From The Couch: Round 19

Filed in From The Couch, NRL by on July 16, 2012

Bring Back the Draw: There is a great deal of excitement at Making The Nut that the draw is back on the NRL agenda after the dissatisfaction with golden point reached critical mass after the Sharks-Roosters draw last Monday night. Good.

Golden point is a farce. It always has been and has become increasingly so. It was a stupid idea to begin with. It doesn't add extra drama. It simply changes the nature of matches to allow for some artificial win. There is no need for it. Draws are exciting enough in themselves. With golden point, referees simply disregard the rules of the game, making the last 10 minutes a clusterfuck of not-called penalties, zero common sense and ordinary shots at field goal.

There have been a number of stupid suggestions put forward. Golden try. Player drop offs. All are idiotic. You can't have a situation where you can score in one way for the first 80 minutes and not in the extra 10 and you can't just take players from the field. Such idiocy should see people institutionalised and whipped without mercy.

It is time for common sense to take hold. Let's bring back the draw. It is often the fair result and it breaks up the premiership ladder. There is nothing wrong with it.

Jason Taylor, Idiot MD: Jason Taylor is an irrelevant moron. He always has been and always will be. He built a career on being soft and we all know the blaze of stupidity that ended his coaching career. So few should take any notice of his ridiculous claims that Canterbury's rise to premiership favouritism is based on illegal decoy running. The only time I would pay attention to Taylor is if I was sitting next to him at the cricket and feared that the golden rains could be coming.

He argues that the Bulldogs' second man plays are illegal, that Ben Barba catches the ball behind opposition players and uses his decoys as shepherds. For most rugby league analysts, the Bulldogs' slick second man plays are how rugby league should be played. For Taylor, a fool and a joke, they are illegal.

It is no surprise that the Sydney Morning Herald's circulation figures have dropped so far, paying Taylor to make such stupid remarks. Perhaps if he'd tried a second man play or two at Souths, he would still be a first grade coach.

The End of the Field: Craig Field was always running close to the wrong side of the law – and now the former South Sydney, Manly and Wests Tigers halfback is facing a murder charge after allegedly king-hitting a bloke out the front of a hotel. Field played 183 games and scored 418 points in a career that spanned 1990-2001. Life does not get more serious than a murder change. Field's fall from grace is a rugby league tragedy.

The Astonishing Luke Lewis Situation: It is difficult to come to terms with the fact that Luke Lewis will not be at Penrith next year, driven from the club by the new regime. Ivan Cleary is an excellent coach, Phil Gould has the runs on the board and it is clear that both want to change the culture at the club. But the move to drive Lewis out is a high risk one. Luke Lewis is Penrith. He is there last remaining premiership player and a local hero who has given more to the club than most. Lewis likely never would have won another premiership with the Panthers. But the intangibles he offers are so great that he should have been kept. This is unlikely to end well for Penrith, who have a history of poor recruitment decisions.

The All-Star Weekend: Any fan of Major League Baseball enjoyed baseball's All-Star break last week with all the usual bells and whistles, headed by the time-honoured home run derby. It is a fantastic event, much like the slam dunk and three-point shooting competition are in the NBA. These sports have created events that now mean something.

The NRL must do the same.

For years there has been bleating by Origin players to play the series on standalone weekends. This simply isn't viable. What is an option, however, is playing one match (the second game) on a standalone weekend full of activities. There could be a host of other matches: NSW Residents v QLD Residents, NSW Toyota Cup v QLD Toyota Cup and the proposed New Zealand Origin game.

There could also be a host of events at the Origin venue be the day before. There could be the sprint to find the fastest man in league, a goalkicking competition for the game's best sharpshooters and perhaps even some kind of "strong man" competition. This would attract plenty of interest and would be a real celebration of the game. Without question Fox Sports would cover it and with the right sponsorship, the prizemoney could prove very attractive to players.

This would be a wonderful weekend in the middle of the season and something the ARLC must seriously consider.

Kris Keating, Get the Fuck Up: Kris Keating embarrassed the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and rugby league in general when he stayed down on Friday night against Parramatta, laying down and faking injury, trying to win a penalty. It was embarrassing. You can take the boy out of Parramatta but you can't take the Parramatta out of the boy. Keating was hardly touched yet rolled around like Lee Harvey Oswald had clipped him from the book depository. Trent Hodkinson is back in the twos. He is a tough bastard. He hopefully won't carry on like a little bitch when he is tackled.

A Beautiful Play: For those with a nostalgic bent and the odd yearning for yesteryear, it was the play of the season. Grinding Warriors hooker pulled out the old double runaround – probably not seen in the last quarter century – and set up the club's second try with a beautiful long pass. The Broncos had no idea what was happening. It was rugby league artistry.

