Foran Leaves the Eels … and The Eels Should Be Stoked: Kieran Foran has walked out on Parramatta and his four-year, $5 million deal just eight games in. It was a major struggle getting Foran to the Eels but the club should be stoked that he has walked away. Foran has been a disaster at the Eels. He has had his share of back luck both on the field and off it but it is clear he is doing little to help himself. At any rate, the Eels are not a club who can afford the time to help him. Parramatta need to rebuild immediately. They cannot afford for their highest paid player and star to be off the paddock and at loggerheads with the club over his treatment and associating with types that draw both media and trouble. He will find a new club. And the Eels must find a new star.
Origin III Preview: James Tedesco will finally get his shot in the blue of New South Wales and with it the Blues finally have a shot. Tedesco is arguably the most dynamic player in the game and he brings to the Blues an ability to create and score points. While Laurie Daley made some other ridiculous decisions – has he ever seen Josh Dugan play centre? – Tedesco gives the Blues hope. And they will win the dead rubber, for mine. Dead rubbers are rarely won by teams attempting the clean sweep with just one in the last five succeeding. The likelihood is the Maroons have taken it relatively easy in the leadup to this one while the Blues will be at it hell for leather. Let’s not forget: Queensland’s greatest trick has been making NSW believe they have been close all these years.
Tyrone Peachey Needs To Go: Tyrone Peachey needs to get out of Penrith and quick smart. The talented playmaker is being killed by coach Anthony Griffin, who dropped him to NSW Cup. Peachey has started from the bench five times this year and has played four different positions already: centre, five-eighth, backrow and hooker. Griffin has no idea what to do with Peachey and it seems little interest in working with him. Peachey needs to find a new club and now because the talented playmaker should be in Origin talk now, not NSW Cup chat.
Corey Gets Saucy: While a sex tape may be unsavoury and as a senior Parramatta player he probably should be more judicious considering the current predicament of the club but it should be noted this tape shows Norman doing nothing illegal and making a sex tape is not illegal. He may have passed some taste line but the NRL should not be issuing punishments here.
Hayne to Return: Be sure and certain that Jarryd Hayne will return to the NRL next season, the game he labelled as too suburban only a few years back. The defectors, they all come back. Hopefully when he does return it will be with the Eels, the club certainly deserves some hope. It should also be next season with talk the NRL are considering allowing him to play this year. The June 30 deadline has passed and no exceptions should be made.
The Rookie Gets Real: We are nearing the end of the inaugural NRL Rookie with just eight contestants remaining. While none are any hope of ever playing an NRL game, here are the contenders that any decent league fan could cop winning and the ones that nobody could tolerate.
In order of preference:
Lou Goodwin – A Mounties player and son of former player Matt. Wins most challenges. Clearly the best player. Knows the game. Great temperament.
Roydon Gillett – Always around the mark in the challenges and seems tough as a day old steak. Playing league in Perth wins extra points.
Chris Hyde – Hardworker, genuine leaguie, actually talented.
Jordan Martin – Son of former Raider Paul, plenty of speed, fought on tough through injury. The most likely.
Peter Lee – Has a sharp scoot out of dummy-half and legitimately difficult to tackle. Loses points for being a union player.
Elias Power – Spiteful, politicking, know-it-all who actually plays union.
Reece Joyce – Boring union player who seems scared of getting tackled.
Gary-John Hill – A so-called front rower but full of lair with little work ethic. Also plays union.
2016 Field Goal Update – 24: After the joy of last weekend’s meaningless field goal, we did not see a drop goal for the shortened Round 18.
Fun Fact #1: Mitch Brown scored his first NRL try since September 20, 2014 when he was playing for Canterbury in an 18-17 finals win over Manly.
Fun Fact #2: Zak Hardaker is the 18th Man of Steel to play in the premiership and the 12th Brit.
