From The Couch: Round 15

Filed in From The Couch, NRL by on June 18, 2012

Origin II Review – And Now for the Decider: Well, Origin II has come and gone and what a classic it was, a match so memorable as to be rated in one of the four or five best Origin encounters ever played.

And it was a New South Wales victory we got to celebrate and more importantly, the prospect of a thrilling decider.

It was a tremendous effort from the Blues, won on courage and heart and workrate and forward play. I certainly didn't see the win coming. Though the Blues were favoured by the bookmakers, I consider it one of the great Origin shocks.

It may also be a match that is, in fact, a turning point in the journey of Origin football.

The Blues were certainly the better team last Wednesday. They are still not a better team across the park than Queensland. But I think it can be said that, on the whole, the Blues may now have a better forward pack with Greg Bird, once and for all, proving he lifts another level for Origin, Robbie Farah showing he well and truly is an Origin type and Paul Gallen leading from the front like only Paul Gallen can. The young grunt of James Tamou and Tim Grant and the aggression of Luke Lewis meant that the Blues pack dominated the vaunted Queensland forwards for a second straight game. Sam Thaiday would have made a difference … but he wouldn't have made the difference. The Blues pack – despite weaknesses like Ben Creagh – have caught and passed Queensland.

It was without question the pack that won Origin II for the Blues. The tone was set early by Tim Grant. And it came to pass for the remainder of the game.

Such was the effort of the pack that they allowed for victory with a rather significant handicap of a horrid kicking game and a timid winger that almost lost the Blues a second game.

Todd Carney certainly improved but his kicking was still hot and cold. Mitchell Pearce's was just cold and it is still not apparent what he offers the Blues. He hardly found the carpet all night, his kicking game so poor I couldn't help but think we would be better out there with Stephen Hawking at halfback. So caring is Pearce, he was out on the job with some bird who gets her kit off in Playboy than preparing for Origin. He must have something on Ricky Stuart. He is no more than a myth and a transparent one at that.

The only Blue worse than Pearce was winger Akuila Uate. Uate is a player down on confidence and his refusal to take a bomb could have crippled the Blues. It would have in years past. The Blues dominated the first half but led just 4-0 when Uate allowed a Cooper Cronk bomb to bounce. Naturally, it led to disaster. Ben Hannant scored, heads were rightly down. It was a mistake of such stupidity, such gutlessness, it would be hard to believe Ricky Stuart could stick with him. Brett Morris or Beau Ryan – he is in sensational nick – would be stronger options at present.

The game really went ballistic after halftime. It was touch and go whether the Blues should have been awarded a penalty try. My first inclination was yes. On replay, I can accept the decision. The call to sin bin Cronk for taking out Carney was also right.

What was abhorrently wrong was the call to allow Josh Morris' try. It was an old-fashioned square up for the game one farce. Both the decision and Bill Harrigan's explanation were wrong. The call said it was a steal from Thurston. Harrigan said it didn't matter if it was a steal – Hayne got his foot to the ball before it hit the ground. That shouldn't matter. When Hayne lost the ball, it went forward into Thurston. Play should automatically have stopped. It was a shameful call. There is absolutely no onus on the ball-carrier to hold the ball any longer.

Queensland did remarkably well to fight their way back into it after that call. And could almost have won it were it not for the fist of Michael Jennings. Jennings did nothing all night – but he punched the ball clear out of Brent Tate's hands as the Queensland winger sought to score the match-winner. It was a memorable play and one that showed remarkable hustle from a player that has been so lazy this year.

It was also a play that should have resulted in a line drop out. It is astonishing that six officials could miss it.

The Maroons kept coming. And the Blues hung on desperately. It was an uncharacteristic display from both sides. The Blues toughness in the clutch has not been a hallmark of the last six years. And the Maroons made some dumb mistakes, some poorly-timed errors and a number of players simply didn't have a go. I'm looking at you Dave Taylor. Sadly, the officiating was just as expected.

The Blues should rightly be proud. It was a massive win. They should not rest on their laurels though as this team still isn't strong enough, in the backs at least, to roll the Maroons at home. Only some key changes will amend that.

