons and 46 games with the Tricolours.

There wasn’t a single Roosters fan upset though. They were sick of seeing him drop passes, give away penalties and generally just bludge. Ryles finished 12th in penalties conceded in the NRL this season.

It is rumoured he will either go to the Storm or return to the Dragons. There is some hope for him in Melbourne though he will severely test the patience and ability of Craig Bellamy. A return to the Dragons would be highly amusing.

The Roosters are starting to make the right calls on players and may actually be a team to watch in 2012.

Cronulla Won’t Help Themselves: It becomes more than apparent that Cronulla won’t improve next year or anytime soon after seeing the following quote from Sharks chairman Damian Irvine this week regarding Todd Carney:

''When you ask people to make big promises and they get broken, you find yourself having issues,'' Irvine said. ''I like a drink, we all like a drink, I think drinking's a huge part of society … Todd hasn't really done a lot wrong this year from what I can see. We've all got to manage our drinking, and it's how you manage it. We'd expect Todd to manage his drinking like anyone in our squad.''

Todd hasn’t done a lot wrong? From a legal perspective, no. From a rugby league perspective, he could hardly have done more wrong. He selfishly defied team orders to continue drinking only a week after the ban came down. After a year off the drink where he won a Dally M Medal, he couldn’t stay off it at all in 2011. He does not recognise his problems and will do nothing to amend them. He sold out his teammates for his own selfish ends.

Carney will be about the most talented individual the Sharks have signed in a long while. But signing him is a grave mistake and one that will ensure the Sharks are again mired at the bottom of the ladder. It is apparent the club is not ready for Carney. And they are certainly not prepared for the handful he becomes.

With the Vision of John Ribot: It was pleasing to see Manly show a little bit of vision and push for the World Club Challenge to be played in Dubai. It would be a wonderful chance to showcase rugby league with Dubai loaded with cash and craving live sport. An AFL game was taken over and was a major success. The NRL and RFL should look for commercial funding to make the game viable. League is a great product and needs to be showcased around the world.

It would be wonderful to see the WCC moved around the world each year. Las Vegas would be another fine venue for it. So too would Hong Kong. This could be the start of something big for rugby league.

Why Ben Roberts is Rubbish: In read with a mixture of overwhelming anger and a good deal of amusement “The Curious Case of Ben Roberts” on RLeague by Gee Gunaidi, an article very well received by those in the offices who adore, for whatever reason, Roberts.

I have little choice but to respond. I won’t delve into too much detail. Most of my case against Roberts has been outlined over about three to four years of weekly rugby league writing. And most sane rugby league fans merely need to watch him play to see plainly the case against Roberts. But I will point a few things out.

There is little doubt that in terms of natural physical gifts, Roberts has something, perhaps even enough to be a first grader. He can run when he wants too. He has a big kick. His passing game is decent. But whatever natural talent he does have is more than offset by his unmatched stupidity and lazy play.

There is no player in the NRL with such a low football IQ. Jason Ryles looks like Einstein in comparison when it comes to football smarts, such is Roberts’ standing.

Example one, 2008, Canterbury-South Sydney, 30-30, Bulldogs scrum 20 metres out from South Sydney’s line, centre field. It is clear the Dogs will work for a match-winning field goal. Roberts gets the ball from the scrum, grubbers for himself on the first, Canterbury lose possession, South Sydney win the game.

Example two, 2010, Canterbury-Penrith, Penrith 12-12, Canterbury attacking deep. Rather than play the percentages, Roberts puts in a moronic grubber in the corner that turns over possession. Canterbury never get another chance. Penrith win.

Kris Keating is no superstar. He is barely a first grader. But at least he doesn’t play like a total and utter moron. This piece won’t convince those lovers of Roberts to change their opinion. Neither will his inevitable failure as the Parramatta No.6 in 2012. They will still continue to get aroused by one game against the Broncos. And they will continue to be wrong on their talent assessment of Roberts because part of talent is smarts, effort and preparation and Roberts gets a zero on all fronts.

I’m glad he is gone. He is Parramatta’s problem now. And hopefully, for the last time, I have had to deal with this total and utter fabrication that Roberts is a talented player who was harshly treated. He got 93 first grade games at Canterbury. That is about 90 more than he deserved, meaning he got about 30 times better treatment than was warranted.

