From The Couch: Round 18

Filed in From The Couch, NRL by on July 12, 2011

Origin III Analysis: Well, this was the easiest game of the series to breakdown. Queensland murdered New South Wales. They relied on class and emotion and it worked. The Blues were never in the contest.

After all of Ricky Stuart’s mind games, the mysteries over selection and the like, the Blues were ill-prepared for what Queensland threw at them early. Totally unprepared.

After a dominant game two win playing small-ball, I expected the Blues to be able to do something similar in the decider but to win playing small-ball, you have to hold onto the ball and play field position and New South Wales did neither early and the result was a 24-0 deficit 30 minutes in. Game over.

Queensland simply pounded big body after big body at the Blues and combined with a smart yet conservative kicking game, had the Blues on toast.

There is no doubt Queensland came out jacked. They were pumped for Lockyer, pumped for an Origin decider, pumped for history, pumped to quiet the doubters. They did, playing a near-perfect opening half-hour of football. The repeated pressure was immense. When Queensland didn’t score, they forced a line dropout. Eventually it became too much and the floodgates opened.

The rot started early. Michael Ennis put in a typically ridiculous kick on the third tackle of the opening set that went straight down Billy Slater’s throat. New South Wales never had field position for the next thirty minutes. This wasn’t helped by Mitchell Pearce pounding the ball out on the full or any number of players dropping the pill. The Blues had some half chances but poor handling from Anthony Minichiello and Brett Morris put an end to any small hopes the Blues had.

On Minichiello, he had one of the all-time worst Origin matches, the equivalent of any Justin Hodges/Phil Duke/Chris Walker/Robbie Farah effort. I was concerned about him heading into game two but after a surprisingly good showing, I dismissed any thought that he could be a liability. It was a critical error in judgement. Minichiello should never have been picked in game two. The position should have been Brett Stewart’s and would have been had Ricky Stuart not been old pals with Minichiello. The price of that came in the decider. Minichiello’s play was disgraceful. Never mind his poor handling, which resulted in four errors. His refusal to attack the kick was dreadful. He didn’t run the ball back hard all night. And his “trapping” the ball, allowing Jharal Yow Yeh to score, was simply one of the worst Origin blunders ever.

The Blues got a sniff before the break. Jamie Soward and Paul Gallen put the Blues back in it. But it was all over when the Blues couldn’t score soon after and even an injury to Johnathan Thurston couldn’t spark the Blues to a gap-closing try. The second half turned into a game of touch football. It wasn’t much to witness. Greg Inglis decided to put in for the first time this year. Cowboys fans wept. We had an eight-point try. The margin got to 10. But this match was always Queensland’s. They pounded the Blues early and it was game over.

The Blues rolled the dice. They lost. Simple as that. They needed things to go their way. They didn’t.

It was wonderful to see Darren Lockyer farewelled from Origin football in fitting circumstances though. He is an ornament to the game and the most influential Origin player ever, surpassing even Wally Lewis’ standing at state-level. He should be rugby league’s next Immortal. It was with tremendous satisfaction that he got to go out a winner even if it was tinged with sadness. He deserved the shield, deserved the accolades, deserved the night.

Origin is over for another year. And again, Queensland were deserving victors.

Origin III Player Ratings:

1. Billy Slater (8): Positional play brilliant and was a threat with every touch of the ball
2. Darius Boyd (5): Was totally uninvolved in the match as the Maroons worked inside
3. Justin Hodges (5.5): Lack of league told in a rare quiet game where his hands were off
4. Greg Inglis (8.5): Bagged a double and was a handful all night in best game in a year
5. Jharal Yow Yeh (6.5): Little action but made key tackle and scored a swooper’s try
6. Darren Lockyer (8.5): A stunning farewell where he had a hand in everything
7. Johnathan Thurston (7): Hurt and made errors but showed class with first try kick
13. Ashley Harrison (7.5): Again did nothing wrong in a typical Ash Harrison game
12. Sam Thaiday (8.5): Was super in both attack and defence with some great touches
11. Nate Myles (7): Probably his best Origin appearance in ’11 where he worked hard
10. Petero Civoniceva (8.5): Was at best all evening, making 190 metres in top game
9. Cameron Smith (9): A deserved man of the series who was again smart out of d-half
8. Matthew Scott (7.5): Like his bookend partner, he left it all on the paddock
14. Cooper Cronk (5): Played halfback for the first time but had limited minutes
15. Corey Parker (7): Confirmed himself as an Origin player with a solid bench game
16. Jacob Lillyman (5.5): Didn’t do much in 22 minutes of action
17. Ben Hannant (6): Nearly scored a great try but game was over by time he got on

