From The Couch: Round 11

Filed in From The Couch, NRL by on May 25, 2015

State of Origin I Preview: There is very little to say. Queensland will win and Queensland will win comfortably. They will do so in a low scorer where the final margin will bely the Maroons’ actual dominance. It is a sad reality for the Blues but one brought about by Laurie Daley and Bob Fulton and their decision to disregard the positive lessons of last year to revert to type.

Loyalty is selective.

Halves proven at Origin level are discarded for those who are proven failures at Origin level.

Speed is sacrificed for size at outside back.

Queensland have a better team than New South Wales. They did so last year as well but thanks to a statistical miracle the Blues won scoring just four tries. Four tries might be optimistic this year. No Jarryd Hayne and the inclusion of Mitchell Pearce to go with the loyalty shown to Will Hopoate and Trent Hodkinson and Josh Morris give the Blues almost no hope of scoring points. The Maroons score 10 points and the game is over.

It is a shame Daley couldn’t see the actual positives of the 2015 experience.

The Blues’ only hope is that their bench dominate and the game is played in the forwards and the total finishes sub-24 and the referees refuse to blow penalties.

Normal programming will resume in the opener on Wednesday.

Prediction: Queensland 16, New South Wales 6
Man of the Match: Corey Parker

Embarassing: The Daily Telegraph should be embarrassed over its coverage of State Of Origin, calling Mal Meninga ‘XXXX’ and dressing him in a baby bonnet. News has long gone from the Tele, which is now happy to shill itself to whatever humourless and pathetic whim Phil Rothfield thinks up when he is six reds deep.

Welcome Back David Stagg: It was wonderful to see David Stagg back in first grade for the Broncos this week. He is one of the great warriors. As one of my loyal Twitter followers noted, he “filled the Shane Rodney-sized hole in my heart”.

10-Minute Bin Gone: The referees have secretly conspired to get rid of the send off. They have seemingly done so to the sin bin as well. How Tariq Sims was not binned for a clear professional foul is beyond any decent thinking Rugby League man. It is not the first time and it won’t be the last. Officials need to let lawmakers make the rules. They need to enforce them.

Moronic: Sisa Waqa getting penalised for being offside from the kick-off in the clash with Canterbury ultimately cost the Raiders. It is the dumbest penalty you can give away and the Raiders deserved what they got in picking up Waqa – a guy who can score but a guy who makes moronic mistakes.

2015 Field Goal Count – 21: Josh Reynolds added to the quality of field goals slotted this year with arguably the widest one-pointer of 2015. It was a stunning wobbler that proved decisive. Anthony Milford also added one late for the Broncos.

Fun Fact #1: Clint Newton, who played his first game of the season on Monday night, made his first grade debut in 2001. The match featured Ivan Cleary, who is in his 10th season as an NRL coach.

Fun Fact #2: Parramatta have not kicked a conversion or a penalty goal in 210 minutes spanning three matches.

Rumour Mill: Cowboys prop James Tamou is on the nose with his club and will almost certainly shift to Canberra in 2016. Canterbury are supposedly very close to signing Daniel Vidot from the Broncos. The Bulldogs need major help at outside back. Chad Townsend will be playing in the No.7 for Cronulla next year. Josh McCrone is expected to go to Super League. Expect the NRL to split up television rights with the next deal with two and likely three networks having some form of Rugby League coverage.

What I Like About … Michael Gordon: Shane Flanagan does not appear to be someone who is particularly well known to the truth and he is not someone who seems to be of an overly considerate nature. There is little else to take from the disgraceful, despicable, deplorable handling of respected and revered fullback Michael Gordon. It is little wonder the Sharks got caught up in the ASADA fiasco – with Flanagan suspended for a year – and it is little wonder the club has not come close to winning a title under the former Ricky Stuart disciple. Gordon, a veteran of 160-plus top grade games, is reportedly a fine clubman who also happens to have been Cronulla’s best player over the last two seasons, at least according to their own award system. Flanagan decided a few weeks back to pull a rare move and sub Gordon – who had started as a winger – off for Ben Barba. Tremendous coaching strategy! Craig Bellamy must be re-evaluating everything he knows. With Gordon’s future in the Shire seemingly very short, he was offered an immediate transfer to Parramatta with a deal that included next year. It was a win for Gordon, a win for the Eels and had no impact on the Sharks – yet Flanagan and a former soccer club CEO kiboshed the deal at the last minute. Gordon has now walked out on the club. Rugby League is not about the deceit the Sharks have pulled on Gordon. Hopefully the talented former Blues player finds his way to a club that welcomes him and soon.

