From The Couch: Round 21

Filed in From The Couch, NRL by on August 5, 2013


The NRL Mess Up … Again: The NRL has once again embarrassed the code by failing to book ANZ Stadium for Round 25, forcing a late chance in the draw because the AFL had also booked up. ANZ, of course, must bear some responsibility, failing to recognise which code butters their bread. But this was an NRL fuck-up, something that would not have happened in Melbourne with the AFL. Todd Greenberg has a mighty task in front of him, getting the bunch of hooligans and incompetents currently running the game in order.

Benji Will Be Missed By Nobody: Rugby league will not miss Benji Marshall. Nor will the Tigers. His efforts over the last two weeks say plenty about him as not only a footballer but as a man and a teammate. Somebody best check to see if he has two testicles because he certainly doesn’t play like he has. His performances the last few weeks have been disabolical. If Mick Potter was a man, there would be no farewell tour for Benji. He would be dumped. Now. Not because he betrayed the code but because he isn’t in the Tigers’ best halves. It is time to go to Curtis Sironen and Luke Brooks. Marshall is leaving league so he can chase more coin and have an easier life – it is that simple. Rugby league will have forgotten his name by this time next year.

The Raiders Must Play Hardball: The Canberra Raiders must play hard ball with Anthony Milford. The same way the Bulldogs must play hard ball with Ben Barba. Players cannot be allowed to just up and leave when they feel like it, regardless of the reason. Players sign contracts and must be forced to honour them. The Raiders have invested significant resources in Milford and cannot let him go without a fight or compensation.

The Greatest Meaningless Field Goal Attempt Ever: Cameron Smith is one hell of a player. There are few smarter players. And few more ruthless. So it was no surprise but a great thrill that Smith, with minutes remaining and the score 68-4, Smith took a field goal from 40 out. It just missed. There is nothing like a drop goal with the margin at 64. Smith knew the Storm were tied for their record margin. It was a great moment.

An Incredible Try: There were some sensational moments in the Storm rout of the Raiders but without question the top try was that of Will Chambers’ try. Maligned Storm winger Mahe Fonua – in the process of giving Sandor Earl a bath – leapt in the air like superman and pushed a ball that was at least four metres dead back into the field of play. Will Chambers collected and put it down. It was reminiscent of Greg Inglis’ tap back to Mark Gasnier in the Centenary Test – only more athletic. Wow.

Push, Push, Push: Twice in two weeks the Tigers have pushed in a scrum. They won one against the feed against Manly and nearly did the same against the Titans. It is a delightfully old school move.

We Love Vossy: Andrew Voss is one of the best in the business. It may have something to do with calls like: “Jonathan Wright? You mean Jonathan Wrong!”

Listen Up: Phil Gould is exactly right in claiming officials are punishing players for being too tough. Referees are penalising all big shots. It is ruining the game.

Shooting Wide: The trend du jour among the commentary brigade over the weekend seemed to be to talk up the chances of big prop forwards scoring tries. On Saturday, Vossy was sure Bryce Gibbs would score his first try since the 2005 Grand Final. On Sunday, Phil Gould was declaring that Keith Galloway was due. The big red-head has not scored in nearly 14 months. Neither got close to the tryline.

Demographic Watch: With the Federal Election coming up, we will look at where each of the Sydney-based teams (or the seat that covers their primary region) rank nationally in some key stats. This week we look at current MPs, Median Weekly Income and Unemployment Percentage.

The teams and their seats first: Canterbury (Watson), Cronulla (Cook), Manly (Warringah), Parramatta (Parramatta), Penrith (Lindsay), St George Illawarra (Barton), South Sydney (Sydney), Sydney Roosters (Wentworth), Wests Tigers (Grayndler and Macarthur)

Current MP:
Coalition: Cronulla, Manly, Sydney Roosters, Wests Tigers (Macarthur)
ALP: Canterbury, Parramatta, Penrith, St George Illawarra, South Sydney, Wests Tigers (Grayndler)

Median Weekly Income
Manly (3rd), Sydney Roosters (5th), South Sydney (18th), Cronulla (23rd), Wests Tigers (Grayndler – 26th), Wests Tigers (Macarthur -37th), Penrith (45th), St George Illawarra (64th), Parramatta (72nd), Canterbury (110th)

Unemployment Percentage
Canterbury (7th), Parramatta (34th), Wests Tigers (Macarthur – 57th), South Sydney (59th), Penrith (64th), St George Illawarra (80th), Wests Tigers (Grayndler – 84th), Sydney Roosters (134th), Manly (146th), Cronulla (148th)

Fun Fact #1: In limited game time this week, Feleti Mateo made two errors, gave away two penalties and missed three tackles. He is the Warriors’ highest paid player.

Fun Fact #2: This season the Cowboys have started three separate halfbacks (second most in the NRL) and four hookers (second most in the NRL).

Fun Fact #3: Canberra’s 68-4 loss on Sunday to the Storm was the second largest home loss in the history of the Sydney premiership.

Fun Fact #4: Ricky Stuart is the only coach of the NRL Era to suffer a 10-streak loss with two separate teams.

Rumour Mill: Articles began to surface throughout the week that Kevin Locke would be seeking a release from the Warriors. He wants to play fullback and will be shifted to the halves when Sam Tomkins arrives. Despite all the posturing, there is still a belief at the Bulldogs that Israel Folau will be at the club in 2014. Chris Sandow is unlikely to play for the Eels again. Expect Parramatta to use his gambling issues as a reason to dump him. The Broncos are well in the mix to snare Anthony Milford. John Cartwright could find himself looking for a new job if the Titans miss the finals. Rick Stone has been linked to the job, as has Brad Arthur.

