From The Couch: Round 13

Filed in From The Couch, NRL by on June 5, 2016

State Of Origin I Wrap: State Of Origin I could not have been more predictable. The game was low-scoring. Once again the Blues went conservative. Once again the Maroons did just enough. The Bunker was required only once but managed to screw up twice. The refereeing was wildly inconsistent. The match was lauded by those who love defensive footy and denigrated by those who love it. The losing coach blamed the refs. It was the typical series opener of recent years.

The refereeing – both on the field and off it – was appalling. The Bunker decision was obscene and the fact Tony Archer should defend it should see him turfed out of his job. I have no idea whether it was a try or not but there was no evidence to overturn it. The piggy-back penalties blown early in the game were nowhere to be seen for the final 65 minutes.

There were some positives for the Blues – though they will not save the series. Josh Mansour had an outstanding debut. Adam Reynolds did enough. James Maloney suggested he should be a long-term No.6 option. The pack is looking more balanced.

But it wasn’t enough thanks to a game plan so conservative it made Tony Abbott looking like a raving lefty and a terrible interchange rotation, as well as some poor selection decisions.

The Blues won’t make changes. But they should. They need to win game two. And they need to win it scoring points. Three changes are required. Dylan Walker has to go. Bryce Cartwright provides some second-phase play and even though he can’t tackle does have points in him. Josh Morris has surely played his last Origin. He just provides zero in attack and worse, is a left centre playing on the right. James Roberts should replace him. And even though Matt Moylan was fair on debut, James Tedesco needs to replace him. Tedesco would have been picked if fit for game one and offers more in both playmaking and kick return.

The Blues brass though won’t have the bottle to change. They rarely do.

Caller Ratings: Over the next few weeks we will be ranking all the NRL callers on television and mainstream radio. This week we go to studio hosts. This includes NRL television shows and game-day trafficking.

  1. Peter Sterling (Fox, On The Couch)
  2. Ben Ikin (Fox, NRL 360)
  3. Matty Johns (Fox, Monday Night with Matty Johns + others)
  4. Andrew Voss (Fox, The Sunday Ticket + others)
  5. Yvonne Sampson (Nine, The Sunday Footy Show + others)
  6. Paul Kent (Fox, NRL 360)
  7. Paul Vautin (Nine, The Footy Show)
  8. Darryl Brohman (Nine, The Footy Show)
  9. Matt Shivington (Fox, Super Saturday)
  10. Beau Ryan (Nine, The Footy Show)
  11. Erin Molan (Nine, The Footy Show/NRL Rookie)

Match-Fixing Thoughts: The unfolding story surrounding alleged match-fixing allegations should concern every stakeholder involved from the alleged rorters and punters to the clubs involved to the game itself. While clearly nothing has been proven, the likes of Kate McClymont don’t go to print and major police units don’t devote resources if there isn’t at least something in it. While this author does not have the entire story, below are a few notes and questions:

  • There is zero chance whoever placed the bet could get set with an official bookmaker to win $500-$700k on an individual game.
  • At least one of the players was worried about this story breaking months ago.
  • The matches themselves have no suspicious betting activity and to the naked eye did not look suspicious.
  • The matches themselves probably weren’t surprising but the accused club failed to cover either of them, losing as a huge outsider in the latter.
  • Anyone found guilty will be barred for life and will go to jail.
  • The police are closer on this than most think.

Tackling Team Lists: Jim Doyle this week rightly raised the issue of team lists and the lack of transparency around them with teams named on Tuesday rarely matching those named on match-day. Doyle recommends instituting a rolling cut-off as used in Super League. He is right to identify the issue but is wrong with his solution. Rather, the NRL needs to do as all other major leagues do in the world and fine teams who make changes without reason. This means that team lists need to be pushed back until at least Wednesday. This means that the NRL needs to set up an official injury list with official rankings and fine clubs who lie. This means that coaches cannot make game day changes out of the blue. With integrity obviously an issue, the NRL should be onto this already.

A Deserving Choice: There would be not a single argument from this column if Darren Lockyer was indeed named the next Immortal. Lockyer’s resume of feats has no absence. He is arguably the most decorated player of all-time and deserves to be named the ninth Immortal.

Say No To Call Offs: Abandoning Rugby League matches was all the chatter over the weekend. Half of the NSW Cup slate was called off on Saturday – including the match from Henson Park between the Jets and Cutters that I was set to call on Steele Sports – while the Sunday NRL clash between the Tigers and Roosters was nearly cancelled. Let’s not let weather stop the greatest game of all.

Vale, Muhammad Ali: The Greatest is gone and the world is the worse for his passing but infinitely better for his living.

2016 Field Goal Update – 18: Ashley Taylor with the brilliant match-winner in Perth slotted the only drop goal that counted over the weekend.

Fun Fact #1: Since 2006, five of the six State Of Origin coaches played for the 1989 Canberra Raiders – though they played together just once, a 44-8 win over Illawarra at Seiffert Oval where Kevin Walters played fullback, Laurie Daley played centre and Ricky Stuart halfback with Mal Meninga and Craig Bellamy coming off the bench.

Fun Fact #2: The only non-Raider to coach Origin over the last decade is Graham Murray.

Fun Fact #3: The Blues have averaged just 10.2 points per game under Laurie Daley.

