From The Couch: Round 1

Filed in From The Couch, NRL by on March 9, 2015


Daly Dollars: Daly Cherry-Evans did the right thing by taking the cash and the power and signing with the Titans. The present may be bleak at the Gold Coast but there is room to build a future. The same can’t be said of Manly and in particular Cherry-Evans at Brookvale, who clearly seemed to have alienated some teammates. It was the smart play from DCE.

It was also a pretty handy move from the Titans, who can now rebuild around not only one of the best young halves in the NRL but also one of the most marketable ones.

It does raise the question about what role the NRL played in Cherry-Evans’ move. The Sea Eagles complained about it but it was the Sharks who were the hardest done by. He was never staying at Manly but the Sharks would have been heavily favoured if the NRL hadn’t guaranteed the Titans’ future.

The NRL is treading a fine line and is – as always – making the rules up as it goes. For once the NRL has enough money to actually prop up failing clubs and it has done so on three occasions. While this is, of course, a positive for the game, the League must put in place rules around what clubs can and cannot do if they are propped up and that must surely include the recruitment of big-name free agents.

It is also high-time the NRL looks at private ownership and the impact it has on the game when a club suffers financial troubles like Newcastle and the Gold Coast. Private ownership is the way of the future but the NRL needs to get greater security from owners before accepting the licence.

Cherry-Evans may well save the Titans. Whether he should be allowed to is another matter entirely.

Match Review Committee Madness: If someone from the NRL would care to explain the logic behind their gradings, it would be just dandy. It makes zero sense that Junior Paulo is facing nine weeks on the sideline while Mitchell Moses can avoid suspension and Jack Wighton isn’t even charged after punching Sosaia Feki in the face. There is zero consistency, zero proportionality and zero sense.

Delicious Des: It is hard not to love Des Hasler after his “suggestion” that referees should have post-match press conferences now coaches don’t have any right to speak about their performances. Officials again get a free pass when it comes to accountability. It is fabulous to see Hasler jam it up the NRL while avoiding a fine. The NRL has done it all wrong and should be looking for more accountability and not less from referees.

Expansion Eels: Parramatta will be found out by the good teams and they will put the hurt on the bad teams such is their position in their life cycle. They may well be the most entertaining team to watch in 2015 though thanks to their expansive game. They have plenty of attacking weapons and it is a joy to watch. It is also great to see Brad Arthur give the green light to early spreads from penalty kicks and offloads in their own half. They will be one of the better teams to watch in 2015.

Perfect Pat: There are few more clutch players in the game than Pat Richards. There are no better exponents of the field goal. It was great to see him pot another winner. We are just around the corner from another spectacular drop goal from one of the greats.

2015 Field Goal Count: 1 – a sad state of affairs.

Buy The 2015 Punters Guide: We all love Rugby League. Some of us like betting on it. Some of us love fantasy. Most like tipping. We all care about the results. Whatever kink you have with Rugby League, the 2015 Punters Guide has it and it costs only $9.95. You will not only be getting a great read and helpful tool but you’ll be supporting this author who I can only assume you love very much. Get your copy here.

Fun Fact #1: Gold Coast prop Eddy Pettybourne was listed in the official team sheets as Edward.

Fun Fact #2: Titans rake Kierran Moseley was the only player to not make a single run with the ball in Round 1.

Fun Fact #3: Eight players with hyphens played in Round 1, including Reagan Campbell-Gillard (whose name contains an American President, a British Prime Minister and an Australian Prime Minister).

Fun Fact #4: The Brisbane-South Sydney game featured four penalty shots at goal.

Rumour Mill: The most popular rumour doing the rounds right now is that Kieran Foran to Parramatta is a done deal. If he does go he may not be the only Eagle to make Parramatta Stadium home. In good news for the Eagles though, Tom Burgess will be joining the club in 2016. Australian prop James Tamou was shopped all offseason and could lob at Brookvale as early as this year. He is off with Paul Green. Don’t be surprised to see Daniel Anderson mentioned as a possible candidate to coach Manly next year. There is almost zero chance the Mata’utia boys head to Canterbury as a trio next season but don’t be surprised to see Pat or Chanel take their chances at Belmore. Sam Thaiday is unlikely to be at the Broncos next season with Newcastle, Manly and South Sydney potential homes. Dane Gagai is a likely returner to Brisbane in 2016.

What I Like About … Roger Tuivasa-Sheck: Let me tell you right now … Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is going to become the best fullback in the competition. It will be after Billy retires and GI enters his decline but RTS could well be the best player in the game come 2018 or ’19. In his first game as the permanent custodian of the Chooks, he destroyed the Cowboys. He has the most sublime footwork in the game, speed to burn and serious Rugby League smarts. There are few more enjoyable players to watch in the NRL.

