From The Couch: Round 11

Filed in From The Couch, NRL by on May 23, 2016

Blues Selection Analysis: Let’s start with the positives. It was fantastic to see Adam Reynolds named for his Origin debut. He arguably should have been selected the last two series and he has certainly been the most consistent half available since 2014. His pairing with James Maloney provides NSW with a strong kicking game and some legitimate creativity.Josh Mansour is a similar tale. He has been overdue an Origin call-up. His ability to ruck the ball out off his own line is the No.1 asset you want from a winger in Origin.

The dismissal of aging forwards with little attacking impact will also serve the Blues well. Beau Scott and Ryan Hoffman have been great servants to the Blues but they are one dimensional types on the downslope of their careers. An aggressive pack full of ball-runners at least suggests a cohesive plan. Andrew Fifita, David Klemmer and James Tamou are all extremely damaging runners who can punch holes in an aging Queensland team.

But the negatives outweigh the positives.

The selection of Dylan Walker as the bench utility is bordering on criminal. He is an out-of-form player who has been stuck out of position all year on a bad team and one who offers zero utility value. He has been picked because he plays for Manly and because Bob Fulton is a selector. There is absolutely no other explanation for it. He is more chance of not getting on the field than he is of getting on it.

Playing Josh Dugan in the centres is just idiotic and goes against all evidence seen at both the Dragons and the Kangaroos this year. He is a fullback. He should be in the No.1 with James Roberts in the centres.

The naming of a 19-man squad suggests Laurie Daley and Bozo have no idea what they are doing. They have put together a decent side. But their blind-spots will cost the Blues again.

Burn Down The Bunker: If the NRL is putting people in charge of the bunker who think that Josh Dugan did not ground the loose kick in the Dragons-Rabbits game on Thursday night but Paul Carter did, then perhaps we need a total cleanout of NRL HQ. Stevie Wonder in the throes of a crystal meth hallucination in a dark room with a blindfold on could tell that Dugan grounded the ball yet the bunker awarded a key try to the Rabbits. Tony Archer will be removed as referees boss – as soon as this week – and the influence of the bunker will be severely curtailed in the coming weeks after secret changes by the rules committee but unless the right people are put in the chair it will all be for nought.

That’s No Peach: Tyrone Peachey’s costly error when he failed to dive on his dropped ball at the end of the Panthers-Titans game was infuriating to anybody familiar with even the most basic understanding of the phrase “play to the whistle”. He cost his team two points and for a team that will be fringe eight at best, it could have huge ramifications.

2016 Field Goal Update – 16: Johnathan Thurston’s match-winner against the Broncos was a fantastic kick considering he was suffering from a hip injury at the time that was causing him obvious discomfort. A bonus mention goes to former Wests Tigers half Jacob Miller who landed a 51-metre field goal on Magic Weekend to deliver Wakefield a stunning and shocking 25-24 win over Catalans.

Fun Fact #1: Canterbury are 2-0 with a +38 differential since Tony Williams was dropped by Des Hasler.

Fun Fact #2: Dylan Walker is 5-10 when playing in the halves or at fullback and 39-20 when starting in the three-quarter line.

Fun Fact #3: Since 2000 NSW have selected just two outside backs on the interchange bench and on both occasions the Blues lost and the plan was abandoned for the next match.

Rumour Mill: One high-profile Sydney star is set to be caught up in a betting scandal that allegedly involves a colourful racing identity. Manu Vatuvei has supposedly played his last game for the Warriors after falling out with coach Andrew McFadden. He is being shopped to Japanese and French rugby union. Robbie Rochow is likely to sign with Cronulla for 2017 while Tariq Sims is seriously considering an offer from Manly. Steve Matai and Brett Stewart are both expected to be released from their deals in 2017. Jason Clark and Tony Williams are on the verge of signing deals with the Wests Tigers.

