From The Couch: Round 16

Filed in From The Couch, NRL by on June 28, 2015

Where Will Kieran Go: The Kieran Foran saga is set to drag on well into next week and perhaps even longer as the unlucky  five-eighth looks to make some hay with the sun well and truly set. And that won’t be at Parramatta with the Eels delusional if they think they can pull this from the fire.

Why in the ghost of Jack Gibson would Foran go to the Eels? If, by some miracle, he did nut out a deal it would be less a sign of loyalty and more a sign of downright stupidity because there is no way he could arrive and trust the club to do right by him or even the club as a whole and in no way could the money he expected be guaranteed.

Foran is too smart for any of that. He won’t wear the blue and gold. Not now. Not ever. And with him will go the career of Brad Arthur and any chance of a resurgence in the next few years for Parramatta.

His most likely destination is the Sydney Roosters. They have room to move in the cap – a result of preparations to make a play for Jarryd Hayne – and no club is safer with its third party agreements, all to go with the fact they are a destination club and Foran’s best mate is none other than Mitchell Pearce. It is all lining up …

Manly remain a hope but they will need to be extremely creative with their accounting with very little room to move in the cap. They must also deal with the fact they are a club likely in decline and that Foran is very much a part of the old guard with the Stewarts, Steve Matai and Anthony Watmough, a faction that does not think overly highly of Daly Cherry-Evans.

Canterbury and the Gold Coast have also been mentioned as candidates but Foran is long odds to end up at either. The Bulldogs are not in the market for halves and nobody of Foran’s demeanour is heading to the Titans.

Whatever way you look at it though, the Eels and Foran are done and there is nobody to blame outside of Parramatta.

Origin Selection Notes: With the series evenly poised and both coaches as conservative as Bob Santamaria, don’t expect many changes for State of Origin III.

Mal Meninga will need to find a replacement for Josh McGuire, who will miss the rest of the season after picking up a nasty injury. The form of Josh Papalii has him in the mix along with young tyro Dylan Napa. Napa has his nose in front but Papalii’s experience should get him home.

The other big call Meninga faces involves halves Cooper Cronk, Daly Cherry-Evans and Michael Morgan. Cronk will presumably be named despite still having not played since sustaining an injury after Origin I meaning Cherry-Evans and Morgan are fighting it out for the bench utility spot. Cherry-Evans has longevity on his side but is not playing well while Morgan has done nothing wrong and offers more utility value. Cherry-Evans will probably get the spot but it should prove a close-run thing.

The only call Laurie Daley faces after the MCG win is whether he will bring in Blake Ferguson to replace Will Hopoate. It is a move he should definitely make because Hopoate just isn’t very good.

Genius: Some great coaching from Jason Taylor, who decided to move Kyle Lovett to the centres when Tim Simona went down hurt, rather than push international centre Chris Lawrence back to the position he played until about four weeks back. Dean Whare and David Simmons certainly enjoyed it with Whare running rings around Lovett and Simmons scoring three tries, all unmarked.

2015 Field Goal Count – 30: The 2015 field goal tally ticked over to 30 on Sunday afternoon when Peter Wallace took a field  goal with 15 minutes to play to seal the clash with the Tigers by extending the margin to 13.

Fun Fact #1: In premiership history, games decided by six points or fewer make up 33.24% of all results. Since 2010 close games have made up 30.69% of all results.

Fun Fact #2: Since 2000, the most common score is 12 (which has landed 484 times) while the most common scoreline is 18-16, just ahead of 22-12.

Fun Fact #3: There are just four scores that have occurred once since 2000: 1, 5, 71 and 72.

Rumour Mill: There is plenty of controversy brewing at Manly with powerbroker Bob Fulton telling incoming coach Trent Barrett that Fulton’s son Brett will be his assistant. Brett has no coaching experience outside of local junior football – an interesting leap. Many in the club will be less than impressed when it comes to pass. Trent Hodkinson will be out as Canterbury starting halfback post-Origin. He will join the Knights in 2016 to boot it would appear. Cronulla and the Bulldogs are in the mix to sign Canberra outside back Brenko Lee for next season. Zeb Taia is expected to return to the NRL next year and it will be with St George Illawarra. The Titans are making enquiries about signing Rugby player Quade Cooper, a move that would seem remarkably Titans.

What I Love About … Jake Friend: Readers of this column will long know how excited I get about both a meaningless field goal and gambling on Rugby League so it was wonderful that Round 15 finished with a confluence of both – Jake Friend snapping a meaningless field goal from five metres out while at dummy-half to give the Roosters a five-point win over the Dragons. It meant nothing unless you had either side of the 4 ½ point line. It was a brilliant moment in Rugby League gambling history.

Betting Market of the Week: Parramatta’s beleaguered board will next deny being aware that:

$6.00: Ricky Stuart was a terrible coach before they signed him to a $1 million a season deal.
$4.00: Denis Fitzgerald loves the duck pancakes at Tinghas
$2.20: That chairman Steve Sharp spends game day after a tumultuous week drinking schooners in the TAB area of the Parramatta Leagues Club
$1.80: The mascot of the Parramatta Rugby League club is the Eels.