New South Wales
1.Anthony Minichiello (1): Ended his Origin career with one of the all-time shockers
2. Brett Morris (5): Didn’t do a lot wrong but made a critical error after early break
3. Mark Gasnier (6.5): Best Origin showing and set up second try but may also be done
4. Jarryd Hayne (7.5): Helped by open game but didn’t put a foot wrong in classy show
5. Akuila Uate (7.5): Ran hard all night but game was over by the time his chance came
6. Jamie Soward (8): Blues’ best back where he showed initiative with the ball
7. Mitchell Pearce (3): Had a shocker with his kick out on the full opening the floodgates
13. Greg Bird (7.5): Worked hard and managed to work the fringes with effect
12. Ben Creagh (5): Again played without impact and his Origin career should be over
18. Glenn Stewart (8): Never stopped trying in return and was very good over 80 mins
10. Paul Gallen (8): Turned in a typically classy display though did give up a bad penalty
9. Michael Ennis (4): Lasted only 22 mins before coughing up blood but had some niggle
8. Tim Mannah (4.5): Swooped on a loose kick but only got 20 mins and just tackled
14. Kurt Gidley (2.5): Dumb game where he tried to bludge penalties rather than play
16. Anthony Watmough (6.5): One of the Blues’ most dangerous runners but D no good
17. Luke Lewis (6): Did little wrong but lacked the impact he had in game two
20. Keith Galloway (3.5): Only played 9 minutes in debut but did all he could

Score a $100 Free Bet from Luxbet!

I Hope Channel Nine Burns to the Ground: The executive offices at Nine should be doused in petrol and set alight. Those in programming should be kidnapped, blindfolded, weighted down and thrown off the highest available bridge. Those involved in the sports department should be shot on sight.

These actions may seem excessive but are the only reasonable response to those self-involved, gutless, mindless, clowns at Nine after they allowed Sonny Bill Williams to appear during half-time of rugby league’s showpiece game to promote a rival code.

This is the same no-good, low-down Judas who whored his ass for cash, walking out on rugby league to get some easy cash playing union. From that point on, nobody knew where he was. Nobody cared. He is a grub, a filth merchant, a money hungry moron who has rightly been sidelined by the rugby league community.

Yet for some reason Nine paraded him in front of the rugby league world during our game, trying to pump up that pussy code and some two-bit event they have wasted money on that nobody is interested in watching. Their decision to do so shows no respect for the game of rugby league, for rugby league history, for the history of State of Origin, for common decency.

It was a sickening moment and one that caused me to immediately write to NRL boss David Gallop to express my total disgust. I also demanded that Nine be totally excluded from rugby league when the next television rights come up. How can they be forgiven for such an atrocity? Can you imagine Ten or Seven treating any of their games with such disdain? Can you imagine the AFL allowing rugby league to be pumped up during an Australian rules broadcast?

Nine is a two-bit network run by two-bit schmucks. It is middle-of-the-road garbage. It is a trough so chocked with filth that you wouldn’t let the mangiest pig sip from it. They have not had an edgy idea since Rabbits was in shortpants. They have no understanding of the bigger picture. They have no respect for the only product that has them in anyway relevant.

David Gallop and future commissioners, the future best not lay in the hands of Nine because if it does, there could be a goddamn riot and I won’t be leaving without a few trophies for the man-cave.

The Prime Minister Hates Rugby League:There is not a right-minded rugby league fan who could possibly vote Labor after the great game was once again snubbed by a damned southern fool of a woman who has once again snubbed the Great Game.

Julia Gillard was nowhere to be seen when the Origin shield was presented last Wednesday. It was a disgrace. She has few problems telling lies to the President of the United States, saying AFL was our national game, yet can’t be bothered showing up to one of Australia’s pre-eminent sporting events. You wouldn’t get that with John Howard or even Kevin Rudd.

Julia Gillard is a no good, league-hating, moron. She needs to be tossed for a league type as soon as possible.

