From The Couch: Round 22

Filed in From The Couch, NRL by on August 11, 2014


Bellamy Blow Up: Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy had every right to serve it up to referee Ashley Klein … just as John Cartwright should have left the NRL with a mighty up-yours to Henry Perenara and Matt Cecchin. The refereeing in the NRL has returned to the lows of the Robert Finch/Bill Harrigan days. The Storm were stitched-up with plenty of calls, particularly those two appalling penalties for dragging a held player into touch when the players remained on their feet and moving. The Titans copped it just as bad in a shocking refereeing display that saw a host of appalling calls go against the road team including a clear charge-down that was not ruled six again, a try from an accidental offside, a drop out off a knock-on and plenty more. To really top it off, the refs wasted five minutes holding up a scrum to check a potential headbutt when the Titans should have received a penalty for FPN refusing to pack. Not only are referees making a ridiculous amount of bad decisions, they have a total inability to control a game. It is hurting the game and hurting it  a lot and if Dave Smith doesn’t do something to fix it then we are all in a lot of trouble.

Stone Cold Stunner: The Newcastle Knights were always tipped to sign former coach Rick Stone and mercifully made the right call on Monday by inking him to a two-year deal. Stone did a fine job in his previous two-and-a-but year stint, is highly respected as both a tactician and a developer of young talent and has strong links to the local district. At this stage, Rick Stone is the right man and it is great to see him back in the premiership as a head coach.

RLW Players Poll: Rugby League Week last week published the results of their famed players’ poll. Here is how I would have voted … had I the bottle or the talent to play in the top grade.

Fullback: Jarryd Hayne
Winger: Josh Mansour
Centre: Jamie Lyon
Five-Eighth: Johnathan Thurston
Halfback: Daly Cherry-Evans
Prop: James Graham
Hooker: Cameron Smith
Second Rower: Sam Burgess
Lock: Trent Merrin
Best Player: Johanthan Thurston
Best Coach: Craig Bellamy
Who Will Win: Souths
Best New Face: Luke Brooks
Best Ref: Gavin Badger
Worst Ref: Henry Perenara
Suburban Grounds: Yes
Dave Smith – Good or Bad: No comment

Dogs Gone It: Canterbury look officially cast after a disgraceful showing against an out-of-form Brisbane team last Friday. Not only did the Bulldogs drop their fourth straight, the most important player in the team, Josh Reynolds, totally lost the plot in a near-sociopathic performances that will rule him out for the remainder of the regular season. The Bulldogs struggle massively without Reynolds and it is a long road home for a team that has fallen to eighth. Canterbury are playing far too cute for the team they have. The big boppers refuse to go hard and the club is constantly exposed on the edges. Scoring has been difficult all year but now the defence is leaking worse than the Wests Tigers board. The Bulldogs will do well just to sneak into the finals as a promising season has quickly fallen to hell.

Oh Robbie: Robbie Farah may have thought he was doing the right thing by shutting his mouth and then signing an exclusive deal that saw Nine do a pre-record. His silence reflected poorly on him as a person while doing just a pre-record with the General Manager of a rival club showed how far his radar is off. He may have been thrust into this somewhat unwittingly himself but his current posturing has only added more woe to the Tigers, who really turned it up on Saturday night in a shameful effort. Those young kids need a leader and Farah is hardly showing much leadership. c

Thorough Professionals: Can you imagine an official broadcaster of the NFL or the EPL or even the AFL turning up to a match with only two callers and then joking on-air about it as Nine did on Sunday when Brett Finch couldn’t make the ground because he didn’t realise the City to Surf was on and Brad Fittler was late because he was hosting The Footy Show? It is little wonder Rugby League is looked down on by some with garbage like that. The quicker the NRL is rid of Nine and their utter disregard for the standing of the game, the better we all will be.

Fun Fact #1: Rick Stone is just the sixth coach since 1980 to return to a club as head coach following Bob Fulton (Manly), Allan Fitzgibbon (Illawarra), Arthur Beetson (Roosters), Brad Arthur (Parramatta) and Wayne Bennett (Brisbane).

Fun Fact #2: John Cartwright is the most successful coach in Gold Coast Titans – indeed Gold Coast first grade Rugby League – history.

