From The Couch: Round 14

Filed in From The Couch, NRL by on June 15, 2015

Origin II Preview: This will not be a long preview, if, for other reason, it is tiresome being repetitive. Queensland will win and they will win because they selected a team to win, not one to contain the opposition. There is plenty of talk about the Blues being tough and they are – but no tougher than the Maroons. The difference is with class and composure and match-winning ability Queensland possess, particularly in the halves, where the Blues field a reserve grader and a player who has won 3 of 13 at Origin level. For all the greatness around State of Origin, it is a game won through kicking, composure and an ability to make metres early in sets. The Blues have an awful kicking game, zero composure and a three-quarter line beaten on the first tackle every time. The wet and team selection will keep it close but the Maroons will be deserved victors.

CEO Watch: With two club chief executive’s “resigning” this weekend, we look at all club CEO positions and how long they will be there.

Broncos – Paul White: Hired after the 2010 season, good friends with Wayne Bennett, club prizes stability, very safe.

Raiders – Don Furner: The Furners are royalty in the capital and the Raiders enjoy change about as much as any far right political party.

Bulldogs – Raelene Castle: Replaced Todd Greenberg in 2013. Is a positive presence at the club but power well and truly rests with chairman Ray Dib.

Sharks – Lyall Gorman: A former soccer administrator. Already made an enemy of the coach. Doesn’t seem long for this club.

Titans – Graeme Anneseley: The former referee and NRL administrator and state MP made a strange call to leave parliament to join the Titans. Nobody has a lot of idea at the club, which should help Anneseley hang around a while.

Sea Eagles – Joe Kelly: Manly have political rifts that run deep and they have typically eaten outsiders alive. Kelly did well to sign DCE and will sack Geoff Toovey but won’t be a long-term Eagles boss.

Storm – Mark Evans: The low-profile Storm CEO is on his way back to England having left almost no mark in the NRL.

Knights – Matt Gidley: Only Newcastle would turn to a former player like Gidley to run their club. With Nathan Tinkler gone it won’t be long before he is punted for a more qualified hire.

Warriors – Jim Doyle: Quit the NRL because he saw how the game was being run. A super smart administrator and Kiwi national who will run the Warriors for almost as long as he wants.

Cowboys – Greg Tonner: Only new at the Cowboys and the club is firing so there is no need to think he is going anywhere anytime soon.

Eels – Vacant

Panthers – Phil Gould: Gould has done a remarkable job at the Panthers but has said he won’t be staying around much longer after his five-year plan comes to fruition. The option is his but he won’t be around long.

Dragons – Peter Doust: The calls to ‘Oust Doust’ have been around for a decade or longer but he is one of Rugby League’s great survivors. With the Dragons doing so well he will keep on keeping on.

Rabbitohs – John Lee: An astute operator who is just the kind of man James Packer and Russell Crowe want to have around. Low profile but effective. Will be around a while yet.

Roosters – Brian Canavan: Canavan does a good job at the Roosters but like all CEOs he is there purely on the whim of powerbroker Nick Politis. This is his second stint so Politis is obviously pleased with him.

Tigers – Vacant

Great Coaching: Andrew McFadden deserves to be widely applauded for showing the ingenuity and understanding of the rules that allowed the Warriors to equalise against the Roosters with a long-range Shaun Johnson field goal through the use of “the wall”. In an absolutely legal play – and one that has been advocated in this column a number of times – the Warriors had three blockers either side of the play-the-ball akin to a line of scrimmage in the NFL while a referee ducked as the drop goal was landed. Field goals are an incredibly important part of Rugby League and it is high time coaches start orchestrating plays rather than allowing it to some mad scramble as per the norm.

5 Set Moves To Consider: Following on from the Warriors’ use of The Wall, here are five moves for coaches to consider – note, the legality and effectiveness of all these moves have not been considered.

The Short Kick-Off: It is the most sensible kick with the highest possible return and should be done by every team on every kick in every game.

The Halftime Field Goal: In the last play before the break at any scoreline – down by 20, up by 4 – take the field goal, it is the smart play.

