Origin I Preview: In what has been the most boring leadup to an Origin in memory thanks to two coaches who seem to be out of their depth and also great friends, anticipation for Origin I is at an all-time low. The biggest shock is that NSW are favourites. They don’t deserve to be. The Maroons have won 9 of the last 10 series and have a better team. It doesn’t matter that the game is being played in Sydney. The Maroons deserve favouritism. The Blues have a pack that should give them plenty of opportunities but it is hard to see where points are coming from. The Maroons love the grind and they are great value in what will be a game where points will be few and far between.
Caller Power Rankings – Play By Play: Over the next few weeks we will be ranking all the NRL callers on television and mainstream radio. This week we go to play-by-play men.
- Andrew Voss (Fox)
- Andrew Moore (ABC)
- Warren Smith (Fox)
- Dan Ginnane (Triple M)
- Andy Raymond (Fox)
- Joel Caine (Fox)
- Ray Warren (Nine)
- Matt Russell (Fox)
- Anthony Maroon (Triple M)
- Quentin Hull (ABC)
- David Morrow (2GB)
- Allen McLaughlin (ABC)
- Matt Thompson (Nine)
- Tim Gavel (ABC)
- Brad Cooke (ABC)
- Ben Dobbin (Triple M)
- Craig Hamilton (ABC)
- Darryl Griffiths (ABC)
- Tim Gilbert (Nine)
- Ray Hadley (Nine/2GB)
General Dunce: There is absolutely no way Luke Patten can possibly keep his job in The Bunker – an institution with such a wretched name that it has overtaken Hitler’s underground shelter in the list of ‘worst bunkers in history’. Patten twice broke clear protocol by disallowing tries to Javid Bowen and Blake Austin in two separate games despite both being sent up as a try and both having no clear evidence to overturn. He was also at the helm for that embarrassing decision in the Dragons-Rabbits game where Josh Dugan was deemed not to have grounded the ball.
Let’s Launch A Cup: This column has advocated for a cup competition similar to the Challenge Cup to be introduced for weekends where Origin players are unavailable. It would include only 16 NRL clubs and would have plenty of positives including maintaining the integrity of the NRL competition, introducing a new piece of silverware for clubs to use, giving clubs options to rest star players and ensuring television networks have club Rugby League during the Origin-affected weekends. It isn’t a perfect solution but better than what we have now or what has been advocated in recent times.
Quote of the Week: “Thanks Mullo, you smell good” – Trent Hodkinson, halftime, Monday Night Football.
2016 Field Goal Update – 17: The much-maligned – mainly by your author – Mitchell Moses booted the only field goal of the round and it was a match-winner, calmly slotting the deciding point against the Broncos in one of the upsets of the season.
Fun Fact #1: The Newcastle Knights have used 15 players with fewer than 20 games experience – an almost unprecedented youth movement.
Fun Fact #2: Jack Wighton has eight more errors than any other player in the NRL.
Fun Fact #3: Renowned author and poet DH Lawrence once wrote on Rugby League – thanks to the greatest Rugby League musician of our time or any other Denis Carnahan for that one. Go and see his show Rugby League: The Musical.
Rumour Mill: Player transfer news has been in high overdrive throughout the week with Michael Gordon supposedly shifting to the Sydney Roosters with Jackson Hastings heading to the Eels in return. Tariq Sims is almost certainly playing with the Dragons in their next clash. Mitch Barnett is moving to the Knights, as is Brendan Elliot and Will Matthews according to the rumour mill. Lloyd Perrett is still a chance to lob at the Gold Coast. Jason Clark may be at the Wests Tigers by June 30, as could Tony Williams at Manly.
Betting Market of the Week: Dylan Walker’s total Origin minutes on Wednesday night:
$2.00: Over 0.5 minutes
$1.80: Under 0.5 minutes
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The Barrett and Bozo Show: Four forwards who have been linked to Manly – either this year or next -are Tariq Sims, Robbie Rochow, Wade Graham and Tony Williams. You can bet your bottom dollar that whatever forward the Sea Eagles land, they will be playing State Of Origin next season, regardless of what kind of form they are in.
What I Like About … Player Movement: There has already been some mid-season player movement this year with Nathan Peats and Junior Paulo out of the Eels and Konrad Hurrell gone from the Warriors. And we look set for an unprecedented few weeks with the likes of Tariq Sims, Michael Gordon, Jackson Hastings and Brendan Elliot all set to shift clubs. It is good for the game and it is good for the players to shift mid-season. We should certainly see more of it.
The Coaching Crosshairs: The Andrew McFadden era is coming to a close with the Warriors reportedly already making plans for 2017 and beyond. Michael Maguire – as first reported in these pages last year – is at the top of their list though Geoff Toovey, Tim Sheens and David Kidwell are all in the mix. Either way, McFadden is done and dusted.
Game of the Year Nomination, Round 12: Canberra – Canterbury, 32-20. The Raiders struggled early but despite some rotten calls against them staged a stirring comeback to claim the match in the final 10 minutes. There was some wonderful expansive footy in the game that for the most part was just a lot of fun to watch.
Moronic Coaching Decision of the Week: It wasn’t a coaching decision per se but Blues coach has surely lost plenty of respect with following the insane decision to press with an injured Josh Dugan out of position and insist he would be right only to see him withdraw for days out. Morris is a better fit for the Blues but the entire drama should have been long avoided.
Beard Watch: In the battle of Origin beards, the breakdown goes like this. The Maroons have three legit beards and arguably three others while the Blues go in down a beard with Josh Dugan withdrawing leaving them with three legit beards and possibly four others. It is neck and neck when it comes to Origin beard watch.
Correspondence Corner: Mark, the Blues are being held back by Bozo and his clownish string-pulling.
Andrew Quinn, it is astonishing what they see in The Bunker.
Cam, with Parramatta players, it is probably around $1.50. It is astonishing given the history of players being suspended previously though that Norman is allowed to play.
Ben Bartlett, Matt Burke had a pretty good career for Manly but I’m not sure he is a goalkicker. I think Reynolds is one of the best in the game. When are we going for a drink?
Watch It: The 1987 Challenge Cup final was an exceptional affair that saw Halifax win their first Cup in nearly five decades in a thrilling 19-18 win over St Helens in a match that featured the likes of Graham Eadie, Chris Anderson, Keith Neller, Phil Veivers, Andy Platt and Mark Elia. The bonus was the commentary of David Fordham. Watch it here.