From The Couch: Round 2
Mann Oh Mann: Has Paul McGregor lost the plot? Are his eyes painted on? Is he being held to some kind of blackmail ransom by either Kurt Mann or Josh Dugan or every other NRL team? Surely these are the only explanations for his decision to play Mann at fullback and in turn molest any chance of a Dragons win. He is hopeless. He is not a first grader to start with. And his positional play at fullback is as about as effective as me taking over frontman duties of AC/DC. He has not a single tool in his belt – if indeed he has a tool belt – that equip him to play fullback. His shift is more perplexing considering Dugan has been completely blunted at centre. The Dragons continue to keep losing while they make such ridiculous selection decisions. Mann is the worst player in the NRL and should not get close to a sniff of a top grade spot again. And if his coach keeps playing out of position him then he should be sacked as well.
Is This It for Billy? There are worrying signs that Billy Slater’s career could be reaching a premature end. Slater missed the majority of last season with a shoulder injury and was ruled out of the Round 2 clash with the Titans because of same. It is unclear how long Slater will be missing for. While he remained long odds to ever run down Ken Irvine as the game’s greatest tryscorer, there were hopes he would. It appears that Slater’s physical style though has taken its toll. Let’s hope he recovers soon because Billy is one of the great players of his generation and is a potential future Immortal. It would be sad to see him go out because of injury.
The Shoulder Charge is Back: Dave Smith is gone and so to it seems is the ridiculous shoulder charge rule. James Graham was let off after a clear shoulder charge. It was a pet project of the Welsh banker but now it seems the game is back in the hands of Rugby League people that it will slowly be phased out. And so too will the no punch edict, hopefully.
Joey Leilua – The Dumbest Man in Rugby League: He almost cost the Raiders victory with his stupid punch before he feigned injury. The quicker he is out of the NRL the better off we all will be.
Field Goal Update – 3: Field goals are starting to kick off in 2016 with double the number of Round 1 field goals kicked this weekend. Anthony Milford slotted one late to seal a comfortable Broncos win before Sam Williams killed off the Roosters with a clutch field goal.
Fun Fact #1: Nine have lost 100,000 viewers per broadcast to Fox Sports over the first two weeks of the NRL.
Fun Fact #2: Jeff Robson outran Shaun Johnson on Friday night by 82 metres to seven.
Rumour Mill: The salary cap scandal engulfing Parramatta is serious and the club will almost certainly be docked points because of it. The NRL has the evidence and is just waiting to hear Parramatta’s side before making a decision on the punishment. It could derail a season that was expected to be a positive one. Penrith are expected to make a play for Cameron King – who is well down the Eels’ hooking pecking order – but an injury to Nathan Peats is likely to stymie that move. Tepai Moeroa is expected to sign with the Raiders over the coming weeks as Canberra’s relentless pursuit of forwards continues.
Betting Market of the Week: Next week Kurt Mann will be:
$3.00: Playing for the Illawarra Cutters
$41.00: Looking to Paul Carige for advice.
$34.00: Penning an editorial piece on how he is a better player than Greg Smith
$1.40: Wearing the No.1 jersey for the Dragons at the SCG
Punters Guide Tipping Service: If you are interested in signing up to the Punters Guide tipping service, drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Punters who signed up for Round 1 had an absolute fill-up with over 15 units profit.
The Bozo and Barrett Show: As most coaches move away from using two hookers for equal time off the bench, Trent Barrett has decided to stick with two rakes playing even time in Api Koroisau and Matt Parcell. It is a fair reflection of how far Barrett’s finger is off the pulse.
What I Like About … Sam Williams: There are few players more harshly treated in the game than Sam Williams, who is perennially on the outside looking in. He is never regarded as the starter despite being a quality half who always steps up when required. He again saved the Raiders’ bacon with a clutch field goal on Saturday. There are few players I enjoy seeing do well more than the tenacious Raiders half.
The Coaching Crosshairs: Nathan Brown is two games into his Newcastle career but is already in danger of losing his job after two embarrassing performances. Brown has no excuses. He has obviously been given some kind of mandate to invest in youth yet is snubbing the club’s most talented young players. There is no effort from any of the senior players. The halves combination is slow and lumbering. There were whispers Brown wasn’t ready to return to a head coaching role and it is hard to make an argument for him based on the first two rounds.
Game of the Year Nomination, Round 2: Penrith-Canterbury, 16-18. It is tough to beat a finish like we saw on Thursday night with Canterbury overcoming an early deficit to score the equaliser on full-time before debutant Kerrod Holland slotted the winner in magnificent style. What a dramatic win and what an incredible debut.
Moronic Coaching Decision of the Week: Any coach who can justify playing Blake Ayshford ahead of Konrad Hurrell deserves to be sacked. And that is the fate Andrew McFadden is now looking at. With Ayshford and Vatuvei now hurt, surely Hurrell gets recalled … at centre … for 80 minutes.
Correspondence Corner: Wes, I classify twilight games separately but if forced to go day or night I classify them as day.
Tony, give it a few weeks, I will get back to being a cynical hack.
Beard Watch: Jackson Hastings has potentially the worst looking facial hair in the NRL with his rat-like number that has him looking like he could nibble a piece of cheese or lead a gang of teenage mutant ninja turtles at any moment. It is a disgraceful effort.
Watch It: Eddie and Stevo, the voices of Super League, are one of the finest commentary duos in the world, a beautiful representation of northern England ruffian charm. They have had many fine moments. Doing karaoke on Sydney Harbour is not one of them. But it is a great watch. Watch it here.