Eight Point Tries Are Usually Fun: One of the highlights of Origin III, for mine, was the eight-point try. Rugby league trainspotters like myself are always amused by them. Though, admittedly, they often cause a flashback to this horrible eight-point try in 1993 that cost Canterbury the two points against North Sydney. Craig Polla-Mounter, a personal favourite, flattens David Hall after the Bears winger scored and Craig Makepiece slots the second shot to give Norths an 18-17 win.

Jarrod Mullen is a Protected Species: Jarrod Mullen is, arguably, Newcastle’s third best half. He may be their fourth. Of all halves to have played for the Knights this season, he is clearly below Kurt Gidley and Ryan Stig and arguably (and I would take) Beau Henry and Tyrone Roberts ahead of Mullen. Yet Mullen is raced back into the team, screwing up the chemistry with his “pretty play” that does nothing but hurt the Knights attack. He throws a beautiful spiral, he has a fine gait as he kicks and he does that fancy little grubber but what does he actually do that helps? Hopefully Rick Stone makes the right call soon and plays Gidley and The Stig soon because Mullen just hurts the Knights. This year, they are 5-7 with Mullen and 3-1 without him. It is time to stop protecting Jarrod Mullen.

Commentary Call of the Week: When Keith Galloway was stiffed on a shocking forward pass call, looking confused and bemused by the decision, Ray Warren said Galloway “looked like a man who had lost his wallet.” Golden stuff from the doyen of the league microphone.

What I Like About…Paul Gallen: Never mind the inspirational Origin showings. Never mind his workhorse example. Never mind the form of the Sharks. Never mind his reformed ways. Paul Gallen has forever earned a place in my heart as he attempted one of the most meaningless field goals ever seen on a rugby league field. It was stunning. The Sharks, having already towelled the Raiders, leading 26-12 and the full-time siren imminent, ran a set field goal play for Gallen. Sadly, the kick was charged down. Gallen earned further credit by saying after the game that he “always wanted to kick one” and promised he one day would. What an ornament to the game. Gallen’s attempted one-pointer was the greatest moment of season 2011. I eagerly await his next shot.

Very Perceptive Rabs: Well, it looks like after Jarryd Hayne said he wouldn’t be switching for a number of years and Stephen Kearney said he wouldn’t be switching Hayne to pivot, Jarryd Hayne is now set to wear the No.6 jersey for the remainder of the season. Eels coach Kearney made the late switch before Friday’s win over the Wests Tigers with the move working with new fullback Luke Burt having his best game in three seasons. Hayne was reasonable with a try assist.

Hayne has been tried at five-eighth before. It was an epic failure. His best asset is arguably his kick return and he does not play well within a structure. I thought the move foolish.

That was until Ray Warren made a rather perceptive comment during the coverage. Warren, while beloved for his calls that are popping with excitement and bombast, is hardly regarded as an incisive analyst these days but he was right on the money on Friday.

Warren said the key behind moving Hayne to five-eighth was not because Hayne is more suited to the position but because playing in the line forces Hayne to switch on. Hayne cannot coast through matches as he often does at fullback and with the Eels having a readymade replacement at the back in Burt, it seems like the play is the smart one.

Hayne has plenty of talent but he is more often than not, lazy and careless. Perhaps the switch will see him a little more focussed and a little more useful to Parramatta’s cause.

A Sharp Footballer:I have never been overcome by Luke Burt. He is an honest player but little more, I often think. He is sharp though and he showed his brains on Friday night when he twice stripped the ball from an opponent in a one-on-one tackle, once saving a try and then directly setting one up. He has plenty of brains, Luke Burt, and will be better suited at the back.

Happy 100, Colin Best Express: It was wonderful to see the Colin Best Express rack up his 100th try on the weekend in his 230th game. Best is a delight to watch play, a big striding, fluent outside back who rarely makes the wrong decision. He has been around the blocks but he is back playing where it all began and is doing a fine job. Best scored his first try on debut for the Sharks in 1998 in a 16-12 win over North Sydney with Luke Stuart the only other player from that game still in the league. He has scored double figure tries five times in a season with his best haul coming in 2005 for the Dragons when he scored 20. He scored his 50th try that season in 2005 against Melbourne at Olympic Park. Best sits 11th on the all-time Sharks tryscoring list with 47 and will go into the top ten if he can score three more tries with the club. Well done Colin Best, a true gentleman of the rugby league game.

Rugby League is Where I Hide: This new look Phil Gould reminds me, every time I see him, of that wonderful Dave Graney song “Rock ‘N’ Roll is Where I Hide”. Phil Gould is “the silver fox, the velvet fog, the little cloud that cried”.

