From The Couch: Round 16

Filed in From The Couch, NRL by on June 25, 2012

Ricky Finally Shows Some Balls: Dishing out compliments to Ricky Stuart is not in my nature but he deserves some credit for showing the balls to drop out-of-form winger Akuila Uate. Uate was solely responsible for three of Queensland's five tries this series. Combined with his lack of attacking punch at present, Uate had to go. It takes heart to change a winning side and Stuart showed it.

It is a shame that bottle didn't extend to the dropping of Mitchell Pearce. Pearce offers nothing in attack. He cannot kick, he provides little creativity and he offers little on-field direction. All he does is defend well. In that case, Nathan Hindmarsh should have been recalled as halfback. Peter Wallace and Jamie Soward both should be ahead of Pearce.

Pearce's inclusion means that New South Wales cannot afford to play a purely defensive backrower.  The Blues need creative options in the backrow. That worked in Origin II. It could in Origin III but it makes the decision to recall Beau Scott odd. Scott is a deserving call-up but fits in with a Soward or Wallace at halfback, where he can play an enforcer role. He must now create if he is to play big minutes. Hopefully he is just a straight-up swap for Ben Creagh with Luke Lewis or Anthony Watmough starting, which would allow Scott to play his natural game.

Tony Williams will certainly be in the final 17. He played very well against the Roosters and is another who offers more off the bench than Creagh.

If Creagh and the injured Glenn Stewart miss out, this will be the strongest Blues side of the series.

Another Confusing Weekend of Video Refereeing Decisions:The total collapse of video refereeing standards was summed up to a tee on the weekend with inconsistencies so obvious that it is clear Bill Harrigan and Stuart Raper are doing nothing to ensure video referees operate under the same assumptions, to the same standards and with the same interpretations as their colleagues.

Let's look at five decisions over the weekend.

The first two to consider are Ashley Graham's try and David Mead's no try. Both saw wingers diving for the corner and both look to lose the ball. Mead's was ruled a knock on. Graham's, dubiously, a try. Pat Reynolds looked to award the try. Paul Mellor didn't. Reynolds gave more weight to frame-by-frame footage than Mellor. How can these possibly have been different? Both were clearly no tries.

Then consider the decision to award Krisnan Inu his first try on Sunday and Ken Sio's no try in golden point on Saturday night. Inu clearly had not grounded the ball. Under the ridiculous precedent set in Origin I, the Bulldogs should have been awarded a try – to Dene Halatau, who collected the loose ball later. Sean Hampstead didn't even get to that, amazingly giving Inu the benefit of the doubt on grounding when it was clear it was knocked out. It should never have been a try but even under the precedent of Origin I, it should have gone further. Canterbury got the benefit of a huge doubt. Yet Ken Sio planted the ball millimetres either side of the chalk yet no benefit was given. Sio's try was far closer to a four-pointer yet Phil Cooley seems to run on a balance of probabilities while Sean Hampstead seems to want to make knock ons tries.

And then there was Hampstead's absurd call to deny Ryan Hinchcliffe a try because of obstruction, an obstruction that had no bearing on the play and 99 per cent of rugby league people would award.

When the decision goes upstairs, it is a total lottery. It is a joke. Bill Harrigan is doing nothing to fix it. The commission have done nothing to clear up the interpretations. We need to start again and as I have said before, decisions must revert to on-field referees and conclusive evidence shown to overturn the original decision. This is embarrassing for the game.

The Try of the Year: Ben Barba is a superstar, one of the most exciting and brilliant players in the NRL, an electrifying runner and smart defender. He is known for scoring plenty of tries but it was his set of the final try against the Storm on Sunday that will be etched in the memories of everyone who saw it for a very long try. It was without question the try of the season and one of the finest four-pointers I have ever seen scored.

