From The Couch: Round 2

Filed in From The Couch, NRL by on March 18, 2012

A Dog Act: It is hard not to feel sorry for the Canberra Raiders. Once again they have been backed into a corner by a dog of a player they had inked on big coin, once again they made the right decision and once again they will be big losers because of it.

This column has long supported Josh Dugan. It has also incessantly criticised the coaching of David Furner. But there is no question Furner, the Raiders board and the senior playing group made the right call in tearing up Dugan’s contract. Dugan betrayed the Raiders, orchestrating his own sacking.

A player cannot act in such an aggressive and disrespectful way to the coach, even if it is the hapless Furner. It eats at the culture of a club – and the culture at the Raiders clearly isn’t strong enough to cope with more Dugan rubbish. He had clearly become a cancer on the club.

He will land on his feet though. Talented players always do. Some club will pay him big bucks. They will probably get a better attitude out of him as well.

And the NRL has no right to get involved. Dugan did nothing illegal and the League has no right to start firing off suspensions for poor discipline or a bad attitude.

The poor old Raiders, they will march on in mediocrity, another talented player lost for good.

Matthew Elliott Won’t Last Long: Good judges of rugby league were surprised that Matt Elliott was the result of the Warriors’ long and wide search for a new mentor to replace Brian McClennan. He has never won a finals match in 10 seasons as a top grade coach and has had just two top four finishes. Regarded as an eccentric, he has never been revered as a strong disciplinarian – the type of coach the Warriors need. He has hardly set the world on fire in two games with the Warriors – New Zealand were a rabble in the loss to the Parramatta and were poor in the fundamentals against the Roosters. The club has now lost 10 straight and started the season against two teams not expected to play finals football. One figure the Warriors should look at is Dean Pay. He has some strong support as a quality assistant.

Don’t Go Now: Exciting Brisbane product Corey Norman is believed to be considering a big-money offer to move to Parramatta. He should stay put. A move to play under Ricky Stuart would stymie his development as an attacking force and the club clearly has plenty wrong with it if no decent player will join the team. Norman has a bright future in the game but needs to go to a club with a good coach to take him to the next level.

A Devastating Blow: Penrith received terrible news on Monday: star five-eighth Lachlan Coote will miss the remainder of the season with a torn pectoral muscle. The Panthers – who palmed off stars Luke Lewis, Michael Gordon and Michael Jennings in the offseason – have now lost their top playmaker. The side cannot survive on the back of Luke Walsh, arguably the least effective halfback in the premiership. This news puts the Panthers well in the wooden spoon race.

Sort It Out: The ARLC must sort out its ridiculous stats situation and do it immediately. For yet another season, rugby league fans will have to endure the stupidity of not being able to access a full database of season statistics, let alone career stats. It is incredible. Luckily, NRL Stats lifted their password security on the eve of the season but there is still nowhere you can go to find out who is leading the try assist tally or who has missed the most tackles. It is a disgrace. This is the only sport in the world that does not offer fans the stats they want. John Grant and his team should be embarrassed about the situation.

Five to Build Around: Laurie Daley would be well advised to build the NSW team around five newcomers: Halves Josh and Adam Reynolds, backrowers Shaun Fensom and Josh Jackson and prop Aaron Woods. With the likes of James Tamou, Robbie Farah and Paul Gallen, blooding these new faces would give the Blues some hope of winning a series in the next three years.

The Willie M Bounce Back: Beware the Willie M bounce back. After Chris Sandow won the inaugural award in 2010, he had his best year with South Sydney in 2011. When Raider Blake Ferguson claimed the title in 2011, he performed at a generally much higher level in 2012. It looks a similar tale for two of the three men who claimed the award last season. Parramatta halfback Chris Sandow has been terrific in two games for the Eels, trimmed down and playing with great enthusiasm. Tigers fullback Tim Moltzen has hardly been a sensation but has been competent – even serviceable – for the Tigers in two showings after a stinker of 2012. Old Ben Roberts though, he has not stumped up. He was okay from the bench in the win over the Warriors but stunk it up with a typical hot-headed display against the Bulldogs after getting the start. Ricky Stuart would be smart to look for other options at No.6. Even the Willie M Bounce Back can’t save poor Ben.You cant make cake with sour cream.