Shopping Around: Perhaps it should be Parramatta who are doing the shopping, rather than their supposed star Jarryd Hayne. Hayne was caught out last Sunday when found to be shopping at Westfield when the Eels were getting defiled at Brookvale Oval. Hayne was, admittedly, given time off by Stephen Kearney. But he should have been at Brookvale Oval. You'd never see Cameron Smith miss a Storm game or Nathan Hindmarsh not show up for the Eels. Hayne doesn't care about Parramatta, doesn't care about rugby league, doesn't care about anything but dollars and fame. Oh, to be an Eels fan …

Boring: Regular contributor Chris Parkinson caught a bit of the Continuous Call Team on Saturday. They were talking about boring sports, by all reports, with the Big Marn was adamant that totem tennis was the most boring sport. Ray Hadley then read out an email from a listener which just said "have you guys not ever seen a rugby test match?". All the boys laughed in agreement, even Bolts who called the rugby world cup final. Excellent stuff. Rugby really is rubbish.

Oh Soccer, Know Your Place: The A-League has got some nerve by saying they will cover the statue of Ray Price up when the new Western Sydney team, whatever they are called, play at Parramatta Stadium. What a grubby act. That ground was built on rugby league. Soccer can burn in hell if they think it can be so disrespectful of The Great Game.

Recruitment in the NRL Era – South Sydney:South Sydney have long believed in the idiom: "Buy high, sell for nothing". The Bunnies have consistently bought aging rep players in, who have taken the overs, landed one last pay cheque and done little for the club. That has changed in recent years – players at the peak of their powers are being recruited – but it has been a long time coming for one of the worst recruiting teams in the premiership. Development has also been an issue for a team that has done one a finals match since 1986.

Best Year: The Bunnies have long suffered from an ordinary pack but made real in-roads in 2010 when signing two forwards of genuine talent: Sam Burgess and Dave Taylor. Burgess has spent much of his time injured and Taylor has run hot and cold but both are genuine young rep talents, the type of players Souths have not been able to attract in decades.

Worst Year: It is tough to differentiate between 2002, 2003 and 2004. Souths were just back and needed to build a roster and could attract few genuine talents. It was a dark day for the Bunnies.

Best Buy: Greg Inglis may well turn out to be the club's best buy after getting fit and moving to fullback but it is hard to go past Nathan Merritt, the champion tryscoring whiz who has scored 121 tries in 171 games for Souths including 119 since returning from Cronulla. A genuine match-winner, Merritt has long thrived in a culture of defeat and failure.

Worst Buy: Shannon Hegarty. Playing on the end of the Roosters' red-hot backline, Hegarty somehow won Queensland and Australian jerseys. Quickly found out at Souths, he became known as the worst winger in the NRL. Yet was still on a fortune. Lazy, stupid, little hustle, terrible hands…Hegarty was a real clusterfuck of hopeless.

Worst Loss: Ashley Harrison was South Sydney's one player with genuine talent in the prime of his career in three seasons at the Bunnies but constant failure led Harrison to the Roosters before the Titans. Harrison made his Queensland debut  at Souths but would play his best football at the Titans.

Origin/International Players Recruited:
Already: (24) Tim Brasher, David Hall, Terry Hermansson, Brett Rodwell, Mark Carroll, Tony Iro, Adam Muir, Russell Richardson, Bryan Fletcher, Chris Walker, Shannon Hegarty, Joe Galuvao, David Peachey, Roy Asotasi, David Kidwell, Nigel Vagana, Adam MacDougall, Craig Wing, Michael Crocker, Rhys Wesser, Sam Burgess, Greg Inglis, Ben Ross, Matt King
Became: (2) Ashley Harrison, Dave Taylor

Origin/International Players Lost:
Already: (8) Terry Hermansson, Chris Walker, Russell Richardson, Shannon Hegarty, Ashley Harrison, Adam MacDougall, Joe Galuvao, Ben Ross
Became: (0)

*Super League Tri Series and International matches are recognised.
** Only players who went to or came from another NRL club are noted with the exception of English internationals.

Injury Update: The Dragons lost Kyle Stanley for the season in what is a harsh blow for a talented young star.

Dale Copley (Brisbane): Suffered a suspected broken leg against the Warriors. Lachlan Maranta will come in as his replacement.

Matt Duffie (Melbourne): The high-flying Storm winger dislocated his shoulder and will miss up to six weeks. Unfortunately, Sisa Waqa will stay in first grade.

