From The Couch: Round 11

Filed in From The Couch, NRL by on May 24, 2011

State of Origin I Preview:The biggest hurdle New South Wales has had to overcome over the last five years is poor field position. Never mind all the talk about being outclassed, outhustled and outthought though these were, all, admittedly factors. It has been lack of field position that has been most costly. This has come about for three reasons: a poor kicking game, ordinary prop rotations and terrible ball handling.

Not much can be forecast about the last issue other than to note both Paul Gallen and Greg Bird have been told to rein in their offloads. That should at least signal more respect for the ball though if they wouldn’t curb this style under Craig Bellamy, I’m not convinced that Ricky will stop it. Most of the backline have a good set of hands and few play loose with the ball (except, cough cough, Michael Jennings). But ball control is usually something that comes about on the night.

On the second point, the Blues do, with the exception of Jason King, have a strong prop rotation. Kade Snowden, Tim Mannah and Trent Merrin are all young, big, aggressive prop forwards who can put the Blues on the front foot by bending Queensland’s line and winning the middle.

It is point No.1 which is most important though and is the biggest change for the Blues this season. For the first time since Andrew Johns played, New South Wales have a threatening kicking game that will force Queensland to start sets from deep in its own half. The problem with playing make shift five-eighths is that kicking is usually left solely to the halfback, allowing the opposition to hammer the pressure down on the No.7.

The Blues have rarely had a strong kicker and have usually only had one. This year they have two strong kickers including the longest and most accurate kicker in the NRL. The days of starting sets from halfway are over for Queensland. The importance of the selection of Jamie Soward cannot be overestimated and he is the reason I think the upset could be on at Lang Park.

For bettors, I certainly think that New South Wales will get within the 6 points start. For regular readers of this column, you will know that this is the first time I have plumped for a bet on the Blues in many years.

Queensland, of course, are a great team. They have a clear class edge with the likes of Darren Lockyer, Billy Slater, Jonathan Thurston and Cameron Smith. Down the spine, the Maroons are unrivalled, by arguably any team in Origin history. There is the added motivation of Darren Lockyer’s farewell run, a series opener at Lang Park for the first time in four years and two props at the peak of their powers.

There are weaknesses in the Maroons though, weaknesses, combined with the exuberance of New South Wales’ youth, that have Queensland vulnerable in the series opener.

Dane Nielsen may be a player of some promise while Jharal Yow Yeh has played well in 2011 but neither have the abilities of a Greg Inglis, Justin Hodges, Brent Tate or Israel Folau, at least at this stage of their careers. Inglis, in particular, is a significant loss. He has a remarkable ability to lift for Origin and though he has been ordinary so far this year, he would have been a significant problem for the Blues, particularly if he was to square up on Michael Jennings. The firepower of the Queensland backline is as low as it has been over their sustained period of success.

The other major weakness comes in the backrow. Nate Myles and Sam Thaiday were both outstanding in 2010 but both have been in indifferent form this year. Myles is really struggling while Thaiday is only playing marginally above average. The likes of Paul Gallen and Beau Scott can get the best of the Queensland backrow, really denting their go-forward on the fringes if they do.

In the last nine series openers, the Blues have a 5-4 edge but the most valuable stat is that in the last six series, only one margin has been double figures and that was a 10-point win to Queensland in 2009.  In the last two Lang Park openers, the margins have been 7 and 4.

I think Queensland will win the series but I think the Blues can pull off the upset in game one in what shapes as a fairly low scoring affair. New South Wales 13, Queensland 12.

Bill Harrigan Deserves a Pat on the Back: When Bill Harrigan was appointed referees’ boss, I was overcome with a wave of despair. I didn’t get out of bed for four days and even then, it was only because I had run out of the Queen Adelaide.

After eight years of Robert Finch, a reign of terror on par with any of the great despots of the last century, I held out hopes of freedom. It was a brutal time in the lives of every rugby league fan and when Finch was overthrown, there were scenes of pure joy.

That joy lasted until Harrigan was appointed referees’ boss.

