From The Couch: Round 16

Filed in From The Couch, NRL by on June 30, 2011

Origin III Selection Notes: My first thought when Ricky Stuart named a 20-man squad: the 17-squad team named by the idiotic cricket selectors before the opening Test of last summer’s Ashes disaster.

Simon Katich said about that ridiculous selection notion three weeks back: “it reeks of indecision”.

That is exactly what we have heading into Origin III with New South Wales. We don’t even have a team at present. We just have a 20-man squad who could play in any order. Ricky Stuart wanted extra time…he has named his team a day earlier than previous years, he has rallied against the Monday night game…it is all about time for Stuart. Yet he names a squad sans positions and kills two, maybe three, possibly four days by not naming the 1-17.

Stuart’s justification is that he wants cover for his injured players. If that is the case, Stuart should have named a side and then named those on standby. For mine, this is just a paranoid Stuart-the same paranoid Stuart who rewrote history about Wally Lewis’ last Origin game this week when he said there was a massive anti-NSW build-up despite the fact Lewis’ announcement wasn’t made until a day before the game-playing needless mind games.

Stuart needs to realise he has the upper hand mentally after game two yet his paranoia is poisoning the team and all this head nonsense is putting the Blues on the backfoot.

In terms of selections, there really isn’t much to say until a team is named.

The reliance on three injured players is worrying. Kurt Gidley is fair enough. He is a utility with an ability to overcome injuries on short notice. But Beau Scott and Michael Jennings in particular, they are both worrying.

Scott was brilliant in Origin II but he is not a particularly unique player. He is an enforcer, a work horse. They aren’t a dime a dozen but you could easily grab a Luke Lewis, a Nathan Hindmarsh, a Greg Bird, a Glenn Stewart or a Matt Prior and have a fit player there for all of camp.

Michael Jennings hasn’t played since hobbling off in the game following Origin I, where he was on the verge of being dropped by the Panthers for attitude problems. He had a cracker in Origin I but has been ordinary all season and has since been fined $10,000 by Penrith for drinking while injured, an act of total selfishness. New South Wales may be scratching the barrel for left centres but surely, given the risky nature of selecting Jennings, could have gone for Jarryd Hayne or Josh Morris. It seems absurd that Jennings would offer that much that he should be carried with no fitness, no form and severe attitude concerns.

The injured William Hopoate is the only one missing from Origin II with Michael Jennings and Brett Morris recalled after injuries kept them out of the second game with Keith Galloway and Glenn Stewart added.

I’ve dealt with Jennings above. Brett Morris will only play if Jennings doesn’t with Hayne assured of one of the posts on the left edge. Morris was ordinary in Origin I and hasn’t been in wonderful form. The pecking order is, arguably, fair enough.

It is great to see both Keith Galloway and Glenn Stewart added. Ideally, both would play. Galloway should come in for Trent Merrin, who has been carried in both Origin appearances so far. Keiffy has been flying of late and was the Tigers’ best against the Dogs. His call-up has been long overdue. Glenn Stewart should also get a game ahead of Greg Bird on current form. But it won’t happen and Stewart will only play if Beau Scott is ruled out.

At the moment, it is too hard to make an assessment. But all the little signals from the selection room have me anything but confident about a Blues win.

Confirmation Rugby League is the Greatest Game of All:Channel 10 deserve to be given at least one match a week when the next television deal is negotiated if, for no other reason, than they have shoved it up the AFL types, forcing the southern code great angst and followers of the sport a great deal of annoyance.

Ten have announced in the last week that they were out of the AFL business and that for the remainder of the year, they would not be broadcasting on high definition.

Those purveyors of the southern code are in a state of shock. They cannot believe that Ten would not want AFL. They are despondent over the fact it is for rugby league. And they are outraged that Ten is just going through the motions for the rest of the year. The so-called belle of the ball can’t believe she has been rejected by the puny nerd.

Thank you Lachlan Murdoch. Thank you James Packer. Two rugby league men now pull the strings at Ten and all this nonsense about the AFL “halo” has been cast aside. League rates. It rates better than Australian rules. It is a better television game. It is the greatest game of all and now Ten want in.

