From The Couch: Round 22

Filed in From The Couch, NRL by on August 12, 2013


Benji is the Biggest Bum of All: Whatever good Benji Marshall did during his time in rugby league, any good will he may have accumulated, it is long gone now after his disgraceful video promoting another code while still contracted to the Wests Tigers and the NRL. Marshall pissed on the game that made him what he is, an ingrate who drenched the game that made him a hell of a lot more than he should have been. He is a bum who has stitched up two coaches, bitched and moaned about a career in the greatest game of all and then sold everyone out for a couple of pieces of silver under the blatantly transparent pretence that he had been poorly treated and wanted the challenge of a new game.

Marshall now sits with Sonny Bill Williams as the great traitors of our code, two money-hungry, shallow mercenaries who hide their own inadequacies behind a veneer of athletic liberation.

Marshall left rugby league for two reasons. He could no longer handle the toughness of it. And he prized dollars over all that league stands for: winning, community, hardness.

It has taken the Wests Tigers faithful some while to come around. The club was divided, remembering the good times (a pass eight years ago and, perhaps, the two finals series since), failing to grasp the magnitude of his betrayal.

They are all on board now after he paraded around in a rugby union jersey in what was a lowdown attack on the Tigers and the game. Fans want him dropped. I don’t want to see such a cheap trollop playing rugby league again. Michael Potter had best do the right thing for the code and the team and drop him to the NSW Cup, ensuring he finishes his career on suburban ovals in front of a few hundred spectators, all of whom will hopefully give it to the Judas.

Rugby league loses nothing in Marshall but a soft player who refuses to run, refuses to do what is best for the team, refuses to be led and refuses to give a damn.

Benji is a bum. To hell with him.

The Rugby League Credentials of Australia’s PMs: The contributions to rugby league of those PMs who cared for the game.

Kevin Rudd (ALP): Claims to be a Broncos man and attends plenty of games but his love is questionable.
Julia Gillard (ALP): Rarely hid her contempt for the game or her preference for AFL, despite claiming to be a Storm fan.
John Howard (Lib): Loved St George and then St George Illawarra. Still does. I saw him at the recent clash with Canterbury at Oki Jubilee. Never missed a Grand Final or a Dally M.
Paul Keating (ALP): Listed himself as a Canterbury fan but was far more interested in antique clocks than screwing scrums.
Bob Hawke (ALP): Loved every sport and took the Raiders to heart despite coming from an AFL background. Used to bet with Fred Daly in the stands of Seiffert Oval.
Chris Watson (ALP): Australia’s third Prime Minister was the inaugural patron of South Sydney, despite being born in Chile.
Billy Hughes (Everyone): Australia’s longest-serving politician was the founding patron of the Glebe Dirty Reds.
Arthur Fadden (Country): Australia’s 13th PM set up the North Queensland Rugby League.

Rugby League Demographics: This week we look at the seats of Sydney rugby league teams and two census demographics: Percentage of Indigenous Australians and Median age.

Indigenous Australians
Penrith (34th), Wests Tigers (Macarthur – 42nd), South Sydney (83rd), Wests Tigers (Grayndler – 88th), Parramatta (103rd), Cronulla (104th), St George Illawarra (121st), Canterbury (129th), Sydney Roosters (130th), Manly (141st)

Median Age
Cronulla (59th), St George Illawarra (68th), Manly (76th), Wests Tigers (Grayndler – 102nd), Sydney Roosters (103rd), Canterbury (122nd), Penrith (129th), Parramatta (130th), Wests Tigers (Macarthur -133rd), South Sydney (141st)

Albo Loves League: I have been highly critical of Labor’s support of the game that was once its domain – the great game of rugby league – and rightly so considering how Julia Gillard treated the game, shown poignantly by the different way in which ASADA is looking after the AFL while doing its best to slam the NRL. But a nod must go out to Anthony Albanaese and the ALP, who have promised $10 million for the upgrade of Brookvale Oval. Well done.

Farewell, Ashley Graham and Dallas Johnson: The North Queensland Cowboys and rugby league have lost two warhorses with Ashley Graham and Dallas Johnson having played their last NRL games.

Johnson, of course, announced his retirement a number of weeks ago before a knee injury brought forward his end. Few players have given more to the game. He left nothing on the paddock, tackling as hard as anyone. He was gifted no tools but managed 222 games, a decorated career for Queensland and a Test for Australia, along with two Melbourne premierships. Johnson would play through concussions, play through blood. He loved the game. And we love him.

