From The Couch: Round 11

Filed in From The Couch, NRL by on May 27, 2013

From The Couch: Round 11

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly – Origin Selection Notes: Laurie Daley is the new NSW coach and as expected, he has become nothing but a Bob Fulton lackey who has picked a rotten team that cannot bring the Origin shield home for the Blues.

Once again, the Blues have gone for the default: size out wide, meaningless experience in the pack, a halfback who has shown nothing.

There were some good decisions made in the selection of the Blues side. Andrew Fifita was a ballsy decision and the right one. Trent Merrin needed to be in the team. While I leant towards Todd Carney, it really was line ball with James Maloney.

There were some awful calls though and it will cost the Blues dearly.

Blake Ferguson – the first Willie M Medal winner to play Origin – was picked ahead of a number of players, including Michael Gordon. Gordon is a champion. Ferguson is a flat track bully whose defensive deficiencies are immense. This is Eric Grothe jnr all over again.

Sticking with Mitchell Pearce was a gutless and rotten decision, selected only on a self-fulfilling prophecy. I will make this prediction with total confidence: Mitchell Pearce will never play in a winning Origin series for the  Blues. Adam Reynolds is a better player with more upside.

Leaving Aaron Woods out to select Ryan Hoffman – or even Luke Lewis – was poor. Kurt Gidley is a great player – and I have been a great defender of his – but he has struggled this year.

The Queensland side is far more stable and it is hard to argue with most of it. The backline picks itself, though no cover was named for Darius Boyd. He won’t play. The smart move will be to replace him with Justin O’Neill. The likelihood is Dane Nielsen. Perhaps Mal has a heart.

The forward pack – you really can’t argue with any position.

The bench is the only point of contention. Corey Parker is a lay down. Matt Gillett was expected though after last year, is very lucky. Ben Te’o beat out Dave Taylor, quite rightly. Chris McQueen will make his debut, beating out prop Martin Kennedy and outstanding backs Daly Cherry-Evans and Ben Barba. Cherry-Evans was the stiffest. He could play as the creative lock if required. Mal has picked the best side if there are no injuries. If a half goes down, they are in strife.

It is hard not to think the Maroons will win 3-0. The Blues may pinch a game with two at home. They won’t win two though.

Haiku for Peter Hiku:
The clumsy fullback
Hands akin to busted bricks
Split-pea heart

The Lyon’s Den: Deep in the throes of a brutal betting rut, I couldn’t help but ponder who was to blame. The answer, almost certainly, is Jamie Lyon, who managed to turn me hunt me down like the pigs he likes to shoot up Wee Waa way. He got me again on Saturday night when I unleashed on the Sea Eagles spotting 6.5 points. The Sea Eagles outscored the Raiders four tries to two but won by just six thanks to Lyon’s 0-from-4. Had I have had the plus, he would have nailed it from the sideline. We have that kind of relationship these days.

Just Do It Canberra: The fact the Canberra Raiders have not already jumped on Penrith skipper Kevin Kingston and grabbed his signature for 2013 says plenty about the sloth-like nature of the club. The Raiders fancy they are close to a title run. They aren’t but by the same token, at their best, they are a good team. They have been dreadfully lacking in one area though – hooker. Not since Lincoln Withers – and even he was a questionable proposition – have the Raiders had an even semi-competent hooker. Kingston is better than competent – he is good and he is in great form, finishing with three Dally M Medal votes against the Dragons. He has also been told by the Panthers he won’t be at the club in 2014 thanks to the rise of James Segeyaro. Canberra have to get his signature.

Parramatta are also in desperate need of Kingston but they certainly won’t be smart enough to get him. They let him go after the 2009 decider and have been rotten ever since and wouldn’t know a good recruit if it punched them in the ear.

Ricky’s Rouse: Ricky Stuart has done a wonderful job at the Eels. It is hard to imagine they have gone backwards under his tutelage but they have. And his promise of new recruits have brought nothing. Stuart is a fraud and an expensive one at that. The Eels, if they haven’t found that out yet, will find it out soon.

