From The Couch: Round 21

Filed in From The Couch, NRL by on August 4, 2014

Epic Fail: The standard of video refereeing reached an all-time low over the weekend with Steven Clark leading a hotly contest race to be the most incompetent NRL official.

Some calls over the weekend defied belief.

Tim Lafai’s clear putdown that was awarded a try was overturned by Steven Clark with no clear video evidence. It came in a half when Canterbury had copped two dubious calls from Clark.

Clark was at it again a night later at the SFS when he awarded a try to Aidan Guerra, overturning an on-field decision of no try. There was not one iota of evidence it was a try.

Steve Chiddy made a perplexing decision with Adam Clydesdale and that came after Adam Devcich wrongly awarded Tom Burgess a try without going upstairs.

Ben Matulino was handed a try by Ashley Klein off a clear obstruction.

It defies belief.

I asked a fairly simple question to NRL Football boss Todd Greenberg over Twitter on Saturday night. “Do video referees need clear evidence to overturn an on-field decision?” He ignored me. I trust this is because he is as embarrassed as I am for the state of officiating in the NRL.

There are short-term solutions and long-term solutions.

In the short-term Steven Clark needs to be fired immediately, all video referees have to be sat down together and have the law book drummed into them every day until they actually learn it. The most important mantra for a video referee is to know he can only overturn if there is clear evidence – most don’t know this, particularly Clark.

Long-term the rule book needs to be cleaned up, more money needs to be put into officiating and a strong figure who understands the game – and I am throwing my hand up for the job – needs to be put in charge.

The standard of video refereeing is worse than the standard of Canberra Raiders football and something needs to be done now.

Commentary Rankings: Phil ‘Buzz’ Rothfield took it upon himself to dish out ratings on all NRL commentators. It seemed to be an exercise to give it to Phil Gould and get on his knees (and bow) to League’s biggest names. So without further ado, in reverse order, the NRL commentator rankings using all put forward by Rothfield plus Andrew Voss, who was incredibly left out.

34. Wally Lewis: Seems to really emphasise pointless remarks.
33. Scott Prince: Has zero idea what he is doing.
32. Steve Menzies: His first year has been a car crash.
31. Brett Kimmorley: Spends more time fumbling sentences than Ben Pomeroy does balls.
30. Mark Gasnier: How is he on so often? He seems to know nothing about Rugby League.
28. Darren Lockyer: The Rahul Dravid of NRL commentary.
27. Erin Molan: Doesn’t provide a lot of insight.
26. Ray Hadley: His constant harpings are tiresome, his calling grating, his fascist politics scary.
25. Bryan Fletcher: Not nearly as funny as he thinks though I do like the Julio Iglesias but
24. Matt Shirvington: Has overachieved for a runner and does a decent job.
23. Daryl Brohman: Found his niche as the sad clown, the Pagliacci of the NRL.
22. Tim Gilbert: Willie Mason – rarely seen but makes the occasional cameo.
21. Paul Vautin: He has his knockers but he has survived where nearly all go by the wayside.
20. Brett Finch: His larrikin, boozy humour only appeals to some … but I enjoy it.
19. Nathan Hindmarsh: His Cheech and Chong act makes me smile.
18. Jimmy Smith: Copped a battering from Buzz but Jimmy is an everyman who is insightful
17. Beau Ryan: Witty as hell but not one to use during an actual game.
16. Brad Fittler: Has a great footy brain but plays the fool too often.
15. Matt Russell: Consistent to a fault but not an overly inspiring voice.
14. Yvonne Sampson: She knows the game through and through and is a pleasure to hear.
13. Gorden Tallis: Calls a spade a fucking shovel and it is working.
12. Lara Pitt: A great newshound and has found her own on Matty Johns with her humour.
11. Andy Raymond: Mr Monday Night is unique but he adds the fun to footy.
10. Andrew Johns: Not the most eloquent but offers an insight like few others.
9. Phil Gould: His over-the-top stuff is garbage but he is a great analyst.
8. Joel Caine: A star on the rise who doesn’t follow the mould when thinking footy.
7. Greg Alexander: Not afraid to say what he thinks, which is refreshing.
6. Ben Ikin: He is happy to think about footy from a nerd view and it is something we need.
5. Matthew Johns: Funny and smart and one of the game’s best drawcards.
4. Peter Sterling: The top colour guy who can break down a game like nobody else.
3. Warren Smith: Never makes a mistake, never overplays his hand.
2. Ray Warren: The old champion. His voice is the sound of Rugby League.
1. Andrew Voss: Accurate and funny and loves the train-spotting stuff. Brilliant.

Ricky Stuart – The Game’s Greatest Myth: It is well known to anybody who has ever read anything in this column that if there is one truth I hold dear it is that Ricky Stuart is a terrible Rugby League coach and that his only skill is the ability to talk senile board members and idiot front office types into the notion that he is, as he likes to be known, the Game’s Greatest Thinker. In April of 2010 I wrote this and most of it holds true with the exception that his numbers have gotten markedly worse.