Rasslin’ and Rugby League: It was pleasing to see wrestler CM Punk take such an interest in rugby league. Punk was not happy about the amount of wrestling in the game and said the NRL should introduce heavier fines. He also said each case needed to be viewed on its merits. Perhaps that would be a good lead to take seeing as an outsider can jump on that straight away.

A Disgrace: It is shameful that Russell Packer received only one match for his deliberate, vicious and violent elbow to the head of Darren Lockyer. It was a deliberate attack on Lockyer’s fragile cheekbone. Packer should have been given a month at a minimum.

Four Nations: The Four Nations kicks off this weekend and we should be in for a very exciting month of international rugby league. Check out the preview I wrote for Tote Tasmania here.

Rumour Mill: There has been a late swing in the ongoing pursuit of Todd Carney with the Dragons now right in the mix. Cronulla remain favourites but with the Dragons losing Tim Moltzen, they have made Carney an offer. It is a surprise move and one that suggests the Dragons are in for a big culture change and a big fall now Wayne Bennett has fled. Robert Lui is set to be suspended for a significant period of time by the NRL. The Sydney Morning Herald revealed allegations that Lui kicked his partner in the head, admitted to headbutting her and then swore at police. If found guilty, there is no way he will play in the NRL in 2012. Spurned Roosters prop Jason Ryles is expected to sign with Melbourne. The Raiders are set to add another boom recruit by bringing in Melbourne winger Anthony Quinn. Canberra Raiders discard Matt Orford has been linked to the Tigers.

Moniker XIII of the Week: In honour of the one, the only, Billy Slater, this week we name our all-time Bills…Billy, Willie, Will and William included. With a name that spans the whole history of the game, we have landed a multi-era team.

1. Billy Slater (203 games for Melbourne)
2. Willie Carne (134 games for Brisbane)
3. William Hopoate (22 games for Manly)
4. Willie Tonga (149 games for Parramatta/Canterbury/North Qld)
5. Bill Shankland (3 seasons for Glebe/Eastern Suburbs)
6. Bill Farnsworth (3 seasons for Newtown)
7. Billy Smith (234 games for St George)
13. Billy Moore (213 games for North Sydney)
12. Billy Cann (9 seasons for South Sydney)
11. Bill Noble (6 seasons for Newtown/Balmain)
10. Bill Schultz (12 seasons for Balmain)
9. Billy Rayner (11 seasons for Parramatta)
8. Billy Wilson (269 games for St George/Norths)

Bills Analysis: As mentioned, the Bills span the entire history of the game in perhaps one of the most interesting teams yet named. The team consists of two of the 100 greatest players ever, as named in 2008, in halfback Smith and forward Cann and one who certainly should be added in fullback Slater. Wilson is a hard nut prop who was a centrepiece of the great Dragons teams. Moore was an Origin legend. Carne, Tonga and Hopoate all know their way to the tryline. The likes of Rayner, Schultz, Noble, Farnsworth and Shankland are names long forgotten by history but all wore the green and gold.

Correspondence Corner: Rabby, to my eye, this grab for cash is nothing more than another example of the little Hitlers who run clubs damaging the game for short-term interest while showing no vision for the future. I am sick to death of the game being continually held back by them.

Anna, I also enjoy seeing this Paul Osborne fiasco descend and it will make me rather sad when we read in the next few weeks that he has been fired.

Dragons68, I put the predictions out there and I’m happy to be held to account for the plenty that weren’t even close! Carney may be with your boys next year as well.

Cam, it will be interesting to see how many of those Manly juniors progress over the next few seasons. I’ll keep James Cunningham in mind.

Zig, well I did not know Keith had a club named after him. What a true champion of the game. Thanks so much for letting me know.

Davince_25, I never purchased a bred not bought t-shirt because I don’t believe in all that rubbish these days. This is a professional game. I have had to come to terms with it. The Dogs buy players. They lose them. That is rugby league, for good or ill.

Watch It: A few videos for us to check out this week. The first is for all the Parramatta fans out there. After a week of Paul Osborne amusement, we go back to the vault some 35 years for Neville Glover’s finest moment. Watch it here. Secondly, with the Four Nations starting soon, we go back and look at the absent team, France, and the two-test series against Australia in 1990. Watch it here.

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Comments (2)

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  1. Stu Warren says:

    TOTE Tasmania? Welcome to the big time, Tedeschi!