Harrigan, of course, was Finch’s deputy and worse, was renowned for the nit-picking and illogical decision-making that marked the era. Harrigan was a quality referee but an arrogant one and was often the worst in the video referees box, always looking for the “cute” decision.

It was all going to be much of the same under Harrigan this year, I figured.

I am happy to admit that I was wrong, at least so far, with the standard of refereeing being as good as it has in living memory.

There are still some horrible decisions. The Ben Pomeroy try against the Dragons was a disgrace as was the Matt Prior try against the Bulldogs last week. Some referees are a little too stubborn. There are plenty who are too reticent to make a decision.

Overall though, more common sense is being used by the men in the middle and that has filtered up to the video box.  Referees are, for the most part, backing themselves more. They don’t appear to be looking for reasons to blow penalties or disallow tries or find indiscretions. They seem to have better control. There is an obvious reduction in the number of stupid obstruction penalties, the number of idiotic tries awarded by finger-tip touches, the number of stupid knock-on calls.

So a pat on the back goes to Bill Harrigan. He has changed the way rugby league has been refereed and as such, has reduced the stress levels of many rugby league fans. Let’s hope the officiating continues to improve.

A special mention also goes out to Adam Devcich. Devcich has only officiated 12 matches but has shown tremendous composure and control in his matches and will one day call a Grand Final. He is the most promising ref in the game.

The Best and Worst Moves of 2011:Recruitment and retention are critical to success in this age of parity with a good recruitment class breathing life into a stale team while a horrid bunch of ins can cripple a club. Just ask the folks at Parramatta about the importance of recruitment.

Halfway through 2011, we look at the best and worst recruits of this year.


1.      Dallas Johnson (North Queensland): Johnson has been central to the Cowboys improved defence, which has shot up from 16th to 6th in points allowed, improving 9 points on 2010. Johnson’s work ethic and hardness has been ideal for the Cowboys.

2.      Ben Hannant (Brisbane): Returned home after two seasons and is playing well enough to have won back his Origin and Test jerseys. He is arguably the form prop of the NRL.  

3.      Aiden Tolman (Canterbury): Brought into replace Hannant and has been outstanding for Canterbury, his workrate greater than any other prop in the competition.

4.      Gavin Cooper (North Queensland): Underrated but has turned in some very nice performances as a hard-running and gritty backrower.

5.      Trent Hodkinson (Canterbury): Has slotted nicely into the Canterbury No.7 jersey, scoring two tries and setting up six more in 10 games.

6.      Adam Woolnough (Melbourne): Woolnough was backpacking around the world last year but has returned in nice form and is really contributing off the bench on a very cheap rate.

7.      Jeremy Smith (Cronulla): Smith has played well in eight games for the Sharks, adding some hardness to an already solid pack and taking some of the workload off skipper Paul Gallen.

8.      Casey McGuire (Parramatta): I thought McGuire would be washed-up upon returning to the NRL but he has really surprised with his creative ball-playing and sharpness around the ruck.

9.      Beau Champion (Melbourne): Hasn’t set the world on fire at Melbourne but has done a nice job down south despite hating the southern capital.

10.  Kalifa Faifai-Loa (North Queensland): Has taken his chance at the Cowboys despite playing outside ball hog Willie Tonga.


1.      Anthony Watts (Roosters): Hasn’t played a game for the Roosters but has already been caught up in a couple of scandals that have included Dally M medallist Todd Carney. Has been a horrible influence and won’t ever don the tricolours in all likelihood.

2.      Matt Orford (Canberra): Brought in as the final piece of the Raiders puzzle, Orford has been abhorrent in his six appearances. A year in Super League has seen him age 10 with everything about him slow. He even lacks poise and leadership, two things expected in a halfback his age.

3.      Chris Hicks (Parramatta): Was a star at Warrington, where he scored 56 tries in 72 games, but he has not adapted to the speed of the NRL and has only made one showing in a pretty ordinary Eels team.

4.      Mark Riddell (Roosters): Shouldn’t be in first grade but is a boy of Brian Smith’s. A character, but a shadow of an NRL player whose slow dummy-half work and inability to play big minutes is significantly hampering the Roosters.