Player Ratings:
New South Wales
1. Brett Stewart (7.5): Scored a double, backed up all night but shaky at the back
2. Jarryd Hayne (5.5): Made on good run but did little aside and fell over a lot
3. Michael Jennings (6): A non-factor for most of the night but made a crucial play
4. Josh Morris (8): Kept Inglis in check, productive in attack, absolutely superb
5. Akuila Uate (3): Disgraceful allowing the bomb to bounce, suspect all night
6. Todd Carney (7): A huge improvement as he took on the line and probed
7. Mitchell Pearce (3): More horrible kicking, no spark, more lack of game control
13. Paul Gallen (8): Typically strong and very busy but injured and it showed
12. Greg Bird (8.5): He has become the Chris Close of the south, always there
11. Glenn Stewart (7): Tackled all night but struggles to attack with Lyon nearby
10. James Tamou (7.5): Played big and was a handful for most of the evening
9. Robbie Farah (9): All of us who queried Farah look like fools after that effort
8. Tim Grant (6.5): Started well by flattening Petero and solid in limited time

14. Trent Merrin (5.5): Defence faultless but needs to take more carries
15. Luke Lewis (7): Made a huge impact off the bench with his aggression
16. Ben Creagh (3.5): Again totally invisible, at least made one tackle break
17. Anthony Watmough (6.5): Threatening when he hit the paddock

Backs: 40
Forwards: 46.5
Bench: 22.5
Total: 109

1. Billy Slater (6.5): Hyper-courageous battling through injury, a few errors
2. Darius Boyd (6.5): Very nice tap down to Inglis and returned the ball well
3. Greg Inglis (7): A real handful with a nice try but was never let off the lead
4. Justin Hodges (3.5): Attitude was poor all night, has struggled all season
5. Brent Tate (7.5): Was huge again and if he could have got that ball down …
6. Johnathan Thurston (5.5): His worst Origin showing, totally off his game
7. Cooper Cronk (7): Sin binning was costly but his kicking game was perfect
13. Ashley Harrison (6): Worked hard but missed a critical tackle at a big time
12. Dave Taylor (3): Was dreadful and will do well to stay in the 17, a shocker
11. Nate Myles (8.5): Queensland's best forward who gets better with each game
10. Petero Civoniceva (5.5): Well held again and is getting carried by the others
9. Cameron Smith (9): Made the right move at every point in the game, a star
8. Matthew Scott (8): A best up front who continually broke the advantage line

14. Matt Gillett (3.5): Got 46 minutes this time but really made no impact at all
15. Corey Parker (3.5): Ran the ball well when on but choice of boots a worry
16. Ben Hannant (4.5): After a strong game one, his involvement was an issue
17. David Shillington (7.5): Very strong off the bench, particularly with the ball

Backs: 43.5
Forwards: 40
Bench: 19
Total: 102.5

When Will the Madness End? So Sam Kasiano, only months after committing to New Zealand, is on the verge of being selected for Queensland. Kasiano has reportedly turned his back on his homeland for the lure of Origin riches and glory. This follows the disgraceful turn of James Tamou and the usual Origin bollocks where players like Greg Inglis play for Queensland. Mal Meninga and Ricky Stuart are gutting international football – and these boofheads are showing no pride for their country. The commission must put an end to this immediately. It is a total and utter disgrace that New Zealand are allowed to lose these players. State of Origin must once again be made State of Origin … and if you weren't born in New South Wales or Queensland, well, back frickin' luck, you are out of Origin.

Whatever Happened to the Quick Tap? There needs to be an edict delivered to referees and all clubs that the quick tap is back on and everyone needs to be prepared. This means captains can wait until the next break in play to discuss a decision. It is an almighty weapon but one that has been all but eradicated in recent years. Referees never change their decision. Captains merely come to discuss matters to waste time and allow the defensive line to set. A team has just committed a penalty. The attacking team should be allowed to play on quickly. This time wasting rubbish must be stamped out forthwith.

Sentimental Nine Sicken Me: There is nothing more disgusting on television at present than Nine's new rugby league ad, which calls Nine "the home of league" with the none-too-subtle message that league shown elsewhere won't work because it is all about Nine. It is as arrogant as it is desperate, a sad act from a sadder network who will rightly lose the league rights from next year. Nine thinks it has a mortgage on the game. It is this indolence that has seen it stifle the game for so long. The quicker they are out of the game, the quicker we can get a fresh look, a fresh voice and a fresh perspective.