Rumour Mill: Steve Matai, Brett Stewart and Anthony Watmough continue to push for a release from Manly and the club will let at least one of them go to ensure they keep their talented halves pairing. Brisbane are expected to part ways with Josh Hoffman with Canterbury looming as his most likely destination. Darius Boyd will be a Bronco next year. Promising Bulldogs half Pat Templeman is expected to sign with North Queensland after being unable to crack the NRL this year. The Sharks are keen on both Adam Reynolds and Ben Barba but will take whoever they can get their hands on. Don’t be surprised to see Brisbane go hard at Trent Merrin. Willie Mason is likely to join the Dragons in 2015.

What I Like About … Johnathan Thurston: There is plenty to like about one of Rugby League’s true champions but it was hard not to be super impressed by one of the game’s most decorated players taking a left-foot shot at goal when his team leads by 58. The Tigers deserved to be insulted and Thurston found the perfect way.

Betting Market of the Week: Henry Perenara would be better suited at what career other than refereeing:

$101.00: First grade footballer – though apparently he tried it
$4.00: Blind actor – he sees nothing
$3.50: Town jester – his decisions are so moronic he surely makes them just for a laugh
$2.50: Real-life mannequin – all he does is stand there

Funniest Eels Moment of the Week: The Eels defeated their old coach with David Gower, Ben Smith, Kenny Edwards and a guy called Burrito. Sensational win.

Power Rankings:
1. South Sydney 13-7 (2)
2. Manly 14-6 (1)
3. Sydney Roosters 12-8 (3)
4. Penrith 13-7 (4)
5. North Queensland 11-9 (7)
6. New Zealand 11-9 (5)
7. Melbourne 10-10 (6)
8. Brisbane 10-10 (9)

9. Canterbury 11-9 (8)
10. Parramatta 11-9 (10)
11. St George Illawarra 9-11 (11)
12. Gold Coast 8-12 (13)
13. Newcastle 7-13 (14)
14. Cronulla 5-15 (15)
15. Wests Tigers 9-11 (12)
16. Canberra 5-15 (16)

The Coaching Crosshairs: Mick Potter is gone and while he may or may not deserve it, we all need to accept that he is zero chance of retaining his job. He has maintained a dignified silence throughout this whole debacle but a coach doesn’t survive when the board or the players don’t want him and the team suffers a 64-6 loss. Attention must turn now to who is next. It won’t be Todd Payten. He gambled and lost. David Kidwell is the most likely candidate but it wouldn’t be a smart move. Daniel Anderson is the first and last name that should be considered.

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 22: South Sydney-Manly, 23-4. The final score may have blown out but make no mistake – that under lights at the SCG on Friday night, we saw the two best teams in the premiership and two teams most likely to meet in the Grand Final. Neither team lost any admirers in a fierce and fast game full of class, intensity and quality. Brett Stewart’s tackle on Greg Inglis was something else, Luke Keary came of age and Adam Reynolds showed why he needs to be respected. Super game of footy.

Ricky Stuart Fact of the Week: Ricky Stuart is going so bad that even historically awful ‘journalist’ Rebecca Wilson felt obliged to right a piece “well and truly busting” the notion Stuart is a good coach. For the first time ever, it is well worth reading a Ricky Stuart piece in The Daily Telegraph AND reading anything written by Rebecca Wilson.

Correspondence Corner: Andrew Fahey, Vossy is a gun. One may have been stretching but he is a star, my kind of commentator, as is Benny Ikin. Those plumping Ricky Stuart are a disgrace.

Ferris, them Dragons were a worry on Sunday. Not sure confidence is still building!

Kit, that is not true – the ex-player has the casting vote. The referee can make a decision and usually hold the knowledge power in the box.

Mike Butterfield, Fatty and Joey lead the Manly charge, don’t mind that.

A, you like Gasnier? Please!

George, very harsh on Bellamy.

G_Dog, you are right – it is not healthy getting flogged every week. Peter Mulholland was better as well.

Beard Watch: It is sad to say but there seems to be a fair-degree of anti-beardism among Dally M Medal voters. Of the top 25 when voting went behind closed doors, only Aaron Woods and Brett Stewart have had real, sustained facial hair while just Johnathan Thurston, Matt Gillett, Jesse Bromwich and Cam Smith have had any for any notable period. Ben Hunt did sport a moustache at one time. Those with facial hair are copping a bum rap from Dally M Voters, of whom almost none have any. It’s time for an investigation.