Score a $100 Free Bet from Luxbet!

Fingers Crossed: It was with absolute delight that I read that Jason Ryles is looking for an extra season with the Tricolours. As someone who despises the Roosters even more than I despise Jason Ryles, it just makes me so pleased that the two will remain together. Hell, we need more stupid passes, dumb penalties and lazy bludgers. But someone, please, check the health of Fire Up’s Brett Oaten. Who knows what he is capable of if Ryles re-signs for another year.

Tackle of the Year: If Parramatta do manage to turn their season around and sneak into the eight, they can thank hardworking lock Ben Smith. His rundown tackle of Benji Marshall was as spectacular as it was inspirational. Not only did Smith run down a player who is much faster, spotting him a start, he made an upper body tackle that rolled Marshall into touch. That tackle should long be remembered as one of the finest, gutsiest tackles ever made.

Injury Update: No doubt the most concerning injury of the week was that of Johnathan Thurston. Thurston was confined to a wheelchair post-Origin with his season first thought over but scans revealed he should be back just before the finals.

Lewis Brown: Sprained his ankle only three minutes in and it must have been serious as he wasn’t seen again and he is one tough hombre. Simon Mannering may find himself back in the centres. Hopefully Brown won’t be far away.

Joe Galuvao (Manly): Took a head knock and picked up a concussion but the big fella won’t miss any time.

Kurt Gidley (Newcastle): The Knights captain was outstanding against the Cowboys, scoring a double, but pulled up with a hamstring complaint when scoring the second. He will need scans but could miss a few weeks.

Jason King (Manly): Tweaked a hamstring with his injury being a couple of weeks at worst.

Nathan Merritt (South Sydney): Played on with a wrist injury that could be a break and another massive blow for the Bunnies. They are quickly running out of players.

Josh Papalii (Canberra): The promising young Raiders backrower has pulled a groin muscle and won’t be available for a couple of weeks. He has been one of the Raiders best and he will be sorely missed.

Reece Robinson (Canberra): Appeared to do significant damage to his knee in the dying minutes of Saturday’s loss to the Sharks. Daniel Vidot will take his place.

Mat Rogers (Gold Coast): Made it one-game out of retirement (giving him 200 career total) before breaking his foot and ending his career for a second time.

Willie Tonga (North Queensland): Was a surprise inclusion despite being named after it was reported last week he had hurt his shoulder at training but hurt his leg and limped off just after half-time against the Knights.

Johnathan Thurston (North Queensland): A horrible looking injury where first thoughts were he had broken his leg but it turned out to be an MCL strain with six weeks his expected layoff.

Trent Waterhouse (Penrith): Lasted only 14 minutes before doing an MCL with the Warrington bound premiership player set to play only a couple more games for the Panthers at best.

Rhys Wesser (South Sydney): The Bunnies fullback lasted only 32 minutes before hurting his knee. His career could be over while Souths suffer a fullback crisis.

The 2011 Willie M Medal:We have a new leader in the Willie M Medal with Canberra winger Blake Ferguson and his loose ball carry shooting him to the top of the leaderboard. Ferguson could have been expected to lift against his former club Cronulla. Instead he was his typical careless self.

Queensland v New South Wales
3-Anthony Minichiello (NSW)
2-Kurt Gidley (NSW)
1-Mitchell Pearce (NSW)

New Zealand v Gold Coast
3-Bodene Thompson (GC)
2-Clinton Toopi (GC)
1-Mat Rogers (GC)

Parramatta v Wests Tigers
3-Wade McKinnon (Tig)
2-Benji Marshall (Tig)
1-Robert Lui (Tig)

Cronulla v Canberra
3-Nathan Massey (Can)
2-Blake Ferguson (Can)
1-Joe Picker (Can)

Canterbury v Melbourne
3-Jonathan Wright (Bul)
2-Andrew Ryan (Bul)
1-Gary Warburton (Bul)

Sydney Roosters v Penrith
3-Dane Weston (Pen)
2-Lachlan Coote (Pen)
1-Tom Symonds (Roo)

Manly v South Sydney
3-Issac Luke (Sou)
2-Dylan Farrell (Sou)
1-Ben Lowe (Sou)

Newcastle v North Queensland
3-Adam MacDougall (New)
2-Dan Tolar (New)
1-Antonio Kaufusi (New)

