From The Couch: Round 22

Filed in NRL by on August 10, 2015

Deal with the Devil: Any hope that the horrid reign of Rugby League on Nine would end was extinguished on Monday when the NRL announced it had reached a $925 million deal with the network that extends their relationship until 2022. It is a sad day for followers of the code even if on face value it seems like a win for the game.

There are certainly some major positives in the game. The NRL will control the schedule. The money is a huge increase on the last deal. Footy moves permanently to Thursday night. International football will have a dedicated window.

There were some big casualties though. Nine now gets four games – which means four games of awful commentary and none-existent analysis. Expansion is seemingly off the agenda. Monday night footy is gone. State of Origin has one game shifted to a weekend. City-Country is seemingly dead. Fox Sports, one of the great supporters of the game, has been screwed. There has been no mention of a dedicated Rugby League channel.

There is plenty to consider but at first look it seems like Dave Smith and the NRL team have done a job good enough to earn their bonuses but not enough to put Rugby League on the right path.

Reactionary NRL At It Again: The NRL has again shown itself to be an organisation more reactionary than the Reagan administration with its decision to amend the shoulder charge rule with just four weeks of the season to go. It was no doubt a reaction to the embarrassment caused by the Kane Evans shoulder charge that was widely applauded. No competition in the world changes rules with a month to play. The NRL has had over a year to consider this yet does nothing until humiliated. The League has once again shown no leadership.

Ranking The Run In: From easiest to hardest, the run-in for every team:

North Queensland (4 wins)
Cronulla (4 wins)
Sydney Roosters (4 wins)
Canterbury (3 wins)
Canberra (3 wins)
St George Illawarra (3 wins)
Manly (2 wins)
Brisbane (2 wins)
Penrith (2 wins)
New Zealand (1 win)
South Sydney (1 win)
Wests Tigers (1 win)
Melbourne (1 win)
Newcastle (0 wins)
Parramatta (0 wins)
Gold Coast (0 wins)

Super League: The Super League decision to split their top two tiers into three competitions late in the season seems to have been a masterstroke. It was fabulous seeing the likes of Halifax and Leigh back competing for a Super League berth as the likes of Wakefield and Hull KR look to avoid relegation. It is a brilliant concept and one Blake Solly and the Super League administration should be applauded for.

Thunderlips Boyd: Raiders boom bench forward Shannon Boyd has the biggest lips in the NRL. Kim Kardashian would be proud.

2015 Field Goal Count – 32: The lack of field goals in recent weeks has been sickening with yet another round passing sans a first grade field goal. Somebody help … this is one of the critical issues facing Rugby League.

Fun Fact #1: Andrew Fifita leads all props in tackle breaks with 64. Second-placed Kade Snowden has just 36.

Fun Fact #2: Semi Radradra, Mahe Fonua and Alex Johnston are the only three wingers with more than three try assists.

Fun Fact #3: James Maloney leads all halves  in missed tackles (75) and penalties conceded (17).

Rumour Mill: Former Broncos coach Anthony Griffin has emerged as a legitimate contender

What I Love About … Cameron Munster: The Melbourne Storm may yet need succession plans for hooker Cameron Smith, halfback Cooper Cronk and coach Craig Bellamy but the club is sorted at fullback with Cameron Munster emerging as the man to replace Billy Slater in the No.1 jersey. Munster was absolutely electric against the Titans and has enjoyed a fabulous season, averaging 143 metres and nearly five tackle busts a game, to go with five tries. In an era of great fullbacks, another one has come from the smoke.

Betting Market of the Week: After announcing the next free-to-air television deal, Dave Smith and the team at the NRL will be:

$1001: Investing it – in referees, in grassroots footy, in grounds.
$2.50: Spending it – as they usually do – on hire cars, fancy dinners and being late to meetings.
$2.00: Patting each other on the back about what a great deal they’ve driven.
$1.50: Celebrating – with handjob karaoke, a bunker and probably a Wallabies game on the telly

Manly Collapse Update: The Sea Eagles have little to fear about this year with their premiership odds halved and the club now even money to play finals football in Geoff Toovey’s farewell year. The Eagles dominated the defending premiers on Friday and sit just a win outside the Top 8. Don’t expect Toovey to be coaching next year though as he sits back on his payout and waits for a more enticing opportunity than Newcastle emerges.

The Coaching Crosshairs: Andrew McFadden is very much in the gun of New Zealand Warriors management who are concerned about giving a coach who has shown little in two seasons such an impressive array of talent. The Warriors have been given the NRL’s easiest draw two years straight seasons yet will miss the finals again. Craig Bellamy is again the target but won’t go. It would be great to see the Walker Brothers given an opportunity with such talent but they won’t be considered. David Kidwell is the early favourite to take over if McFadden is dumped.

Referee Power Rankings: The most egregious non-call of the weekend was Ashley Klein’s refusal to use the sin bin on Jeremy Smith when he tripped Roger Tuivasa-Sheck when he was on the lookout for a quick tap. The referees’ refusal to use the sin bin is embarrassing to both them and the game. Shame on any referee who partakes in this NRL-sanctioned  conspiracy. Of course, all of these referees – all without bottle – do.

