Vale, Rugby League Week: There will be no sadder story in Rugby League this year than the news that Rugby League Week would cease publication after 47 years. It hit like a David Gillespie hit to the sternum. It is truly devastating and it will take a long time for this writer to properly get to grips with the reality of it all. I grew up with RLW. Dad used to get it and as a six-year-old I lapped it up. I studied the ratings with fervour. I would marvel at the cover. The crossword was always done. Without having vision, the match reports meant so much more. For a kid from the country, RLW gave the game life and gave the players depth. I continued to buy the magazine through teenagehood and when at uni. I even made the front cover after the Bulldogs were tossed from the premiership. I had no idea until I went to buy it and saw my angry mug – along with my mate Rohan – staring back. When I moved to Melbourne RLW was hard to get but gee it was worth it when you got it. In later years I was lucky enough to become friends with some of the alumni. The incomparable Ian Heads. Globe-trotting Steve Mascord. Mitch Dale. The Mole. All good people. Great people. Great Rugby League people. The media landscape has obviously changed in recent years. Magazines have done it tough with the internet. RLW couldn’t break news. They had to work in features. But it was great. I really can’t believe it is all over. I really, truly can’t.
Breaking News – Dally M Medal Changing for the Better: Don’t say that Making The Nut – through sheer annoyance and persistence – doesn’t force change. The NRL will soon announce some fundamental changes to the Dally M Medal that will make the event a lot closer to the Brownlow Medal than is currently the case. Voting will go behind closed doors now from Round 14 and 3,2,1 votes will be read out on the night. Sports journalists and media types will be replaced by a committee of four who will vote. Betting will be open until the night of the event with an ability to vote on top club vote-getter, top by position and the like. It isn’t an ideal scenario but it is a step in the right direction and one getting close to the Shangri-la outlined here.
The Titans Must Cut Bait with Hayne: Some things never change. So it is with Jarryd Hayne, who once again has shown he is interested only in himself and his ego. To hell with winning. To hell with the team. To hell with the coach. To hell with anything that doesn’t bump his bank balance, boost his ego and/or cater to his own interests. The Titans were flying without him last year and then just hobbled into the finals when he arrived. Despite a rash of injuries on Saturday, the Titans were far better in his absence than when he was on the field. After admitting he feigned injury at Parramatta, few rightly wondered how hurt that ankle was on Saturday, particularly after his passive-aggressive Tweet storm that rightly caused Andrew Webster to compare him to Donald Trump. Hayne is doing nothing for the Titans. Let him walk to find another dream and do all you can to re-sign Ash Taylor.
The NRL Takes The Easy Road: The NRL has copped out by not banning Tim Simona for life. While he has effectively been blackballed and will almost certainly not play in the NRL or any other major Rugby League competition again, the NRL did not take the stand it needed to against corruption in the league. Simona bet against himself and his team. That is the beginning and the end of the story. The NRL needed to come down hard as both a future deterrent and to ensure future administrations don’t go soft. They failed the game by not giving him a life sentence.
Punters Guide Subscription Service: If you don’t mind a punt on Rugby League and enjoy winning, sign up to the Punters Guide Tipping Service. Subscribers won 12.11% on turnover last season and are off to a flyer this year with a seven-unit bet on the Dragons plus part of the nine units bet won in Round 1 (with the Tigers plus and the Eels) while Round 2 saw its 6-unit play on the Knights plus hit paydirt. At writing, every recommended bet has won while tips are at 14-0. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you want details.
Who Tipped What: Need a leg-up with your footy tips? Go to the new site ‘Who Tipped What’ where Australia’s best and brightest Rugby League judges – along with Buzz Rothfield – have their tips tracked. As of writing, your author leads the way with a perfect 12-0. Hopefully that continues and I finish the season a perfect 201-0. You have to dream big. www.whotippedwhat.com
2016 Field Goal Update – 1: The great Johnathan Thurston kicked the first field goal of the 2017 season, a ripper in golden point to down the Broncos. It was his 16th career field goal for the Cowboys.
Fun Fact #1: The Knights ended a losing streak of 346 days and 19 games with their win over the Gold Coast.