Remembering Ellery:It is fantastic to see Ellery Hanley in Australia. Few international imports have been as beloved and few have been of such quality. He had such great speed and strength with a real football brain. Balmain would not have been in the '88 decider without the 'Black Pearl'. In 47 games for Balmain and Wests, Hanley was so good that many rate him the greatest Englishman to play premiership league. It is great to see him back in the news. And it is great to see that unlike the rest of that Tigers mob, he doesn't blame Terry Lamb for the supposed and unproven high shot in the '88 Grand Final. That is class.

The Dragons are About to Get Hot: The Dragons have been poor for much of the year but when the shackles were released in the second half, they finally looked capable of winning games. Jamie Soward was excellent and the backline finally started humming, with the exception of Ben Hornby. It wouldn't surprise me to see the Dragons win a few matches over the next month.

An Incredible 200: It is absolutely astonishing that Dean Young has made it to 200 games. Well done to him. The honest lock/hooker has dealt with rubbish knees and the golden staph and is still going strong, unable to train, but good enough to play rep footy the last few years. Rugby league is all about players like Young, the honest and the strong.

Commiserations: Everyone at Making The Nut sends out their deepest condolences to the family of Robbie Farah after Farah's mother passed on Sunday morning. Hopefully Farah and all associated stay strong during this very tough time.

Rabs On Song: There are not the times to be questioning the wisdom of Des Hasler – but I couldn't help but agree with Ray Warren's assessment of David Stagg and his role off the bench: "I can't see why you would play him off the bench, he is an 80-minute player". Here, here.

Rabs Off Key: On the Sunday afternoon game, chatting about Origin, Warren said he mistook Seal for Wendell Sailor. Ol' racist Rabs. Wendell looks as much like Seal as Kylie Kwong to Mao Zedong or Megan Gale to Benito Mussolini.

Slamming Sam A Sensational Signing: The Bulldogs have done a wonderful job to lure Roosters winger Sam Perrett on a three-year deal, effective immediately. Perrett is one of the most hard-working, reliable wingers in the game and has done so without much reward at the Roosters. Set to slot onto the right flank, he is set for a big finish to the year with the blue and whites when his release is finalised this week. The Bulldogs have needed an outside back of Perrett's quality for a long-time. His signing reminds me of when Rod Silva transferred to the Bulldogs mid-1995 … and we all know how that story ended.

Strip Show:It has been a sensational week for stripping in rugby league with three of the most memorable steals you are ever likely to see.

It all started in Origin with Michael Jennings saving the match by punching the ball clear of Brent Tate as Tate went to score the match-equaling try. Not technically a strip, but an incredible moment of ball relief.

Then Josh Reynolds pulled off one of the great steal tries by grabbing the ball from Dean Young just before halftime and then running the 40 metres for a try, a real footballer's four pointer.

And to top it off, Anthony Minichiello landed one of the great strips when stopping Ben Murdoch-Masilla from a certain try with a magnificent roll and strip, a steal Phil Gould said was the greatest ever. It may not have been that but it was a classic.

And the Game of the Season Will Be Played at … Mackay: It is sensational that rugby league takes some games away from the major centres and it is even more superb that one such game will be played by the two premiership favourites in a country town like Mackay. The Queensland sugar town has produced such brilliant players as Ben Barba, Josh Hoffman, Dally Cherry-Evans and Brett Seymour and now the game is giving back.

2012 Field Goal Count:
2: Benji Marshall, Todd Carney, Jamie Soward, Chris Sandow
1: Adam Reynolds, Greg Inglis, Krisnan Inu, Travis Burns, James Maloney, Aiden Sezer, Lachlan Coote, Josh Dugan, Robbie Farah

Recruitment in the NRL Era – North Queensland:The Cowboys have become known for one thing over the years when it comes to recruitment: they are the last ATM before Retirement City. So often, the Cowboys have forked out money and opportunities for big names well past it. Some have assisted – Jason Smith and Travis Norton come to mind. Most don't. The Cowboys have found their nuggets of gold with the likes of Johnathan Thurston, Dallas Johnson, Brent Tate and Matt Sing but all too often they have missed.

Best Year: There is no doubt that 2005 was a huge year with the recruitment of Johnathan Thurston and Carl Webb with Nathan Fien and Glenn Morrison the only notable losses but 2011 was a huge year with the old and useless life Willie Mason, Webb, Antonio Kaufusi and Luke O'Donnell punted for stalwarts like Dallas Johnson, Brent Tate, Gavin Cooper and Antonio Winterstein.

