From The Couch: Round 24

Filed in From The Couch, NRL by on August 25, 2014

ASADA Had Nothing, Have Nothing: The ASADA bully boys think they have put a win on the Cronulla Sharks but their backdated penalty that will see players miss just three games – meaningless ones for most – is nothing but a clear indication that these incompetent fools – and the old political types who were running their agenda against the NRL like Kate Lundy – were nothing but doomsayers full of bluster with little substance.

Theoretically, ASADA achieved a conviction and a number of NRL players accepted the notion of guilt in relation to talking performance enhancing drugs. But nobody in the game thinks the players had much idea what was going on, nobody thinks they are legitimate drug cheats and few believe they systematically tried to rort the game. The players had no choice but to essentially take the deal it was that lenient. And it was that lenient because ASADA had nothing. Nobody views – or will view – the Sharks players who took the deal as Rodney Howe or Robbie O’Davis. These were innocent pawns.

Was the club innocent? I doubt it very much. It is hard not to believe Shane Flanagan and the training staff were either heavily involved or negligent in their oversight.

The players though were probably only guilty of lacking the gall to stand up to authority figures, a difficult task for young players brought up in an environment of conformity. I am glad they took the deal. It was good for the players and good for the game. And it has shown up ASADA, the politicians that worked against League and in the end, it will probably help bring about the downfall of those involved.

The nerve of ASADA to show up to Shark Park on Sunday on solidified in my mind that this is a mongrel organisation who preys on the weak and uses bully-boy tactics to win convictions because they can’t find any hard evidence.

It is pleasing that this saga has come to an end. And when the dust settles, none of the players will be tarnished. None.

If There Was An Open Draft: If all rookies who made their debut this year were available in a pre-season draft this year – and there was no ability to hoard local juniors – here is how it would have gone down now:

  1. Parramatta: Mitchell Moses – Eels needed halves help, Moses top prospect.
  2. Wests Tigers: Alex Johnston – Lack outside back talent so would have lapped up flyer.
  3. St George Illawarra: Bryce Cartwright – Need quality in forward pack badly.
  4. Canberra: Michael Lichaa – Have not had a solid hooker since Simon Woolford.
  5. Brisbane: Moses Mbye – Halves strength is Brisbane’s biggest weakness.
  6. New Zealand: Manu Ma’u – A better version already of Feleti Mateo.
  7. Penrith: Dallin Watene-Zelezniak – Panthers have faith in their system and their young gun.
  8. Gold Coast: Kirisome Auva’a – Need a centre more than the world needs Brett Kimmorley off TV
  9. North Queensand: Apisai Koroisau – Could use depth and class at hooker.
  10. Canterbury: Curtis Rona – Signed already for Dogs and perfect fit at outside back.
  11. Cronulla: Nene McDonald – The Sharks are gagging for some speed and skill out wide.
  12. Melbourne: Shannon Boyd – Craig Bellamy would back himself to get something out of Boyd.
  13. Newcastle: Pauli Pauli – Would love a skilful prop who could use the ball.
  14. South Sydney: David Fuisitu’a – With no Johnson or Auva’a, they would need backs.
  15. Manly: Paul Carter – The perfect Manly type, a tough feisty competitor.
  16. Sydney Roosters: Sione Mata’utia – Fits in perfectly to the post-Mini plans.

Steve Clark Must Go: Video referee Steven Clark must be sacked as a video referee and he must be sacked now. Only his twisted, perverted mind could come up with the no try decision against Chris Sandow on Friday night. Sandow ran over untouched. A try should have been awarded yet Clark, as he is wont to do, found some ridiculous interpretation not to award the try. It was embarrassing and could have ended the Eels’ season. Clark continues to think he is the smartest person in the game and it is destroying fans’ faith in the video referee system. If he continues to be employed by the NRL, the League deserves all the trouble they get.

Taking the Mickey Potter: It is pretty apparent Mick Potter won’t be coaching the Tigers next year as he continues to stick with the most obscene selection decision since The Wok picked Greg Smith – playing the slow, lumbering Cory Paterson in the three-quarter line. Paterson’s attempts to tackle Tim Lafai were laughable. Surely his ongoing selection is one last F-you to a club that has done its best to screw him.

Must Buy: Do yourself a favour and get yourself a copy of Ian Heads’ new book on the 1974 Western Division Amco Cup heroes The Night The Music Died. It is a truly incredible read, one of the best Rugby League books you will read anywhere. Heads is Rugby League’s greatest living author and this is a story that few know and all must.

Fun Fact #1: Opposition right-side three-quarters have scored eight tries in three games since Cory Paterson moved to the three-quarter line.

Fun Fact #2: Jamie Soward when coached by quality mentors Wayne Bennett, Ivan Cleary and Chris Anderson is 64-32. Under poor coaches Ricky Stuart, Nathan Brown and Steve Price he is 37-49.

Fun Fact #3: Cronulla spent Sunday – quite humorously – celebrating the anniversary of their 1994 Presidents Cup and Grand Final triumphs! To be fair the Presidents Cup team included 13 future first graders and a future Cronulla coach in Stuart Raper. Players include David Peachey, Mat Rogers, Adam Dykes and Dean Treister.

Rumour Mill: Brett Stewart will almost certainly be playing for Canterbury next year. A deal is as good as done and will be announced after the finals. Some good news could be on the horizon for the Sharks with the club making headway into signing Souths playmaker Adam Reynolds. He could become close to the richest player in the game if he is released. Brett Morris has reportedly asked the Dragons for a release to join the Bulldogs … according to Buzz Rothfield. Willie Mason is off to the Dragons though. There is speculation South Sydney legend Nathan Merritt will find himself at Cronulla in 2015.