15: Blake Ferguson (Can)
14: Matt Orford (Can)
12: Jarryd Hayne (Par)
11: Greg Bird (GC), Krisnan Inu (NZ)
10: Preston Campbell (GC), Wade Graham (Cro), Michael Jennings (Pen), Antonio Kaufusi (New), Kris Keating (Bul), Jarrod Mullen (New), Matthew Wright (Cro)
9: Lachlan Coote (Pen), Nate Myles (Roo), Ben Pomeroy (Cro)

Voting Panel: Nick Tedeschi, Matt Tedeschi, Matthew O’Neill (Rleague), Grant Vickers, Craig Finlayson

Score a $100 Free Bet from Luxbet!

Fun Fact #1: Jarryd Hayne’s father Manoa Thompson played his last game in the ARL in 1995 for new team Auckland against new club North Queensland, in Townsville. Adam MacDougall’s father Gil made his debut 35 seasons before, in 1961 for the now gone Balmain, retiring in 1966 with the now gone Western Suburbs after scoring in the famous 1963 Grand Final.

Round 18 Selection Notes:

Brisbane:All six of Brisbane's Origin stars have been named with the side so strong that Matt Gillett is set to start on the bench.

Gold Coast:Luke Capewell has been recalled and will play fullback, his first game since round seven. Preston Campbell rides the pine. Still no Nathan Friend.

New Zealand:The injured Lewis Brown has been replaced by utility Joel Moon, saving skipper Simon Mannering from a move to the centres. Thankfully, we have also been saved the recall of Krisnan Inu.

Canterbury:Michael Ennis hasn't been named at hooker, a death blow for the Dogs as they have lost the last five without their talisman hooker. Ben Roberts has been dumped to the bench with Kris Keating back in the No.6 jersey.

South Sydney: Rhys Wesser and Nathan Merritt have both been named in what is a major surprise. Both are highly unlikely.

Sydney Roosters:Anthony Minichiello continues to battle a mystery virus and is again absent from the Roosters team with Phil Graham starting at fullback. Wanted centre Kane Linnett will start.

North Queensland:Brent Tate will make his long awaited debut for the Cowboys. Willie Tonga has been named but is in doubt. Will Tupou will start if either Tonga or Tate don't come up. Tariq Sims returns from suspension on the bench. James Segeyaro, after his best game in first grade, keeps his spot on the bench ahead of Clint Amos.

Wests Tigers: Wade McKinnon, dumped. Thank the Lord. Tim Moltzen has his job.

Penrith:Michael Jennings returns from injury, taking the spot of Junior Vaivai. Trent Waterhouse has been named but is extremely unlikely. Nathan Smith will start ahead of Waterhouse.

Parramatta:Stephen Kearney has named Jarryd Hayne at fullback, Luke Burt on the wing, Casey Maguire at five-eighth and Jeff Robson at halfback but a reshuffle is expected with Robson to be the one to miss out. Ben Smith will again play in the centres.

Canberra:Josh Dugan returns for the Raiders in what is a huge in for the club. Daniel Vidot takes the wing position of the injured Reece Robinson. Bronson Harrison and Danny Galea will play in the second row for the injured Josh Papalii and benched Joe Picker.

Melbourne:  No surprises with the Storm team this week with all four Origin players named and Beau Champion again in the reggies.

Newcastle:Ryan Stig rejoins the starting team in place of the injured Kurt Gidley. Adam MacDougall has mercifully been dropped with Keith Lulia replacing the grizzled veteran. Isaac De Gois returns from injury with Matt Hilder shuffled to the bench. Neville Costigan will start in the second row.

Manly:Shane Rodney has missed out on a bench spot but has likely been sent back to get some match fitness.

St George-Illawarra:Dean Young takes the captaincy with Ben Hornby suffering from an ankle injury. Nathan Fien moves to halfback. Matt Cooper comes into the centres for Kyle Stanley.

Cronulla:Kade Snowden hasn't been named as he battles injury. Josh Cordoba will again start at prop. Chad Townsend, who has turned this team around, keeps the No.7 jersey.