Watch It: In our travels this week we go back to 1984 and a touch game at Lang Park between NSW and Queensland legends. There are more dropped balls than in a one-on-one game between Ben Pomeroy and Jono Wright, including plenty from our beloved leader, John Grant. It is hard to believe these guys got a run in first grade let alone rep footy! Watch it here.


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Comments (7)

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  1. Davey G says:

    When it comes to refs, this year has been the doldrums. My greatest peeve started a few years back when they started to tell players what to do. Prime example of this is yelling “movement” when a player is holding down too long. Since when is it the ref’s job to tell the player’s when to move? It is the ref’s job to penalise when holding down too long. The players in the NRL these days jump on, then look up at the ref waiting to be told to get off. If the ref’s didn’t spend so much time practically coaching the players mid-game, I reckon they could concentrate on the ruck and the play the ball (some of which have been atrocious yet seemingly unnoticed recently) and the game.What would be great is if the referees penalised a player for holding down, without warning. Make it a 5 second thing, so the players (who can count to 5) can get to 4 in their head and get off. After that, blow that whistle, ref.

    Sam Thaiday dropped like a sniper shot him when Reynolds lashed out – it didn’t seem to be much contact, but Sammy turned on the theatrics. He looked like he was gone for all money for at least 8 seconds, after which he took 2 hit-ups seemingly unaffected. The power of the sponge! Reynolds should not have done it though, no excuses at all.

  2. James says:

    Heyy Nick, with uncertainty over the Dragon’s fullback and centre, who do you think should be playing in those position? I understand you probably would say Dugan at fullback as he’s the best kick returner in the game

  3. Luke says:

    Guys, Parker would probably get the Best Lock gong if his coach actually played him there. As it stands, he is a front rower.

  4. Stephen says:

    I didn’t see the roosters-titans scrum but I won’t let that stop me speculating. The right course would have been to put it on report and let it be sorted after the game BUT that comes with a free interchange. The interchange should be linked to a penalty for dangerous play, with ‘on report’ being just that – a request for further review. As it stands, on report means guilty but not sure of severity.

    Agree with previous comment for Parker over Merrin. Winger awards are becoming backhanded as the position is seen as a stepping stone to centre/fullback/second row, and representative wingers increasingly drawn from fullback and centre ranks.

    Robbie Farah is in danger of going from never having to buy his own drink to a bloke who’s not welcome at club reunions. That’d be a shame for their second best hooker of the modern era (and there’s no shame in that).

  5. Mike Butterfield says:

    I agree with everything that you have written about the reffing, I have been scratching my head trying to work out most of their decisions, with Reynolds lashing out with his feet(I’m not a doggies man), why didn’t the Ref penalise Thaiday right away for lifting the legs, we see this penalty all the time, if the penalty is blown then Reynolds doesn’t lash out, the refs let a lot more holding down in tackles on the line than in general play.
    I applaud the Queensland Govt for tipping in $250,000 to take last weekends full round of Intrust Super Cup to Country venues, my son plays for the East Tigers who played the Central Capras in Emerald, they went up there on Friday, did coaching clinics for all the juniors, the locals put on a function after the game to meet all the players, he told me it was a pleasure to play & meet the League mad people in the bush.

  6. Robbo says:

    Re: the Channel Nine debacle, I think Rabs was quite rightly embarrassed and felt left in the lurch by their behaviour. Rugby League has a problem being that ex-players are typically good at football to the exclusion of most other organised endeavours. These people behave like children.

  7. WittyReference says:

    Great Read again, Nick. Whole heartedly agree with most everything, except the best Lock is one C. Parker.

    Surely Barba doesn’t want to leave Qld? Even with him and Hoffman (so much better with him at fullback) leaving how do we afford Milford, Boyd and Merrin? It would be a hell of an Origin time.

    Did Thurston really kick left footed? Wow. Was it from the left side of the ground at least, like he’s trying to become ambidextrous for the better angle? Or just salting the wound?

    Ben Hunt’s moustache was appallingly creepy. You think you’re hipster but you’re really pornstache.