What I Love About … Jeff Robson: A few seasons ago, I compared Eels halfback Jeff Robson and his numbers with those of incoming No.7 Chris Sandow. They were extraordinarily similar and I was critical of the Eels for spending so much on Sandow. Robson has certainly proven me right. Since joining the Sharks, he has played a key role in taking the Sharks to the 2012 finals series and has them primed for another run in 2013. The Eels won a wooden spoon with Chris Sandow in 2012 and will win another in 2013, this time with him seeing out the year in reserve grade. Robson is no matchwinner but he is a solid player and outstanding organiser and bobbing about in his old school head gear, frees Todd Carney up to unleash his brilliance.

Funniest Eels Moment of the Week: Josh Massoud’s article in Saturday’s Telegraph was pretty amusing but it is hard to go past a moment in the Eels’ 10th straight loss and the 11th time this year they have conceded 30 or more points. The highlight, for mine, was Manly’s length-of-the-field try when the only players chasing were props Tim Mannah and Junior Paulo – it says plenty about the club. I feel sorry for those two.

Betting Market of the Week: Markets statistics would suggest Chris Sandow may be backing himself in this season:

$3.00: Least involvement by a player paid over $500,000 a season.
$5.00: Most uninspiring fist pumps for a play that does little to improve the team’s performances.
$2.50: Most dumb kicks.
$1.10: Most missed tackles in a game, a round and a season (Treble).

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

Combo XIII of the Week: The Panthers and the Roosters have shared plenty of players, including one of the game’s great, Brad Fittler. Here is the top 13 to play for both clubs.

1.Amos Roberts
2. Matt Sing
3. Doug Ricketson
4. Michael Jennings
5. Graham Mackay
6. Brad Fittler
7. Gary Freeman
13. Nigel Gaffey
12. Trevor Gillmeister
11. Ned Catic
10. Bob O’Reilly
9. Nafe Seluini
8. Paul Dunn

Correspondence Corner: Anonymous and Witty Reference, our man Craig was at the ground and deemed Wallace worth two points. I saw the game. I can’t disagree.

Larry Corowa, there is no rigging. Benji’s first half was horrendous. In a fit of anger though, I did dish the votes out with 30 minutes to go, where Braith took his ineptitude to a new level.

Anonymous, Matt Fisk said of Maurice Blair: “He bombed two tries”. I trust his judgement implicitly.

Dragon_Eyes91, I think the Dragons have done a super job filling their key positions with Josh Dugan, Sam Williams and Gareth Widdop. Widdop’s injury is a concern. Joel Thompson adds some hardness to their pack.  I hear good things about Mike Cooper. My only worry is their lack of real punch up front. I think they need to find another good prop. Other than that, the Dragons look like they are on the way up in 2014.

The Coaching Crosshairs: With Neil Henry fired last week, the next coach in the gun appears to be Wests Tigers boss Mick Potter. There are plenty who will tell you that Potter – even though he stood up to Benji and won – could be punted at the end of the year. His saving grace appears to be the fact the Tigers cannot afford to pay out a second coach with the Tim Sheens saga still not finished with. Potter is in real danger. Expect the Tigers to go after Steve Folkes or Matt Parish if Potter is moved on.

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 21: Newcastle-Brisbane, 18-18. It is hard to go past Friday’s draw between the Knights and Broncos, despite the clash proving an embarrassment to goalkicking and field goal exponents. The game had it all with the Knights scoring twice in the final 10 minutes to send the match to extra time. If only Craig Gower had learnt to kick when he was spending all that time in rugby.

The Life and Times of the Special Needs Penguin: The Penguin was busy on Saturday. The bustling centre scored a try and then set up another in a super piece of play, knocking himself out in the process. He was taken from the field on a stretcher, unable to move. There were some fears for his safety but he is apparently a-ok, showing penguins can take a shot.

Beard Watch: Craig Gower has only just returned to the NRL but it is pleasing to see he has brought a real nice beard with him. His facial fur didn’t help him when it came to kicking the potential match-winning conversions though.

Watch It: With Wigan and Hull set to meet in the Challenge Cup final – some 28 years after they last met in what is regarded as the greatest final of all – we go back and look at that game. Australians Peter Sterling, Brett Kenny and John Ferguson starred in one of the great games. Watch it here.


Comments (4)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. WittyReference says:

    Doesn't Milford have a clause in his contract saying he can leave if his father's illness gets worse? If so he would be honouring his contract by leaving, not breaking it. If he and Barba should stay becasue of contracts then it works both ways and Sandow and Cartwright should not be allowed to be moved on either.

  2. Anonymous says:

    You really are not a fan of the roosters are you? Not once this season have you had them as number 1 on your 'power rankings'. It is great for you to be an opinion writer, but as a sports commentator, allowing your personal feelings to certain players/teams effect your 'rankings/predictions' makes you no better than your nemesis, Mr. Rothfield.

    • Anonymous says:

      Agree. I'm a Sharks supporter and your kidding yourself if you don't have the Rooters as number 1 at this point.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The Wigan v Hull match is clearly in the top 5 of all time. I would love to see top level Aussies allowed to play in these matches again. Thanks for providing the highlights.


    On another note, could you look into this new Stadium policy. Im only hearing bits and pieces but what happens if Shark Park, Brookie and Leichhardt are closed to NRL? I can see it disenfranchising fans on a grand scale. It worries me!