Worst Year: There have been some bad years but 2009 stands out with Antonio Kaufusi, Shannon Hegarty and Michael Bani, among others, and the loss of Ray Cashmere and Jacob Lillyman, both honest toilers.

Best Buy: Johnathan Thurston. Took the Cowboys to a Grand Final in his first year, went on to win two Dally M Medals, widely regarded as the best halfback in the game for nearly his entire stint at the Cowboys. A possible Immortal who the Cowboys lured on the cheap and who has been a superstar ever since. Matt Sing is worth an honourable mention, scoring 73 tries in 104 games for the club.

Worst Buy: It is hard to split Antonio Kaufusi and Shannon Hegarty. The Cowboys bought then-international Kaufusi for decent coin and endured one-and-a-half seasons worth of laziness and lack of effort. Hegarty, a former Queensland player, was well shot by the time he spent his last year at the Cows.

Worst Loss: Scott Prince spent three seasons at the Cowboys before moving to Brisbane as a 20-year-old. He would go on to play for Queensland and Australia and become a top-level half for much of his career. His loss was made up for by the acquisition of Thurston.

Origin/International Players Recruited:
Already: (22) Dale Shearer, Geoff Bell, Noel Goldthorpe, Paul Green, Matt Ryan, Tim Brasher, Julian O'Neill, Danny Moore, Ken McGuiness. Matt Sing, Kevin Campion, Paul Rauhihi, Travis Norton, Carl Webb, Sione Faumuina, Jason Smith, Shannon Hegarty, Antonio Kaufusi, Willie Tonga, Willie Mason, Dallas Johnson, Brent Tate
Became: (2) Luke O'Donnell, Johnathan Thurston

Origin/International Players Lost:
Already: (13) Tyran Smith, Owen Cunningham, Steve Walters, John Lomax, Paul Green, Geoff Bell, Nathan Fien, Josh Hannay, Jacob Lillyman, Antonio Kaufusi, Willie Mason, Carl Webb, Willie Tonga
Became: (1) Scott Prince

*Super League Tri Series and International matches are recognised.
** Only players who went to or came from another NRL club are noted with the exception of English internationals.

Injury Update: There were a number of significant injuries over the last week with plenty of Origin players going down.

Greg Bird (Gold Coast): Damaged his pectoral muscle against the Panthers and will miss the Dragons this week but will tough it out for Origin III.

Beau Champion (Gold Coast): Rejuvenated Titans centre went off after five minutes with an ankle worry. Doesn't look any worse than a fortnight.

Andrew Fifita (Cronulla): Had a burst appendix so missed the Warriors clash but won't be far away.

Paul Gallen (Cronulla): Missed the Warriors win with his knee concern. Should be right for next week.

Wade Graham (Cronulla): A bad hamstring cost him the start against the Warriors but won't miss too much time.

Jamal Idris (Gold Coast): Missed with another ankle injury. I'm not surprised, considering the frame it has to hold. He deserves these injuries because he won't get fit.

Greg Inglis (Souths): The Bunnies fullback is hyperextended his elbow and was in a heap of discomfort but played the match out. Would have to be in some doubt for Origin III.

Luke Lewis (Penrith): A groin injury sustained in Origin ruled him out of the Titans clash. Unlikely to push himself for the lowly Panthers before the Origin decider.

Micheal Luck (New Zealand): Returning from injury, Luck went down with a knee injury. Could be career ending as he is retiring at season's end. Hopefully not.

Josh Mansour (Penrith): Missed his chance to play at fullback when ruled out with a back injury. Lachlan Coote certainly didn't win back the jumper.

Corey Parker (Brisbane): Slashed his own leg to the bone in Origin II. Had surgery but it is believed to be infected. Out indefinitely, next to no chance for the Origin decider.

Frank Pritchard (Canterbury): The weirdest one of the week. Clearly concussed, Des Hasler said he had a bad ankle. May have broken a jaw or fractured a cheekbone. Should see Martin Taupau get more time.

Billy Slater (Melbourne): Has sustained a PCL to his knee and could miss up to eight weeks. Is highly unlikely for Origin III. Matt Duffie will play fullback for the Storm.

Matt Srama (Gold Coast): Exciting Titans hooker hurt his shoulder but got shot up and returned in the second half. Not sure what the diagnosis is but he may be out this week. Kane Lawton will get the nod if Srama is out.

Kyle Stanley (St George Illawarra): Strained his groin in the first half of the Dogs. Awaiting scans. Brother Chase will replace him.