Barba picked the ball up just inside his own deadball line with two Storm defenders closing in. He jinked past them both, put on the burners and then shook off past Sika Manu. Cooper Cronk never stood a chance. Cameron Smith didn't lay a glove on him. Barba was gone with only the covering defence standing a chance with the angle. When Barba's run seemed destined to come to an end, he put a chip in, on his wrong foot. On his wrong foot! It bounced perfectly for Josh Morris, who crossed next to the sticks. It was simply brilliant.

Ben Barba has developed into one of the best players in the NRL. Here is to hoping he has a long and injury-free career.

Happy 300, Petero: Last Friday, Petero Civoniceva became just the 18th player to play 300 premiership matches, an outstanding achievement for one of the NRL's real warriors. And, beautifully, he celebrated with a shot at goal. It hooked wide but so continued one of rugby league's great traditions. Civoniceva has played in three premierships, 45 Tests and 32 Origins … all in the engine room. In the last 20 years, only Glenn Lazarus and Shane Webcke can be considered his equals as such dominant props over such a long period of time.

An Excellent Read: For those of you who missed Good Weekend two Saturday's back, this piece on the man who orchestrated the accusations against Brett Stewart back in 2009 is well worth a read. From The Couch was one of the few outlets not to lynch Stewart, who was marginalised by both the mainstream media organisations and the NRL. This gives one hell of a tale behind the dicey dude who pulled the strings behind the accusations. Stewart has not responded well over the last year or two but he was rightly appalled at how he was treated back in 2009.

The Forced Short Kick: It was exciting to see rugby league in Mackay … and more exciting to see conditions dictate that kicks from north to south were all short. Few came off but it was very exciting to see.

Nathan Hindmarsh, You Champion: Old Hindy, he still has it. In one of the great Nathan Hindmarsh performances – and there have been plenty in what has been a stellar 320-game premiership career – Nathan Hindmarsh was absolutely brilliant in a starring role against Penrith. While Hindmarsh has lost nothing defensively, his attacking game has shutdown a little in recent years. There was no sign of any regression on Saturday night, however, when Hindmarsh set up a try, played a key role in another, ran for 199 metres, made two line breaks, nine tackle breaks and six offloads in a huge game. Ricky Stuart was jokingly asked if Hindmarsh would be considered for an Origin recall. It is a shame Stuart didn't give the call more heed because there is no way at all Hindmarsh would let anyone down and could make an impact on both sides of the ball.

Kudos Krisnan: Krisnan Inu has played four games for Canterbury, scored six tries and already punched over 49 points. That is a pretty handy return for a player I figured as a total bum, useless and lazy and stupid. I have still not come around fully yet. But he made his biggest step on the weekend when attempting a meaningless field goal in the dying stages against the Storm. It is pleasing to see him respect the meaningless field goal.

Only in Canberra: Weird things happen in the nation's capital, strange and odd happenings that don't seem to go on anywhere else. Like giving the coach unequivocal support when he has a lower than 40 per cent strike rate. Or signing Matt Orford. Or having a viral infection which results in boils and the golden staph sizzling throughout your squad. So it is with the Raiders, who have lost Joe Picker and Jarrad Kennedy to boils with former winger Brett Kelly nearly having a finger amputated. There is plenty wrong with the Raiders but not washing your hands was not one I considered. 

There is a Time for Everything: Roosters outside back BJ Leilua needs an education on the appropriate actions at the appropriate time. Like when you are over the tryline, you don't attempt a flick pass, you put the ground. Or like when you run into your ex-girlfriend, you don't spit at her and then send around your attempts at Mitchell Brothers amateur cinematography. Ground the ball in goal, be polite to people you know and only spit into a basin. And while we are at it, only use initials of your actual name.