5.      Carl Webb (Parramatta): A mediocre prop who has hardly made it on the field is not a top-notch purchase, exactly as predicted.

6.      Chris Walker (Parramatta): Another in the great line of Parramatta recruits, Walker has languished in the NSW Cup as the Eels lose game after game.

7.      Krisnan Inu (New Zealand): Has had his moments with the Warriors including five tries but his attitude has been abhorrent and his contribution nearly always negative.

8.      Brett White (Canberra): Was an international prop less than two years back but is now struggling in a pack doing not much.

9.      Justin Carney (Roosters): Showed a great deal of potential at the Raiders but a horrible break and a year in the Queensland Cup has not served him well, as he struggles with his handling and defensive reads at the Roosters.

10.  Yileen Gordon (Penrith): Despite a big injury toll at Penrith, Buddy has played only three games and has faded completely into the background.

Krisnan Inu Has To Go:The New Zealand Warriors deserve plenty of credit. They downed a gritty South Sydney team on Sunday afternoon carrying the liability that is Krisnan Inu. Inu was a complete and utter disgrace on Sunday, playing with such selfishness, such laziness, such thoughtlessness, that he could not have done much more to harm the Warriors chances of victory.

Ivan Cleary is an excellent coach but if he wants the Warriors to be legitimate September threats, he has no choice but to dump Inu immediately, consigning him to the shadows of NSW Cup for the remainder of his contract.

In all my years of watching rugby league, as both a fan and a professional analyst, I have never been more infuriated by the performance of a player and have never been more disgusted at a complete lack of regard for one’s team and teammates.

It was embarrassing to watch and infuriating to witness.

This column has never plumped for Inu. He has long been regarded as a milk drinker, a player of immense talent who regularly shirks the task. He is renowned for playing dumb, clean-jersey, show-pony rugby league, characteristics detested in this column. Yet even in an opium-induced hallucination, I could not have pictured such a lurid monstrosity of a performance as I witnessed on Sunday.

At least Steve Mavin and Paul Cariage had the decency to try.

It all started with one of the most disgraceful displays of misguided arrogance I have ever had the misfortune of witnessing. Inu had just pinched an intercept deep inside his own 20 and had seemingly outpaced the chaser John Sutton. He slowed to a walk 20 metres out, his tongue hanging out of his mouth like a thirsty lemur, ready to soak up the adoration. Inu was near a walk when he was run down by James Roberts, whom Inu presumably didn’t see. The Warriors seemed to score on the next play but it was called back for a burrowing penalty.

The Warriors then conceded a dropout when Inu, who could have cut the kick off before it hit the in-goal, lazily watched it bounce and then put up all the fight of a quaint summer’s evening with nothing to do but listen to the crickets.

Inu was far from finished. He butchered a try through his inattention to detail. Brett Seymour had put a nice kick over the top for Inu early in the count and Inu gathered it on the bounce, throwing a nice pass inside to skipper Simon Mannering for a try. The ref went upstairs. Inu had stepped out despite the fact he had a clear corridor of at least three metres to run down. Inu needed to be cute, unable to bring himself to do the right thing by the team.

Just before the break, the Warriors clinging to a 6-0 lead and about to get the ball in good field position after an ill-directed South Sydney cross-field kick, Inu scoops up the  ball and tries a chip for himself. It lands out on the full. This is rugby league, not rugby union. Inu looks for the ill-disciplined, high risk, glory play. Again. Again it fails.

The second half was much the same. There was dropped balls, stupid passes, lazy kick returns, unenthusiastic chases. The highlight, no doubt, was Inu’s kick return in the final five minutes of the match. South Sydney had the field position and were chasing the 6-point deficit. They had kicked for Inu’s corner. Inu beat the first man with a nice move before again going for the hero play. He was bundled into touch.

Inu finished the match with six recorded errors but his negative impact on the Warriors was far from quantifiable. It was a squalid, inept, selfish, putrid performance than cannot even be described as an effort.

At least he had the decency to call himself an “idiot” and a “fool”.

