From The Couch: Round 2

Filed in From The Couch, NRL by on March 16, 2015

No Try Fiasco: The NRL is a joke and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.  The game of Rugby League may be the greatest of all, one that rates higher than any other code and one produces the best athletes in Australia. But the clowns at NRL HQ are doing their utmost to spoil it all by their total acceptance of such incompetent refereeing and video refereeing.

On Saturday two games were spoilt by two horrific decisions, none of which should ever occur.

The call to disallow Anthony Don’s fair try to open the Penrith-Gold Coast game was criminal and should see both referee Gavin Morris and video referee Steve Clark sacked with the latter kidnapped, put in a box and sent to Vladivostok just to ensure he doesn’t taint an NRL game ever again. The decision was so incompetent you could have sworn both had backed the Panthers. Don dived on a chip and scored a simple try yet Morris had a guess at no try and Clark agreed with him despite there being no evidence that he wasn’t on. Naturally Tony Archer agreed with the process despite the fact referees should never be allowed to guess. Luckily it didn’t decide the match.

The same can’t be said about the call of Jared Maxwell not to refer a try attempt from the Storm to the video referee. It was a try. Manly then marched the field and then scored a try, a 12-point swing. The greatest surprise of the match was that Craig Bellamy did not blow his stack and cop a $10,000 fine because the officials deserved to be torn a new ring for that screw-up that cost the Storm two competition points. Archer avoided the issue after the game.

No other sport in the world has so many officiating fuck-ups and it is because officials are never held accountable and the NRL piles stupid law on top of silly interpretation without proper consideration of the impact. The League needs to grow up and actually consider the wider impact these calls have on the perception of the game.

Bring Back The Send Off: It is astonishing that Beau Scott was not sent off for his deliberate attempt to rub Johnathan Thurston out of the game. Scott was clearly out there to maim the champion playmaker. Officials have lost all their bottle and the League has shown itself to be as spineless as ever by not demanding referees take more action against on-field violence.

Spend Up: Sam Burgess wants to return to Rugby League and the NRL should do all they can to facilitate it. Burgess is a game changer, a huge player on the field and a major personality off it. And it is time the NRL laid out its cards and shows how this will work and how it will impact what club he ends up at. The NRL should see all offers tabled to Burgess and then all equal offers are put into a draw … how much fun would that be?

Teddy No.1: All the talk about the Origin fullback spot has centred on Josh Dugan and Matt Moylan. James Tedesco shouldn’t be forgotten. Moylan is flying but Tedesco is something else. He absolutely carved the Dragons up on Monday and has the speed and nous to make a serious impact for the Blues.

2015 Field Goal Count: 1 – still – Pat Richards’ matchwinner in the opening round remains the only drop goal kicked this year.

Buy The 2015 Punters Guide: We all love Rugby League. Some of us like betting on it. Some of us love fantasy. Most like tipping. We all care about the results. Whatever kink you have with Rugby League, the 2015 Punters Guide has it and it costs only $9.95. You will not only be getting a great read and helpful tool but you’ll be supporting this author who I can only assume you love very much. Get your copy here.

Fun Fact #1: The Super League game shown at 7am on Fox Sports was watched by 60,000 punters last Saturday, just 21,000 short of those who watched the Super 15 ‘derby’ between the Reds and Brumbies.

Fun Fact #2: The longest losing streak at a single ground is Newtown at Kogarah, who didn’t win in 19 games and 23 seasons from 1957-80. The current longest losing streak is Cronulla – at Shark Park – with nine straight defeats!

Fun Fact #3: Broncos prop Adam Blair played 40 minutes against the Sharks – and made a single run for just 8 metres, an astonishing return from a starting prop.

Rumour Mill: Trent Barrett is the new favourite to coach Manly next season. Barrett supposedly is the choice of CEO Joe Kelly, who has wrested all the power at the Sea Eagles. Out-of-favour Broncos winger Daniel Vidot will be playing for the Titans within a few weeks. Todd Carney has been linked with a move to Manly but it will be Aiden Sezer who will be joining the Eagles in 2016. Sam Burgess could be joining him. Ben Barba will move back to fullback this week but Anthony Milford won’t. Dane Gagai is a near-lock to return to the Broncos this year. Corey Norman is a chance to move to the Sharks next year.