Tiger Airways is a Company of Thieves, Grubs and Whores: Indulge me, while I use my biggest forum to take issue with the cheap pigfuckers that call themselves an airline named Tiger. I have never come across a more despicable, criminal company is my life. When I rocked up on Sunday afternoon at Melbourne airport, carrying the same luggage I was allowed on with free of charge on Friday in Sydney, I was told I would have to pay $70 because my luggage was 3kg overweight. The pigfucker kept rattling on that "this was the policy" like a real company shill, showing no understanding of reason at all. He said that I could take out 3kg of clothing and wear it. That makes perfect sense. How a company can charge $70 for excess baggage of 3kg, particularly after all was allowed on the first leg, is the cheap revenue raising action of a company that enjoys raping the common man trying to get home. I hope the company goes out of business. I hope they enjoyed the $70 they stole from me. They now must deal with a crusade that I will be staging against them. Anyone who has any horror stories from Tiger should print them in the comments section on Making The Nut – they will be re-printed and then sent repeatedly to Tiger as well as travel writers at both Fairfax and News. Those grubs aren't going to get away with bending the public over and sodomising us for no reason at all. I should have known better than to fly Tiger … I hope everyone here heeds my warning and never flies with those crooks again.

Time to Try Tautau: Young Tautau Moga had his best game in first grade against Manly, despite being on the wrong end of a 52-14 scoreline. He scored a try, ran for 135 metres and made seven tackle breaks. But he gave up too easily when the ancient Jamie Lyon outpaced him to a loose ball in the final minute. The game was well over but Moga needs to try to the bell. That is what the best players do. He is raw but he needs to show he wants to win before he can be viewed as a real first grader.

So It Begins: Well done to Luke Kelly, who has been at the Eels a grand total of eight minutes and has already knocked Ben Roberts out of a first grade job. Roberts' legion of defenders – "what about that game against Brisbane" – have been very quiet of late. Roberts has won just 11 of his last 32 first grade games.

Field Goal Update: Chris Sandow has hit the front with his extra-time drop goal. He has gone to three for 2012.

Great Bleed: Luke MacDougall was cut up real good. His face was an absolute mess. Well done to the Bulldogs winger. "Nature Boy" Ric Flair in his heyday didn't gush that good.

West Australian Bid Winding Up: The West Australian bid for the NRL's 17th franchise is ready to go with the name and colours set to be released this week. Getting a Perth team into the premiership should be a matter of priority for the NRL as soon as the new TV deal is sorted.

Recruitment in the NRL Era – Parramatta:The Eels have been the worst recruiting team in the NRL over the last six years and have had very little to crow about in the NRL era. The Eels love to pay overs for players other clubs won't touch. The side does not know the meaning of the word value.

Best Year: The Eels have not had many good years so 2000 is probably their best when they recruited future Origin players Brett Hodgson and Jason Moodie and honest Queensland forward Gary Larson, losing only punk Jarrod McCracken, John Simon and Mark Tookey. Hodgson and Moodie were excellent in four years at the Eels, particularly in the Eels' 2001 Grand Final run when they scored 32 tries between them. 

Worst Year: You cannot separate any of the years 2010-12. 2010 saw Justin Poore signed to a stupid contract and Timana Tahu return from rugby union. 2011 was dreadful with Paul Whatuira, Chris Walker and Carl Webb all retiring mid-season and Chris Hicks spending most of the year in reserve grade. 2012 has seen Ben Roberts, Chris Sandow and the Tonga boys get paid about $10,000 a missed tackle.

Best Buy: Brett Hodgson. It isn't even close. Hodgson became an Origin player in his four years at the Eels, taking the club to a Grand Final. The Eels have never been able to find a long-term star with all their purchasing of first grade players.

Worst Buy: The list here is so long it is impossible to know where to start. In terms of money spent, it is hard to look past Timana Tahu in 2010 when he copped big money to return from union only to fail miserably and get released within a year. Justin Poore has also been a $400,000 millstone around the club's neck. Chris Sandow and Ben Roberts are two others that go close in this category. Paul Whatuira was signed but played just one game.