Kelly Robbed: Albert Kelly was robbed of a fair and spectacular try against the Eels on Sunday. Kelly chipped and was clearly trying to re-gather the ball in a game of chicken with Jarryd Hayne, when the ball propelled forward. Kelly collected, raced the distance and Matt Cecchin decided try when he sent it up. It was overturned. There was no clear evidence to overturn the decision, a problem the video referees are having an issue with understanding. Video refs can only overturn if there is clear evidence – often there is not. Daniel Anderson must crack down soon.

Fun Fact #1: St George Illawarra and St George have never been held scoreless at Kogarah until last Saturday. The Dragons have played at the venue for 63 years.

Fun Fact #2: Brenton Lawrence is the fastest player at Manly over 40 metres.

Rumour Mill: Penrith have reportedly made a big play for former halfback Peter Wallace. It is not clear why they are making the big-money play as they seem to be settled with their 1,6 and 7 with Matt Moylan, Lachlan Coote and Jamie Soward. Whether Wallace heads back to the Panthers will very much be dependent on the future of Daly Cherry-Evans, who has been linked to the Broncos. Cherry-Evans has close links to the Broncos and Manly have reportedly missed a number of incentive triggers. The money is he will stay with Manly. English hard man Gareth Hock will pull out of his deal with Parramatta, humiliating the Eels again. Hock will move to Salford. Sonny Bill Williams is set to return to rugby union next year but Israel Folau will return, set to sign with the Bulldogs.

What I Love About … Mudgee: Gee, if ever a bush town set an example for how to encourage the NRL, it was the lovely town of Mudgee, who turned on a fine show and came along in droves to watch just the fifth premiership fixture played in country NSW west of the Blue Mountains. There has been no better looking track all year and the sight of a packed ground was something else. The NRL must encourage NRL clubs to take games bush. It turned a miserable match into something very special.

Betting Market of the Week: This week, Laurie Daley will be:

$26: Developing a game plan for Origin I
$3.50: Nodding politely to Bob Fulton
$2.80: Conjuring ways to top his ’89 Grand Final celebration if the Blues stun the Maroons
$1.40: Informing Mitchell Pearce he has been named halfback … for the 2017 series.

Power Rankings:
1.South Sydney 9-2 (1)
2. Melbourne 8-2-1 (4)
3. Sydney Roosters 8-3 (2)
4. Manly 7-3-1 (3)
5. Cronulla 6-5 (5)
6. Penrith 5-6 (9)
7. Canterbury 5-6 (11)
8. Brisbane 5-6 (6)
9. Gold Coast 6-5 (12)
10. Newcastle 6-5 (7)
11. Canberra 5-6 (8)
12. North Queensland 4-7 (10)
13. St George Illawarra 4-7 (13)
14. New Zealand 3-8 (15)
15. Wests Tigers 3-8 (16)
16. Parramatta 3-8 (14)

Combo XIII of the Week: Penrith and St George/St George Illawarra, it would appear, do not have a strong history when it comes to shard players.

1.Amos Roberts
2. Kurt Landers
3. Steve Robinson
4. Graeme Bradley
5. Nick Youngquest
6. Tony Trudgett
7. Matt Rodwell
13. John Cross
12. Craig Stapleton
11. Colin Ward
10. Bryan Norrie
9. Luke Priddis
8. Ben Ross

Correspondence Corner: Morfs, an absolute belter of a game. The referee is the sole arbiter of time but he was wrong to call time off and then call halftime without restarting the clock. He called time off with one second to go. The scrum should have proceeded.

Jason from Singapore, you are spot on about David Stagg. It says plenty about the Eels and the Tigers – and their current ladder positions – that they couldn’t find room for a proven workhorse yet have money in the kick for the likes of Adam Blair, Ben Smith, Bodene Thompson, Braith Anasta, Darcy Lussick and plenty more. And I totally agree coaches need time but we have 10 years of evidence regarding Matt Elliott’s coaching – he won’t be changing anything.

Davey G, excellent point on scrums. And I totally agree on incentivising deals but it would require a league-wide re-think.

Anonymous, Tony Williams deserved his votes last week.

Anonymous, apologies – I just wish Krisnan Inu was at Parramatta.

Anonymous, Andrew Gee needs this. So, seemingly, does Phil Gould.

The Coaching Crosshairs: It is tough to see too many scenarios how Neil Henry’s job at North Queensland remains viable. The Cowboys’ loss to the Tigers on Friday was one of the most humiliating in the club’s history. The loss had nothing to do with talent but attitude and structure. He has lost the players. How does a team with the Australian prop pairing and an Immortal in the halves lose to a team that is essentially a NSW Cup outfit? His grip on the job has been tenuous at best is slipping all the time.