The Dribble: A player with exceptional skills dribbles the ball soccer style through the defensive line – highly risky!

The Inside Featherstone: The lock picks up the ball from a scrum and stands still head down and waits for the red sea to part before darting through the middle.

Field Goals All Day: Find a gun field goal kicker and then make sure you slot one every time you get over halfway. Theoretically you could keep the ball for an entire half and lead about 33-0.

Fun Fact #1: Manu Vatuvei has scored 10 tries for 10 straight seasons – the first player to do so (though Ken Irvine did it all 14 seasons – and at least 13 tries a year – but missed the 1968 season through injury).

Fun Fact #2: Billy Slater has scored 10-plus tries in eight straight seasons but is stuck on just two this year.

Rumour Mill: Cronulla and James Maloney will partner up in 2016 with the Roosters freeing up cap room to sign up Jarryd Hayne when he inevitably fails to make the NFL. Roosters supremo Nick Politis is confident he will be able to team up Hayne and Sonny Bill Williams in 2017 so will front-load plenty of players in 2016. Brett Stewart has been linked to the Roosters but has baulked at a deal he considers too short. Daniel Tupou is set to leave the Chooks in a move that won’t worry those at Bondi. Joey Leilua leaves the Knights with few friends after a season spent putting in little effort on the paddock, in the gym or at training. He will prove more than a handful for Ricky Stuart. Trent Hodkinson is looking at a number of options with a return to Manly, New Zealand, Gold Coast and Cronulla all on the table.

What I Love About … James Roberts: The term ‘X-factor’ is overused in sport as a catch-all term that borders on racist to describe a livewire player typically of a non-white background by commentators of a white persuasion. So I won’t use it to describe James Roberts. But he is one of those players who can turn a game on its head with a single play, a genuine matchwinner. Against the Bulldogs he was mesmerising in not only scoring two tries but changing the entire complexion of the match with a risky yet brilliant play that took a pinned-down Titans mauled for five tackles to the other end of the paddock with a daring run and incredible pass. He is the prototype for the perfect NRL back. How he is not playing for the Blues this year is a question only Laurie Daley can answer. He should have a long and decorated rep career ahead of him though as he is magnificent.

Betting Market of the Week: Parramatta’s next CEO will be:

$101: Someone eminently qualified who will hold the position for a long period of time
$1.02: A lackey of one faction who will eventually annoy his benefactor before being forced into resignation

Manly Collapse Update: In a very exciting rumour that has every set of fans bar Manly’s – and the world of children’s television – over the moon, speculation is rife that troubled centre Jamal Idris is set to make the Sea Eagles his fourth club. Idris has unlimited potential and almost no desire to fulfil any of it, seemingly content in telling himself that having no ambition on the Rugby League field is something to be proud of. Manly need forwards and Idris is not the answer to that issue.

The Coaching Crosshairs: Jason Taylor might be in the first year of his job with the Wests Tigers but a change in CEO should at least have some alarm bells ringing. Taylor was very much the hire of Grant Mayer and whoever is appointed the next CEO will have no such loyalty and further, will soon want to hire his own coach.  Taylor is off a big win and is in no imminent danger but should be more than a little wary about the instability within the club.

Referee Power Rankings: On one decision – and one decision alone – Gavin Badger shoots to first in the rankings. Thanks for not panicking and allowing The Wall to stand.

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

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 14: New Zealand-Sydney Roosters, 21-25. Dramatic finish and The Wall gives this the nod on a fairly dull weekend of footy with Origin just around the corner.

Ricky Stuart Stat of the Week #1: Ricky Stuart’s $20,000 fine for his 23 second press conference netted the NRL $869 per second.

Ricky Stuart Stat of the Week #2: Ricky Stuart’s press conference almost certainly would have been quicker than any video referee decision this year.

Beard Watch: It was great to see Tohu Harris kicking goals for the Storm this week. Those with full beards are rarely given the honours. While Pat Richards and Cam Smith have some stubble, Johnathan Thurston has his bum fluff and Reece Robinson keeps his well cropped, the flowing beard above a kicking tee is a rarity and one we need to see more of.