They have shown their commitment to the game with One Week At A Time and The Game Plan and this dismissal of the AFL is nothing but good news for rugby league. Ten now has a war chest of $450 million and wants Friday Night Football, the marquee game of the round. They also have plenty of interest in Monday Night Football.

Nine has countered with David Gyngell saying that the station “would not be losing the rights”, that rugby league “deserved more” and that “Nine is happy to pay more for rugby league because it's the greatest game of all”. It would be a tragedy if Nine did win the rights but they will likely get a little something, something. It must be remembered though, Nine is no longer run by the Packers and the private equity firm now in possession of Nine, CVC Capital Partners, aren’t going to give Gyngell a blank check.

Seven aren’t out of the race either. David Leckie loves his league and Seven have been preparing for a big assault. They are likely to chase State of Origin but will go hard at club games.

With News now not going to be able to play both sides against the middle in regards pay television and the addition of digital media rights, the NRL is going to win over $1 billion and maybe more when the deal goes down. We will have as many as five games on free-to-air and they will be covered on two stations and maybe three. The old paradigm is shifting. No longer is rugby league a believer in the AFL myth. Nor are the television stations. Nine no longer has the game by the balls. Nor does News. The times, as they say, are a-changin’ and rugby league is on the doorstep of a golden age.

Brian Smith is Dancing on Thin Ice: The sharp fall of the Sydney Roosters could well see head coach Brian Smith dumped. Contracted until the end of 2012, it would be a surprise if he made it to the end. His time at a fifth club is coming to an end. I wouldn’t put money on him landing another gig.

Smith was hailed as a hero after taking the Roosters to the Grand Final in 2010 after the club had won the wooden spoon the year before. He could well have them back where he found them by the end of the year.

There are very few excuses, at least ones that aren’t self-made. This year the Roosters have 10 Origin players or internationals on their books, eight of whom have played rep footy in the last year: Backs Mitchell Pearce, Todd Carney, Anthony Minichiello, Sam Perrett, Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Braith Anasta and forwards Nate Myles, Jason Ryles, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Frank-Paul Nu’uausala.

Yet they languish in 14th on the ladder with a 4-10 record, having not won outside the Sydney Football Stadium all year. Their attack has been dreadful, averaging an appalling 13.57 points per game, 1.3 points per match less than the second worst team, the Titans. They have not broken 13 points in 10 whole matches, scoring a mere 16 tries since round four. To put that in context: the worst streak that the Ricky Stuart coached Sharks, long regarded as the worst attack of the NRL era, did not manage to go past five games without breaking 13 points.

To do so with a backline full of internationals is astonishing.

And this is to say nothing of a forward pack who can make no impact going forward and don’t seem to care enough in defence.

Brian Smith has a hand in everything at the Roosters. He is central to recruiting, the same recruiting team that brought in Mark Riddell and Anthony Watts. He is central to the culture of the place, the same culture that is poisoned to the core, if the rumour mill is to be believed. He is central to team selection, the same team that constantly played Mark Riddell while Aiden Guerra can hardly get any minutes. He is central to tactics, to motivation, to everything.

And the Roosters are rotten to the core by the looks of it.

Nick Politis also doesn’t have a history of patience with coaches. Since ’89, the Roosters have had 11 coaches. Russell Fairfax got axed in his second season. Mark Murray in his fourth. Graham Murray lasted two years but was forced out after he took the Roosters to the 2000 Grand Final.  Ricky Stuart got five years but after three straight Grand Finals he was fired within 18 months. Chris Anderson didn’t see out the year. Club legend Brad Fittler was gone midway through his third despite a semi-final showing in his second year.

This is not going to end well for Brian Smith. He is right on the hot seat.

Rallying Against Drainage: After the pure joy of Friday night in Perth, when the field was flooded and rain poured and water splashed with every hit up, it is time to get rid of drainage. Footy in mud. Footy in the wet. Sliding. Slipping. It was all very exciting. This is rugby league’s most pertinent issue. Say no to drainage. Say no to pristine fields, green grass and dry nights. Just say no.