Betting Market of the Week: The next drama to engulf the Parramatta Eels will be:

$6.00: A Beau Scott serial killer investigation
$3.00: Corey Norman joins the Hells Angels
$5.50: Semi Radradra leaves to play Fiji 7s rugby union
$7.00: Junior Paulo is secretly caught under a mask trying out for the WWE
$2.60: Brad Arthur’s first name turns out to be Arthur

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The Barrett and Bozo Show: Bob Fulton has done it again with his fingerprints all over the left-field selection of Dylan Walker as the NSW utility. There is no doubt he has pulled a Jamie Buhrer and picked a Manly favourite. It is genius salary cap play though, allowing Walker to pick up a fat cheque for playing rep footy while counting for zero toward the cap. While it does seem funny it is actually a disgrace that denigrates both the NSW jersey and the concept of the salary cap.

What I Like About … Ash Taylor: The Titans have a real player in the young No.7 Taylor and his long-term partnership with Kane Elgey could be one of the best to watch over the next decade. Taylor has a wonderful array of natural skills but his most impressive characteristic has been his football IQ. He is cool under pressure. He is not prone to rash plays. Playing with Tyrone Roberts this year has been great for his development and if the Titans can put some talent in the outside backs he can emerge as the best of the rookie and sophomore halves in the premiership.

The Coaching Crosshairs: It is astonishing that Andrew McFadden has not lost his job as Warriors head coach after yet another abysmal display from his team that clearly refuse to play for him. Regardless of who is right and who is wrong, the simple fact is that the fit is not working. The players are not producing for McFadden with some open insurrection to go with some lifeless displays on the paddock. The Warriors have a limited window with this team and need to go all out for the finals this season – not let another year go down the toilet.

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 11: North Queensland – Brisbane, 19-18. The two best matches of this season have undoubtedly been the rematches of last year’s Grand Final, both of which have been decided by a field goal. This was an absolute thriller marked by the class of Johnathan Thurston, the desperate defence and the fierceness of each pack. Wayne Bennett is right. If the NRL is fair dinkum they will cancel the rest of the season and just put these two teams against each other every week in a best of 17 series.

Moronic Coaching Decision of the Week: David Bhana has been among Newcastle’s best players in every match he has played yet he continues to get dumped by Nathan Brown. In a team with few options, it makes absolutely no sense at all why Brown would drop Bhana after some strong and consistent performances. It is hard to make any case that Brown actually knows what he is doing at the moment.

Beard Watch: Josh Dugan’s form may have fluctuated this year but there is certainly no inconsistency with his ever-growing bikie beard that could have won him a place in ‘Sons of Anarchy’. Dugan will go into Origin I with arguably the longest Blue beard since Noel Cleal in the 1980s.

Correspondence Corner: Bluey, I completely agree that Jordan Rapana is the best fullback at the Raiders.

AI, he did run for a lot of metres. He also cost them the game and made so many crucial errors.

G_Dog, I think centre might be more his go.

Watch It: My old pal and Rugby League tragic dug into the archives this week to send me the very first Super League match played – between Sheffield and Paris St Germain. Watch history happen here.


Comments (4)

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  1. Mark says:

    spot on call regarding the Fulton influence on the Walker selection. It’s so obvious it’s a crime. Get rid of Fulton and watch the Blues start to succeed. There should be no connection in clubland at all.

  2. Andrew Quinn says:

    Clearly Dugan is a magician. He rolled his hand over the ball, as it levitated above the ground.

  3. Cam says:

    What odds would you have given last week for Norman and Segeyaro to be photographed eating Chinese with gun-suppliers / terror suspects / bikies? What about a multi with the above scenario followed by a drug bust?
    What about all of the above AND player is free to play?

  4. Ben Bartlett says:

    Was baffled by some of the selections. I’m obviously a Manly fan but am struggling to see how Walker fits. Have we picked a good enough goal kicker Ted? Matt Burke could come out of retirement and make a code swap with the recent trend to take the two. What happened to attacking footy. Times have changed!