Glenn Stewart (Manly): Was down for a long time with an awkward knee injury. First reports are an MCL and four weeks out. Would be a surprise for the Origin decider.

Manu Vatuvei (New Zealand): The Warriors winger is battling knee issues again and it wouldn't surprise to see him in and out of the team all season.

Fun Fact #1: Premiership matches have been played at nine country grounds: Whyalla (1 game, 1998), Cairns (2 games, 2001), Wagga (1 game, 1998), Cootamundra (1 game, 1998), Goulburn (1 game, 1914), Gosford (49 games, 2000-12), Taupo (1 game, 2011), Parkes (1 game, 1998), Queanbeyan (98 games, 1982-89).

Fun Fact #2: Before last round, the top eight try assist providers in the NRL this year are:

1. Cooper Cronk (Mel) 22
2. Benji Marshall (Tig) 20
3. Johnathan Thurston (Cow) 17
4. Billy Slater (Mel), James Maloney (War), Scott Prince (Tit) 12
7. Mitchell Pearce (Roo), Shaun Johnson (War) 11
Thanks to NRL Stats for the use of their numbers

The 2012 Willie M Medal:Ben Hornby has extended his lead at the top of the 2012 Willie M Medal count to three after picking up two votes against the Bulldogs. Hornby missed five tackles, making just 10, was slow all night, created no tries and had the attack going as smoothly as that cheese race down the hill in Wales. The big mover this week was 2010 winner Chris Sandow. Playing against his former club, Sandow was horrible. The most poignant moment was when he got ran down by his replacement, Adam Reynolds. How happy are the Bunnies that the Eels came along with their chequebook?

New South Wales v Queensland
3-Dave Taylor (Qld)
2-Akuila Uate (NSW)
1-Mitchell Pearce (NSW)
Judge: Nick Tedeschi

St George Illawarra v Canterbury
3-Ben Creagh (Dra)
2-Ben Hornby (Dra)
1-Krisnan Inu (Bul)
Judge: Rohan Kendall

North Queensland v Brisbane
3-Dale Copley (Bri)
2-Ashton Sims (Cow)
1-Ben Te'o (Bri)
Judge: Cliff Bingham

Cronulla v New Zealand
3-Omar Slaimankhel (War)
2-Matthew Wright (Cro)
1-Colin Best (Cro)
Judge: Nick Tedeschi

Parramatta v South Sydney
3-Chris Sandow (Par)
2-Cheyse Blair (Par)
1-Reni Maitua (Par)
Judge: Rohan Kendall

Gold Coast v Penrith
3-Lachlan Coote (Pen)
2-Brad Tighe (Pen)
1-Ashley Harrison (GC)
Judge: Rohan Kendall

Wests Tigers v Sydney Roosters
3-Adam Blair (Tig)
2-Masada Iosefa (Tig)
1-Tautau Moga (Roo)
Judge: Nick Tedeschi

Manly v Melbourne
3-Jason King (Man)
2-Jason Ryles (Mel)
1-Anthony Watmough (Man)
Judge: Nick Tedeschi

15: Ben Hornby (Dra)
12: Tim Moltzen (Tig), Ben Roberts (Par)
11: Chris Sandow (Par)
10: Jarrod Croker (Can), Mitchell Pearce (Roo), Mitch Rein (Dra)
9: Lachlan Coote (Pen), Timana Tahu (New), Brad Tighe (Pen)
8: Braith Anasta (Roo), Ben Pomeroy (Cro), Antonio Winterstein (Cow)

Rumour Mill: The rumour mill has been in overdrive this week with Greg Bird and David Stagg both said to be on their way to Newcastle. All parties have denied the Bird move but he is expected to return in 2014, if not sooner. Sam Kasiano is rumoured to be the man to replace Dave Taylor for Queensland with selectors so unhappy with Taylor's lifeless performance that he may have had his card marked. Matt Ballin is set to re-sign with Manly after early indications were he was headed to either the Cowboys or Raiders. The Cowboys have sorted their situation out with Roosters backup Anthony Mitchell set to make an immediate move north. He could line up for the Cows this week. The refereeing situation will raise its head again at the end of the season with Tony Archer expected to retire and take over as the new boss from Bill Harrigan. Expect Michael Gordon to be at the Sharks soon. Shane Shackleton will be at Penrith next season.