Betting Market of the Week: Mitchell Pearce’s Origin performance will:

$201.00: Be of Man of the Match quality.
$101.00: Defy the evidence of 12 previous Origin matches and be a significant factor contributing to a Blues win.
$51.00: Be serviceable and reasonably competent.
$1.02: A miserable replica of his previous 12 performances.

Manly Collapse Update: Talk of Manly’s imminent demise may have been somewhat premature with star half Daly Cherry-Evans giving every indication he will remain with the Sea Eagles in 2016 as speculation ramped up that his halves partner next year will be Todd Carney. Cherry-Evans took a rare public position over the weekend – seemingly admitting to leveraging the Titans deal with the Sea Eagles to get more coin – while all the chatter has been that Carney is close to signing. That is one halves pairing that could take a team to a premiership.

The Coaching Crosshairs: The hottest rumour doing the Rugby League rounds this week has been the speculation that Penrith coach Ivan Cleary will be returning to Brookvale and coaching Manly in 2016. Cleary played 15 games for the Sea Eagles in 1992-93. If Manly could lure Cleary across the bridge it would be one of the sharpest and most astute signings the club could make and would almost certainly indicate Daly Cherry-Evans will remain at Manly next season and beyond.

Referee Power Rankings: Not much action from the officials this weekend, mercifully, though Gavin Badger edged his way up the rankings after a decisive performance where he refused to get talked into going upstairs by lippy players.

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

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 11: Canberra-Canterbury, 34-41. If any game gets close to this classic which had everything anyone could hope for, we are in for a treat. This is the game of the year to date and will almost certainly take the award on October. Rugby League doesn’t get much more exciting or much more thrilling than it did on Sunday with a blown lead, 13 tries, injuries, controversy, a match-winning field goal and so much more. Wow.

Ricky Stuart Stat of the Week: Ricky Stuart has now lost 13 of 15 games against Des Hasler coached teams. Stuart’s last win against Hasler was in 2008.

Beard Watch: It is tough to go past the touch judge from the Bulldogs-Raiders classic in Canberra, the one Josh Reynolds almost decked after having a try disallowed because of a forward pass. Peter Gough is relatively new to the top grade but with a full beard like he was sporting he could become the next Martin Weekes.

Correspondence Corner: Al D, agree we are cast with the Blues halves not Adam Reynolds is hurt but we certainly didn’t take the least worst option. We took close to the worst worst option.

Chris and Mav, the review panel agreed with you both. I think he was lucky but I’m glad he gets to play.

Andrew Quinn and Knight Vision, I couldn’t disagree more regarding Cameron Smith’s fairness as a player.

Mat, the Tigers lost that game on their own but video refs have way too much power. They should have none. It is time to get rid of them and give on-field officials the power of video review.

Tuesday Roast, how good have these obscure scores been?!

Watch It: Wigan and Great Britain prop Barrie McDermott was one of the great thugs of the 1990s and long staged a running war with Tigers tyro Paul Sironen. McDermott got the best of this battle when he launched a vicious elbow that broke Sironen’s jaw. McDermott was not sent off or even penalised by referee David Campbell, the infamous “bottle-less git” of the best video on You Tube. Watch McDermott’s heinous shot – for which he received just two weeks suspension – right here.



Comments (5)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Strettell says:

    As always this is the best rugby league read you will get every week.

    I actually attended the Origin the other night as a guest in a corporate suite (i would never actually pay to watch it live these days) and was wishing during every minute that I was at home in front of my TV.

    I have probably missed no more than five origins ever so feel I am reasonably well placed to comment on the fixture despite not being from either of the 2 States (I have lived in NSW for 7 years however).

    Mark down Wednesday 27th May 2015 as the day state of origin died, although there is an argument that this happened 2 years earlier but NSW winning the thing probably rubs out that notion. The game was painstakingly boring played in slow motion, players attempting to execute the most basic and uninspiring gameplans was akin to your garden variety NRL game without the crowd.

    Anyone who still utters the words “origin is the pinnacle of the game” simply has rocks in their head and if the whispers are true about officially integrating (the rules have long been rorted) non Australians into the fixture then the NRL are actually smarter than we give them credit.

    It became clear as Alan Tongues translucent skin on Wednesday night that origin is missing over 50% of the games best players. This wasn’t the case 10 or possibly even 5 years ago but is abundantly obvious now.

    Put it down to the continual browning of the NRL as the primary reason however the 2 coaches reluctance to pick players with flair as they aren’t “Origin” players (no frills white guys that run hard and straight and don’t make mistakes) sure plays its part.