Worst Loss: Two stand out here: Jamie Lyon and Andrew Ryan. The two went on to win three premierships, play 19 Tests and 22 Origins, with those rep numbers set to be significantly higher if Lyon didn't refuse to play rep footy. The Eels probably didn't lose all that much with Ryan because Nathan Hindmarsh was present but to lose Lyon, arguably the best centre of the last decade, has been devastating to the club. Parramatta wanted to keep him but sticking with Brian Smith cost them a star.

Origin/International Players Recruited:
Already: (18) Gary Larson, Michael Buettner, Jason Taylor, PJ Marsh, Paul Green, Timana Tahu, Henry Perenara, Brett Finch, Joe Galuvao, Justin Poore, Timana Tahu, Casey McGuire, Reni Maitua, Chris Walker, Paul Whatuira, Carl Webb, Ben Roberts, Willie Tonga
Became: (6) David Kidwell, Daniel Wagon, Brett Hodgson, Jason Moodie, David Solomona, Eric Grothe

Origin/International Players Lost:
Already: (17) John Simon, Jarrod McCracken, David Kidwell, Jason Smith, PJ Marsh, Michael Buettner, Andrew Ryan, Paul Green, Brett Hodgson, Jason Moodie, Jamie Lyon, Henry Perenara, Jeremy Smith, Brett Finch, Joe Galuvao, Krisnan Inu, Timana Tahu
Became: (7) Clinton Schifcofske, PJ Marsh, Jason Cayless, Adam Mogg, Willie Tonga, Zeb Taia, Tony Williams,

*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 few stresses for Queensland coach Mal Meninga over the weekend with a number of Maroons taking knocks.

Josh Dugan (Canberra): Raiders star Dugan has done his ankle with scans to confirm whether it is a break or ligament damage. He will miss between 4-8 weeks and has left the Dragons backline more of a wreck. Sam Williams will likely get a recall.

Ben Hannant (Brisbane): The Broncos prop missed Friday's game with a quad injury. Just precautionary.

Ashley Harrison (Gold Coast): The Queensland lock suffered a toe injury and could miss Origin III after seeing just half a game against the Dragons. Dallas Johnson, Corey Parker, Ben Te'o and, I would like to think, David Stagg, are possibilities to replace Harrison if he doesn't come up.

Justin Hodges (Brisbane): Damaged some rib cartilage but has declared himself a certain starter for Origin.

Tim Moltzen (Tigers): Limped off with a hamstring strain early. May save him from a Willie M Medal.

Corey Parker (Brisbane): Suffered a broken nose but played 80 minutes against the Bunnies. Will be right for Origin.

Matt Srama (Gold Coast): Busted his eye socket but fought on for the 80 minutes. A champion effort. Won't miss anytime.

Tom Symonds (Roosters): Dislocated his left shoulder and it would be a surprise to see him play anytime soon.

Joel Thompson (Canberra): Broke his hand and could be out from anywhere up to eight weeks. Joe Picker is his likely replacement, if he recovers from an infection.

Trevor Thurling (Canberra): Did an AC joint against the Cowboys and will likely miss the remainder of the Raiders' miserable season. Bronson Harrison, if he remains with the club, will come in as his replacement.

Fun Fact #1: The Canberra Raiders have not won the game where they have flown sponsors interstate since 1997.

Fun Fact #2: Petero Civoniceva has played the most premiership games against Melbourne (28), but has never scored a try against the Storm. The most tries he has scored against a team has been the Sydney Roosters, where he has crossed six times in 21 appearances.

Fun Fact #3: Tom Symonds has played two games this season, for a cumulative result of 18-96.

Fun Fact #4: Willie Mason is 12-44 in his last 56 NRL and Super League games with the Sydney Roosters, North Queensland, Hull KR and Newcastle.