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

What I Like About … Josh Reynolds: He is such a smart, smart footballer and he played a critical role in getting the Bulldogs the money against the Dragons last Friday night. Reynolds scored a double with the highlight coming just before halftime. The Dragons threw a loose pass, Jeremy Latimore threw a foot out, Dean Young grabbed it and eased forward. Reynolds had the angle on him, went straight for the ball, ripped it clear and went away for a heartbreaking try. It was brilliant. There is more than a little bit of Terry Lamb about Josh Reynolds.

Betting Market of the Week: This picture of Reni Maitua is:

-Reni Maitua celebrating his birthday with friends: $5.00
-The worst backline ever assembled: $2.50
-A meeting of rugby league's most overrated players: $2.25
-Parramatta's dream team: $1.60

Moniker XIII of the Week: After scoring a match-winning double in Origin II, we honour Brett Stewart by naming the all-time best Bretts.
The Bretts

1.Brett Stewart (148 games for Manly)
2. Brett Dallas (119 games for Canterbury/North Sydney)
3. Brett Mullins (209 games for Canberra/Sydney Roosters)
4. Brett Hodgson (224 games for Wests/Parramatta/Wests Tigers)
5. Brett Morris (120 games for St George Illawarra)
6. Brett Kenny (265 games for Parramatta)
7. Brett Kimmorley (307 games for New/Hunter/Melb/Nor Eag/Cron/Cant)
13. Brett French (101 games for North Sydney/Gold Coast)
12. Brett Hetherington (142 games for Canberra/North Queensland)
11. Brett Rodwell (202 games for Illawarra/South Sydney)
10. Brett Goldspink (60 games for Illawarra/South Sydney/Western Reds)
9. Brett Finch (257 games for Canberra/Roosters/Parramatta/Melbourne)
8. Brett White (155 games for Melbourne/Canberra)

Analysis: The Bretts have one outstanding quality: speed. The backline is just sizzling with Stewart, Dallas, Mullins, Morris and Kenny all renowned speedsters. Kenny and Kimmorley are an excellent halves combination. The pack is a touch small and not great with just two Australian reps but this side would trouble plenty of teams.

The Coaching Crosshairs: The drums are beating for Stephen Kearney (still) and the feeling is that he will be replaced by Ricky Stuart immediately after Origin III. There is movement on the board and his defenders are finding it increasingly difficult to protect their man. The Eels have the cash and will pay Kearney out. He will not see out the end of the season.

The Life and Times of the Special Needs Penguin:The flippers were put to violent use this week when Ben Pomeroy was put on report for dropping the forearm into opposite number Ben Henry. The Penguin may be in hibernation for a number of weeks.

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 15: Manly-Melbourne, 22-26. The 'Battle of Brookvale' lacked the heat of the last battle but gee, what a fine game of rugby league to cap off a sensational weekend where the Bulldogs-Dragons, Cowboys-Broncos and Tigers-Roosters all staged exceptional games. But it was the replay of the 2007-08 deciders that got the cash. In what was an end-to-end battle, the Storm jumped to an early lead before a disgraceful decision to award Dally Cherry-Evans a try when even he gave himself up put the Eagles back in the picture. The tide had turned and the Eagles went in 18-12 at the break with the highlight being Jamie Lyon's outstanding kick to Brett Stewart. It was the unstoppable Storm, however, that shot clear and wrestled the points away from Manly with some great play by Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk. This was an absolute dandy,

Correspondence Corner: SemiPro, Ricky Stuart has a very interesting definition of passionate. I wonder what David Gallop would think of this passion. Stuart is as close to a rugby league terrorist as there is.

Anonymous, Shaun Timmins did kick an Origin field goal – I simply listed those who kicked more than one.

Mr C, yes, I was shocked that Queensland lost Origin II. I am eating my words. That is the price you pay for taking a stand. Saying that, I was mighty chuffed to see the Blues win.

Keith, I was as astounded as you that Humphreys was put forward for the top job. Wests have been treated very shabbily and Humphreys certainly doesn't hold a strong reputation other than being a numbers man. Steve Noyce has a great reputation but league needs to move beyond clubland.

Chris Wright, players staying down being removed from the field for one minute is interesting. It would work to stop fakers but it certainly adds a level of complexity to the game and I'm not sure it is fair to players who are genuinely hurt or stunned but not from an act of foul play.