Nathan Fien (St George Illawarra): Hurt his knee late in the game and could be out for an extended period. The Saints are running short on halves and hookers.

Keith Galloway (Tigers): Turned in a gallant performance against Penrith, playing on with a ruptured AC joint. Will miss a couple of weeks. Ray Cashmere will see more time.

Matt Keating (Parramatta): Back issues have ruled him out for the remainder of the season. Nathan Smith has stepped in as his replacement.

Luke Kelly (Parramatta): Fractured his eyesocket and may not be seen again in 2012. Yes! Ben Roberts will be back.

Steve Matai (Manly): Missed the Newcastle loss with the flu. Will play against Canterbury.

Fuifui Moimoi (Parramatta): Cleaned up in the first minute by Sam Kasiano and was weak on the legs afterwards. Should be fine for Round 20.

Dane Nielsen (Melbourne): Missed the Cowboys clash with a corked arm. Will come straight back in.

Josh Papalii (Canberra): The Raiders tough-man took some bad bruising to the knee. Will likely be fine for the Sharks.

Aidan Sezer (Gold Coast): Broke his hand against the Raiders and his loss is a huge blow as he has been arguably the player who has sparked the turnaround at the club. Beau Henry may finally get a crack at first grade.

Ryan Simpkins (Penrith): Took a big concussion and could miss a week.

Jamie Soward (St George Illawarra): A back spasm saw him left out. Will be back next week.

Kyle Stanley (St George Illawarra): A late replacement for Jamie Soward. Did his ACL. Will miss the rest of the season.

Fun Fact #1: Darren Lockyer has played the most finals matches with 35 ahead of Kevin Walters with 34, Brad Fittler and Ray Price with 32 and Norm Provan 30.

Fun Fact #2: Michael Cronin has the most finals points with 180 ahead of Graham Eadie with 165, Graeme Langlands 149 and Darren Lockyer 147.

Fun Fact #3: Eddie Lumsden holds the finals record for most tries with 17 in 21 games followed by Reg Gasnier, Brett Kenny and Johnny King with 14 tries.

Fun Fact #4: Bob Fulton has the most finals field goals with 12 followed by Eric Simms (10) and Jason Taylor (6).

Fun Fact #5: John Plath holds the record for most finals game started on the bench with 18 followed by Colin Ward and Shane Rigon with 12.

Fun Fact #6: Wayne Bennett has coached the most finals games with 53 ahead of Tim Sheens (32), Jack Gibson and Brian Smith (28) and Bob Fulton and Warren Ryan (27).

Fun Fact #7: Bill Harrigan has refereed the most finals matches with 45 ahead of Darcy Lawler (32), Col Pearce (26), Jack O'Brien (24) and Tony Archer (21).

Fun Fact #8: The Sydney Cricket Ground has hosted the most finals matches with 224 followed by the Sydney Football Stadium (105), the Sydney Sports Ground (33) and Stadium Australia (29).

The 2012 Willie M Medal: Inaugural Willie M Medal winner Chris Sandow has charged into contention for a second honour with a hapless performance against Canterbury on Friday night. Sandow collected the three points and now shares the lead with Dragons captain Ben Hornby. Sandow was involved in the key moment of the match. After putting in a good kick and a decent chase, he couldn't be bothered tackling Ben Barba. Barba went the distance and set Canterbury up for a big win. Sandow does not respect defence and is constantly shown up.

Canterbury v Parramatta
3-Chris Sandow (Par)
2-Reni Maitua (Par)
1-Willie Tonga (Par)
Judge: Nick Tedeschi

Brisbane v New Zealand
3-James Maloney (War)
2-Justin Hodges (Bri)
1-Peter Wallace (Bri)
Judge: Will Evans

Melbourne v North Queensland
3-Sisa Waqa (Mel)
2-Jaiman Lowe (Mel)
1-Aaron Payne (Cow)
Judge: Nick Tedeschi

Manly v Newcastle
3-Daly Cherry-Evans (Man)
2-Brent Kite (Man)
1-Jorge Taufua (Man)
Judge: Nick Tedeschi

Wests Tigers v Penrith
3-Sam McKendry (Pen)
2-Tim Moltzen (Tig)
1-Luke Walsh (Pen)
Judge: Rohan Kendall

Canberra v Gold Coast
3-Sam Williams (Can)
2-Blake Ferguson (Can)
1-Travis Waddell (Can)
Judges: Cliff Bingham and Chris Parkinson

St George Illawarra v Cronulla
3-Ben Pomeroy (Cro)
2-Beau Scott (Dra)
1-Andrew Fifita (Cro)
Judge: Rohan Kendall