He clearly lives in a world where only he and presumably the Raiders board exist. How else can his claims in his article on Sunday be explained, particularly when coupled with the Raiders’ horrific 54-18 home loss to the Warriors where New Zealand treated the Raiders with such contempt they played the final eight minutes with 12 players despite having fit men on the bench.

Some gems from Stuart’s piece in Sunday’s Sunday Telegraph:

The last three jobs I had were about rebuilding the roster, and I realise the hard work comes before the reward.

The Truth: Stuart knows nothing about rebuilding. He has burnt three clubs to the ground, taken them to their lowest ebb in generations, and has left with the club still rotting.

I have no doubt in the world [the Raiders’ situation] will change, but as long as respect our two major obstacles: time and patience.

The Truth: The biggest obstacle the Raiders face is their coach and their inability to move him on because of his massive deal. Stuart has had time before and done nothing. He has also shown no patience anywhere he has been.

The days of buying your way out of previous poor choices can’t be done in the salary-cap era.

The Truth: That isn’t what Stuart told Eels powerbrokers, claiming he had the power to pure big names like Greg Bird and James Tamou to the club. He got no big names to the Eels and his biggest signing for the Raiders has been the incomparable Sisa Waqa.

Some see this as an excuse for coaches to buy more time in their roles.

The Truth: Stuart’s entire career has been about buying time. He buys enough time until he gets his club into too big a hole and then he flees to another job. It has been his MO his entire career. He is already pleading with Raiders fans to be patient.

The Raiders’ biggest strength, and the reason I know why we will turn this club back into the force it once was, is the people involved.

The Truth: Would you have faith in the same people that stuck with David Furner for so long and then as his replacement managed to find the one guy worse and pay him $800,000 a season to win them a wooden spoon?

Here is the future of the Raiders under Ricky Stuart – it will be miserable. No star players will come. Canberra was a big enough obstacle but with Stuart no player is that dumb. They will continue to play stupid and outdated football. Their best will be mediocrity, their worst the wooden spoon. They will have nothing in attack and they will leak in defence. It really is a sad state of affairs for a once great team.

Mead Bleed: That boy bled like few I have seen on Saturday night. He is the front runner for Bleeder of the Year after that Ric Flair-like effort.

Fun Fact #1: The Canberra Raiders chose Matt Elliott to be their head coach in 2002 ahead of Craig Bellamy. Since then Bellamy has a 206-100-2 record with three premierships and finals appearances every year bar one while Elliott has a 121-141-3 record without a finals win.

Fun Fact #2: Cameron Smith currently ranks fourth behind Jason Taylor, Hazem El Masri and Craig Fitzgibbon for points in the most games at 237. Smith is just 20 from top spot.

Fun Fact #3: Anthony Minichiello has scored 28 more tries than any other Roosters in the 107-year history of the club.

Rumour Mill: Canterbury continue to be linked to every fullback under the sun with Brett Stewart the favourite to be at Belmore next year though there has been speculation that the club could pursue Jarryd Hayne. Despite denials, Robbie Farah is very much looking for an out from the Wests Tigers. The Eels and Bulldogs loom as potential destinations if he does escape. Ben Te’o will be playing rugby union in Ireland next year. Don’t rule out the Broncos making a play for Daly Cherry-Evans. If he does go Ben Hunt will end up at Cronulla. Canberra are throwing big money at outstanding Brisbane prop Josh McGuire. Sam Kasiano will be at the Dragons in 2015.

What I Like About … Anthony Minichiello: After 15 seasons playing first grade for the Sydney Roosters, champion fullback Anthony Minichiello has announced he will retire at the end of the season. It brings down the curtain on one of the toughest careers the game has seen. An absolute superstar in the first half of his career, Minichiello played in three Grand Finals, rose to NSW and Australian honours and in 2005 was anointed the best player in the game when awarded the Golden Boot. And then came the run, four straight seasons ruined by injury, four years where he managed just 33 games as question marks over his future in the game were raised. He didn’t quit though. He fought on and incredibly played the final five seasons of his career almost totally injury free, earning a stunning recall to the Blues and skippering the Chooks to premiership glory in 2013. He has always been a flashy type from a glitzy club but Mini has earned the respect of everyone who cares for the game with his toughness, courage and, before injury struck, his sheer brilliance. League will certainly miss him.

Betting Market of the Week: Todd Carney and the Corby sisters hooked up last week to discuss:

$4.00: Their hit new sitcom ‘Bubbling and Smuggling’
$6.00: Mercedes dishing out a lesson on class and social etiquette
$2.50: Bali’s bid to join the NRL – Carney is very keen on the Bali Bubblers as a name
$2.00: How Carney can avoid sliding below the sisters in Australia’s Least Trusted People list

Funniest Eels Moment of the Week: It was only five years ago that Parramatta could not wait to force coach Daniel Anderson out the door. Yet the club is all of a sudden super annoyed that Anderson has been linked to a move to Newcastle, back in a head coaching role. Make a call Parramatta!