Renegade, luckily I had a little wager on Greg Bird for man of the match (thank you Bob McCarthy!) that saved my bottle as I certainly loaded up on the Maroons.

Archie, spot on, a very uncharacteristic effort from the Maroons. And you are overestimating Ricky Stuart: he does not have attacking tactics.

George Rayner, Craig Bellamy sits as arguably the third or fourth best coach in premiership history.

Col Quinn, as you know, the most important aspect of a wingers' game is his defensive play. Uate has lost his. He surely can't be picked for Origin III. What happened to accountability?

Mike From Tari, the problem with Cecchin is he thinks way too highly of himself.

Beard Watch: Is commission chairman John Grant trustworthy? His beard certainly suggests not. Perhaps a shave would enhance his public image away from that of an evil mastermind.

Watch It: "The Downs Fox" Duncan Thompson was one of the finest halfbacks to ever lace on a boot. A true gentleman off the field, Thompson was part of North Sydney's only two premierships before walking away from the Sydney League after being unfairly suspended for kicking, returning to Queensland to play with arguably the greatest side ever to play in Australia, the famous Toowoomba Clydesdales, that downed all and sundry in 1924-25 including Britain, New Zealand and South Sydney. Thompson discusses that great side in this interview


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Comments (8)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Another good Couch. However, isn't the saying 'hear hear'?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Oh but Josh Reynolds surely isn't among the top 250 players in the NRL? *eyeroll*

  3. Kel Kellerson says:

    Punt, in spite of the undisguised anti-Parramatta bias that presents itself two or three times per Couch, in my worthless opinion this is the best weekly assessment of the round’s footy there is. Unparalleled honesty (aside from the aforementioned issue) and a top read. DK

  4. Anonymous says:

    A proposed solution to eligibility would be to look at a players first 18 years of life. Wherever that player lived for the majority of their first 18 years would be who they played for, in regards to State of Origin and Internationals (England, New Zealand, Australia). That way Inglis would now be playing for NSW, Tamou and Kasiano would play for New Zealand and Chris Heighington wouldn't be playing for England etc. Just wonder what you think about that Nick.


  5. Anonymous says:

    Nick, on the quick tap, another example last night in the Manly v Melbourne match of this. Manly are on the attack, maybe their 3rd set on Melbourne's line, and Manly were awarded a penalty about 1 metre out. Watmough rushes the mark already set by Tony Archer. Archer halts him and says he has to wait for himn to leave the mark. Archer waits for the Storm to get set and leaves the mark.

    The same scenario happened later in the game, with Manly about 40 out, quick tap, play on. No halting the attack.

    I think it stinks that Watmough, who is in position and ready to play on, is not afforded the benefit to play on. If anything, the Storm benefit by being allowed to slow down and set their defence.


    Mr. C

  6. SemiiPro says:

    Where the hell did you get the stat for Goulburn hosting a premiership game. That is remarkable and a reason I’ll keep coming back for more nut.

    I have to take you, and millions others, on about the opinion that Origin games (and it is usually the most recent game) are such great spectacles of Rugby League football. I was there on Wed night and I was a little nonplussed. Like I have said before, Origin players are impressive physical creatures and the speed of the game is impressive. But a typical set of 6 consists of 3 to 4 one-out hitups, a couple of passes out to the ‘backline’ to see if a guy can manage to beat his opposite 1 on 1, then a kick of some sort. I almost fell asleep in aisle 134.

    Compare an origin game to well tuned efforts by the Dogs or Storm and give me those teams any day.

    PS I hate Origin time due to its impact on betting, so I may be biased.

  7. Anonymous says:

    When NSW win game three I expect the nut to be all over the Blues and how well they played; it'll make me sick. You've done nothing but bag them.

    You're happy to hammer the Blues and Ricky Stuart when NSW lose, but then no credit where credit is due. Stuart did a great job in getting the team prepared for game two. Yet, no praise.

    Biased, subjective, hate-fueled dribble favouring Queensland.

    No calls for Jaime Soward to wear the NSW No.7 this week? You must have watched him perform well for all of 35 seconds for the Dragons against the Bulldogs on friday night. Finally, some clarity from the nut.

    Yours in League

    Robert Horry.

  8. dawn says:

    Where is the "Any Other" option on the Maitua pic? I know for a fact that it was a Mensa meeting. Matt Utai took the minutes and Arana Taumata chaired the meeting. I believe making Phil Rothfield the next CEO of the NRL was high on the agenda