Fun Fact #3: Seven of the 12 NRL coaches who played premiership football played in the 1994 season with Ricky Stuart and Michael Maguire playing for Canberra, Paul McGregor for Illawarra, Nathan Brown for St George, Paul Green for Cronulla, Jason Taylor for North Sydney, Des Hasler for Manly and Shane Flanagan for Parramatta.
Rumour Mill: More than one NRL player who is reported to be out for the season with a serious injury is not hurt and is being kept out for other reasons. There could be a couple of English players headed to the NRL next season with Joe Greenwood in talks with Brisbane and John Bateman close to a done deal with Canberra. Shaun Fensom looks set to join Newcastle in 2017 while Aidan Guerra will be a Titan. Penrith players are less than impressed with Anthony Griffin for his hardline approach that has cost the club at least one win this year.
Betting Market of the Week: Dylan Walker broke his hand punching the door of his house because:
$101.00: He was devastated Brett Stewart would no longer be playing fullback for Manly
$4.60: He had an argument with his girlfriend
$4.00: He was frustrated at missing selection for Origin III
$2.00: He had just heard Bob Fulton was no longer a NSW selector
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The Barrett and Bozo Show: You can take it as gospel that Trent Barrett and Bob Fulton have fallen out and with Fulton the new head of football in 2017 it would be a major surprise if Barrett was the head coach next year. It would also be a surprise if Barrett at all minded being out from a culture at Manly that is insidious to say the least. One player who has joined the club in recent years says he cannot believe the lack of professionalism. The politicking at the club is as fierce as ever with factionalism strong and the same old powerbrokers still calling the shots. Barrett has had enough but is unlikely to have the power to do anything about it.
What I Like About … Joseph Manu: He has only played a couple of games for the Roosters but winger Joseph Manu looks the real deal. He is tough, has a nice set of hands and is unafraid of work. He also seems to have a good football IQ, something sorely missing at the Roosters this year. When Blake Ferguson returns from injury it should be Willie M leader Daniel Tupou who makes way and not Manu.
Game of the Year Nomination, Round 18: Parramatta – Sydney Roosters, 22-18. Oh, how the Roosters blew this one. They were home and hosed before a courageous Eels team led by Corey Norman unleashed, scoring three tries in 15 minutes to consign the Chooks to another defeat. Norman’s performance that netted four assists was truly sublime.
The Coaching Crosshairs: Despite talk that the Blues will stick fat with Laurie Daley in 2017, he will likely need to win Game III to keep the job. The NSWRL have already moved on Bob Fulton and Daley is well and truly in the gun and if the Blues are swept, making Daley’s record 4-8, he won’t be there next season. Ivan Cleary, Geoff Toovey and Brad Fittler are all in the mix with Cleary favoured if he doesn’t win an NRL job.
Moronic Coaching Decision of the Week: Laurie Daley has clearly lost the plot. His decision to bring Matt Moylan into the team as the utility makes zero sense. He has played 80 NRL games, all at fullback, and has never defended in the front line. His lack of strength in the opening two games at fullback certainly doesn’t suggest he is up to it. His “gamesmanship” over who would start at five-eighth then came across about as clever as sticking your thumb in between your fingers and telling a four-year-old you have their nose. It is the kind of trickery that has “fooled” Queensland into 10 of the last 11 Origins.
Beard Watch: Penrith have shown a fondness for beards for many years and have again invested heavily in them in 2016. Their latest beard is Man Of Steel Zak Hardaker, who was absolutely dreadful in his starting debut for the Panthers. The lowlight was a dangerous hospital ball on his own line. Apparently Man of Steel translates to “middling lower grade player”.
Correspondence Corner: Dan, Trent Robinson has blown up at officiating only when he is right. He was again last week.
Mark and Tommo, you are 100 per cent right and I retract the statement about Semi hitting women. He deserves his day in court. He has pleaded not guilty. It was stupid of me to make such a flippant statement. I apologise for any offence caused.
Watch It: Thanks to Grant Vickers for sending this video on of the most bizarre incidents in Rugby League. The highlight is certainly the time-honoured “Head-Butt Try”. Watch it here.