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

Rumour Mill: Peter Sterling mentioned on Friday Night Football that Parramatta had signed a big name outside back. That player is Willie Tonga. Joel Reddy is gone from Parramatta though. He is thought to have made a late switch from Canterbury to the Wests Tigers. Despite protestations from Tim Sheens, there are major dramas at the Wests Tigers with Benji Marshall thought to be livid at Tim Moltzen’s move. Wayne Bennett seems intent on fulfilling rugby league’s biggest miracle-winning a premiership with the worst player in the NRL, Adam Cuthbertson, on the books- with the head-geared shocker set to join Newcastle next year. Ricky Stuart is now well into odds-on to be coaching the Bulldogs next year with Barry Ward his biggest supporter on the board. Kane Linnett is expected to announce a move to Cronulla within days. Expect to see another Mortimer on the horizon in the next few years with Daniel’s younger brother Robbie weighing up offers from a number of clubs.  

Betting Market of the Week:The rash that caused Anthony Minichiello to miss Sunday’s Roosters win over Penrith was a result of:

A new moisturizer: $3.50
An addiction to poison ivy: $41
An addiction to Ivy nightclub: $5.00
Terror after watching his Origin III performance: $1.60

From Deep in the Bowels of Twitter: Ben Barba rightfully apologised after a stinker on Saturday: “Wants to apologize to all bulldogs fan for my performance tonight… I hope I never play like that again…”

Mark Riddell is at a loss with what to do these days: “Ah…. What to do today???? Plenty of time on my hands these days…”

Making The Nut Poll:The people have spoken and they want rugby league moved. Nine is dead to them. It is dead to me. 78% of respondents want rugby league moved to Ten while only 17% want the game to stay on Nine. 4% are hopeful the game goes to Seven.

Be sure to check out this week’s poll to vote on rugby league’s next Immortal. Should it be Darren Lockyer, Andrew Johns, Brad Fittler and Mal Meninga? Vote now at

Obscure Score of the Week: South Australian Rugby League Kooga Cup, Norths-Souths, 20-0. The Northern Districts Dragons, undefeated in 2011 and leading the five-team competition, had few problems with South Adelaide.

Score a $100 Free Bet from Luxbet!

Coaching Stocks:
5: Wayne Bennett: BYE
4.5: Craig Bellamy: The Storm just keep rolling on with their focus and pep amazing
4.5: Des Hasler: Souths have caused Manly problems but not Sunday with classy win
4.5: Anthony Griffin: BYE
3.5: Neil Henry: An historic win for the Cowboys (road, no Thurston) but look at the mo!
2.5: Ivan Cleary: Has a new deal at Penrith and scored a much needed win v Titans
2.5: Shane Flanagan: The Sharks are the hot team and can score points, astonishingly
2: Rick Stone: Critical game for the Knights and they failed miserably under pressure
2: Tim Sheens: There is a major fracture at the Tigers, who are playing too loose
1.5: Steve Georgallis: Linked with Canterbury but suffered poor defeat to Roosters
1: Stephen Kearney: Moved Hayne to pivot and it got the job done with top win
0.5: John Lang: The Bunnies were honest but were no match with injuries v Manly
-0.5: John Cartwright: The Titans just continue to get even worse with season over
-2: Kevin Moore: Was supposed to be sacked after defeat but the Dogs refuse to move
-4: Brian Smith: A much needed win but the season still seems long gone
-6: David Furner: Finals was back on the agenda until guileless effort v Sharks

The Life and Times of the Special Needs Penguin: In what can only be called tragic, for this column at any rate, it appears as if Ben Pomeroy, the one and only Special Needs Penguin, is heading off to England. At least that is the thought of Cronulla freak and rumour-pusher Phil Rothfield, who seems to think Pomeroy is as good as gone, signed with Hull for 2012 and beyond. In my head right now I have a slow-motion montage of dropped catches, spilled balls and awkward attempts at running all to “Those Were The Days My Friend”, the Sandie Shaw version. Think Jackass, crossed with March of the Penguins, crossed with the final scene of Annie Hall. Perhaps it should be Korn but, well, I don’t do Korn. But we must be generous and now it is those good folks in England who will get to see the most uncoordinated player to ever make it to top grade rugby league. They gave us rugby league. Now, we give them the Special Needs Penguin.

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 18:Cronulla-Canberra, 26-12. The Sharks are a team reborn in a new identity, a new way. And fans of the Cronulla way can thank new halfback Chad Townsend, who has been outstanding since joining the first grade team. He has formed a formidable partnership with five-eighth Wade Graham, who was brilliant on Saturday night, the duo guiding the Sharks to their fourth straight score of 26-plus, the first time in six seasons that has occurred for Cronulla. Again, the Sharks out-hustled an opponent on Saturday night, getting the best of Canberra thanks to more enthusiasm and more will to win. The game was decent but was made markedly special by Paul Gallen’s last minute shot at field goal.  