Fun Fact #2: The Knights losing streak is the sixth longest in premiership history and the longest since Western Suburbs in 1985.
Fun Fact #3: Newcastle are one of just three active clubs with losing streak of 19 or more games. The other two sides are foundation teams South Sydney and the Sydney Roosters.
Rumour Mill: Kieran Foran is being sounded out by the Broncos but he will only be penned if the Broncos can’t land the big fish, Ashley Taylor. Newcastle are favourites to sign Shark Jack Bird. He has no affiliation to the club and will be out the door if a big offer arrives. Parramatta are closing in on the signature of Tuimoala Lolohea, who will definitely leave the Warriors at end of 2017. The NRL will take no action against Bryce Cartwright but it will be a long time before he is used to promote the game or any sponsor.
Betting Market of the Week: Jarryd Hayne will finish the season:
$101: With the respect and admiration of his teammates and coach
$2.50: As a Gold Coast Titan
$1.40: Following his latest dream of seeing who can put out the most passive aggressive and inappropriate tweets
Robbie Farah’s Anger Level – Medium: Souths won big and Robbie scored a try but he will be smarting about spilling his double when over the line.
What I Like About … Luke Keary: He is a exactly the kind of player every team needs, a high-energy type with plenty of skill and the dogged competitiveness of an oldest child from a poor family. He is a great fit at the Roosters. He has been absolutely flying in two games. His direct running is a treat to watch. But it is his will to win that is his finest characteristic.
Game of the Year Nomination, Round 2: Brisbane-North Queensland, 20-21. Do these rivals ever play a bad game? The last six matches have been decided by a single score with four going to golden point. Johnathan Thurston slotting a golden point winner just seems natural. Cracking match.
The Coaching Crosshairs: Des Hasler’s time at Belmore is coming to a very quick end. His demise has been swift but it has been his own doing. Persisting with Moses Mbye at half and Michael Lichaa at hooker just isn’t working while he just will not give young talent a go. It will be very interesting to see who he selects to replace the injured Will Hopoate. It should be Brad Abbey, who is screaming out for his debut. It will likely be some ridiculous reshuffle that sees Brett Morris play fullback and Sam Kasiano start in the centres.
Moronic Coaching Decision of the Week: Shane Flanagan’s decision to not name an outside back on his extended bench of eight left the Sharks well short on Saturday night once Gerard Beale was ruled out. It forced a full reshuffle that saw backrower Kurt Capewell play in the centres and Jack Bird debut on the wing. With eight bench spots coaches need to be smarter with how they use them.
Beard Watch: Konrad Hurrell is the garden gnome of the NRL. His beard combined with his stature is as suited to the backyard of a middle-aged cat lady with low-brow aesthetics as it is on the Titans’ right edge.
Correspondence Corner: John, spot on, Canterbury are a total mess.
Andrew Quinn, the market is certainly inflated but even relative it was obscene for Hunt. The Broncos made the right call to pass.
Norths Tiger, wash your mouth out when it comes to The Professor. Stats go back to 2008.
CTPE, if you think Phil Gould’s buffoonery and Ray Warren’s ignorance-cum-mild-racism beat the likes of Voss, Brandy and company then you are off your rocker.
Jason, thanks mate but Ben Hunt is not in the best five halfbacks in the game. Thurston, Cronk, Johnson, Cherry-Evans, Reynolds, Pearce, Norman all ahead for mine. Maybe even Cleary.
Aaron, if I was running Fox League I would keep Vossy prisoner and never let him leave except by gunpoint to call a match a day.
Mark, unsubscribe. Prohibition does not work. Banning betting won’t stop betting. It is naïve to think otherwise.
Fox, a better solution … reducing advertising is something but really, above-the-line TV advertising is dropping significantly in the betting industry.
The Truth Teller, glad to be back!
Watch It: With Rugby League Week given only weeks to live, we go to RLW-TV where they discuss the quickest send off in premiership history with Peter Kelly, who was marched on the first tackle of a 1980s clash between Canterbury and South Sydney. Watch it here.