Moronic Decision of the Week: I could not believe, when turning on Friday Night Football, that Kevin Moore had benched David Stagg. It was a moronic decision that made absolutely no sense. Stagg was benched for Dene Halatau, the Dene Halatau who has not performed well in first grade since 2005. David Stagg is an 80-minute player. He isn’t an impact type. His value comes in his ability to play hard for 80 minutes, doing all the small, necessary things a team needs to win football games. Playing Stagg on the bench is wasteful. I lost my patience for Kevin Moore a while back but this was way too far. Kevin Moore needs to smarten up and quickly.

Has David Gallop Lost His Mind?: Adelaide? Really? This week David Gallop said South Australia was an important part of NRL expansion. I wouldn’t have thought so. Kudos for having a national vision but teams in Brisbane, Perth, Central Queensland, the Central Coast, Wellington and even Papua New Guinea are more important. Rugby league needs to expand but it needs to play to its strengths and South Australia is not a strength in terms of demographics, geography, history or potential growth. Sure, Adelaide Oval is pretty as sin but that is about all South Australia has going for it.

The Tigers Deserve Disaster: The decision of the Wests Tigers to let Chris Heighington play elsewhere is absurd and is yet another consequence of them club signing the most overrated forward in the NRL, Adam Blair.

This decision to let Heighington shop around follows the releasing of promising prop Andrew Fifita and veteran prop Bryce Gibbs, who have both signed with the Sharks, and the decision to let Liam Fulton look at other clubs.

Chris Heighington is one of the top handful of backrowers in the NRL. He works hard on both sides of the ball, is a handful in attack, runs great lines, hits hard, is always about and is a great team player.

He is now behind Gareth Ellis in the Tigers pecking order but there is no shame in that seeing as Ellis is in the top three or four backrowers in the NRL. It defies belief that Tim Sheens would let him go just as it seems crazy that he would let the hardworking Fulton and hard-to-tackle Fifita move on.

All for that lazy lump, Adam Blair, on something over $400,000 a year.

Tim Sheens has gutted the pack all for Adam Blair. It will cost him dearly in the end. The Tigers deserve nothing but failure and mediocrity if Heighington is allowed to flee. And I would hope those bright souls down at Belmore will do all they can to sign him.

Mal Meninga is a Figurehead: It is rare that I side with Phil Rothfield but when it comes to the row he started over Mal Meninga’s role with the Queensland team, I have his back all day and all night.

Mal Meninga is a figurehead, the puppet whose strings are pulled, the face and not the brains.

It was Neil Henry who devised the tactics, gave the speeches, drew up the plays and dealt with game style for four years and now it is Michael Hagan. Meninga, who has a less than stellar record as a first grade coach, is simply the Queensland legend they all gather around, the stump, the rallying tree.

He calls it ridiculous but he is only deluding himself.

Meninga should be honest. He is a figurehead for the Queensland State of Origin team and he should be mighty proud as he has taken them to five straight series wins. He hasn’t strategised the wins or even played a critical role but he has been there and done his job exceptionally well.

He was a great player, he has been a great manager of Queensland and he has won five straight Origin series. Mal should just accept what he is and be proud of it.

Giddy Up Gidley: It is great to see Matt Gidley appointed as the new chief executive of the Newcastle Knights.  Gidley is one of the Knights best ever players and a smart one at that.  He is going to help the Knights avoid getting bogged down in the stodgy old politics that has crippled the club for years.

Injury Update:It wasn’t a bad week on the injury front with more returns than injuries but Queensland’s Origin options were reduced with injuries to David Shillington and Neville Costigan. Jamie Soward is the big concern.

Boyd Cordner (Sydney Roosters): Appears to have done an ACL with his season expected to be done. Aiden Guerra should get his minutes, if common sense were to come to the fore.

Neville Costigan (Newcastle): Will have an arthroscopy on his knee with talk about an Origin recall being scuppered with the injury that will keep him out for two to four weeks. 

Simon Dwyer (Wests Tigers): In an ugly scene, Dwyer stumbled off with a brutal concussion and a shoulder injury. He was taken to hospital on a stretcher and I would be very surprised if he returned even next week after a bye. He is still in hospital as of writing.

Joe Galuvao (Manly): Seems to have broken his hand again, which will leave the Sea Eagles short on big forwards in coming weeks.

Ryan Morgan (Parramatta): Went down with a hamstring injury only 12 minutes in and will miss at least four weeks. The Eels are thin at outside back.