Sydney Roosters v South Sydney
3-Luke Burgess (Sou)
2-George Burgess (Sou)
1-Sam Burgess (Sou)
Judge: Dan Keary

15: Ben Hornby (Dra), Chris Sandow (Par)
14: Tim Moltzen (Tig), Mitchell Pearce (Roo)
12: Cheyse Blair (Par), Ben Roberts (Par), Timana Tahu (New)
11: Ben Pomeroy (Cro)
10: Jarrod Croker (Can), James Maloney (War), Mitch Rein (Dra), Willie Tonga (Par)
9: Lachlan Coote (Pen), BJ Leilua (Roo), Blake Ferguson (Can), Beau Scott (Dra), Jason Ryles (Mel), Brad Tighe (Pen)

Rumour Mill: Ricky Stuart has reportedly already signed on at Canberra with players believed to have been told before the Storm win. There are still supposedly details to work out but he has apparently agreed to move back to the Raiders. The hottest rumour last week was Johnathan Thurston moving to Penrith. The Panthers are no doubt clearing space for a big name but it is more likely to be Jarryd Hayne or a code-defector. Don't rule out Canterbury making a play for Thurston next year. It will take a big number to move him though. Parramatta have offered Luke Lewis plenty but he will be off to the Sharks. Jeremy Smith will move back to the Dragons. Dene Halatau's re-signing at the Bulldogs will see David Stagg move to the Knights next year.

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

What I Like About … Stephen Kearney: The Parramatta coach is a man with a sense of humour. Only a man with a real dark sense of the comic would pluck Ben Roberts from NSW Cup to make his comeback against his former team. Roberts played 17 minutes, made a horrible error, made four tackles (two of which were ineffective) and missed one, all while being taunted by the Bulldogs faithful. Thanks for bringing so much joy to the world Stephen Kearney.

Betting Market of the Week: If Sonny Bill Williams is allowed to miss pre-season training and then skip the opening game of the season against Canterbury, his next move will be:
– To assume the role of captain-coach for 1000 years, Third Reich style: $3.00
– To officially change his name to "Sonny William Williams, Lord of the Dollar Almighty, Conqueror of Every Cent, Redeemer of All That is Cheap and Nasty": $6.00
– To get Khoder Nasser appointed chief executive: $2.80
– To drag Rocky the Roosters into the Coogee Bay Hotel cubicles and have his way with him for as long as he wants: $2.25

The Moniker XIII of the Week: This column is no fan of Parramatta. But it is also dismissive of soccer, particularly the ridiculous A-League. And we will not stand by as some silly soccer team tries to cover up a rugby league statue, even if that statue is of Ray Price. We will start the movement by naming the greatest Rays in premiership history.

The Rays
1. Ray Hines (31 games for Wests/Souths)
2. Ray Preston (130 games for Newtown/Parramatta)
3. Ray Branighan (169 games for Souths/Manly)
4. Ray Norman (135 games for Annandale/Souths/Easts)
5. Ray Morris (57 games for Wests/University)
6. Ray Gartner (200 games for Canterbury)
7. Ray Thompson (46 games for North Queensland)
13. Ray Price (259 games for Parramatta)
12. Ray Higgs (79 games for Parramatta/Manly)
11. Ray Johnston (43 games for Newtown)
10. Ray Stehr (174 games for Easts)
9. Ray Brown (115 games for Wests/Manly)

8. Ray Cashmere (64 games for Wests/North Queensland/Wests Tigers)

Analysis: The Rays are a good side with renowned hardmen Price and Stehr up front alon with Australian reps Higgs and Brown. The three-quarter line has plenty of tries in it with Gartner an outstanding pivot for the Bulldogs in the 1950s/60s. There is a touch of tragedy about the team with Morris dying on trip to England and Gartner of cancer at a young age.

The Coaching Crosshairs: The word out of Canberra is that Ricky Stuart has already signed and the players are aware of the changeover. Rumour has it that the Raiders were informed before their win over the Storm. Everyone will deny it – and I can't confirm a deal has been done – but I'd bet that Ricky is a Raider in 2013. The loss to the Titans could hasten Furner's departure.

The Life and Times of the Special Needs Penguin: Just seven players remain from Ben Pomeroy's first game as a starter against the Warriors in Round 8, 2005: Luke Lewis (still Penrith), Ben Ross (a teammate again at Cronulla), Frank Pritchard (Canterbury), Joe Galuvao (Manly), Manu Vautvei and Jerome Ropati (still New Zealand) and Nathan Fien (now St George Illawarra).

