Origin III Preview – Here Come The Blues: It has taken to the third game but I am on board the Blues in what shapes as being an open game that could end Queensland’s dynasty.
If the referees maintain their interpretation of the 10, then that will play into the hands of the Blues. The loss of Billy Slater is also set to have a major impact on Queensland. Expect Dane Gagai, who struggles defensively, to be targeted.
The Blues will get their advantage up front. A more aggressive pack is a good starting point. And it Mitchell Pearce and Trent Hodkinson don’t make a mess of the kicking game, the Blues are looking at two straight.
Read my full thoughts at The Guardian here.
Sorry for Smith: It is hard not to feel extremely sorry for Cameron Smith after the 60 Minutes story that aired on Alex McKinnon on Sunday night. Everybody in Rugby League is heartbroken for Alex and his family and wish him all the best going forward. Hopefully the game will be behind him for the rest of his life. And nobody has any right to tell him how to feel. But the portrayal by 60 Minutes, who didn’t even seek Smith’s side of the story, was ordinary at best. Smith had no idea how serious the injury to McKinnon was and to be portrayed as the bad guy in all of this is unfair on Smith and a distortion of history by a TV show that has long been renowned for same.
Never Trust A Defector: If there is one maxim you can live and die by it is this: never trust a grub who turns his back on Rugby League. Karmichael Hunt’s true colours have certainly come out over the last week, ratting on his supposed mates before deciding the best way to defend himself is to chat with Buzz Rothfield. Luckily he is an AFL player or a Rugby Union player or a player from some other sport. He certainly isn’t Rugby League.
Not A Smart Move: Newcastle do not possess a roster that allows them to spend a fortune on a slow and inconsistent half that is not a match-winner. Yet that is what they have done by throwing a big contract at Trent Hodkinson. Good luck to Hodkinson but it is another example of the Knights willing to accept mediocrity – and it is why only Cronulla and Canberra are enduring longer Grand Final droughts.
Video Refereeing Sinks To New Lows: It is actually embarrassing watching the NRL these days. Hardened Rugby League fans – those who have seen thousands of games – have no idea what the morons in the box will decide, as seen again on Monday night, when James Tedesco and the Tigers were robbed of the opening try after clearly grounding the ball. Steven Clark once again found his own absurd interpretation and left the 3000 fans in attendance and anyone who could be bothered watching at home utterly baffled. Within minutes the Eels were up 12-0. To rub matters in Clark took two minutes to try and find a reason not to award a Pat Richards try, one that was so obvious even Clark couldn’t take it off the Tigers. Todd Greenberg, Tony Archer and all those who let such garbage exist deserve to be castrated before they are sent to the unemployment queue.
Error Reversals: While on the topic of video referees, since when did video referees creep back into having a say on knock-ons? It was only a few years back video refs were told they could not have a role in anything other than a try or foul play. These morons shouldn’t be given any more power and the NRL should make interpretations public if they are going to change. It is just another example of the NRL making a ruling and then letting it slide when it is convenient.
2015 Field Goal Count – 30: Sadly not a single field goal was attempted across the four matches in Round 17.
Fun Fact #1: Tyrone Roberts is the second most capped Knights halfback of all-time behind just Andrew Johns.
Fun Fact #2: Semi Radradra has scored five straight doubles – the first player in over 60 years to do so.
Fun Fact #3: Gavin Badger gifted the Eels the game on Monday night with an 11-4 penalty count in their favour.
Rumour Mill: The Wests Tigers are reportedly in the mix for Jamal Idris, who is no chance of being at Penrith next year. Manly are also in the mix. Promising Broncos halfback Ashley Taylor looks set to partner Kane Elgey in the halves at the Titans next year. Both are excellent prospects but both would be better suited with an experienced player outside them. Alex Glenn is likely to join Taylor at the Titans. Sika Manu will be at Cronulla next season.