Power Rankings:
1. Manly 14-5 (1)
2. South Sydney 12-7 (2)
3. Sydney Roosters 11-8 (3)
4. Penrith 12-7 (5)
5. New Zealand 10-9 (7)
6. Melbourne 10-9 (6)
7. North Queensland 10-9 (8)
8. Canterbury 11-8 (4)

9. Brisbane 9-10 (9)
10. Parramatta 10-9 (12)
11. St George Illawarra 9-10 (10)
12. Wests Tigers 9-10 (11)
13. Gold Coast 8-11 (13)
14. Newcastle 6-13 (14)
15. Cronulla 5-14 (15)
16. Canberra 5-14 (16)

The Coaching Crosshairs: It certainly seems as if Wayne Bennett has it in for assistant Rick Stone. The two have not been particularly close but Bennett’s endorsement of Cowboys assistant Terry Matterson is a real slap in the face. Stone is one of the top coaches without a head coaching job and deserves another crack, which it looks like he will get at the Knights. Bennett should have removed himself from offering a recommendation on the coaching job, full stop. The Knights will be lucky to have Stone at the helm again.

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 21: Sydney Roosters-St George Illawarra, 30-22. The Roosters showed glimmers of their premiership form in an incomplete but still impressive win over the Dragons. Michael Jennings was impressive in his return while Aidan Guerra and Boyd Cordner showed plenty. It was hooker Jake Friend though that was the best. A shame the refereeing was so embarrassing.

Ricky Stuart Stat of the Week: Ricky Stuart’s Raiders have conceded 108 points in 160 minutes against the New Zealand Warriors this year. This came on the same day he wrote an article demanding the Raiders faithful have patience. Stuart’s teams have not won consecutive games since 2009 to boot.

Correspondence Corner: G_Dog, yep, I missed the Dogs there.

Mike Butterfield, the striking in the play the ball would be an excellent idea. The only problem is the morons who referee the game would only manage to make a mess of it.

G_Dog, NSW Cup and NYC form has almost zero correlation to premiership success. The Storm are the only one of six NYC premiers to win an actual premiership. None of the losing Grand Final sides have made it to an NRL Grand Final after their loss. NYC recruitment means very little in terms of premiership success. Regarding the NSW Cup, I would say it has more correlation to premiership success but Canterbury won three titles from 2009-11 and it didn’t stand for a lot. Depth is important. Talent is important. But those are very different to lower grade success.

Rick, I love your thinking re: the short kick off. Let’s all think about this!

Beard Watch: It was terribly disappointing to see Greg Inglis play without his beard on Sunday. Inglis has sported some facial hair for a long time but went clean shaven against the Knights. Nobody is impressed GI, nobody.

Watch It: Times have not been great for Canberra Raiders fans so we will go back to 1984 and a big win against the Eastern Suburbs Roosters at Seiffert Oval. Highlights include Martin Weekes’ differential, Billy Smith’s commentary and the Raiders fullback who looks like he could be last man standing in Long Bay survivor. Watch it here.


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Comments (8)

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  1. george says:

    you forgot to take out all bellamy s record when he cheated the system.

  2. G_Dog says:

    Ok then , so what new talent that Noel has brought to the club , has impressed you the most? Is it the array of outside backs (massive sarcasm) lol, or the the forwards that we allready had thanks to mullholland not Noel… Granted success in lower grades is not essential, but getting flogged every week is not going to unearth any stars.

  3. a says:

    swap Gasnier for Johns and that list is pretty close to the mark

  4. Mike Butterfield says:

    Well I am well & truly stunned at the game officials decisions not only on the weekend but for the whole year.
    It seems everybody will have their own opinion of footy commentators, on Friday I had to go on Facebook to ask if anybody could tell me who the Manly commentators were, I mean the Broncos had Wally, Locky & Yvonne, oh & I forgot Hadley, but living in Qld you have to put up with this shit, next week we have Souths v Manly but we will get the 4 persons I just mentioned.

  5. Kit says:

    You obviously don’t know how the video ref system works. The ex player in the box is the only one allowed to make a decision on the put down of the football not the ref in the box. Apart from that good ranting.

  6. Ferris says:

    Easy on Nick. Not a word on a steadily more confident Dragons. The chooks weren’t much better, if at all. Love your ‘Raging Bull’ stance on Ricky. Kasiano, True? You obviously don’t rate funny man Paul Kent. And finally a man who is Prepared to stand up for Vossy. Cheers

  7. Andrew Fahey says:

    Ur spot on re stuart tho. That column is one of the worst things ul read

  8. Andrew Fahey says:

    Ur kidding re voss & ben ikin over a.johns is laughable. Both johns boys top 5