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 19: Sydney Roosters-South Sydney, 22-24. Wow.  What an amazing finish. After the Sydney Roosters went the length of the field to roll Souths in Round 1, the Bunnies did the same to the Bunnies, scoring twice in the final three minutes to get the Chooks on the bell. Souths were the best team all night but were gone with five to go thanks to a combination of horrendous refereeing and an inability to finish. But they got there in one of the most astonishing finishes you are ever likely to see. One Bunnies fan behind me at the SFS said this was the best win he had seen in 50 years. Quite a statement.

Correspondence Corner: Cam, if Brad Williams scored four tries in a game, it would be time to give it away.

Arthur, Simon Woolford certainly was a dreadful buy but I was under the impression he went on the cheap.

Anonymous, that shot at field goal by Mitchell Pearce was astonishing.

Strettell, Andrew Moore and Dean Ritchie put it best on last Thursday's The Game Plan when Moore said he wasn't ready to forgive Williams and Ritchie called him "gutless" and told him he could go and play Japanese rugby for as long as he likes. I don't care how young he was – he is a selfish grub that rugby league does not need. And what has been forgotten in all this is that he wasn't the best player in the game, wasn't in the top 10. He could lay on a shot but he was renowned for throwing dumb passes and it wasn't a certainty that he would put in. He is better suited to rugby. It is a shame he won't be staying there. So why won't I forgive him? Disloyalty plays a major part. But I also don't think he is the be all and end all and rugby league as a product doesn't need a circus clown leeching money from the code like he is. So sorry to disappoint you Strettell – I am not better than that. I am petty, I am stubborn and I am a believer in the sanctity of contracts.

SemiPro, the Penguin would destroy that punk Williams. I also hate seeing players smashed in the head (except Williams) but the game will be ruined unless the players start getting up when they aren't hurt. Only then can we stop the clock with every injury.

Beard Watch: Mose Masoe has always been an incredibly lazy player. Trying to shake his image, he has grown a wild beard, hoping it can give him powers of longevity and will. Good luck!

Join Us: If you like From The Couch and you like Making The Nut, join the Making The Nut Facebook page. Trust me: you'll enjoy it.

Chasing Greatness: Anyone looking for inspiration, rugby league style, should check out my new book Chasing Greatness, available in all good book stores. I've pulled the best quotes from Jack Gibson and Arthur Beetson to Bob Bax and Royce Simmons.

Watch It:Rugby League Raw was an outstanding fly on the wall documentary that focussed on the Widnes-Leigh Division One major semi final. It is a wonderful insight into the British game. Watch it here, here and here.


Comments (5)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Jeeze guy you are an ill informed numbskull, obviously a new south welshman, pathetic thread

  2. SemiiPro says:

    Nick, I love your vendettas, even if I don’t agree with them all.

    And, looks like I should have grabbed the Dogs for the Premiership at $8 a few weeks ago. It won’t be better then that from now on, unless Barba gets injured. For mine, there are only 3 teams who can win it: Dogs, Manly or Rabbits.

  3. Anonymous says:

    As a Kiwi, I will add to your comments about Sonny-Bill Williams. He is a ridiculous parady of a man with no loyalty & average skills. He did not attend any of the RWC victory parades, has shown his true colours by abandoning his Super15 team & the All Blacks. Good riddance to bad rubbish. Also, like you, the only positive about him being back in the NRL is I get to see him cleaned up by some real hard men. Then he can piss off back to France and play out his days there like the big girls blouse that he is. OR he will cop a knock too many in the ring & end up sipping his food through a straw.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Re: Kris Keating, get the fuck up.  It's a blight on the game alright, but occasionally, the players rise above it. 

    There were two great examples in the Saints-Cronulla game on Sunday.  Todd Carney was hit a touch high by Creagh, thought about staying down but got up and played the ball.  Creagh gave him an appreciative pat on the back. Then later in the game Creagh himself was hit high, appealed to the ref but got up and played it.  Both great to see.


  5. Anonymous says:

    Hahaha The NBA and MLB allstar weekends are a joke. The NBA dunk contest is laughable these days. I'm not sure anyone could be in their right mind if they actually sit through the home run derby, listening to Chris Berman. 

    Jason Taylor is a "fool and a joke" because he has a different opinion on something? Taylor May have built a career on being soft, but that paragraph is pretty weak as well. The bloke who was once the all time leading pointscorer might know a thing or two about Rugby League.

    I'm sorry, but how can you claim that Jarryd Hayne doen't care about Rugby League, when you actually write that Kearney has given him time off? 

    Some of your stuff is really good, but your vendettas are fucking annoying.