Farewell, Steve Turner: It was sad to hear over the weekend that Canterbury winger Steve Turner had announced his retirement at the age of just 28. Turner was never particularly fast, never particularly strong and not overtly skilful but he was a hard worker who was beloved by his teammates and a player who got the most out of his limited natural ability. When Turner was forced to leave the Storm, coach Craig Bellamy cried. It takes a special player to do that. The winger played in four straight deciders with the Storm and did make an appearance for NSW. He scored 81 tries in 160 games, including double-figure tallies in five of the six seasons he managed more than eight games. Hopefully Turner makes a good go of it in the media world.

Welcome Back, Coloured In-Goals: Good work Holden – my love of the coloured in-goal has me thinking of your company far more fondly than I ever have.

Fun Fact #1: Retired Bulldog Steve Turner is one of 70 players to have played just one Origin match. Twelve of those players are wingers: Darren Albert, Terry Butler, Phil Duke, Hazem El Masri, Michael Gordon, David Hall, Craig Hancock, John Hopoate, James McManus, Tony Melrose, Ricky Walford.

The Willie M Medal: Such has been the popularity of The Willie M Medal that it has become bigger than the confines of From The Couch. The Willie M Medal votes and leaderboard will now be published each and every Tuesday. So check in tomorrow for all the latest Willie M action.

Rumour Mill: Plenty of clubs have been linked with Josh Dugan including St George Illawarra, Penrith, Gold Coast and Brisbane. The Broncos and the Dragons are the front runners. Dugan would be straight to the Dragons except they want to play him in the centres, for whatever reason. Brisbane need speed at outside back and could make good use of Dugan if they can improve his attitude. Tri-code walkabout Israel Folau has been linked to the Raiders as Dugan’s replacement. The Raiders have plenty of room in the cap and Folau does love a dollar. Canterbury champion Ben Barba is in line to return either this week or next. Bulldogs coach Des Hasler says he is no chance of playing against Melbourne but it would not surprise to see the champion fullback return at AAMI Park.

Power Rankings:
1. Melbourne 2-0 (1)
2. South Sydney 2-0 (2)
3. Manly 2-0 (5)
4. North Queensland 1-1 (3)
5. Cronulla 1-1 (9)
6. Newcastle 1-1 (5)
7. Brisbane 1-1 (8)
8. Canterbury 1-1 (10)
9. Gold Coast 1-1 (13)
10. Parramatta 1-1 (7)
11. Penrith 1-1 (6)
12. Wests Tigers 1-1 (15)
13. Sydney Roosters 1-1 (12)
14. St George Illawarra 0-2 (11)
15. Canberra 0-2 (14)
16. New Zealand 0-2 (16)

Betting Market of the Week: This week the Canberra Raiders will reveal that Josh Dugan:

$51.00: Is studying to become a brain surgeon
$3.00: Works for ASADA as an informant
$2.70: Was fired because he was not a Furner
$1.50: Was fired because Vodka Cruisers are not acceptable in rugby league

What I Like About … James Segeyaro: What a dangerous player this ex-Cowboy has become. A threat out of dummy half, Segeyaro has been sensational for the Panthers. His impact has been a surprise with captain Kevin Kingston starting at hooker but Ivan Cleary has used him to great affect, the recruit averaging 96 metres a game. Only Issac Luke and Robbie Farah have been more threatening out of dummy-half. He is a player on the rise.

Combo XIII: To honour one of the great rivalries in rugby league, this week we look at the greatest team of players to have played for both Canterbury and Parramatta.
1. Garry Dowling (113 games for Canterbury, 37 games for Parramatta)
2. Jonathan Wright (12 games for Parramatta, 38 games for Canterbury)
3. Jarrod McCracken (80 games for Canterbury, 75 games for Parramatta)
4. Andy Patmore (51 games for Canterbury, 2 games for Parramatta)
5. Krisnan Inu (78 games for Parramatta, 16 games for Canterbury)
6. Jim Dymock (71 games for Canterbury, 112 games for Parramatta)
7. Leo Toohey (31 games for Parramatta, 72 games for Canterbury)
13. Jason Smith (62 games for Canterbury, 89 games for Parramatta)
12. Andrew Ryan (73 games for Parramatta, 218 games for Canterbury)
11. Dean Pay (108 games for Canterbury, 76 games for Parramatta)
10. Paul Dunn (100 games for Canterbury, 60 games for Parramatta)
9. Mark Bugden (62 games for Canterbury, 22 games for Parramatta)
8. Terry Leabeater (2 games for Canterbury, 48 games for Parramatta)

The Coaching Crosshairs: The pressure on St George Illawarra mentor Steve Price is immense and it would not surprise at all to see him gone by May. The Dragons attack is again as threatening as a girl scout with a cupcake, a smile and her very own pony. In two rounds, the Dragons have managed just three tries. The conservative Price needs to make some attacking changes immediately.