Correspondence Corner: CT, I can make no sense of the persistent calls that Pearce had a good game in the Origin opener. It was average if we are being generous and more accurately it resembled something in the Jeff Robson average game list.

Stephen, you are of course right – you can’t have too many happy halves. The mix doesn’t look good at the Raiders though with Sezer and Williams unable to play outside the halves. They both deserve game-time as well, as does the red-hot Blake Austin.

CTPE, Josh Dugan can kick goals. You pick the team first and then worry about the kicker, not the other way around, particularly if that player is a statue in normal play. If this is the theory let’s bring Hazem back! And it is a rumour mill, not a fact mill.

Mav63, you are in an envious position.

Mike Butterfield, those fans are fools then because Ipi are playing the best football in Australia!

Watch It: If clubs want an idea of how to stop the Warriors and their new supermove ‘The Wall’ then look no further than ‘Wildman’ Geoff Robinson and the way he dealt with Parramatta’s version of ‘The Wall’ in the 1980s. Watch it here.


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Comments (7)

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  1. loved ur comment about james robert changing the complexion of a match.. was that meant to be ironic??
    ps let me know when the field goal marathon is on so i can catch upon some reading… are you serious?

  2. Marty says:

    There’s 26 points for you. Left edge were brilliant, forwards were huge and the halves were solid. On one hand I wanna say, ‘Nick, stop bagging the Blues’ and on the other hand I wanna say, ‘Nick, keep bagging the Blues- the more you bag them the better they get’.

  3. ctpe says:

    We know Rothfield reads this, so I have a few questions for him:

    1. If you want to complain how bad it was with no matches in Sydney on the weekend (Friday night doesn’t count?), then why are you advocating moving Origin to a standalone weekend?
    2. Why are you advocating moving the biggest event in the game from a spot that it has been successful in for 35 years?
    3. Why do you want to tinker with the most successful sporting event in the country?
    4. Why do you believe that Monday night games should be moved to the bush, with the claim that they will get better crowds on a Monday night? Matches in Bathurst and Albury struggled to get 6000 on a Saturday afternoon, City/Country got even less on a Sunday afternoon.
    5. If they can’t get people from surrounding areas to travel in on Saturday afternoon, why would they travel in on a Monday night?
    6. You claim Monday nights in the bush will get 15,000. Where is the logic to back this up
    7. Is this all because you have a hard on for David Smith, because he is doing a better job than Gallop ever did and he doesn’t jump at your command like Gallop did?
    8. Why does Shane Flanagan constantly get a free pass from you? Oh wait, I know the answer to that one

    • Robbo says:

      I recall watching David and Phil on their little date at the Cowboys semi-final last year. David, ever the gent, bought the champagne. Phil, ever the flirt, whispered sweet nothings all evening. Then the fix was on for the Cows for the third year in a row! Up until then it was so romantic….

    • Scotty says:

      Don’t know about smith doing a better job than gallop where is the logic to back this up?

  4. Davey G says:

    God I hate this media beat about Origin – “they are grubs”, no they are grubs”. Living in Brisbane as a NSW born-and-bred supporter is tough enough without the school yard rubbish, as it is impossible to have a conversation about the game without it degrading into name-calling.
    NSW and QLD teams call each other grubs, do they? Well, what are they going to do about it? Give each other a good pushing? Slap somebody really really hard? Call them a name? Without the threat of being smashed in an “Origin” tackle, this pre-Origin media beat up is crap and impossible to buy into.
    As usual, we will all cheer for a team we don’t truly believe can win, but let’s hope they do. That would be nice

  5. Anthony says:

    “…it is tiresome being repetitive” From your own month. There is no more tiresome column/stat than your Ricky Stuart column/stat, Move on, find a new column/subject. Maybe turn your attention to Brad Arthur, apparently players like playing for him. I’m finding it hard to believe he can coach. What are his stats without Hayne?