The Life and Times of the Special Needs Penguin: The Penguin found his natural conditions on Monday night with the rains pouring but he failed to shine with his flippers simply slipping off Souths’ attacking threats.

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 11: Manly-Canberra, 16-10. Not a great weekend of rugby league but this was a nice game of footy. The Raiders jumped the gun before being clawed in by a gutsy Sea Eagles team. Edrick Lee came of age for the Raiders while Brenton Lawrence’s tackle on Blake Ferguson was superb.

Beard Watch: Making The Nut is officially calling on Canterbury prop James Graham to grow a full-on beard. It would be the best beard in rugby league. Come on Jimmy.

Watch It: This week we go back to 1986 for some rare footage of the match between Canterbury and a Newcastle outfit in the Newcastle Herald Challenge. One of the early highlights is seeing a young Rick Stone. Watch it here


Comments (7)

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  1. Bulldogtimbo says:

    Nick you didn't think Ryan Girdler good enough for a centre spot for your Combo XII?

    Or were Steelers not eligible?

  2. SemiiPro says:

    Origin time. The most boring 8 weeks of the year. Yawn. Like its been for at least ten years, it’s simply a game of human specimens v human specimens. Coaches and tactics need not apply for relevance. Qld still have the best specimens so they will win.

  3. mick k says:

    Fun Fact #3 – The NSW halves pairing polled a total 33 votes in the 2012 Willie M's – I think that says it all. Although Maloney's form has improved this year he is a solid player at best. With an inexperienced (and clueless) coach and an inept Pearce at halfback, NSW will lack the creativity that Carney and/or Adam Reynolds would have offered. Its difficult to see where NSW's points are going to come from other than the kick.

    • Anonymous says:

      Carney needed to be there. He is the most creative half NSW have to offer. Reynolds is not ready. He has shown earlier on this year he does not deal well with pressure defense and has often been caught with the ball on 4th and 5th or made rushed, rubbish kicks. Carney on the other hand can calve up a rushing defense so they tend to stand off him. Which is why he needs to be there. He played well in G3 last year even nailing a high pressure conversion to put us ahead.


      I think Toddy will find himself in sky blue again soon. One has to ask the real reason he was not picked? I don't buy this "calming influence" rubbish! How can an origin rookie be a calm influnce in an origin game?

  4. Anonymous says:

    I agree that the NSW side probably isn't good enough to win the series.  You could (and have) made arguments for and against a lot of the players in the side, but last year's team nearly got the job done, so why didn't they stick with encumbents and simply replace the injured players.  Grant, Carney and Mannah may not be playing for well performing teams, but haven't been playing badly enough to deserve to be left out.  There is always a chorus of former players advocating their favourites, but they should look north to see how to select a team.  Two of the best players in the comp (DCE and Barba) can't get a game, even though their form might warrant it.  The QLD selectors stay faithful to the team that has got the job done in the past and, after so many years together, they know each other as well as their club team mates.


    I don't think the QLD team would be in too much strife if a half was taken out.  I imagine that Smith would go into the halves, Slater to hooker (he is a fantastic dummy half), GI to fullback and Gillett or Teo into the centres.  My concern is more with the front row rotation, given that the bench is made up of back rowers.  I assume that means that Thaiday and Myles will have to pick up the slack there.  I think Gillett's form this year is far better than what got him in the side last year, but we might struggle without that additional prop (either Martin Kennedy or Josh McGuire) on the bench.  If QLD happens to lose, I expect that will be the change that is made, with either Gillett or McQueen having to make way.


    Jason from Singapore

    • Anonymous says:

      I realise now that Mannah didn’t play last year, but my point about last year’s team remains.

      Jason from Singapore

  5. Anonymous says:

    How many players go backwards under Ricky Stewart? Last year Daniel Harrison was very impressive as a replacement forward for manly, and lussick was promising off the bench, although good for a mistake or 3. How do two forwards who were not out of place in a top 4 team’s forward rotation become reserve graders in a matter of months? Ricky that’s how. Surely Harrison would be an improvement on parra’s current crop? Cam