Aaron Payne (North Queensland): The Cowboys hooker broke his hand against the Panthers and will miss 2-4 weeks with James Segeyaro likely to start at hooker.

Frank Pritchard (Canterbury): Played 31 minutes against the Tigers before going off with a rib injury. They can linger and Pritchard isn’t known for pushing himself through pain.

Brett Seymour (New Zealand): His injury ravaged season continues with Seymour breaking his hand against the Storm. He will miss a month. Shaun Johnson will replace him, making the Warriors a better team.

David Shillington (Canberra): Tore his pectoral muscle in only his second game back from the same injury. It has reportedly improved but Shillington was seen in tears after the match. He will miss at least a month.

Jamie Soward (St George-Illawarra): Was clinching his hamstring after running 90 metres to score in the last 10 minutes. Sent fear down the spine of Ricky Stuart. Tried to battle on but he was in obvious discomfort. If he is out, Kyle Stanley will replace him at the Dragons. I’d expect Kurt Gidley, if fit, would replace him for New South Wales.

Junior Vaivai (Penrith): Lasted only eight minutes before a knee injury got the better of him. Scans are set to reveal their seriousness on Tuesday but Penrith don’t need another outside back out.

David Williams (Manly): Did a hamstring just before half time and was taken off. He looks set to miss some time so Michael Oldfield will get a chance to show his wares.

Brad Fittler Loves His Wrestling:Brad Fittler was a child of the ‘80s and he clearly took plenty of interest in the world of pro wrestling. A WWF man from way back, he correctly spotted a figure-four leglock and said it reminded him of Greg “The Hammer” Valentine during the Dogs-Tigers game. Beautiful eye. Ray Warren tried to make some remark about Killer Kowalski but any wrestling fan worth his salt knows that is just an ignorant comment. His move was the claw. Freddy loves his ‘rasslin and the rugby league world would be all the stronger for his ‘80s references.

Jacob Miller is Rugby League’s Best Albino: Congratulations to fill-in Tigers five-eighth Jacob Miller. His move to first grade saw him become rugby league’s best albino. As white as Santa Claus’ backside, Miller has, seemingly, not an ounce of pigment. Hopefully, the Tigers don’t get too many day games when Miller is on call.

The “Sounds Like They Are From the ‘40s” Team:

1. Billy Slater (Melbourne)
2. Colin Best (Cronulla)
3. Lewis Brown (New Zealand)
4. Marvin Filipo (Newcastle)
5. Isaac Gordon (Cronulla)
6. Maurice Blair (Melbourne)
7. Albert Kelly (Cronulla)
13. Vic Mauro (Manly)
12. Darcy Lussick (Manly)
11. Danny Galea (Canberra)
10. Neville Costigan (Newcastle)
9. Stuart Flanagan (Cronulla)
8. George Rose (Manly)

The 2011 Willie M Medal:Todd Carney is making a late charge for the Dally M-Willie M double with consecutive worst-on-ground showings for the Roosters. The way he is playing now, he should accumulate plenty of points in the coming weeks. The same can’t be said for Matt Orford, however, as he continues to battle “injury” with Orford not expected to wear the lime green No,7 jersey again.

Wests Tigers v Canterbury
3-Wade McKinnon (Tig)
2-Robbie Farah (Tig)
1-Kris Keating (Bul)

South Sydney v Brisbane
3-Dale Copley (Bri)
2-Scott Anderson (Bri)
1-Dave Taylor (Sou)

Gold Coast v Cronulla
3-Greg Bird (GC)
2-Ben Pomeroy (Cro)
1-Steve Michaels (GC)

Canberra v Parramatta
3-Luke Burt (Par)
2-Jeff Robson (Par)
1-Carl Webb (Par)

New Zealand v Melbourne
3-Brett Seymour (NZ)
2-Steve Rapira (NZ)
1-Jacob Lillyman (NZ)

Penrith v North Queensland
3-Dallas Johnson (NQ)
2-Adrian Purtell (Pen)
1-Ashley Graham (NQ)

Newcastle v Sydney Roosters
3-Todd Carney (Roo)
2-Nate Myles (Roo)
1-Jason Ryles (Roo)