The 2012 Willie M Medal: There has been some movement at the top of the Willie M leaderboard with Mitchell Pearce moving into a tie for fourth after picking up a point against Manly and Jason Ryles, one of the pre-season favourites for the honour, moving into eighth. One smokie is Parramatta centre Cheyse Blair, who took three points in a winning side on the weekend. He is within striking distance as we hit the stretch.

Brisbane v South Sydney
3-Dave Taylor (Sou)
2-John Sutton (Sou)
1-Andrew McCullough (Bri)
Judge: Matt Fisk

St George Illawarra v Gold Coast
3-Jamal Idris (GC)
2-Aiden Sezer (GC)
1-Trent Merrin (Dra)
Judge: Matt Fisk

North Queensland v Canberra
3-David Shillington (Can)
2-Reece Robinson (Can)
1-Josh McCrone (Can)
Judge: Cliff Bingham

Penrith v Parramatta
3-Cheyse Blair (Par)
2-Dayne Weston (Pen)
1-Luke Kelly (Par)
Judge: Cliff Bingham

Canterbury v Melbourne
3-Jason Ryles (Mel)
2-Corey Payne (Bul)
1-Matt Duffie (Mel)
Judge: Nick Tedeschi

Sydney Roosters v Manly
3-Sam Perrett (Roo)
2-Anthony Minichiello (Roo)
1-Mitchell Pearce (Roo)
Judge: Brett Oaten

Newcastle v Wests Tigers
3-Lote Tuqiri (Tig)
2-Benji Marshall (Tig)
1-Keith Galloway (Tig)
Judge: Nick Tedeschi

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

Rumour Mill: The birds are chirping that Brett Stewart is on the verge of signing a big-money deal with French rugby union. With Canterbury out of the race, Manly under salary cap pressure and the Dragons cooling, Stewart could make the switch for big money and total obscurity. Jamie Soward has again been linked to Wigan in England. He has been in outstanding form but is embittered that he has been overlooked by Ricky Stuart and won't want to play if Stuart is at the Dragons next year, a very real possibility. The Raiders and the Eels are also pursuing Stuart, paying no heed to his dreadful coaching record. There is plenty of speculation about immediate player movements with Wes Naiqama expected to join the Raiders, Bronson Harrison the Knights, Junior Sau the Sharks, Richie Fa'aoso to the Storm and Sam Perrett to the Bulldogs. Brett Finch is also expected to join Canterbury next year now with Jeremy Latimore heading to Penrith and Ryan Carr to the Raiders.

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

What I Like About … Ryan Hinchcliffe: I like that the versatile Storm forward was prepared to leave over $150,000 on the table to not play with Parramatta. Hinchcliffe rejected a big offer from the Eels to stick with Craig Bellamy. This isn't some young fella either, with another big payday ahead. This was Hinchcliffe's money contract and he stayed loyal. It is the kind of type he is. I hope he continues to thrive in the Storm system. And it would be very amusing if Parramatta's recruitment continued in such an unproductive fashion. At least they were aiming for the right kind of player.

Betting Market of the Week: After using up the old "boil outbreak that has been leading to golden staph infection" chestnut, the Raiders' next excuse for their shocking run of form:

– Training was cancelled this week when David Furner got caught up enjoying hit sitcom Til Death: $2.70
– Six players have been diagnosed with Steve Elkington's aversion to grass: $2.20
– The prevalence of neck tattoos has led to a number of players taking on a sloth-like intelligence: $1.40
– Jarrod Croker has become the club's new defensive choice: $1.90

Moniker XIII of the Week:With South Sydney big man Scott Geddes retiring, we this week name the greatest Scotts.