Manly Collapse Update: The Sea Eagles have reportedly lost the race for international Greg Bird. Bird is set to join the Raiders in 2016 despite a deal with Manly being virtually done. Manly desperately need hard-headed forwards to add some stiffness to their fragile pack and will be devastated that they couldn’t move the likes of Feleti Mateo quick enough to secure the decorated international.

The Coaching Crosshairs: With Newcastle on a bye this weekend, a decision to sack Rick Stone could come sooner rather than later. Stone is not on an expensive deal and will not be coaching the side in 2016. The only decision to be made by the Knights board is to write 2015 off and let Stone see out the season or make an immediate change. Craig Sandercock, who was Hull KR head coach from 2012-14, will take the reins if Stone is axed.

Referee Power Rankings: Ashley Klein did his utmost to get Parramatta home on Saturday night with some obscene decisions that cost the Dragons two competition points. A day after the Bryson Goodwin try was astonishingly sent upstairs as a no try – despite the fact video refs cannot rule on forward passes – Klein awarded a no try to the Dragons despite the play being clearly legal and backwards. Video ref Shayne Hayne confirmed the decision. It was one of the great stitch-ups.

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

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 16: North Queensland – Cronulla, 18-24. The Cowboys’ club record winning streak came to an end in dramatic style with the Sharks running down an 18-0 deficit to beat a Thurston-less North Queensland.

Ricky Stuart Stat of the Week: Ricky Stuart has coached a top grade game against five former teammates – and has a 7-19 record in those matches. The former teammates are Craig Bellamy, Michael Maguire, Ivan Henjak, David Furner and current Warriors mentor Andrew McFadden.

Beard Watch: It is fantastic to see young players sporting a beard to stand out from the crowd and that is what young Titans backrower Matt Robinson is attempting with his Wildman beard. Robinson is nothing more than a fair player who has journeyman workhorse written all over him. So add a bit of cult love and who knows what good it will do for his career.

Correspondence Corner: Davey G, the Eels board is a blight on Rugby League and are so embarrassing that even diehard fans of other clubs feel sorry for them. And I think overall the refereeing was bad in Origin II with the two decisions that cost both teams a try. Fans everywhere should feel aggrieved that the Inglis try was disallowed.

Jason, you summed it up best with your comment about the failure of process.

Mav63, Blues definitely deserved the win. And Round 15 was an absolute ripper.

Gavin, I like your thinking on not restarting the tackle count from a chargedown, similar to a shot clock not restarting in basketball even if the team gets a touch on it.

Cam, the Eels board are an utter disgrace.

Watch It: This video would be done a disservice if given a lengthy preamble. I will leave it as legendary Rugby League caller Ian ‘The Bear’ Maurice singing his favourite songs in what is surely the greatest promotional video of all time. Watch it here.


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Comments (8)

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  1. Cam says:

    Funnily enough, as a manly junior player Brett Fulton showed more than Scott Fulton imo. He only got about 2 1st grade games though, because he was behind toovey and Lyons and hasler etc.

  2. The Oracle says:

    Panthers will beat Rabbitohs by one point
    Sea Eagles will beat the Sharks by +13. DCE will score two tries
    Sami Radradra will score another hattrick against the Tigers. His final try in the 72nd minute will be his 12th in the last 5 games

  3. Davey G says:

    I have found it quite refreshing that QLD have added Josh Papalli to their team to combat Klemmer for the 3rd Origin. For the past 10 years it has felt like NSW have not picked their best team but the team best suited to try and stop the QLD guns. It is nice that QLD have had to pick their team to stop NSW, and I hope it is a sign of things to come for many years.
    Jason Taylor certainly left some heads being scratched on the weekend…

    • Mav63 says:

      Davey G I think you’ll find QLD pick Papalli because McGuire has a ruptured achilles. Just saying.

  4. Andrew Quinn says:

    Jason Taylor made the choice not to move Lawrence in another recent game without much comment from anyone. I wouldn’t underestimate how poorly Tigers defensive structure is, especially in adapting to the opposition, or how good Dean Whare is. Another quality Saints junior that Wayne Bennett wouldn’t pay to keep. The prop factory became a centre factory and now doesn’t purchase much at all, thanks to Bennett.

  5. Rob says:

    God help Newcastle if Sandercock takes over. He thinks defence is something in a West Indians garden.

  6. Knight Vision says:

    Foran’s ” most likely destination is the Sydney Roosters. They have room to move in the cap” That statement says everything that is wrong with the integrity of the NRL competition. That the Roosters have room under the cap is just utterly ridiculous.

    • Archie Macpherson says:

      In the last few years the Roosters have lost SBW, Minichiello, O’Donnell, RTS and Maloney while only signing Ferguson, Moa and McIlrick all not on big deals. They have also resigned a few players. They would definitely have some cash to get Foran.