St George-Illawarra v Manly
3-Jamie Buhrer (Man)
2-Anthony Watmough (Man)
1-Adam Cuthbertson (Dra)

14-Matt Orford (Can)
13-Blake Ferguson (Can)
12-Jarryd Hayne (Par)
11-Greg Bird (GC), Krisnan Inu (Par)
10-Preston Campbell (GC), Wade Graham (Cro), Michael Jennings (Pen), Kris Keating (Bul), Jarrod Mullen (New), Matt Wright (Cro)
9-Antonio Kaufusi (New), Nate Myles (Roo)
8-Justin Carney (Roo), Robbie Farah (Tig), Feleti Mateo (NZ), Steve Michaels (GC)

Round 16 Voting Panel:Nick Tedeschi, Brett Oaten (Fire Up), Matt O’Neill (RLeague), Cliff Bingham (Making The Nut), Grant Vickers, Rohan Kendall

Fun Fact #1: The average age of an NRL referee this year is 36.21 with three referees aged over 40 (Shayne Hayne [44], Tony Archer [43] and Steve “Teddy” Lyons [41]) and four aged 32 or under (Brett Suttor [31], Phil Haines [31], Gerard Sutton [32] and Ashley Klein [32]).

Fun Fact #2: The average experience of an NRL referee this year is 93.84 games (including rep matches). Two referees (Hayne and Archer) are the only referees with over 200 games experience while six referees have under 50 games experience (Adam Devicich, Gavin Morris, Luke Phillips, Phil Haines, Gavin Reynolds and Chris James).

Round 15 Selection Notes:
Parramatta: The Parramatta backline looks just awful without Jarryd Hayne. Etu Uaisele comes in for Hayne, shifting Luke Burt to fullback. Ryan Morgan is replaced by, gulp, Chris Walker. Reni Maitua has been named on an extended bench for his first game in two years. He is expected to play.

Brisbane: The Broncos have been forced to make a string of changes with Lockyer, Thaiday, Hannant, Hodges, Parker and Yow Yeh all on Origin duty. The most interesting ins are Matt Gillett to start at lock after returning from injury on the bench last week. Corey Norman will play in the No.6 jersey. Andrew McCullough has been recalled but will start on the bench after Kurt Baptiste played well in his starting debut last Friday.

Penrith: Michael Jennings, Luke Lewis and Petero Civoniceva are on Origin duty. Jennings hasn't been playing club football. Nathan Smith comes in for Lewis while Tim Grant starts for Big Pet.

Canterbury:David Stagg rejoins the starting side with Dene Halatau named at hooker to cover for Michael Ennis. Ben Roberts will rotate with him from the bench.

Cronulla:Shane Flanagan isn't looking to change a winning formula with the only changes being Kade Snowden returning from injury over Jonny Mannah while Anthony Tupou comes into the starting side for Paul Gallen.

South Sydney: Shaune Corrigan comes in for Greg Inglis who is on Origin duty. Luke Burgess has been named to make his Souths debut in place of the suspended Dave Taylor.

St George-Illawarra:The Dragons side is again unrecognisable with Boyd, Morris, Soward, Creagh, Scott, Gasnier and Merrin on Origin call. Nathan Fien will play five-eighth with Ben Hornby named at halfback despite suffering an ankle complaint. Reece Simmonds is back for his second game in four years while Alex McKinnon gets a run in the centres.

Newcastle:Wes Naqaima is the surprise choice of captain in Kurt Gidley's absence, perhaps being used as a chip to help Wes decided to stay. Peter Mata’utia deservedly keeps his position on the wing with Akuila Uate playing Origin. Steve Southern will start his first game of the season for the club.

Sydney Roosters:Mark Khierallah will make his first grade debut at fullback, taking the place of Origin custodian Anthony Minichiello. Shaun Kenny-Dowall returns from injury in the centres. Nate Myles is missing from the pack with Aiden Guerra and Brad Takairangi included.

Canberra:Josh Dugan is still unavailable which is a killer for the Raiders. Nathan Massey gets another opportunity. Josh Papalii has again kept his spot and quite rightfully too.

