You Only Get One Peter Doust: Kerry Packer famously quipped that “you only get one Alan Bond in your lifetime”. Ben Hunt no doubt thanks his lucky stars because he will only get one Peter Doust in his life, a CEO so removed from the understanding of the game that he will splash a ridiculous amount of money on a name half who has lost all confidence and probably just isn’t that good. Hunt has not been the same since his infamous Grand Final gaffe. His form against Cronulla on Thursday was horrendous. He will be a disaster for the Dragons and most likely won’t see his final year with the Broncos out in first grade.
Simona Deserves Life: Tim Simona deserves life and anything less from the NRL would be embarrassing for the game. The size of Simona’s bets are irrelevant, as are the fact his former girlfriend gave him up for no other reason than spite. Simona attempted to fix matches by betting on his opposite number to score the first try. It is as black and white as match fixing gets even if he was stupid in thinking he could fix one of the more random markets that has plenty of fat built into it. Simona’s career needs to come to an end this week.
Banning Exotics Ridiculous: While banning Simona is the only option for the NRL, cracking down on exotic bets as they have is just idiotic. The NRL has moved to ban a heap of betting options including betting on NYC matches. This will do nothing other than show the NRL to be short-sighted. The NRL needs to stop micromanaging bookmakers and do more to add transparency – like their teams lists changes – if they want to improve the integrity of the game.
Bring Back Monday Night Football: We have had one Friday 6pm game and it should be the last. What an utterly stupid time to start a game of NRL football. There was nobody at the game. Nobody could get home to see the start of it. As a Bulldogs fan, there could not have been a worse way to start the year. We have yet to endure a Monday night without Rugby League but it will no doubt be a flat night. Time to bring it back and punt the stupid Friday 6pm clash.
Canterbury Attack As Threatening As A Baby in a Cardigan: Melbourne’s defence is the benchmark in the premiership. It has been for well over a decade. But Canterbury’s pathetic attack was more of the same on Friday night, managing just a single try. And this was on the back of the Storm losing Jesse Bromwich in the opening minutes. Canterbury had few issues getting field position but could not cross. When Brenko Lee is the most dangerous outside back your team is in a lot of trouble. This starts with the coach and the hooker. The latter needs to go and the former needs to get more creative.
Panther Pretenders: Punters who backed Penrith into equal premiership favouritism were off their rockers prior to Round 1. Seeing that inept performance would have sent them into a deep despair. Penrith are a team that seem to have bought right in to the hype around the side. This is a talented young side and they won’t be nearly as bad again this year but there are holes all over the paddock and most of them are right next to Bryce Cartwright’s arms. The Panthers aren’t challenging for a title in 2017 – and only a small part of that is based on their horrific Round 1 effort.
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2016 Field Goal Update – 0: Not a single field goal was kicked in the opening round of the season – though Johnathan Thurston hit the crossbar and scored a try in golden point, which was nearly as impressive.
Fun Fact #1: There are four players who go by the name of John in the NRL – while there are three players who have been christened Moses.
Fun Fact #2: This season marks 80 years since University were excluded from the premiership – they lost all eight games and scored just 41 points in their final season.
Fun Fact #3: Home underdogs getting a start of 4 or more points in the opening four rounds of the season are 38-7 against the line.
Rumour Mill: Luke Brooks will be at Canterbury next year bar a late change of mind Mitchell Moses style. The Tigers will retain their other three big names. Des Hasler will not be his coach though with Ivan Cleary favoured to take the reins of the Bulldogs in 2018. Kieran Foran is very much shopping himself to Australian clubs despite not playing a game for his new club New Zealand. Gareth Widdop is looking at offers to return to England. The Saints are also set to lose Josh Dugan.
Betting Market of the Week: Jamal Idris will finish the season:
$51: Play for NSW and Australia
$2.50: Turn out to be an average first grader
$1.50: Playing NSW Cup
Robbie Farah’s Anger Levels: Catastrophic – A bitter player like Farah got towelled by his old club and had a general stinker to boot.
What I Like About … Fox League: Everything. Just everything. I’ll never watch Nine again. The commentary is superior. The shows are smarter. The talent is more astute. And it is just 24 hours of Rugby League. The Professor’s new show is one of the funniest things on television. Andrew Voss is a star. It is great to have Yvonne Sampson at a place where she is appreciated. Long live Fox League.
Game of the Year Nomination, Round 1: North Queensland – Canberra, 20-16. Round 1 games are never of this quality, particularly in the heat, and the finish will be hard to match at any time throughout the year. Cracking game with some defensive brilliance.
The Coaching Crosshairs: Des Hasler has lost just a single game with Canterbury but is already under the pump after another insipid attacking display. He has six weeks to get Canterbury’s attack in order or he will be gone. And that attack will not turn around with the makeup of the current roster.
Moronic Coaching Decision of the Week: Michael Maguire gets the gold, silver and bronze here. His decision to let Greg Inglis play on with a potential ACL tear was absolutely moronic. Leaving Damien Cook on the sidelines until the game was well and truly gone was silly. And keeping Robbie Rochow and Tom Burgess on the bench and dropping George Burgess while starting Dave Tyrell and Zane Musgrove gave all the indications that Michael Maguire has indeed flown over the cuckoo’s nest. Maguire may well have cost Inglis his season.
Beard Watch: Damien Cook has long been a favourite of this column – and has only increased his appeal with one of the great porn moustaches of all-time.
Watch It: There is always plenty of excitement when the new season comes around because you just aren’t sure how the game will be tweaked. So it was great to see the Bulldogs and Storm come out firing and bringing back the biff. Watch it here.