What I Like About … Kane Evans: He is young and raw-boned and full of beans. The Roosters bench forward busted the Bunnies open twice late in the classic Sunday contest, nearly scoring twice. For a kid that young to do that against the premiership winning pack was something else. He will need time but his future is bright – green and gold bright.

Betting Market of the Week: Steve Clark disallowed Anthony Don’s try against Penrith that would have put the Gold Coast up 6-0 because:

$1001: He correctly ruled with clear evidence that Don was offside
$2.00: He passed off responsibility by agreeing with the on-field referee’s guess
$1.70: He is a total moron who always makes ridiculous, nonsensical decisions

Manly Collapse Update: The Sea Eagles are in such dire straits that despite a big win over rivals Melbourne and a public display of strength the last seven days have to be considered nothing but another rotten week after Kieran Foran made it official that he was walking to the Eels. Manly have now lost two of the best half-dozen playmakers in the NRL in the space of a week, primarily because neither respected the coach. They aren’t the only two to have given Geoff Toovey a headache with new CEO Joe Kelly repeatedly challenging Toovey on player recruitment while both Trent Barrett and Nathan Brown have been linked to the job. Toovey won’t be coaching Manly in 2016, that is for almost sure and certain.

Referee Power Rankings: After his horrific performance on Saturday, Gavin Morris will be lucky to even be in the rankings next week. He falls from six to eight and hopefully out of favour with Tony Archer.

  1. Gerard Sutton (1)
  2. Ashley Klein (2)
  3. Adam Devcich (5)
  4. Ben Cummins (7)
  5. Gavin Badger (4)
  6. Matt Cecchin (8)
  7. Jared Maxwell (3)
  8. Gavin Morris (6)

The Coaching Crosshairs: Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan may have inked a long-term deal when he was suspended last season but he won’t see it out if the Sharks continue on their current run of form. Cronulla were horrific against Brisbane after they blew a game at home to the Raiders. Flanagan may be popular with the playing group and his position is under no immediate threat but if Cronulla are again down the bottom of the ladder this week they will blow it all up in 2016.

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 2: South Sydney-Sydney Roosters, 34-26. An absolute classic from beginning to end with lead changes, amazing tries, bone-rattling defence, sublime play. It is amazing how good football can be when two good teams are given the chance to run around in the afternoon. Greg Inglis was just incredible in setting up Alex Johnston from his own in-goal while Michael Jennings was incredible when he got his hands on the ball. Gee, if this game is the last of the season, we will all be very lucky.

Ricky Stuart Stat of the Week: Ricky Stuart coached teams have won just two of 11 Round 3 games – about the time the players get worn down by a massive preseason.

Correspondence Corner: Thanks Jason – great to be back. Unfortunately the refereeing and judiciary are again set to dominate the newspapers in 2015 and will until the NRL gets some semblance of an idea.

Wes, Jack Reed was horrific and was well and truly in the mix for votes.

Adsoes, Mitch Brown playing first grade is a joke. Luckily for Sharks fans,  Shane Flanagan has realised as well.

Beard Watch: Referee with facial hair are few and far between these days so it is pleasing to see Gavin Badger try his hand at it. Sure he is going for the trendy look – inner city hipster crossed with divorced dad in the throes of a mid-life crisis – but at least he is giving something back to the facial hair community.

Watch It: One of the great sadnesses in Rugby League is that North Sydney never saw the ride through, that times caught them out and Manly buggered them over and the rest got away. So let’s go back to their very final local derby against the Sea Eagles. Watch it here.



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Comments (12)

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  1. Craig from Sydney says:

    love your work re Steven Clark – how the f… is he still involved in the game-Vladivostok sounds great to me

  2. Davey G says:

    With Foran heading to Parra next year, Brad Arthur says nobody will be displaced. Does that mean Foran is playing lock? Hope not – Corey Norman is the one to go, as he is of Feleti-Mateo-like qualities. Can lay on a great try with a sublime pass, but for the rest of the game throw 3 forward, kick out on the full or backwards, and miss tackles. Sandow if uninjured enough to play the majority of the season will stay I reckon, and accept a cheaper pay as he is man enough to do so.

    I had heard that Vidot was being considered as prop at Broncos, as he usually makes more metres than any of them each game. Certainly wouldn’t be hard to beat Adam Blair, who after 1 game is showing Tigers-like form.