Fantasy Team of the Week:
1. Luke Burt (Par)
2. Nathan Merritt (Sou)
3. Colin Best (Cro)
4. Shaun Kenny-Dowall (Roo)
5. Manu Vatuvei (NZ)
6. Kurt Gidley (New)
7. Cooper Cronk (Mel)
13. Luke Lewis (Pen)
12. Simon Mannering (NZ)
11. Nathan Hindmarsh (Par)
10. Luke Douglas (Cro)
9. James Segeyaro (NQ)
8. Jesse Bromwich (Mel)

14. Kieran Foran (Man)
15. Todd Carney (Roo)
16. Shaun Fensom (Can)
17. Feleti Mateo (NZ)

Waiver Wire Advice: Warriors lock forward Micheal Luck made a stellar return for the club after missing only three full games with injury, making 42 tackles and four hitups. Luck has been super consistent this year, with only three scores outside the 49-65 range. Luck is going cheap at $233,700 and while he won’t win you too many games, you can bank on his score being there.

Correspondence Corner:Dragons68, Grievous and Arthur…to borrow a line from Phil Gould, no no no no no no no. Korn are, how can I put this kindly, on the same level as Nine in my estimation. Admittedly, I am no music columnist and listening to The Pogues sober is about as edgy as music comes in these parts but I am fairly sure it is widely assumed Korn are nothing more than blow-hard pretenders whose time came and went around 1997. Take your lead from Doubter. Sadly, Grievous, my band Jimmy V and the Stamp, part of Triple J’s “Unearthed”, never got too far with “Jump in my Pope Mobile (I want to take you to the Vatican).

Dragons68, regarding rumours, I know a few well-placed people, I keep a keen eye on all matters league and if worst comes to worst, I follow the Rugby League Week Mole on Twitter.

The Dominator, perhaps one of the best players in the league was a reach but David Stagg is certainly among the top players in the game. Last year he ranked No.35 in the definitive “Top 50 Players of the Year” list and in 2009 he ranked No.5.

Doubter, the most popular player on any losing NFL team is the backup quarterback. Nobody ever gets to see him play so nobody can pick apart his game. Now we have all had the misfortune of seeing Roberts and all those who have talked him up have been embarrassed by his putrid form that has resulted in zero tries, zero try assists, four errors, a penalty conceded and three losses in three games.

Ferret, I am no George Piggins apologist. I was all for the takeover and it has probably been for the best for South Sydney that George is no longer running the show as he did nearly run them into the ground. But he is a scrapper and it would be nice to see him welcomed back into the fold.

Beard Watch: Well, the Blues were thumped. I’m not really surprised. They had but one beard in the team and he was a late inclusion. Glenn Stewart, among the Blues’ best, surely derived much of his powers from the beard. The Italian Mountain Goat at the back, all clean shaven and respectable, played like the dud he is. I blame Greg Bird for this. The entire state had rallied around his moustache before Origin I but when he shaved it on game eve, it was apparent that he didn’t understand its powers. New South Wales needs facial hair if we are to ever win Origin again.

It was also great to see a column favourite, “Sugar” Shane Rodney, back on the park after another season shot by injury. Rodney was clean-shaven during the game but those lucky enough to see him on The Sunday Footy Show saw Rodney in a full and lengthy goatee, reminiscent of former MMA fighter Tank Abbott. Keep it real, “Sugar” Shane.

Watch It: Mal Meninga seems to be fairly high and mighty these days. He also seems more paranoid than Bobby Fischer. Six straight series wins with Queensland and “Big” Mal still isn’t happy, believing there is a systematic conspiracy to stop Queensland winning, that he is the coach, that the judiciary is out to get the Maroons, blah, blah, blah. Mal was a fine footballer. He is a good figurehead for Queensland. But at his core, he is a moron. The prosecution presents, Exhibit A.

Photo by Jonathan Wood/Getty Images AsiaPac

Tags: ,

Comments (2)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Naggets says:

    Not 100%, but I'm pretty sure that the 'Obscure score of the week' was actually a forfeit by Souths.

    Didn't see the game (or non-game as the case may be), but every SARL game I have watched has been 44-36 or similar.

    Sadly, forfeits are all to common in the comp down here.