What I Love About … James Tedesco: Anyone who doesn’t enjoy watching James Tedesco play football doesn’t enjoy football. The Tigers fullback with the sweet name and the luscious beard doesn’t play with grace but rather a ferocious energy and desperation often seen in boxers from the ghetto on the rise or drug addled acid rock guitarists. He is about the only thing that has kept the Tigers alive this season. His relentless drive to bust tackles is incredible. He backs up like Terry Lamb. He has a swerve that would make Usain Bolt jealous. If you were building a team around any fullback in the comp it would be Tedesco.
Betting Market of the Week: By the end of his career in Newcastle, Trent Hodkinson will be compared to which past Knights No.7:
$1001.00: Andrew Johns
$31.00: Leo Dynevor
$3.00: Steve Fulmer
$2.80: Matt Rodwell
$1.40: Luke Walsh
Manly Collapse Update: All seems to have been saved at Manly! Stop the presses … Trent Barrett is bringing the one and only Ronnie Palmer along with him from Penrith. Sure, the Panthers have been belted by injuries all season and it has been over a decade since Palmer trained a premiership side but he is a monster first signing for Trent Barrett, a man who seems to have fallen into a situation that could be well over his head.
The Coaching Crosshairs: Newcastle reportedly offered Blues coach Laurie Daley a contract from 2016, an offer Daley rejected. It was a smart move from Daley. There is absolutely no upside in the Knights over the next few years and Daley has got a good gig with the Blues. It is rough news for rick Stone though with the offer a clear indication the Knights are looking elsewhere for somebody to coach the slowest halves pairing of all-time in Jarrod Mullen and Trent Hodkinson.
Referee Power Rankings: Only four games on the weekend but some awful officiating, particularly on Sunday from the already lowly ranked Ashley Klein and Gavin Badger doing his best to get Parramatta home while showing he has testicles the size of macadamia nuts by refusing to use the sin bin time and time again.
- Gerard Sutton (1)
- Jared Maxwell (3)
- Ben Cummins (4)
- Grant Atkins (5)
- Gavin Morris (6)
- Matt Cecchin (7)
- Ashley Klein (8)
- Gavin Badger (2)
Bonus – Video Referee Power Rankings: A special bonus this week with a video referee
First – Anyone not named Steve Clark
Last – Steve Clark (for the 14th straight season)
Game of the Year Nomination, Round 17: St George Illawarra-North Queensland, 12-18. Only because each round gets a nomination.
Ricky Stuart Stat of the Week: Ricky Stuart is one of just two New South Wales halfbacks to win back-to-back Origin series.
Beard Watch: It is pleasing to know that the one and only Greg McCallum – whose entire career involved a beard – is still sporting one. Once a beard man, always a beard man. And boy, does the great man love sharing old photos of himself at his best.
Correspondence Corner: Knight Vision and Archie MacPherson, Foran didn’t lob at the Roosters but they still have plenty of room. They are masters because of virtually guaranteed TPAs and sharp accounting where they back and front load contracts to give them space when they need it.
Rob, Craig Sandercock won’t be there for any long period of time.
Andrew Quinn, no question the defensive structures all over the paddock are bad and the attitude is worse but putting Lovett out there was the wrong move if for nothing else it gave experts and punters a chance to slam Taylor.
Davey G and Mav, Papalii’s inclusion was a touch surprising with Dylan Napa 18th man twice but it loks like the right call.
The Oracle, so wise and kind of right with your first two picks.
Cam, coaching under-12s is not a great prep for a first grade career as an assistant.
Watch It: With Cronulla this week locking up boom young fullback Will Kennedy, it is worth noting that his father – the great William ‘Bubba’ Kennedy – is still going around in bush footy. Kennedy these days is playing for the Blayney Bears at the ripe old age of 46 and having last played premiership footy in 1998. Kennedy has played for seven Western Division clubs over 17 seasons. He is still scoring tries, crossing four times this season. Here is some footage of Kennedy dominating in 2013. Watch it here.