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

LW: Last Week, R: Range

Rumour Mill:Chris Heighington, as noted above, is thought to be on the outer at the Tigers with Heighington strongly linked to Penrith. Though a move to England is not out of the question. If the Central Coast Bears are brought into the NRL, Heighington will be the first captain of the new club. Joel Reddy has been strongly linked to the Bulldogs with the three-quarter likely to be at Belmore next year. Ivan Cleary is still the favourite to be coach at the Panthers next year with Tony Iro expected to get the gig at the Warriors. Despite talk to the contrary from Leeds, Danny Buderus will be at the Knights in 2012.   

Betting Market of the Week: The reason Kevin Moore demoted David Stagg to the bench was:

David Stagg is incapable of playing 80 minutes:         $5,001.00
Dene Halatau is a more effective player than Stagg:  $10,001.00
David Stagg is a better bench player than starter:       $2001.00
Kevin Moore had a crack addiction                              $1.04

What I Like About…Matt Keating:I like that Matt Keating this year has missed six weeks due to a dog bite and then five weeks into his comeback he helps a Josh McCrone field goal over the post after he was smacked in the head by the ball. It has been an unusual year for the Parramatta No.9.

From Deep in the Bowels of Twitter:Royce Simmons is unhappy about eating an apple: “They made thin slices and filled up a bag of chips with them. Decpetion via food, i'm sure that breaches at least 7 of the 10 commandments”

Sam Burgess gives it to teammate Ben Ross: “@benross23go to sleep chunky ass and rest up. Stop searching youself on google you soft arse”

Obscure Score of the Week:Rockingham-North Beach, 24-16, WARL. The Sharks handed league leaders the Sea Eagles only their second loss of the season. The Sharks have lost twice this year but have beaten every other side in the top five and now sit in a tie for first with a 7-2 record.

Coaching Stocks:
5: Wayne Bennett: Benny has taken it easy on the Dragons but they are back on song
4.5: Craig Bellamy: The Storm overcame a bogey team on the road in style
4.5: Des Hasler: Lost no admirers in a tough showing against the Dragons
4: Anthony Griffin: A disappointing loss where ill-discipline cost the Broncos dearly
3.5: Neil Henry: Had every opportunity against Penrith but distractions took their toll
3.5: Rick Stone: A huge win from the Knights with no halves that showed how good he is
3: Tim Sheens: An ordinary showing against a bad Dogs that showed reliance on Benji
2: Ivan Cleary: The Warriors are in a major slump without many answers at present
1: Stephen Kearney: Started to find form but blew their chance for 2nd straight week
1: Steve Georgallis: Couldn’t have asked for a better start with a win over the Cowboys
1: John Lang: Souths rarely win those grinding games but were tough against Broncos
1: Shane Flanagan: The Sharks showed some real flair and skill in beating the Titans
0.5: Kevin Moore: Dogs still struggling but ground out a tough win against the Tigers
0: John Cartwright: Poor old Carty must be looking towards 2012 already
-3: Brian Smith: The Roosters are embarrassing themselves  and don’t have patience
-5: David Furner: A win over Parramatta was necessary but not real impressive

The Life and Times of the Special Needs Penguin: It turns out when you You Tube Ben Pomeroy, the Special Needs Penguin is not the most well-known protagonist of that name.

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 16:South Sydney-Brisbane, 16-12. This was, without doubt, the most entertaining match of the season for one reason and one reason only: the rains. Torrential rains left Perth drenched and Perth Oval flooded. The city, not used to such rain, obviously doesn’t prize drainage too much and neither do I anymore as this was a spectacle for the ages. The first try was something else, Chris Sandow drilled the ball. It stopped dead in a puddle and amid the splishing and the splashing, Rhys Wesser scored. This is how the game played out with puddles and splashing and wet weather excitement all round. It was magnificent, reminding me of football in a simpler time, when grounds weren’t drained and they were played in suburbia and it was all a bit of fun. The only thing I was disappointed with was the lack of a kicking duel. As a special treat, here is Craig Polla-Mounter’s slide try at Belmore in ’98, the last ever at the ground. 

Making The Nut Poll:Poll results are in for the question of who should coach Canterbury in 2012 and Rick Stone got the nod with 21% ahead of Kevin Moore at 16%. Sadly, Stone won’t be coming to Belmore next year, signing for four years to be Wayne Bennett’s assistant.