I am embarrassed for rugby league that he is playing first grade. Glen Fisiiahi returned for the Auckland Vulcans this week. Let’s hope he is in first grade this week. The Warriors, playing such good football, simply don’t need to run the risk of it all unravelling at the hands of a self-centred, gloryhound winger.

Super Shaun:Rugby league has a new tackling king and his name is Shaun Fensom. In what may be the most remarkable performance of 2011, Fensom made an astonishing 75 tackles in only 80 minutes against the Bulldogs.  He missed only one and took 16 runs for 97 metres to top it off. It is perhaps the greatest workrate ever seen on a football field.

Since tackle statistics have been recorded, only Micheal Luck recorded more tackles in a game and that was in a 90-minute draw on a rain sodden night.

Fensom is a star and it is pleasing to see David Furner finally play him 80 minutes last week as, like Dallas Johnson and David Stagg and Ashley Harrison and Corey Parker and the like, his value comes from playing a full game, giving the same effort in the first minute as the last. It was only the 4th time this year he has played a complete game.

Fensom averages 41.18 tackles a game this year with three 50-plus performances. Over the course of his career, his average is 37.69, quite amazing considering in his 29-game career, he has played less than half a game on four occasions.

Throw in his 66 metres per game, a number on the rise as he takes more of an offensive role, and Fensom clearly gets through a mountain of work.

Shaun Fensom may not be too far off an Origin spot. The Blues need a workhorse and few seem to have the thirst for the grind that Fensom does. It seems like a perfect match.

Sign of the Week: “We love when Bunnies go down,” accompanied by a drawing of two very frisky looking playboy types.

A Winger in Headgear: Is there anything funnier in rugby league? Steve Naughton, most likely, will fade into rugby league oblivion as is doesn’t appear particularly fast, skilful or strong (though Matt Geyer defied this assessment for well over a decade) but he can rest easy knowing he brought some joy to the trainspotters of the game. To top it off, he got nabbed for a deliberate forward pass, a penalty straight out of 1988.

Dear Shane Flanagan:I am forced to write this note to you as your club does not have a chief executive officer. I am not even sure the Sharks have a front office. Perhaps Damien Irvine answers the phones as well?

Anyway, I drift off topic Shane and as we don’t know each other, it is best not to start off on some form of weird tangent that could take us a while to unravel. So I will return, as they say, to the point.

I am offering my services to you to play halfback for the remainder of the season. The Sharks seem desperate and I am willing to step up to the mark.

I have no qualifications. I have met Steve Mortimer a number of times and he is one of the great halfbacks. Perhaps that will help? I am, also, quite the lower level touch football player who once scored a try from the tap with, if I do say so myself, an outstanding dummy.

These aren’t big time references but surely they place me, at least on par, with Tim Smith and Scott Porter. I do, of course, know how to pass a ball quickly and kick to space, two qualities that surely give me an edge.

Please consider this a formal job application. I am here to help Stu. Can I call you Stu?

Anyway, think about it. Perhaps we can help get the Sharks some semblance of attack.

Yours Sincerely,
Nick Tedeschi

Ps: Let’s look to bring in some great Cronulla halfbacks of yesteryear to help out. The likes of Perry Haddock, Blaine Stanley, Stuart Topper and Scott Gustard will be a great help to me.

Pps: I’ll happily grow a Barry Russell moustache if that will help.

Quote of the Week: “There is no such thing as an ugly woman and there is no such thing as an ugly win”-Brian Smith. Well Brian, perhaps if you weren’t so free and easy with the company you kept, your team wouldn’t be wallowing down the bottom of the ladder.

Injury Update: Canterbury are in a lot of strife with star prop Aiden Tolman set to miss up to six weeks after doing a knee in Friday’s loss to Canberra.

Travis Burns (Penrith): Rolled his ankle in the warm-up (another warm-up injury!) and could miss a week or two. The Panthers have no halves and desperately need Burns.

Bronson Harrison (Canberra): Damaged his shoulder in the win over the Bulldogs but he played out the match and is unlikely to miss any time.