Betting Market of the Week: After taking Mitch Brown, Ben Barba and Michael Ennis from Canterbury – and having previously forked out for Karl Filiga and paid Corey Hughes – Cronulla’s next purchase from the Bulldogs will be:

$101.00: A quality key position player
$7.00: The ghost of Matt Utai
$4.50: Canterbury’s brand new advances in sports science – calves blood, eye paint and torpedoes
$1.40: A lemon disguised as Tony Williams

Manly Collapse Update: Beaten by rivals Parramatta by 30. Star halfback Daly Cherry-Evans signs for a club that recently went bust and has not played finals football since 2009. Champion five-eighth Kieran Foran suffers a hamstring injury. Rising outside back Clint Gutherson’s season came to an end after doing an ACL. On the scale of bad weeks, Manly’s is right up there.

Referee Power Rankings: A new addition this season – replacing the club power rankings – the referee power rankings, ranking the eight senior referees from best to worst based on form and form only.

  1. Gerard Sutton
  2. Ashley Klein
  3. Jared Maxwell
  4. Gavin Badger
  5. Adam Devcich
  6. Gavin Morris
  7. Ben Cummins
  8. Matt Cecchin

The Coaching Crosshairs: It would be a major surprise if Geoff Toovey was coaching the Manly Sea Eagles next season. It wouldn’t shock if he became the first Manly coach to be fired mid-season since Harold Johnston in the club’s debut season. Toovey is in plenty of guns despite a pretty impressive record since taking over the club three seasons back. New CEO Joe Kelly certainly doesn’t seem to be  a fan. Daly Cherry-Evans has left and Kieran Foran is about to. Toovey is out of the loop with recruitment and retention. One star player allegedly lost the plot at the coach during the offseason, declaring he had no idea how to coach. Manly is being held together by tape now and when it all comes crashing down it will be Toovey who pays the price.

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 1: Penrith-Canterbury, 24-18. There weren’t too many outstanding games over the opening round. The Panthers-Bulldogs was played at a reasonably high standard. Penrith looked great out of the boxes but the Bulldogs came close to running them down once they started playing football. The Panthers deserved the win. Canterbury fans deserve to see the Bulldogs play some football.

Ricky Stuart Stat of the Week: Ricky Stuart coached teams are 10-2 in their opening matches including a 5-2 record since he has left the Roosters. Over those six seasons he has coached in the finals just once.

Correspondence Corner: Post your thoughts, questions and criticisms at the bottom of this article and I’ll do my best to get back to you.

Beard Watch: There is always plenty of facial hair news worth talking about at the beginning of the season but not much beats Jamie Soward’s spectacular 1980s moustache. He has grown it on a bet with Bryce Cartwright and it looks all the more spectacular with Soward’s surly attitude.


Watch It: Perhaps Cronulla should have gone to James Graham to ask his thoughts on Mitch Brown before signing him. Watch Graham’s epic blowup at Brown in last year’s final against Manly here.



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Comments (3)

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  1. Jason says:

    Great to have you back, Nick!

    Couldn’t agree more regarding the inconsistency of the judiciary referrals & gradings from round 1. I’m a glass half full kind of guy, so was hoping for improvement this season, but it’s not looking great so far. It wasn’t a great looking tackle in the Eels game, but I’ve seen far worse get a lot less.

    I thought you were a bit tough on Ben Hunt in the Willie M medal. He wasn’t great, but was let down by his forward pack and a plethora of errors from the whole team. I assume you let Thaiday off the hook after he was publicly (and rightly so) blasted by the coach. Jack Reed, on the other hand, should have been hooked after he let the first try in. After being allowed to play out the 80 and only making matters worse, he deserved 3 WMM points.

    • Wes says:

      Agreed. It is without doubt that Jack Reed was the worst player on the field. He was atrocious. He has no pace, no palm, no footwork, no size, not sure why he is in the team. He is supposed to be a ‘defensive’ centre. In this day and age you need to be both. I’d have Copley in the centres and Vidot on the wing.

      Great to see you back Nick!

  2. Adsoes says:

    Great to have On The Couch back!

    Speaking of back – please please PLEASE take Mitch Brown back…how he was selected ahead of Holmes is a mystery (would have thrown Jack Bird in ahead of Beale too, based on his scorching Auckland Nine’s form)…surely the fact that Barba failed to find touch (leading directly to a try to Canberra) AND kicked out on the full in the same match is the only reason Brown didn’t edge him for the 3 Willie M points…