Rumour Mill: One current under-fire coach caused massive drama recently at a kids game when he is alleged to have abused a ref. The match was then called off. There is significant speculation that someone involved in the NRL match-fixing investigation has rolled over and given everyone up. This shapes as career-ending for a number of players if charges are laid. Curtis Sironen has likely played his last game with the Wests Tigers with Newcastle shaping as his most likely destination. The New Zealand Warriors are reportedly after Brad Arthur to coach the side in 2017. Plans to shift Jackson Hastings from the Roosters continue with the Eels still his most likely destination. James Segeyaro will not play first grade again at Penrith and will lob at either the Dragons or the Broncos for the rest of the year.

Betting Market of the Week: This week Lachlan Maranta will:

$1001: Get an Origin call-up
$501: Get offered an upgraded contract by the Broncos
$6.00: Get asked to play Frank Spencer in a remake of ‘Some Mothers Do Ave Em’
$3.00: Move to Spain and become a rodeo clown

Punters Guide Tipping Service: If you are interested in signing up to the Punters Guide tipping service, drop me an email:

Get more details here.

The Barrett and Bozo Show: While the world may have seen Bozo standing over Laurie’s shoulder on Wednesday night, he is a little more discreet but just as domineering of Trent Barrett. It would be a major surprise if Barrett decided to stick out his entire contract at the Sea Eagles. The current politicking will surely wear very thin very quickly.

What I Like About … Cheyse Blair: Not much, to be perfectly frank. He was a dud at the Eels and arguably worse at the Sea Eagles. But since moving to the Storm he has resembled a first grader but more importantly, has shown some sartorial initiative by being the first player in a quarter-century to don long sleeves. It lasted just a half but Blair looked more AFL than Rugby League. It was a dud call but it was unique and he deserves points for trying.

The Coaching Crosshairs: Laurie Daley’s position as NSW coach surely comes into jeopardy if – when – the Blues lose this Origin series. He broke the Maroons run two seasons back and deserves credit for it. But the fact remains Daley continues to prize blind loyalty over all else, stood over New South Wales’ greatest ever embarrassment and has been so conservative tactically that the Blues been held to less than 14 points in nine of the 10 games under his stewardship. He continues to make truth of the old saying that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. If he doesn’t mix things up with another series on the line then it is time to move to another former Raider.

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 13: South Sydney – Gold Coast, 28-29. What a sensational game of Rugby League, a real treat for Perth fans starved of the Greatest Game of All. The Titans continued to defy the doubters though they needed golden point and a dicey refereeing decision after blowing an 18-point lead. Ryan James played his finest ever game while Ash Taylor marked himself a superstar of the future. Tyrone Roberts has the best dummy in the game. Tom Burgess looks like a genuine reserve grader. The refereeing in the game was as bad as any all year.

Moronic Coaching Decision of the Week: Laurie Daley takes about the top eight slots here. His use of the interchange rotation was awful. James Tamou starting made no sense and was the height of conservatism. Bird was then brought on before half-time rather than Andrew Fifita, a player who needs short spells. He was given just one long one after the break. Aaron Woods was not seen until the final 10 minutes despite being the Blues’ best forward in the opening 25 minutes. And the fact Dylan Walker was selected at all was a joke but the fact he got on when the game was on the line – playing without a position – was just utter belligerence.

Beard Watch: It is hard to go past the dodgy moustaches offered by Newcastle youngster Corey Deniss and Storm outside back Cheyse Blair. Both are appalling efforts that have them looking like they belong in an episode of ‘Reno 911’. Outstanding stuff. Let’s bring the ‘tache back.

Correspondence Corner: The Fantasy Wash-Up, you’ll need to eat a lot of fish and chips.

Mav63, we should bring in a knockout cup to appease all.

Mike Butterfield, love your Queensland Cup updates.

Nye Griffiths, he is definitely the All-Beard skipper.

Tom M, Jordan Rapana should be playing fullback.

Davey G, the mid-season player moves are great.

Watch It: One of the two games under suspicion in the latest betting scandal to sweep the sport involves Manly and South Sydney. While no accusations are being levelled against any player at this stage, there are certainly elements of the footage where the effort may be brought into question. Watch the highlight here.

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Comments (4)

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  1. You’d have to maybe consider BJ Leilua at centre right? He’s in insane form and keeps in line with the strong running, second phase play theme NSW are apparently espousing.

    Plus he’d be in the first biffo throwing real punches.. .

  2. Tony Monero says:

    After reading countless articles on this game, how is it possible that so many things are apparent to so many people, yet the people in power fail to make the change?

    Am I bonkers? Probably.

    Cos my interest in this game is sadly fading.

  3. Jason says:

    Your articles are normally spot on, but surely the James Roberts remark was a joke to reward readers who are paying attention. I was excited when he came to the Broncos at the start of the year, but aside from a couple of electric moments, he’s been pretty disappointing. I’m pretty sure he was pushed backwards on every hit up against the Warriors on Saturday. Sure, he’s got plenty of toe in open field, but you’re not going to find that in origin. As a QLDer, I’d be most worried if NSW picked Moylan and Tedesco and played one of them on the wing. A large portion of QLD’s backline prefers fullback, so there is no reason why NSW couldn’t replicate that.

  4. Differential penalty says:

    How about losing an interchange for any team changes made after sides are announced. Exceptions can be for genuine injuries that happen after teams are named.