Keith Galloway (Wests Tigers): The big prop took a head knock and will be right for this week. He is a tough nut.

Luke Lewis (Penrith): Played out the Tigers match with his dicey shoulder and won’t miss a game but it appears as if it will be an ongoing problem.

Shannon McDonnell (Newcastle): Dislocated his finger and made a tackle before it was put back into place. Saw out the match, though he didn’t offer much.

Joe Picker (Canberra): Picker damaged his arm in what was first a suspected break. He will miss a couple of weeks but it could be longer if it is indeed a fracture.

Shane Shackleton (Parramatta): The Shack Attack was bleeding from the retina in what sounds a most worrying injury.

Lama Tasi (Sydney Roosters): Seemed to be in a lot of pain after sustaining an ankle injury early in the clash with Newcastle but returned late in the match. Turns out he has two fractures in what was a courageous effort.

Aiden Tolman (Canterbury): Tolman did a medial ligament in his knee and will miss six weeks. Canterbury are short in the front row and his loss will be felt acutely by the club.

Dave Tyrell (South Sydney): Sustained a pretty nasty concussion against the Warriors. Should be right for Penrith next Monday though.

Vale, Sam Faust: It was with a good deal of sadness that From The Couch heard of the sad passing of former North Queensland forward Sam Faust at the tender age of 26. Faust passed away after battling acute myeloid leukaemia. The promising backrower played 24 games for the Cowboys before his career was cut short due to the disease. Faust is survived by his wife and three children.

To most casual footy fans, the name Sam Faust would have simply passed over them. He was no star, no hot prospect, no hero. But my lasting memory of him will be being awarded the “scholarship” at the Rylstone Ridgies in our fantasy football competition, Flash adamant he was on his way to superstardom. It may sound trite but it has always brought a smile to the faces of everyone in our league.

My condolences go out to his family.

Vale, Randy “Macho Man” Savage: The Macho Man may have had nothing to do with rugby league but to a wrestling fan who grew up in the 80s, he was a very big deal. So it was with a sinking heart and a wave of nostalgia that I read last Saturday Randy Savage had been killed, another wrestler to die early, killed in a car accident after suffering a heart attack at the wheel of his car.

I don’t pay the wrestling much heed these days but back in the late 80s and early 90s, it was the only thing that challenged rugby league for my obsession. And “The Macho Man” was central to that. His match against Ricky Steamboat at Wrestlemania III remains one of the all-time great matches. His world title tournament victory at Wrestlemania IV was the first pay-per-view I ever saw. His feud with Hulk Hogan as the Mega Powers split seemed as important as anything. As a fan of The Ultimate Warrior, I was beset with fear when they fought a “loser-leaves-town match” at Wrestlemania VII. I nearly shed a tear when Miss Elizabeth returned after the match to save Macho from an attack by Sensational Sherri and when they got married at Summerslam that year, I am not ashamed to say I was overcome. We all, of course, loved Randy and Liz.

Farewell Macho. I hope you are dishing out big elbow drops and “oooohhhh yyyyyeaaahhhh’s” in that big wrestling ring in the sky.

The 2011 Willie M Medal:If Flemington Sportsbet opened a market for the Willie M Medal, I have a feeling that Jarrod Mullen would open favourite. Matt Orford still leads but he may not play again. Mullen, meanwhile, continues to play terribly with his much vaunted kicking game costing Newcastle the win against the Roosters on Sunday.  Mullen has plenty of ability but is going worse than AFL-loving PM Julia Gillard and is not about to get dropped anytime soon. He can just count himself lucky I wasn’t on voting duty.