Be sure to vote in this week’s poll: Which free-to-air television network should broadcast NRL matches in 2013 and beyond?

Fantasy Team of the Week:

1. Billy Slater (Mel)
2. Akuila Uate (New)
3. Kyle Stanley (Dra)
4. Gavin Cooper (NQ)
5. Justin Carney (Roo)
6. Josh McCrone (Can)
7. Sam Williams (Can)
13. Paul Gallen (Cro)
12. Corey Parker (Bri)
11. Luke Lewis (Pen)
10. Aiden Tolman (Bul)
9. Matt Keating (Par)
8. Petero Civoniceva (Pen)

14. Shaun Fensom (Can)
15. Taniela Tasalo (Par)
16. Feleti Mateo (NZ)
17. Glenn Stewart (Man)

Waiver Wire Advice: Cronulla halfback Chad Townsend is still at the bargain basement price of $94,300 and is well worth an investment for the backup halfback role. Townsend was magnificent again on the weekend, laying on two tries after his two first grade efforts netted 31 and 48 respectively. He will shoot up in price and with Albert Kelly in strife, Townsend will remain the halfback and is top value at the price.

Correspondence Corner: Dragons68, I don’t really hate Kevin Moore (well, maybe a little after he started David Stagg on the bench on Friday night) but I do think he has had adequate time and resources to show something more than we are getting. Teams get a limited premiership window and I don’t want the Bulldogs to miss this chance due to poor coaching.

Gasnier made it into the “Fantasy Team of the Week” done on Supercoach scores. He has been rubbish of late but his fantasy numbers have been solid.

Nick and Riggo, Nick summed up the situation at Canterbury perfectly. Kris Keating is struggling. But he has a high energy and he is Canterbury’s best option in the No.6 jersey. He isn’t doing a lot to help Canterbury win games but he isn’t costing the club games through gross acts of stupidity either. So there it is Riggo. Told like it is.

Zig, New South Wales were much better when Gidley game on with his high energy game. I thought the Blues looked a little one-paced with Ennis at hooker. Hayne was nowhere to be seen and while Uate was involving himself, Hayne made little attempt to come in off his wing. Go Rams!

Davey G, he almost certainly would have copped a ban if it wasn’t Origin, I reckon.

Michael, the problem with the Dogs is that there aren’t many teams deserving of climbing up. It is hard to drop them like a stone below plenty of teams going just as bad. On Jarryd Hayne, there is no doubt I don’t like him as a player…but I try to remove that when I award the votes in the few games I have (I do no more than three matches a week). But last Monday, he had five errors and one penalty conceded. That is enough before you put them into context, such as his two absurd kicks that went out on the full. He deserved the three Monday. He was their most dangerous attacking weapon but he failed more than he produced.

Beard Watch:Wesley Morris of Grantland explains why beards are so important in ice hockey. And I say, they need to be that important in rugby league.

Watch It: It is always good watching old footy and it is particularly thrilling watching an old lower grade game to see who kicked on. This week we have the u20s Grand Final between Balmain and the Sydney Roosters from 1997. The highlights are plentiful. Terry Kennedy is in the box on the call. Mario Fenech is clearly going for Balmain and even lets out a “yesss!” when they slot a field goal. The referee was Paul McBlane, who finished up after the ’99 season in mysterious yet hilarious circumstances. Terry Kennedy describes Andrew Meads as a “star of the future”…Meads played only 21 first grade games across five years. The only other Tiger to play first grade was Troy Wozniak (38 games). The Roosters, meanwhile, had plenty of stars including current NSW and former Australian fullback Anthony Minichiello (220 games), who played on the wing here and made a howler. Other first graders include fullback Justin Brooker (32 games), centre Chad Halliday (28 games), centre Ben MacDougall (81 games), winger Damien Mostyn (10 games), five-eighth Justin Smith (142 games), second rower Hayes Lauder (17 games), second rower Andrew Lomu (89 games), prop Peter Cusack (168 games) and prop Trent Robinson (4 games). Watch it here.



Comments (1)

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  1. Razzle Time says:

    Spot on about Heino to the Panthers. Beau Ryan will likely be joiing him too.


    Can't see the value in your boys going after Reddy either. You've already got a stack of players like him. You need some spark. Badly.