Graham never received much love but scored 102 tries in 202 games, crossing for 10-plus in four of his last seven seasons. A total professional, there were few better finishers.

The game will be worse off for the retirement of these two.

Fun Fact #1: Bottom four finishes over the last decade:
5: Cronulla (03, 06, 09, 10, 11), South Sydney (03, 04, 05, 06, 08)
4: Canberra (05, 07, 09, 11)
3: Canterbury (05, 08, 10), New Zealand (04, 09, 12), Parramatta (04, 11, 12), Penrith (06, 07, 12), Sydney Roosters (06, 09, 12)
2: Gold Coast (08, 11), Manly (03, 04), Newcastle (05, 07), North Queensland (08,10)
1: Melbourne (10), St George Illawarra (07), Wests Tigers (03)
0: Brisbane

Fun Fact #2: The Wests Tigers’ second longest active streak of avoiding the bottom four will end this year. Manly will assume the second longest streak behind the Broncos.

Fun Fact #3: Benji Marshall has six try assists this season, five fewer than the much-maligned Nathan Fien.

Rumour Mill: There is strong speculation (see below) that both Mick Potter and Steve Price will be fired at season’s end. Canterbury have been linked with Jarryd Hayne but that move is highly unlikely. Kevin Locke is much more likely to be a Bulldog. Also, look out for Storm prop Mitch Garbutt to join Canterbury. Jason Taylor has emerged as a candidate for the Cowboys job – but a highly unlikely one. There is about to be a boardroom coup at the Dragons.

What I Love About … Justin Hodges: Justin Hodges rubs plenty of folks the wrong way but for mine he is either the best (or equal-best, with Jamie Lyon) centre since Mal Meninga and he has done so after a host of injuries. He has likely played his last game for 2013 with the star Bronco snapping his left Achilles. It is a tragedy for the game that such a champion player has been lost. Whatever you think of his personality, you cannot deny his wonderful ability, a prolific centre who can score, defend and run for metres like few others. The Broncos will miss him. So will rugby league.

Funniest Eels Moment of the Week: It was a pretty good week for the Eels with Jarryd Hayne returning and Parramatta ending a 10-game losing streak but extending Willie Tonga’s contract is pretty funny. Like the Eels have not had enough issues signing old has-beens in the past, they have done it again, refusing to learn from their mistakes.

Betting Market of the Week: To add further insult to rugby league and the Tigers, this week Benji Marshall will:

$3.00: Urinate on the Wests Tigers mascot ‘Timmy The Tiger’
$5.00: Release a tape of himself sodomising an effigy that just says ‘Wests Tigers Coach’
$4.00: Force fans to read his horse-shit column in Sunday’s SMH
$1.10: Declare to the world that ‘he still cares about the Tigers’ and continues ‘to try’

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

Combo XIII of the Week: The Broncos and Dragons have shared some pretty good players. Here is the best 13.

1.Darius Boyd
2. Gerard Beale
3. Nick Emmett
4. Chris Johns
5. Wendell Sailor
6. Anthony Mundine
7. Michael Ennis
13. Neville Costigan
12. Billy Noke
11. Gorden Tallis
10. Ashton Sims
9. Luke Priddis
8. Gavin Allen

Correspondence Corner: Fisky, this two-stadium rubbish is utter garbage. It works in Melbourne because of geography. There are currently no direct trains to either the SFS or ANZ on match day. Sydney also doesn’t have a centralised focus like Melbourne. The NSW Government should work on fixing the mess that is the public transport system and leave rugby league – a game the state has largely ignored as it courts AFL and other rubbish – alone.

Anonymous, the Roosters are playing great football. I have been low on the Roosters all year (and it has cost me) but at  no point have I thought that they were the best team in the premiership, primarily based on their performances against both Souths and the Storm.

WittyReference, there are arguments both sides as to whether Milford has a clause in his contract. What the NRL must do, however, is set up a system that allows the Raiders to get compensation if Milford really must leave. And make no mistake – this is as much about money as anything else.

The Coaching Crosshairs: Tigers coach Mick Potter and Dragons coach Steve Price are both expected to be replaced when the season concludes. Potter has had his head on the chopping block for a while and it appears the dysfunctional Tigers board is ready to throw him to the wolves, the loss to the Eels proving the last straw. While Potter deserves to be moved on for not taking a tougher line on Benji Marshall, he will be desperately unlucky to go after such a wretched run of injuries. Trent Barrett – unbelievably – is favoured for the job. Price’s dismissal is a little less clear but The Australian reported over the weekend that the Dragons were courting Tim Sheens. Neither hire would be particularly smart.