Canberra v Canterbury
3-Kris Keating (Bul)
2-Andrew Ryan (Bul)
1-Trent Hodkinson (Bul)

Wests Tigers v Penrith
3-Masada Iosefa (Pen)
2-Brad Tighe (Pen)
1-Robert Lui (Tig)

New Zealand v South Sydney
3-Krisnan Inu (War)
2-Dave Taylor (Sou)
1-Isaac Luke (Sou)

Sydney Roosters v Newcastle
3-Shannon McDonnell (New)
2-Antonio Kaufusi (New)
1-Mark Riddell (Roo)

Cronulla v Parramatta
3-Isaac Gordon (Cro)
2-Matthew Wright (Cro)
1-Scott Porter (Cro)

14: Matt Orford (Can)
10: Jarrod Mullen (New), Michael Jennings (Pen)
9: Blake Ferguson (Can), Matthew Wright (Cro)
8: Feleti Mateo (War)
7: Preston Campbell (GC), Lachlan Coote (Pen), Jarrod Croker (Can), Wade Graham (Cro), Antonio Kaufusi (New), Mitchell Pearce (Roo)

Round 11 Panel: Nick Tedeschi, Brett Oaten (Fire Up), Matthew O’Neill (RLeague), Adrian Flanagan

Fun Fact #1: New South Wales won the last 17 interstate matches between New South Wales and Queensland that were not played under Origin rules, from 1975 to 1981.

Fun Fact #2:Only 6,238 people turned out to Leichardt Oval to watch the last interstate match, which NSW won 22-9. Queenslander Paul McCabe scored a double for NSW while Mal Meninga scored all of Queensland’s points.

Fun Fact #3:Dating back to 1908, NSW won interstate matches 159-55 and recorded 49 series wins to 12.

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

LW: Last Week
R: Range

Round 12 Selection Notes:

Manly: The longest active consecutive games streak will come to an end on Friday night with Michael Robertson set to miss after 139 straight appearances. David Williams and Will Hopoate will play on the wing. Hopoate will shift to fullback if Brett Stewart, who is no better than a 50-50 shot, is a late withdrawal.

Brisbane: Anthony Griffin has not named any of his Origin stars in his team but Corey Parker and Jharal Yow Yeh have been named as 18th and 19th men respectively, suggesting they will play Manly if they pull up okay. Ben Hannant is also a fair chance to play but Darren Lockyer and Sam Thaiday would be no better than 50-50 propositions.

Canterbury: Skipper Andrew Ryan has been moved to prop to cover for the injured Aiden Tolman. Ryan needs to play tighter at this stage of his career. Jake Foster will start in the backrow and gets his first real chance to prove himself as a starter playing extended minutes. Michael Hodgson is back on the bench.

Gold Coast: Nathan Friend is still sidelined which means Riley Brown is playing, which is a huge boost for the Bulldogs. The three-quarter line looks very thin but at least Joseph Tomane is nowhere to be seen. The longer Preston Campbell remains at fullback, the longer the Titans are going to be mired at the bottom of the ladder.

Newcastle: Keith Lulia and Peter Mata’utia were both stiff to be omitted with Lulia a far more dangerous proposition than Wes Naqaima at this stage of his career. Cameron Ciraldo returns on the bench and adds some much needed starch to the Knights pack.

Parramatta: Tim Mannah is the only addition to the team that thrashed Cronulla with Daniel Mortimer still on the outer. He may struggle to get back into the team and may be on the move to hooker soon.

North Queensland: No major surprises from Neil Henry other than Glenn Hall keeping Scott Bolton on the bench.

Sydney Roosters: Mitchell Pearce and Nate Myles return from Origin duty and both should play, barring injury. Pearce's return pushes Anasta back into the No.6 jersey. Aiden Guerra deservedly keeps his spot in the starting team. Tom Symonds has made a quick recovery from a compound fracture of his pinkie finger and has been named on the bench. Sam Perrett isn't far away but won't play this week.

Melbourne: Craig Bellamy has named all four Origin players and all four will almost certainly play with Bellamy likely to rest them after the Origin series. Mo Blair has retained his spot in the centres. Troy Thompson has not been named but is every chance to replace

Cronulla: Kade Snowden and Paul Gallen return for the Sharks with Johnny Mannah and Broderick Wright likely to make way. Changes will be made later as the Sharks did play on Monday.

St George-Illawarra: Wayne Bennett has named all eight of his Origin stars to take on the Dragons this week but whether they turn out or not will depend on how they recover. Trent Merrin, Dean Young and Ben Creagh would be the most unlikely to play. A seven-man bench has been named with Kyle Stanley, Mitch Rein and Jack Bosden included.