    Can someone remind me what William Hopoate has ever done apart from a pre mission behind the back pass in the 2011 GF, if he was white he he would be Jack Reed and don’t mistake his appearance for being evasive I haven’t seen him beat a man for weeks.

    You can wax lyrical about Robbie Farrah’s 50 tackles all you want, Dallas Johnson, Michael Luck & Shaun Fensom would do the same “in the origin cauldron” but his offensive skills have dwindled to such an extent that id think long and hard about selecting him again in teh future.

    Nick I’ve agreed with your thoughts on Pearce for years and two years ago was aghast with his bottom feeding kicking game that I declared he has the single worst kicking game in the NRL. On Wednesday his kicking game was all time, his mini bombs to Slater with no pressure were embarrassing and the fact that he continued to do so was a just as much an inditement on him as it was on the buffoon who came up with them. He did tackle extremely well though so props to him as he does have ticker, he just isn’t up to representative level.

    What made me cement my view of origin was the ease at which Queensland scored then they actually touched down, it was as predictable as a Uate handling error under pressure in his own 20. The same plays were run over and over and over in the Anzac team only to be repelled time and time again it actually became a joke.

    Ill give Darius Boyd a break having just come back from an achilles but right now he is Beau Ryan and nothing more, Beau Ryan played the game for the sole reason of milking a penalty by humping the ground and Darius is no better currently

    Given that there are 2 games still to go NSW will benefit greatly from getting Brett Morris & Paul Gallen back but they would do a lot worse than looking hard at Blake Austin, Bryce Cartwright & James Roberts. Roberts would scare the bejesus out of the Queenslander’s, he is an excitement machine and makes William Hopoate look like Joel Reddy.

    My final point to highlight the death of origin is where ill pick origin teams from all NRL players with QLD getting Melbourne & NSW getting the Warriors, not a great sight NSW fans.

    Tuivasa-Sheck, B Morris, J Morris, D Whare, M Vatuvei, K Foran, S Johnson. P Gallen, G Bird, S Mannering, G Burgess, I Luke, B Mautalino. M Taupau, A Fifita, T Merrin, J Warea-Hargraves.

    B Slater, M Korobete, G Inglis, J Hodges, W Chambers, J Thurston, C Cronk, C Parker, J Taumololo, A Guerra, J Bromwich, C Smith, M Scott. K Proctor, T Harris, M Gillett, N Myles.

  2. Mike Butterfield says:

    I have had enough of the whole refereeing, video refs scenario, at the start of the season what the refs didn’t pick up on foul play the Video refs did, then the divers entered the scene, some were fair enough because the Referees missed them, some were play acting which the video refs despite one of them being an ex player could not pick out, the Roosters coach has a whinge with the Murdoch media supporting him & the refs & video refs do a 180 degree turnaround, now the genuine foul play is not being penalised, the video refs are looking and the silence is golden, why can’t they just get it right, I sit in my TV room & I can tell what is a illegal play & what is a dive & I haven’t played for 40 years so why can’t these fruit cakes tell the difference.

  3. Davey G says:

    Interesting to see Dwayne Johnson doing the Channel 9 promo for the Origin last night. Clearly there is nobody good enough locally to speak about the biggest game in Australian sport. The most amusing bit was part of his talk that mentioned something about the state you were born, then about 90 seconds later something about Will Chambers from the Northern Territory. The boring Channel 9 wank before every game is about as relevant and interesting these days as something that plain isn’t.
    While I was happy they changed the rules for coming up players, I would have preferred to remove the current ones that didn’t fit the new State requirements as well, cleaning it up straight away. I guess that is the way of the NRL, make a rule, eventually get around to enforcing it, and by then something else has come up.
    The comment above has a good opint about Brad Arthur – it’s not like he inherited this squad and was stuck with the 40 year old Whatuira’s and Webb’s. Watmough could use some time with Wenty to remind him he doesn’t just have to turn up to get paid – he already reminds me of the dire time Adam Dykes was with Parra – 3 very, very ordinary years later, he signed a deal to return to Cronulla, and stated “that’s always been my home” basically admitting the previous 3 years he wasn’t even trying. Stupid Dykes.

  4. Gus says:

    Great prediction on the game last night. Those first two sentences summed it up. While nsw had moments, Qld never really looked threatened after the halftime break.

  5. Anthony says:

    Can t believe you are not giving it to BRad Arthur . All the who ha in the off season . All the big spending and watmough declaring he is the best coach in the world and he is coming last . You give it yo sticky what about this bloke