The Scotts
1. Scott Wilson (109 games for Souths/Norths/Dogs/Chargers/Reds/Cowboys)
2. Scott Donald (93 games for Cowboys/Parramatta/Manly)
3. Scott Pethybridge (108 games for Penrith/Norths/Warriors/Northern Eagles)
4. Scott Gale (180 games for Wests/Easts/Balmain/Norths/Canberra)
5. Scott Mahon (117 games for Parramatta/Cowboys)
6. Scott Hill (200 games for Canterbury/Hunter/Melbourne)
7. Scott Prince (268 games for Cowboys/Brisbane/Tigers/Gold Coast)
13. Scott Sattler (203 games for Gold Coast/Easts/Crushers/Penrith/Tigers)
12. Scott Gourley (173 games for St George/Roosters)
11. Scott Tronc (92 games for Wests/Brisbane/Canterbury/Souths)
10. Scott Logan (174 games for Roosters/Souths/Canberra)
9. Scott Fulton (49 games for Manly)
8. Scott Geddes (124 games for Souths)

Analysis: The Scotts aren't very good. They have an honest pack. The halves are very good. The outside backs are just up and town. Scotts tended to be journeymen.

The Coaching Crosshairs: St George Illawarra are very seriously considering axing first-year coach Steve Price, who would become the first first-year coach since Murray Hurst in 2002 to be fired in his first season (Hurst was caretaker in 2001). The Dragons front office aren't happy with the fall but more upsetting has been the inability of the club to lure big names and the style with which the Saints are playing. Price is not making the tough calls – like dumping Ben Hornby – and is not making the team his own. Mick Potter, Ricky Stuart, Steve Folkes and Jason Taylor are in the mix.

The Life and Times of the Special Needs Penguin: Ben Pomeroy spent his bye weekend by visiting his family, travelling to Antarctica.

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 16: Canterbury-Melbourne, 20-4. An absolute belter of a game and a possible preview of the 2012 Grand Final, the Bulldogs asserted themselves as the top contender to the Storm's title as premiership favourite with a rugged showing. The Bulldogs jumped the blocks early but the highlight of the game was their stout defence, holding off wave after wave of Storm attack. That was until Ben Barba set up the try of the season, a magical 110-metre excursion that saw the best Storm defenders left grasping at air, Barba chipping with his wrong foot, Josh Morris collecting it. A beautiful game of football.

Correspondence Corner: Dawn, yes, Reni Maitua may have been attending a Mensa meeting. After Rothfield is installed as chief executive, Bill Harrigan will be signed up as referees boss … oh wait.

Robert Horry, I will be cheering the Blues on but I don't think they will win and I don't think they deserve too. I'm just calling it as I see it. And Jamie Soward should be wearing the No.7 for NSW.

SemiPro, I'm a stats nerd so I love finding nuggets like premiership rugby league in Goulburn. Origin does ruin betting and we all get caught up in the "best game ever" every year – it is of course the Origin tradition – but I still thought it was a high quality affair with plenty of drama.

Mr C, you are spot on – taps should be able to be taken whenever by the attacking team whenever on the mark.

Anonymous, representative eligibility is a tough one. I think the best way to do it would be to make a player commit when he signs his first professional contract and leave it at that with no changes.

Kel, when are you back in Australia old son? You love the Parramatta digs.

Anonymous, I didn't rate Josh Reynolds earlier in the season. The top 250 may have been a bit hyperbolic but I thought he was a stop-gap measure at best. I was wrong. I'm happy to put my hand up when making a blue. I was wrong.

Anonymous, yes, it is hear hear.

Nick, it makes you sick how complicated they have made the game. You watch video from the 1980s, it is a much more understandable game. As athleticism has gotten better, the rules have acted to distill the quality of the game. It is such a shame.

Kiwi Dogs Fan, the Bird man of the match call was very funny. He was very good but I thought Robbie Farah had it in the bag.

Solly, I don't think it was Locky but I stand to be corrected.

Josh, I was just taking the mickey out of Rabs … no malice intended. Though Wendell is very strange if he thinks he looks like Seal. If Rabs is offended, I do apologise. It was just a playful jab. Readers of this column know I have a fondness for Rabs.

Anna, Mal and Ricky and their contrived histrionics add nothing to the Origin scene for me either.