Wests Tigers: Tim Sheens has resisted the urge to make wholesale changes after an ordinary effort against Penrith. Gareth Ellis was not named but may play.

Penrith: Michael Jennings and Travis Burns return for the Panthers though Burns remains in doubt after rolling his ankle last week.

South Sydney: The only change for South Sydney is Fetuli Talanoa for James Roberts, after Talanoa missed the Warriors clash through illness. The Bunnies don’t have many options considering their injury list.

Rumour Mill:And so it goes on, the Penrith coaching speculation, with Canterbury assistant Jim Dymock reportedly in the frame. Dymock may be in the mix at Canterbury sooner rather than later though with the heat still on Moore after a disappointing 2010 and some worrying signs in 2011. Beau Henry is expected to sign with Cronulla on a long-term deal soon. He has been given permission to negotiate by the Knights and with Cronulla in need of a half, Henry looks a good fit. Cory Paterson could also be on the move though I doubt it will be in the NRL considering his management. He is talking NFL but the likelihood is Super League. Zero Tackle reports that Matt Orford was spotted on the Central Coast over the weekend and when asked what he was doing, he replied talking to the Knights. This suggests that Orford may not only be on the move but that Darius Boyd may not be off to Newcastle. Bryce Gibbs is poised to accept a big money offer from Cronulla. The Tigers prop would like to stay but the money reportedly offered is too big to refuse. Trent Waterhouse may find himself at the Roosters next year. The club is reportedly chasing a quality backrower.  

What I Like About…Nathan Peats: I love the fact the son of Geordi Peats is in the NRL, running around, making plenty of tackles and hustling away like his old man. Geordi was only an average player that was more than injury prone, who appeared in 74 first grade games as a hooker/backrower for Canterbury and South Sydney. He scored nine tries, including four for Souths in ’96, but never played in a finals match, the closest he came being in ’91 (his best season), when he played in the criminal playoff loss to Western Suburbs. Young Nathan looks a player in the same mould.  Peats has played six games this year, getting through 26 tackles in 28 minutes against the Warriors. He has a nice career ahead of him once he bulks up and gets a chance at his preferred hooking spot.

Betting Market of the Week: Jason King will:

Turn in a Man of the Match performance on Wednesday night:           $151
Become one of the great NSW prop forwards:                                        $501
Get called up for Australia at season’s end:                                            $101
Fade into obscurity after doing nothing on Wednesday night:              $1.15

From Deep in the Bowels of Twitter: Steve Turner yearns for one of the great computer games: “How good would it be if Jonah Lomu Rugby came back!!!”

“Tim Sheens” is a little confused by the New South Wales selections: “Who the f*** is Trent Merrin”

Chris Close, seemingly a little disappointed the end of the world didn’t appear, as promised: “Well that #rapturething can fuck right off!!”

Obscure Score of the Week: Canterbury-Easts Brisbane, 40-8, U16s National Final. The future is bright at Canterbury after they decimated the Tigers in a rout at the U16s final. Though there is a little bit of a concern with an A.Demetriou scoring two tries and slotting two goals. Perhaps Andy has seen the light and has his offspring playing rugby league?

The Life and Times of the Special Needs Penguin:Ben Pomeroy started the procession against Parramatta, giving away the opening penalty of the game. The Eels scored soon after and it was quickly game over as the Eels ran roughshod over the hapless Sharks.

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 11: New Zealand-South Sydney, 12-6. It was a horrible weekend for rugby league and this was the best of a very bad lot of games marked by poor handling, horrible decision-making, a general lack of creativity and shocking execution. At least the Warriors game had the comical styling’s of Krisnan Inu, with his loose impersonation of a first grade footballer, that was at least memorable.