    Great to have the Couch back

  3. Mav63 says:

    The refs – the biggest issue I see is a distinct lack of confidence based on the fact that the video is used so heavily by the media. If a ref shows a pair and makes a call and gets it wrong then he is lambasted by the media. If he errs on the side of caution and goes to the video his mate upstairs should have his back but sadly they have less downstairs than the men in the middle. So 80% of the time they go with the soft, safe, nutless choice and refer it.

    I see a fairly simple fix. Make the on field quartet (yep that’s four of them – 8 eyes on every decision) come up with a call. If the captain isn’t happy then he gets a challenge. 2 incorrect challenges per half. If this was in place Cam Smith would have challenged the call and Storm would have been awarded a try and won the game. No controversy. Simple system.

    Anyone who has played the game will tell you they have a fair idea if you score or not and judging by player reactions I see on the TV they know if they have or not as well. I cannot believe we haven’t gone to this system earlier. It also alleviates the pressure from the refs. It’ll speed up the game and we’ll all be happier.

    • Jason says:

      Well said Mav! This is a good solution to take pressure off refs. You wouldn’t see many players faking tries knowing their captain is relying on their word.

  4. lc says:

    What about for NRL contributions to contracts:

    Players who significantly contribute to rugby league outside of playing get a salary from the NRL. e.g, Greg Inglis with his indigenous work, Johnathan Thurston Indigenous, Jarryd Hayne whatever he did, Sam Burgess his marketing ability. If you are a top tier player, and contribute to the game outside of going to night clubs and telling everyone you are an NRL player, you should be signed to the NRL on a sizeable income, all clubs then have a level playing field to try and sign players. This would also give players an incentive to be positive role models and try and make an impact in the community. I’m sure there are flaws with this but just an idea.

    Players with criminal records or who tarnish the image of rugby league (legitimately) are either ineligible or stripped of their NRL payments. The NRL keeps talking about their 1 Billion. It is worthless however if they are looking out for themselves first.

    Not being able to comment on refereeing mistakes is ridiculous. Being a professional sports star is one of the most scrutinised jobs there are, as well as coaching. You should be under the same pressure to perform as a Ref. It’s what you are paid for (1 Billion remember).

  5. madpunter says:

    great summary!

  6. Mark says:

    The facial hair isn’t helping Badger’s refereeing! He’s slipped one place this week to #5. Time for a shave?

  7. Troy says:

    The calls to throw money at Sam Burgess to return are premature in my opinion, and I say that as someone in awe of his playing talents.

    The NRL’s player slush fund should be utilised to poach players from other codes or top up stars who may be targeted to leave. Sam has left to go play human cannonball in England. He is already bored, not performing to expectations (a reflection of the fact he hardly sees the ball at centre) and unhappy. No amount of coin could keep him there.. Having failed at rugby he won’t be targeted by their southern counterparts no matter what his gate drawing power is. I suspect he will return to the NRL in the next 1-2 years voluntarily because he loves the country, loves the code and loves the competition.

    Keep the funds in reserve for the next stars who AFL or the tweedcoats attempt to target, or better still, lets pinch a few of theirs.

  8. ManlyMagic says:

    Think you are a bit hit and miss with this weeks column. I watched the game and thought that there were a few iffy decisions in the Manly/Storm game, but thats Rugby, you can’t them right every time if you did you’d have NFL stoppages and nobody wants that.

    On Toov’s, neither Brown or Barrett have any real pedigree when it comes to managing a top flight team, Manly have a winning culture and still a great team. Both Foran and DCE were in the squad that lost the Minor Premiership last year, we missed Matt Ballin more. We still have a good nucleius of players. The big question the fans want to know why we lost both, why DCE was fielded a reduced offer this year, what did the board do to stop this..

  9. Schitty says:

    Regarding your claims for R.T-S last week, I’d like to propose a wager with you…Providing both have a fair run with injury, take into account say, their best 15 games for the season, Tedesco will beat R. T-S is every positive statistical category on the chart despite playing in an inferior outfit. He’s all over him!

  10. Stephen says:

    If Steve Clark had this angle available, then he should be gone:

    I don’t mind Gavin Morris ruling no try (it probably looked bad from his angle) as long as he specifically asked the touchie, and the touchie said he wasn’t sure. If the touchie thought Don was onside, that should have been the end of it – take the opinion of the official with the best view. I don’t know whether that happened though.