From The Couch: Round 15

Filed in From The Couch, NRL by on June 22, 2015

Only At Parramatta: Only Parramatta could manage to find themselves in this current mess where their saviour is likely to walk because the board couldn’t agree on the terms delivered in the contract by the CEO despite those terms being known months before  the CEO was fired for same and said player’s contract was declared null and void. This is, of course, the same club who has won two of the last three wooden spoons, hasn’t made a finals series since 2009, owns some of the worst recruitment classes of the last decade, who has been through seven coaches in nine seasons and nearly as many CEOs and who has been in a constant state of boardroom warfare for the better part of the last 10 years.

Kieran Foran is a game-changing superstar. And when a club as bad as Parramatta – one that has struggled to attract players of quality in the prime of their career – finally lands one then they should do all they can to accommodate. Yes, they probably had to pay more and they definitely had to concede more in terms of clauses but they agreed to the deal and now had to stick fat. They needed to get Foran in the door and then worry about all that. Instead they have nullified the contract, allowing other clubs to get a look in at the star half.

It was shocking business from beginning to end. But exactly what you would expect from the Eels.

They don’t deserve Foran. They don’t deserve to get away with yet another colossal mess. The fans do, sure, but the powerbrokers don’t. And it seems highly unlikely that they will.

Origin II Review: The hands are up and the smile is on the dial … your venerable author was wrong, very wrong. The Blues opened the shoulders, they took the game to the Maroons, they exploited weaknesses, played to strengths, took advantage of refereeing and in the end got the decisive win over Queensland. The Maroons had few excuses outside of Cooper Cronk’s absence. They were outmuscled, outskilled and arguably for the first time in a decade, outclassed. There is no question Queensland were denied a fair try – but the Blues were also denied one. The key element of the match for mine was the clear decision by the referees to open the match up. That allowed the Blues’ outside backs – particularly Michael Jennings – to get early ball with space, where they are more dangerous, while opposites like Justin Hodges had their advantages nullified. While space may have been where the match was won, it was the engine room that laid the platform with Aaron Woods the Blues’ best and arguably their best of the series. James Tamou is not far behind him with Josh Dugan and Ryan Hoffman having put together back-to-back games. The end is hardly nigh for the Maroons. But it could be if Cooper Cronk doesn’t return. His direct running seems more suited to Origin than Daly Cherry-Evans’ penchant for crabbing and while that shouldn’t impact his Origin career long-term it will play a big role in the decider at Suncorp.

Rewrite The Charge Down Rule: The current charge down rule is a farce. Players are charging at kickers and then being deemed not to play at the ball when they turn their back at the last second. If a player is running towards the kicker then he is playing at the ball, pure and simple. The NRL needs to change this rule – or more pointedly, the interpretation of it – immediately.

2015 Field Goal Count – 29: We saw just the one field goal this weekend with Johnathan Thurston slotting a match-winner against Canberra. It came in a mad one minute of play that saw Thurston attempt four field goals with three charged down. Excellent stuff. STOP PRESS: Jake Friend nails a 5-metre field goal to cover the spread in the last second of Monday Night Football.

Fun Fact #1: Ben Roberts showed enough calm and composure to kick a game-winning field goal on the siren for Castleford over the weekend.

Fun Fact #2: Ben Pomeroy and Krisnan Inu are now playing in the same side – Catalans – a team that remarkably won after they both scored tries.

Rumour Mill: Cronulla recruit Jack Bird has not only made an impression on the field. Rumour has it that he told coach Shane Flanagan earlier in the season that if Bird was not named as a starter in first grade he would walk out at the end of the year. Matt Moylan is not expected to return this season with his injury worse than expected. Sam Moa is being targeted by Penrith. Despite the possibility of losing Kieran Foran, Chris Sandow will not be at the Eels with the Titans his most likely home if he finds one in the NRL. Blake Ferguson will be named for the Blues for Origin III with Will Hopoate likely to miss out. Expect major changes in the TV landscape when the next deal is done with Facebook likely to snare digital rights and Ten in line to win some free-to-air coverage rights. Israel Folau is again being linked to the NRL with the Roosters the favourites to win his signature.

What I Love About … Shaun Johnson: He is a player who can be hot and cold but few players can do what Johnson can when he is hot. He absolutely dazzled the Titans, a combination of ballerina, basketballer and bull. His sidestep has no peer while his acceleration surely puts him in the fastest 1% of players over 20 metres in the NRL. If there was a draft being held on purely artistic merit in Rugby League, Shaun Johnson goes No.1 like Don Bradman would go No.1 in an all-time cricket draft.

Betting Market of the Week: Kieran Foran’s next contract will contain a clause that:

$8.00: Gives him the power to dismiss the sitting government
$6.00: Makes him the first ever Player/CEO – Brad Arthur will remain as coach, naturally.
$4.00: First and last rights for the next television deal
$3.50: Allows him to broadcast in-play betting odds as he plays on behalf of ForanBet

Manly Collapse Update: Daly Cherry-Evans has decided to stay and now there is a possibility – a remote one, but still a possibility – that five-eighth Kieran Foran will remain at Brookvale in 2016. The Sea Eagles will have to do some creative accounting – and offload Brett Stewart – but it is not out of the realms of potential. It has been quite a remarkable turnaround for the Sea Eagles despite the wooden spoon being a very real possibility in 2015.

