From The Couch: Round 21

Filed in Uncategorized by on July 30, 2017

Cameron Smith is Rugby League’s Most Remarkable Player: It is remarkable that a player nicknamed “The Accountant” has not only become the greatest hooker of all time and the greatest captain the game has ever known but without question the most decorated and arguably the code’s finest player.

On Sunday, Smith became just the third player to play in 350 premiership matches. He is the first forward and did so after sustaining a pectoral injury that keeps any normal player out for a month. He has said he is loving the game so much that he has no intention of retiring. He will most likely play 400 premiership matches by the end of the 2019 season, potentially becoming the game’s greatest ever pointscorer by then. He is having one of his finest seasons. The Storm are winning the competition, Smith will win the Dally M Medal and he played perhaps his finest Origin game in the decider. If he does win a Dally M Medal, it will be the longest gap between awards in the code’s history. He is already the most capped Origin player of all-time. He will likely become the most capped Test player in 2018, currently sitting second. No player has won more Origin series or Origin matches or premiership matters for that matter. I could go on and on and on, such is his greatness.

We will never again see someone like Smith again. His consistency and his durability are unparalleled. Even the likes of Andrew Johns, Wally Lewis and Johnathan Thurston had down periods in their career. Not Smith. He has been one of the game’s best players nearly every week for nearly 15 years.

A case can be made that Cameron Smith is the greatest Rugby League player of all-time. Not the most brilliant. Not the most spectacular. But the very best.

It has been a true honour to watch Smith. And as the records continue to tumble, it will be beautiful to continue watching.

More Live Than a Cat Who Found A Rabbits Foot: The total lack of professionalism shown at nearly all levels of Rugby League administration has been no better exhibited than by the NSWRL decision to extend Laurie Daley’s contract by a year BEFORE a review into the failure of the 2017 campaign is examined. The whitewash is well and truly on and the same justifications for keeping Mitchell Pearce at halfback are being used to keep Daley at the helm. You cannot get enough on Queensland to win the next season.

Retro Round Ads Spectacular: Anyone who isn’t excited about Retro Round after seeing Bryan Fletcher as Macho Man Randy Savage and Nathan Hindmarsh as The Ultimate Warrior, the Matty Johns Team as the A-Team and HG Nelson on an old school TV set is, to quote Braith Anasta, off their fucking head. On the ads, what about Phil Rothfield in his stupid gossip piece saying Fletcher was “posing like Hulk Hogan”? He is not even in touch with retro.

Super League Game Bound for Wollongong: Super League is coming to Australia with a regular season game between Wigan and Hull FC to be played in Wollongong next year. It is a spectacular event and a slap in the face to the NRL who constantly talk about playing games in China and Fiji and Hawaii and Dubai but can never make it happen. Well done to Super League, who are clearly looking to go beyond their northern roots with this match and the addition of the Toronto Wolfpack and the near-potential promotion of a second French team to Super League.

2017 Field Goal Update – 23: Trent Hodkinson secured Newcastle’s third win of the season with a deft little field goal.

Fun Fact #1: Lachlan Coote has now attempted a field goal four weeks in a row.

Fun Fact #2: 15 of last year’s NYC Team of the Year have gone on to play first grade in 2017 with five becoming regular NRL starters.

Fun Fact #3: Kane Linnett and Kyle Feldt have both played the most minutes in the NRL this season at 1535.

Betting Market of the Week: The likely outcome of a Tui Lolohea pass:

$101: It’s a teammate on the chest and in space
$3.00: Teammate gets killed
$1.30: The ball goes above, behind, below, through or around the intended target.

Rumour Mill: Cooper Cronk is firming by the day to join the Bulldogs. Elijah Taylor seems set for a return to the Warriors. James Graham is reportedly working at getting out of Canterbury to join Newcastle in 2018. The rumour mill is hot that there is more to Jack Bird not playing on Friday against the Warriors than injury. Jacob Lillyman seems set to sign with the Roosters. Judging from the Instagram account of one former international, he has a serious issue with ice that needs addressing.

Robbie Farah Anger Levels – Catastrophic: He has been dumped to the bench, has his playing time cut in half and will no doubt be told this will be the path in 2018.

What I Like About … Nathan Brown: If the Eels can put their success this season down to one player, it is the unheralded Nathan Brown. Brown runs as hard as any player in the competition. He has a relentless work ethic. He goes all day and has set a tone for the Eels. When looking at an Origin team next year, the Blues could do worse than find a position for Brown.

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 21: Parramatta – Brisbane, 28-14. The final score belies the closeness and the brilliance of this contest. This is probably the leading contender for Match of the Year honours, a 4 ½ star classic. It was fast, furious and played with tremendous speed and energy. The attack flowed freely. The game went end to end. And there hasn’t been a team run harder all year than the Eels. Great game.