What I Like About … Cronulla v Canberra: Almost nothing. It was the most diabolical match featuring some of the worst players you will ever be likely to see. It was an embarrassment to Rugby League and brought into question Rugby League’s status as the Greatest Game of All. The play was so slow even Ricky Stuart could keep up. Players rarely spread the ball. When they did, it was dropped. Tackling was rare but scoring as near impossible. The highlight of the match was the woman who got whacked square on the head by a penalty kick in what was one of the great falcons. Worst game of the year, one of the worst I’ve seen.

Betting Market of the Week: The likely betting in a number of League v Union matches, played under whatever silly hybrid rules they come up with:

$1.01/$51: Kangaroos v Wallabies
$1.01/$101: Wests Tigers with Cory Paterson v Waratahs
$1.01/$1001: Wests Tigers without Cory Paterson v Waratahs
$1.70/$2.30: Canberra Raiders Coached by Ricky Stuart v Wallabies

Funniest Eels Moment of the Week: Poor old Fuifui Moimoi. While the result of Friday’s clash with Manly justifies his absence, his non-selection last Friday night was poor and apparently a result of club politics. Moimoi is a long-standing and highly respected club servant who deserved better … better than being stuck behind Ben Smith and an injured David Gower.

Power Rankings:
1. South Sydney 14-8 (1)
2. Sydney Roosters 14-8 (3)
3. Manly 15-7 (2)
4. Penrith 14-8 (4)
5. North Queensland 12-10 (5)
6. Melbourne 12-10 (6)
7. Brisbane 11-11 (8)
8. Parramatta 12-10 (10)

9. Canterbury 13-9 (9)
10. St George Illawarra 11-11 (11)
11. New Zealand 11-11 (7)
12. Newcastle 8-14 (12)
13. Gold Coast 8-14 (13)
14. Wests Tigers 9-13 (15)
15. Canberra 6-16 (16)
16. Cronulla 5-17 (14)

The Coaching Crosshairs: With St George Illawarra finally inking a deal with interim coach Paul McGregor, just one vacancy remains for the 2015 season. The Titans are the only club yet to appoint a permanent coach though interim boss Neil Henry is expected to get the gig. Broncos coach Anthony Griffin has made inquiries about the job as has Kevin Walters. Two more hammerings and the Titans job could be pulled from Henry’s grasp …

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 24: Parramatta-Manly, 22-12. Parramatta Stadium truly is one of the best venues to watch Rugby League at anywhere in the world and the near-sellout crowd was presented with an absolute treat when Eels overcame a 12-0 halftime deficit to record a memorable 22-12 win against one of their most loathed rivals. Semi Radradra’s length-of-the-field try was one of the best of the season while Chris Sandow kicked arguably the greatest 40/20 in premiership history. Wonderful game.

Ricky Stuart Stat of the Week #1: Ricky Stuart’s Raiders were down 6-0 at halftime against a Cronulla team that was missing 17 players. Ouch.

Ricky Stuart Stat of the Week #2: The Canberra Raiders have four players with Origin experience yet are running second last. Penrith are entrenched in the Top 4 yet have only five players who have Origin experience.

Correspondence Corner: WittyReference, Ben Te’o copped more because nobody cares for rugby union.

Mav63, my career is the Career That Ricky Built! To paraphrase a terrible Pearl Jam song (are there any others?) – “Oh where, oh where, could my career be? the lord took Ricky away from me. He’s gone to the Rugby League wilderness, so I’ve got to be good, so I can see my Ricky at one more club.”

Beard Watch: This week we move away from beards and to haircuts and in particular the new do of referee Gavin Badger. Summoning Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver, Badger has gone the shaved sides with a version of a Mohawk on top. Wow is about all that can be said about that.

Watch It: With the Challenge Cup over the weekend, we go back to the 1968 final between Wakefield and Leeds and the most famous missed kick of all. With Leeds leading 11-10, the great Don Fox had a kick from in front to win Wakefield their sixth (and what would have been the most recent) Challenge Cup. Fox missed and the rest is history. Watch it here.



Comments (4)

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  1. Davey G says:

    Bunnies hadn’t been going too badly with Reynolds and Keary in the halves, Reynolds kicking stats are good, general kicking is easily in the top half of the competition, and while he’s no Jeff Robson he is not the turnstyle many other halves are in defense. So Bunnies have bought Cody Walker and are going to let Reynolds go? This sounds a lot like the Roosters recruitment of old – play a game or two, and if you don’t score 5 tries you are gone (ie Hannant / Soward etc).

    Could you also please advise who wrote that paragraph about the Eels and Manly game? Far too complimentary for your fine self.

  2. Andrew Quinn says:

    Interesting draft, given the constraints mentioned. Obviously a draft wouldn’t include such a variety of ages, but nonetheless Sione Mata’utia would be taken a lot higher by any smart club. 8th at the lowest.

  3. G_Dog says:

    Steve Clark has been involved in some of the most controversial referring decisions of the past decade and it is a travesty if Tony Archer persists with him. It appears that he must be one of Tony’s chronies.

  4. WittyReference says:

    They said in commentary that the Broncos only have 4 players that have played all games this season. I was wondering how the other clubs have faired? If that’s the average it’s a pretty low percentage.

    Your new book with Will looks good.