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 22: Melbourne-South Sydney, 26-18. There were a couple of thrillers on the weekend but without question the highest quality game of the round was the special between the Storm and the Rabbitohs. This clash was end-to-end stuff with the Storm’s class proving the difference. Souths were good though, particularly Issac Luke, who is arguably the Bunnies’ most important player. I don’t think the Storm will lose a game for the remainder of the year.

The Life and Times of the Special Needs Penguin: Ben Pomeroy decided he would boost his grub rating this week by running back full pelt at Kurt Gidley with his elbow cocked like Randy “Macho Man” Savage. He now faces a likely suspension, allowing Pomeroy to spend a week or two working on what he most likes: dropping passes.

Beard Watch: Roosters backrower Aidan Guerra has long been one of mine so it was with great pride that I have watched his beard develop into one of the best in the game. Perhaps he is wearing it for luck. In that case, he got it with Boyd Cordner’s injury set to ensure Guerra a starting spot for the foreseeable future.

Watch It: Rugby league, It’s A Funny Old Game


Comments (5)

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  1. SemiiPro says:

    Hello Rugby League.

    I’ve been overseas for a while. I can’t say I missed you. And I got back just in time to see Benji make fun of you while wearing an Auckland Union jersey. It made me think: how can I make money from you? You’ve got $1Billion and you are stupid. So I went to the bank with a business proposal of buying a club (probably the Sharks, should be cheap after ASADA goes through them). I got the money using the word ‘Moneyball’ repeatedly whilst presenting these points to the bank manager:

    I will not give a contract to any tatted up Gen Y who has an Instagram account.
    I will not have administrative staff (I will contract out for Match day personnel. There will be no planning for the future at all).
    I will contract 34 players at $70k each. No player will get more or less. The coach (the only one) will also be on $70k.
    I will not be concerned about winning (a la Parramatta). As a quid pro quo to the fans, I will not charge more than $5 for a ticket. I expect the Gross gate to be around $20k a game. There will be no security expenses other than a sign saying ‘enter at own risk’.
    I will sell 10 home games to various desperate towns who will pay me to host a game.
    Total expenses will be around $3m each year.
    The NRL grant is around $7Million.
    That makes a profit of $4million a year.

    The bank manager thought I was brilliant. We celebrated by chopping up some HGH and smashing it into our noses.

  2. dragon_eyes91 says:

    Like you I'm pretty appalled at this whole Benji situation, but I'm more filthy at the game for letting this go unpunished and setting a stupid precedent for those who want to turn their back on their clubs or the game. And I can't understand why Mick potter doesn't just drop Benji and blood his youngsters for next year.

  3. Anonymous says:

    LOL @ Canterbury still being fifth in the power rankings after they lost to a Titans side that was missing its form player this season. Showing a bit of bias there mate. I would put them eighth if feeling generous.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I may be a biased Brisbane supporter, but I'm glad that you realise Hodgo's value.  Yes, he's one of the big nigglers (up there with Bird and Slater), but I think he's certainly the best centre in the game (maybe equal with Lyon if he didn't play for Manly).  You make great points about his skills, but for me, the big thing that sets Hodges apart from the rest is his desire to get involved when his team is struggling.  GI is a great talent, but he goes missing in some games, as do a lot of the other top centres.  You could never say that about Hodges; he rarely has a quiet game and always goes looking for the ball when the team needs him.  I hate to say it, but I don't think we have a chance, even if we make the finals, without him.


    Surely the Tigers' board would not drop Potter after such a short stint.  Granted, the Benji situation has been handled poorly, but he has had to make do with little more than a reserve grade team after the 2012 departures and the injuries this year, let alone that it takes more than a few months for a coach to instill their culture and methods.  Even that aside, I don't know how the Tigers could afford to pay off another coach so soon.


    Jason from Sydney

  5. Anonymous says:

    There's a common theme to Marshall and SBW … badly run clubs (during relevant period) that made poorly thought through promises and then realise that they can't go go ahead with them. Canterbury sold SBW a lie about his teammates staying on and what they would give him if they left. Sure not the way everyone would want him to leave but Canterbury were clearly pigheaded. Wests Tigers have been worse than amateur in ever believing Marshall was worth the kind of money discussed and definitely not over the time the extension was expected. Both clubs brought it upon themselves.