Redman, in any other era, Brent Tate's would have been a knock-on and it should have been a knock-on. But under the ridiculous interpretations they operate under, it should have been a line dropout. 

Dragons68, yes, Folau and Vagana were excellent players. The rest of them were lazy buggers who have done nothing for league. Word is Soward is worried about Ricky Stuart taking over at the Dragons. I hope not. Let's hope Stuart ends up at the Eels so recruitment can get worse. Maybe Broderick Wright will get another $275,000 a season deal and Mitchell Pearce can follow him to Parra and become the new Anthony Tupou.

TigersMS, it would be preferable if match payments were higher in international footy and that there was a more prominent schedule but sadly it doesn't pull in the cash.

Frank the Tank, I have watched the replay 10 times. Hayne lost it in a tackle. Thurston impacted the ball but it wasn't a steal or a rake though who knows under the current interpretations.

Arthur, I have loved Ben Hornby for many years. He had all the qualities I liked about a footballer. But he is done. I credit him with an excellent career that has seen him win a premiership and represent. A champion player, a champion bloke. But if the Dragons want to improve, I can't see how they can with him in first grade. I would play Soward in the No.7 and put Kyle Stanley (when fit) in the No.6 and give Nathan Green a regular run in the centres.

Beard Watch: Canterbury duo Sam Kasiano and Frank Pritchard have the scariest beards in the NRL, free-flowing and dark like The Wild Samoans. I hope those two never shave.

Watch It: This week we go back to 1979 for the BRL major semi final between Valleys and Easts in what turned out to be a rout for Valleys. In the match we see a young Wally Lewis in action, along with a very angry John Lang, looking for a fight. Watch it here.


Comments (4)

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  1. WittyReference says:

    re: Origin selection –

    If Origin was a stand alone game on a Friday night would it be feasible on the Sunday night to have another Rep game for all the other non QLD/ NSW players in the NRL?

    Idea 1:  NZ origin – North Island vs South Island. I have no idea if the population could support this.

    Idea 2:  NZ Test team vs the Rest of the World.

  2. Anonymous says:

    As a Dragons fan I agree with your comments on Ben Hornby. I live in London so haven't seen many games but he just looks past it. I don't think Soward is the answer at 7 though. But would like to see Kyle Stanley at 6.

    And I also think that Nathan Fien should be pulling up stumps soon.

    And I am horrified if Ricky Stuart took over my club. Personally I think it is tough to sack Price after half a season. He just doesn't have the cattle to work with. I think if he is in the same position in about round 10 next year then its goodbye.

    Too many old players at the Dragons that should be ushered into retirement sooner rather than later.

  3. SemiiPro says:

    Yes, yes, yes.  The refereeing is of the worst standard since Hollywood Hartley bounced around like a hyped-up J. Edgar Hoover looking for crack in the ruck.  Something to do with the nickname Hollywood I guess.  NRL or Commission or Gina Rinehart, punt that goose!

    Ben Barba is a freak and the Dogs are easily the best team in the comp to watch.  I think they are $8 for the Premiership.  Now, I never try to pick a winner until a month out from the finals, but I reckon the Dogs are looking good.  OK, Melbourne looked a bit tired and no Slater, but I can't see them improving with the pack they have.  Sky is the limit for the Dogs.  I especially like it when a Doggie prop, usually Big Sammy, goes to the low-post at the tryline and passes it back to someone with his back to the tryline.  Is there any sport that Dessie doesn't get ideas from?  Best coach going.

    Thanks for the post, Tiger.

  4. The Ram Jam says:


    Punter, I was left stranded in Melbourne a couple of days before SOO III last year when Tiger were grounded for having a pisspoor safety record, with absolutely no effort at all from them to make amends for the situation. I have not since and will not ever fly with them again.

    And if Ricky Stuart or Jason Taylor end up at the Dragons I'll seriously consider doing a Tallis and sitting on the pine until it's over.