Coaching Stocks:

5:Wayne Bennett: BYE
4:Craig Bellamy: BYE
4:Anthony Griffin: BYE
4:Ivan Cleary: The Warriors offered little in attack but showed great heart in defence
4:Des Hasler: BYE
3: Tim Sheens: The Tigers were horrible, as he freely admits, but got the 2 points
2.5: Kevin Moore: Canterbury’s worst showing of the year in a horrible effort
2.5: Rick Stone: Tried hard again but the kicking game of the halves cost dearly
2: Neil Henry: BYE
1.5: Stephen Kearney: Only downed a reserve grade Sharks but did it in style
1: John Cartwright: BYE
1: John Lang: The Bunnies showed tremendous fight with Sandow playing very well
0: Brian Smith: The Roosters should have won by 20 but simply couldn’t score points
-0.5: Shane Flanagan: Missing plenty of players but that is no excuse for ill-discipline
-2.5: Matt Elliott: The Tigers could not have given Penrith any more of a chance to win.
-3: David Furner: Canberra now have two on the trot against big name opponents

Correspondence Corner:Alright, old Correspondence Corner is getting a little unwieldy these days so we might really chop this back and just deal with the nuts and bolts of rugby league rather than dealing with the love and the hate and the like.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I welcome those critical of my stances. Keep on readin’. I will say this though, directed mainly at the B Roberts Fan Club: I doubt very much whether there are too many players or their families reading this and most understand that as figures in the public spotlight who are compensated as such, professional sportswriters such as myself have every right, if not an obligation, to breakdown their performances and analyse their contribution to the game.

Davey G, they clearly have forgotten Jason King getting bent backwards as well as Mick Ennis losing matches with his ill-discipline. King will go down in the all-time worst NSW team ever.

Gareth, you are spot on about the lack of an honest toiler in the team. Perhaps, after 75 tackles on Friday night, we need to look at Shaun Fensom. I still can’t believe Nathan Hindmarsh is on the outer.

Callum, I didn’t realise the game stretched so far back. I am going to run with 7 minutes this week, as a heads up, for anyone playing Matai Minutes.

Michael and Matt, I am often critical of Jarryd Hayne, primarily because he is generally a non-tryer, but the reason I don’t think he deserved to play this year is because Dugan is a better team player, he presents more upside and the Blues have had numerous chances to win with Hayne and haven’t. Hayne has done an outstanding job in Origin and has been among the best New South Wales has had to offer. But Ricky Stuart had to pick players in position and Hayne was not the best available fullback.

Rocky, I’ll select my own team thank you and I’ll be at Canterbury until I breathe my last. The last time I checked, I live in Australia, where you have the freedom to say what you like and support who you want.

Mitch, Trent Hodkinson and Kris Keating were very disappointing on Friday night. But their body of work has been solid this year and neither should have their spot brought into question just yet.

Fantasy Team of the Week:

1.Lachlan Coote (Pen)
2. Luke Burt (Par)
3. Shaun Kenny-Dowall (Roo)
4. Keith Lulia (New)
5. Jordan Atkins (Par)
6. Masada Iosefa (Pen)
7. Jeff Robson (Par)
13. Shaun Fensom (Can)
12. Simon Dwyer (Tig)
11. Frank-Paul Nuuausala (Roo)
10. Luke Douglas (Cro)
9. Robbie Farah (Tig)
8. Brett White (Can)

14. Ben Smith (Par)
15. Andrew Ryan (Bul)
16. David Stagg (Bul)
17. Dave Taylor (Sou)

Waiver Wire Advice:Fantasy players looking for a sneaky, cheap bench option should look to sign Aiden Guerra. Guerra is going for $233,100 but that is nothing relative to what he is capable of doing. He is a real ball-tearer, who ripped the Knights to shreds yesterday on the left fringe and is going to get plenty of game-time with the Roosters beset by so many injuries. Aiden Guerra is a sound investment in the future.

Beard Watch: Newcastle’s Dan Tolar is looking to take the mantle of Brad Meyers, going long and deep with his red beard. Tolar needs a hook to stay with the Knights when Wayne Bennett arrives so why not grow a beard and hope for the best. It is tough to argue with those tactics.

Watch It: With Origin starting this week, it is worth taking a trip down memory lane, to1988 when Wally Lewis gets binned and Lang Park goes beserk, raining cans down upon the field. The video speaks for itself.

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