  1. Adam Devcich (1)
  2. Matt Cecchin (2)
  3. Ben Cummins (3)
  4. Gavin Badger (4)
  5. Gerard Sutton (5)
  6. Grant Atkins (6)
  7. Jared Maxwell (7)
  8. Ashley Klein (n/a)

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 22: Brisbane-Canterbury, 16-18. It is hard to go past two Top 8 teams playing a dramatic clash in front of a big crowd. This isn’t game of the year stuff but it was very good football for a long time.  The Broncos got off to a flyer through Corey Oates but led by the excellent Josh Jackson, the Dogs fought back for a super road win.

Ricky Stuart Stat of the Week: Three current NRL coaches have a worse all-time records than Ricky Stuart – Danny Buderus (0%), Brad Arthur (42.9%) and Jason Taylor (43.5%).

Beard Watch: Sam Kasiano may be a big man who looks bigger with his obscene beard but he is still a little fella who needs his mum’s support. Mrs Kasiano leapt to Sam’s defence last week as she spoke out on the shoulder charge. All these tough footballers are, deep down, just sons who love their mums and god bless them because of it.

Correspondence Corner: Ctpe, Roddy Piper was brilliant on Sunny. A fine farewell.

Taro, Andrew McFadden has made some very strange calls this year.

Watch It: It is great to see this column’s old favourite – the one and only Special Needs Penguin – back in the news. The man also known as Ben Pomeroy was sent off for Catalans over the weekend for a shocking shoulder charge gone awry over the weekend against St Helens. The Dragons went on to win and it can only be assumed it was because of getting 37 minutes of sweet relief. Watch it here.

Next Week: There will be no From The Couch next week thanks to the joys of moving house. #PrayForTedeschi

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  1. From The Couch: Round 22 – | August 10, 2015
  1. Table for 1 for Mr Tedeschi, on the menu Mr Tedeschi for you to eat, is your words on Jarryd Haynes NFL prospects.

  2. Davey G says:

    I heard the NRL have banned players from driving cars to games in case they have an accident on the way.

  3. Gus says:

    Knight Vision. As said in response to Peter Sterling earlier this week, tell that to James Ackermans family.

  4. Mike Butterfield says:

    The players & supporters of East Tigers have been ruling the day Billy Slater got injured, we were hoping that The Munster would be around for the season but alas he won’t unless the Storm get knocked out early then just maybe???????

  5. Knight Vision says:

    “Ben Pomeroy was sent off for Catalans over the weekend for a shocking shoulder charge”

    Surely you jest.

    I’m concerned with the way the game is headed to be honest. I loved playing and encourage my 2 sons to play the great game. Slowly but surely it’s turning into a game of touch footy. Boring ,bland and dull.

    There is a reason why MMA is arguably the fastest growing sport on the planet.It’s a hard brutal and gladiatorial contest. I find myself watching footy these days is just sad and frustrating. It’s been hijacked by PC fools. Accidents happen in all walks of life, from climbing a ladder , surfing, bee stings , nut allergies , ….if you wipe out all the risk life is just plain boring.Good luck with that.

    Bring back the biff, the shoulder charge and be a man or go and play marbles or some other sport more suited to the fairer sex. Go and play soccer , whatever but just leave the great game alone.

  6. ctpe says:

    What will a dedicated league channel bring that is not already shown? Live games are shown, replays are shown, State Cup games are shown, and the crap talking heads shows are there. There is nothing that it will bring. Ch 501 is the league channel, just not in name.

    And if you leave Ch 9 what are you left with. Just the same coverage on Seven. Just replace Cameron Williams with Jim Wilson, Phil Gould with Steve Roach, Ray Warren with Andrew Moore. Have you heard the other guys out there? Not much better, just more of the same old same old. Ch 10 is out of the equation at the moment as they are basically broke. The Foxtel merger and the influx of funds has not and probably will not be approved, due to too many Murdoch fingers in too many pies. Ten’s coverage will just be the Fox Sports coverage.

    Expansion off the agenda is the final finger from News. They still own 68% of the Broncos, and one of the conditions of their exit was no second Brisbane team for a period. Brisbane 2 is the only viable option. The NZ market isn’t calling for a second team. A successful Warriors is a better expansion of the game in NZ then two ordinary teams. Central Coast adds nothing, and the locals just want the Bears to go away before they commit to a local team. Perth is the only other option, but it will be too hard for too long starting a team from scratch over there. Also, there just isn’t the player pool to cover 17 or 18 teams

    • Mav63 says:

      BrisBane is the second largest RL market in the world, given that there simply must be a second team here. Perth is a no brainer as it gives us a true national camp with an extra Timezone. Don’t want to expand? Then cut some of the dead weight in Sydney.

  7. andrey says:

    smthng wrong with rumour mill, we want more

  8. Zig says:

    considering you are only finally moving to the lunatic asylum, how hard is it to pack a suitcase? I think that the shoulder charge rule change is the right way to go. I’m all for toughness to be celebrated in our game but it is for a bygone era. Btw, I was an old front-rower who was proficient in its use, so not speaking from an uneducated position.