The Coaching Crosshairs: Des Hasler may have survived the board meeting last week but he will not be coaching Canterbury in 2018. Hasler will be sacked after November 1 as it supposedly halves his contract payout to $500,000. Believe nothing Ray Dib is saying in public. The Bulldogs board have moved against Hasler and have signed Trent Barrett. Manly will release Barrett because Bob Fulton no longer wants him there. Barrett wants out because he wants no more of Fulton’s influence. The board know that the Hasler situation is not tenable. They know they made a mistake not signing Cleary when they had the chance. The Barrett deal is as good as done and Hasler’s time at the Bulldogs will be over after Round 26.

Moronic Coaching Decision of the Week: Des Hasler nearly did it again by naming the snail Kerrod Holland to replace Brett Morris but instead we will differ it up and go with Neil Henry reshuffling his team to put Jarryd Hayne in the centres and Tyrone Roberts at fullback. Roberts is a nice player but he isn’t a No.1. He was found out plenty in the first half. Hayne is on the big bucks and should be at the back.

Beard Watch: One of the more underrated beards in the NRL belongs to that of Ethan Lowe, particularly when combined with his bedraggled hair that looks like that of an ice-addicted aging porn star just out of the shower. There is arguably no more patchy, sad beard than that of Lowe.

Correspondence Corner: The Truthteller, small-mindedness is ruining this grat game.

Robbo, I think a power play is an excellent idea that should be considered.

John, you are millions to get that change!

Michael and Tony, it is astonishing how many times the outcome affects the decision. It was a shame about Brown but nothing Warriors had to do with it.

Davey G, Kenny Edwards is a cheap thug. His off-field record suggests as much too.

Watch It: This is a wonderful bit of colour footage from the 1964 Challenge Cup final between Widnes and Hull KR, a hard-fought affair featuring some true greats including hardman Vince Karalius, Frank Myler and Frank Collier. Watch it here.


Comments (5)

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  1. Davey G says:

    Sometimes clubs swap players for any reason (Beau Scott from Newie to Parra with Pauli Pauli back for example), and we frequently see the change can be as good as a holiday. So I would like to throw one out there – how about a Des Hasler / Michael Maguire swap? They have both coached to GF’s in the past 5 years, so have recent street cred, and both are currently in some kind of funk that beckons a new environment and playing group. Not many (if any) noted coaches available if Des gets the chop, and while it would be encouraging for Dean Pay (or Walker Brothers) to get a crack, this could be an option. They may even look to take a couple of players with them (maybe Foran could be a Bunny, might complement Reynolds). Unlikely, but I love options.

    I find it beyond amusing too that with a handful of games remaining this season there is nobody who can tell the clubs what their salary cap will be next year. The clubs would have very good footing if they spent big and then find out they are over by claiming they were basing their math on “early indications” or whatever the NRL buzz words have been when vagueing it up (I think it’s a word).

  2. Tony Monero says:

    While watching highlights from the weekends games on the NRL app, I was encouraged by how quick the refs seem to award each try. The try is shown only once, the refs whistle (sound effect) is heard. Try. It’s looks so simple.

    I remember a time when you went to a game and the feeling you had when your team scored a try. Now you have to wait til it gets confirmed/denied, eliminating the immediate elation from securing 4 points.

    We need less rules, not more.
    Less refs, not more. Simple.

    I feel for the refs. Their whole career is based on being the sole voice in the middle, then when they hit the top grade, their role is diluted to one voice of five, even when they are the ‘lead ref’.

    The game in the late 80’s early 90’s was the best. Tough, hard, fast. Good balance between attack and defence. 5 min sin bin. The odd scuffle. No video ref. Packed grounds. Full strength beer. Big blokes and little fellas all dominating in their own way.

    Can we go back?

  3. Hugoaugogo says:

    Any chance that Madge Maguire will not be coaching the Rabbitohs next season?

  4. Thetruthteller says:

    Briallantly nailed this yet again. One thing you didn’t mention was the two new appointees to the NRL Board. Once again all we get from the southern media is some diatribe about how both are Queenslanders, as if this somehow procludes you from having any idea about how the games direction (I’m NSW born and bred btw) should proceed.

    Personally I would prefer to have someone with political clout who oversaw the cane toad states economic and social revival, as well as diplomacy on an international level, as well as someone who professes that our great game is in her blood and as essential as breathing in air, risen from disadvantage to the top of her field, than some club land aligned lap dog that Dib and Politis et al would have thrown up. Alternative ideas are why is needed to have the greatest game of all feel like that again, because at the moment it feels nothing like it from an ordinary every day fan.

  5. Jonny says:

    RE: Cronk to anywhere in 2018

    Would be a very bad look for the integrity of the salary cap and the competition generally if Cronk plays anywhere in 2018 for less money than his current 2018 contract with Melbourne. What benefit to Melbourne is there if he plays in 2018 at all? They would be well within their rights to pay him not to play to be honest, especially if any club had the temerity to enquire about the Storm subsidising his wage…