The Life and Times of the Special Needs Penguin: Ben Pomeroy has this week been working on a script for Channel Nine—Underbelly: Through The Hands of the Penguin

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 3: Parramatta-Canterbury, 16-20. Not the most sensational match you’ll ever see but a damned interesting one with 36 first half points and zero in the second stanza. Chris Sandow was magnificent on a beaten team but the toughness of Josh Reynolds and Josh Jackson prevailed.

Beard Watch: What a travesty that Aaron Woods shaved off his goatee! To get just one week of The Dude is very disappointing. It was good to see Josh Dugan sporting a full beard as he launched the biggest heel turn since Hulk Hogan joined the NWO. Sandor Earl shaved off his stupid haircut. It didn’t help him. Greg Bird went blonde this week though – at least he is doing it for charity. David ‘The Wolfman’ Williams is looking more clean shaven than Julia Gillard. Very disappointing.

Watch It: One of my favourite all-time players was journeyman fullback John Dorahy. Joe Cool was a magnificent player. Here is a great interview with Joe Cool and other players at the Wests Team of the Century dinner. Watch it here.


Comments (8)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I see Coach Griffin under the spotlight at the moment, and to save his jobs one of the first things he should be doing is getting Corey Norman back to 6 and dropping Scott Prince. We know what Prince was capable of, but these days (watching the 3 games this year) his time on field is spent giving away penalties and trying to milk penalties rather than organising. It is no coincidence that Titans didn't score a ton of points last year with him at the helm, and there really is no excuse for the Broncos backs to not receive quality ball with their forward pack consistently delivering (you can never say Hannant, Glenn or Thaiday don't give 100%). A good pack is supposed to make the halves look good (like what the Bunnies pack did for Sandow), but at present his options are minimal and ordinary, lacking the creative flair he used to have.

    Tick tock time is not on your side, Scotty Prince. Thanks for the entertainment you gave us, but you have turned your game into the dirty old man style we saw legends like Terry Lamb give us once they hit 32+. Sad, but true.

    Brisbane have a guy playing fullback who wants to play 5/8, a 5/8 (Prince) who wants to be halfback, and a winger who wants to be fullback. Give the youth back their spots and leave Prince on the bench or at the Clydesdales.

    Davey G

  2. Keyboard Rambo says:

    Every now & then I get on the NRL site to look up a stat and 100% of the time I leave empty-handed. Up til now I thought it was due to my own lack of intuition so it's nice top know that I was looking for a red herring all along. I agree it's an absolute disgrace.

    And while I'm at it, am I correct in thinking the live match centre (conveniently?) omits a key game-stat? Maybe I'm not looking hard enough but I swear there's no penalty count on there. One can only assume the NRL doesn't consider penalties to be particularly telling. I'm not sure many punters would agree with them.

  3. Anonymous says:

    On the culinary side, you can certainly make cakes with sour cream, but that doesn't make Ben Roberts any less ordinary.

  4. SemiiPro says:

    Loved the Magpies of the Century footage. Any football reunion is awesome. I’ve attended a few. The stories are the same, just with different names. But what great stories!

  5. Anonymous says:

    So does Pomeroy write the new Underbelly scripts with pen and pad, or does he type them up?


  6. Anonymous says:

    The stats are a joke.  I understand stats cost money to compile but if the NRL took the reins here…then they could sell it to the tv stations, paper etc etc and get a buck or two back……give the mug punters some access for a small fee……and perhaps smaller acces than the big corporates…..


    It just takes some foresight and the ability to execute on some ideas….

    • hamoudi84 says:

      NRL.COM gets provided with all the stats Telstra decide what goes up I spoke to the stats company that provides it which is called Sportsdata they do not run or control NRL.COM.

      I agree with the fact the reguler Joe cannot even look for top ranking player stats for the current season but I just follow NRLStats on twitter they actually provide decent information.

      • Anonymous says:

        Beard watch – check out the latest Big Issue 8-21 March, cover story is Beards are Back. Glad to see they read Making The Nut too.