The Coaching Crosshairs: Be sure and certain that one coach is as good as gone with another very much facing the axe. Rick Stone will not be in charge of Newcastle next year and could be dumped in the coming month. Stone’s Knights got off to a flyer with four straight wins but since then Newcastle have won only 1 of 11 matches. His record or standing does not lend itself to saving him. The Knights will be looking for a new boss in 2016 with David Fairleigh believed to be at the top of their list. Parramatta coach Brad Arthur also needs to be most concerned about the machinations going on at the Eels at the moment. The CEO is out and the club is willing to risk losing their star recruit, who will only come if Arthur is coach. Parramatta politics is a dangerous beast and has swallowed bigger names and more talented coaches than Arthur.

Referee Power Rankings: If there is one lesson that has been learnt from this exercise of power rankings is that there is no clear big dog and it seems to come from the nature of the officials, who all seem too willing to defer. Stand up someone … claim top spot, man up!

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

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 15: Canberra-North Queensland, 20-21. This was an absolute classic weekend of Rugby League with the Storm-Broncos also an absolute beauty. It is hard to go past Saturday afternoon’s ding dong classic in the capital that was decided in a furious field goal flurry from the one and only Johnathan Thurston. Both teams were exceptional, the Raiders throwing their all at a team that had won 11 straight and the Cowboys, game with so many players backing up from Origin. A tremendous game.

Ricky Stuart Stat of the Week: The Raiders have won just 5 of 19 at home under Ricky Stuart with a 6-13 Against The Spread cover record.

Beard Watch: It is fantastic to see so many Newcastle Knights get into the beard flow with Jake Mamo, Adam Clydesdale, Kade Snowden and Robbie Rochow, among others, supporting some wild facial follicles. The results aren’t following though. Perhaps coach Rick Stone needs to try growing one. It could make for a nice farewell.

Correspondence Corner: Anthony, I’ll be open to new column ideas in 2016. Until then, we are all stuck with Ricky.

Davey G, media-constructed drivel like the whole grub fiasco last week is boring to the end.

CTPE, Robbo and Scotty, there is no doubt that Buzz has read your questions and will not answer them. Expect to be blocked on Twitter.

Marty, I could not have been happier to be wrong. It was sensational to see the Blues finally open up and score a few points and actually take the match to Queensland. Let’s hope it happens in Brisbane.

Newtown Tragic, it a field goal marathon wins, then well done.

Watch It: This week we go back in time to check out the famous Adelaide Rams. They didn’t win many games, they didn’t have many good players, but they sure were memorable. Check out some of the greats here from Noel Goldthorpe to Bruce Mamando, who scores a cracking try. Watch it here.


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Comments (5)

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  1. Cam says:

    It’s dirty of the eels to keep mum about the nrl not registering the contract until after the round 13 deadline. Foran should tell em to stick it, and either stay at manly or go to Des.

  2. Gavin says:

    Nick, I’ll see your change to the charge down rule and raise with no restart of the tackle count.

  3. Mav63 says:

    Origin – Despite the Inglis no-try decision NSW deserved the win. Enjoy the glow, here’s hoping it only lasts three weeks.

    Video refs – Can we just get them to rule on tries and foul play? Over turning scrum decisions is an embarrassing blight on the game. If they get it wrong on field just accept it and move on.

    How good was the footy on the weekend. Some high quality matches with many more to come.

  4. Davey G says:

    Even if Foran does not go to Parra, the Club and the Board will point fingers and blame either each other (standard) or everyone else. As an Eels fan, I almost want Foran to not come as there is a tiny chance it will kick the Board in the date and make them realise it is not about themselves, but the fans (who are fecking sick of it all).
    Origin was fantastic, and it is a nice day walking into client’s offices up here in Brisbane on a Thursday after a win, especially one as convincing. The Inglis argument is simple, and the answer to a blow up is the same as any time a team feels robbed – “if that happened to the other team, would you be complaining?”. If that same thing happened with Jennings running and scoring and getting brought back, I don’t think Cameron Smith would approach the refs and say “hang on, no, that’s fair and should be awarded”. I will be at Suncorp and look forward to watching the Blues put in the same effort and walking to the bus station covered in spit and beer and abuse (normal night at the football in QLD).

    • Jason says:

      Davey, I would agree with you re the GI try, if the onfield ref had called no try, but the process with the video ref was surely wrong. He called it a try and then sent it upstairs. It was a borderline call, so I don’t see how the video ref had sufficient evidence to overturn the original decision. Both that try and the NSW forward pass before were 50/50s, so i don’t think any reasonable person could legitimately complain if the onfield ref had gone the other way on either, but the difference between the two was the use of the video ref on the QLD one and the apparent failure of the process.

      As an aside, it’d be nice if the referees clamped down on all the grubby BS from BOTH teams in origin. The constant niggle to try and get someone else to throw a punch is tiresome. It’s also really irritating that there doesn’t seem to be any policing of late hits on kickers. I thought that the James Graham/Adam Reynolds incident would have been a catalyst, but do we really want to see JT or Hodko get seriously injured before they take it a little bit more seriously. The argument that a defender was ‘committed’ to a tackle is ridiculous; if he hits him late, he was over-committed.