Brown A Bad Decision: The Newcastle Knights had the opportunity to think wide. They had the chance for some blue square thinking. They had an opportunity to break free of the rut that has hampered them for a decade when looking for a new coach. But rather than chase a big name, bring in a young prospect or better, go after an innovator, they reverted to type and settled for a middle tier coach tried before without any notable success in Australia. Nothing will change at Newcastle until the mindset does.
Hardball Does Not Suit Smith: David Smith’s ridiculous comments that the NRL does not need Fox Sports should have everyone in Rugby League incredibly scared. The NRL does need to be on Fox Sports. It does need cash. And Smith has screwed it up. It seems his business acumen is on par with his knowledge of Rugby League.
Moronic Maloney: The Sydney Roosters are so far ahead of any other side this year that it would seem they could only really stop themselves. That appears to be exactly what they are doing with James Maloney facing a likely suspension after kicking a Souths opponent on Friday night. If he and Mitch Pearce are out the Chooks are going to find it very hard to break down the quality Storm defence.
Jokers: There is nothing more bemusing to a tried-and-true Rugby League fan than seeing rah-rah windbags Peter Fitzsimmons and Alan Jones have a public spat about, of course, Rugby League. Neither are qualified to comment on the greatest game. Jones’ attempt to coach Balmain was laughable while Fitzsimmons has done nothing but try to push an inferior code down the throats of his broadsheet readership.
Farewell, David Stagg: Few players have snuck under the radar more than David Stagg but over a lengthy career that saw him win premierships and play Origin football, it was great to see him get a farewell game for the Broncos on Thursday. Great teams are built on the likes of Stagg, unfashionable and tough and loving the dirty work. He will be sorely missed.
Fun Fact #1: Tim Browne landed his first kick at goal in his 59th game on Sunday.
2015 Field Goal Update – 37: Cooper Cronk can slot a one-pointer and did so again against Brisbane on Thursday to ice a 15-8 win.
Rumour Mill: Matt Ballin looks set to head to the Wests Tigers next year as a replacement for Robbie Farah. Farah’s likely destination is the Knights. Will Hopoate looks set to join the Dragons. Joey Leilua is on the outer at Canberra already with his ill-discipline putting Ricky Stuart offside. Canterbury are continuing negotiations with Sonny Bill Williams in a proposed deal that should absolutely never happen. Michael Morgan will play for the Cowboys next week.
Betting Market of the Week: Robbie Farah’s match-costing penalty against St George Illawarra was:
$2.10: The correct call – he was offside
$2.60: The incorrect call – referees never blow penalties in Golden Point
$1.80: A giant fuck you to Jason Taylor – Robbie showing how dirty he can play
Manly Collapse Update: Manly missed the finals for the first time since 2005, they were gutted by injury and embarrassingly sacked their beloved coach but finished the season on a genuine high with a courageous win against rivals Cronulla in what was Geoff Toovey’s final game. The Sea Eagles were all heart and grit in their win over the Sharks despite being put out of the finals the night prior by an extra-time Dragons win. Manly will be just fine if Trent Barrett can tap into the heart shown on Sunday afternoon.
What I Like About … Jarryd Hayne: These pages – going back many years – have long criticised Jarryd Hayne. He was without question a supreme talent but at times his attitude was a poor reflection on himself and his footy club. Only now, as he emerges as an NFL player, has it become clear his poor attitude was more a reflection on Parramatta than Hayne. The story of Hayne making it in the NFL is truly remarkable. Most gave him little hope. But he has succeeded. He has made the final roster of the San Francisco 49ers. He has shone at every opportunity. And now he is taking Rugby League to the world. All of Australia will be cheering his every play. Get aboard the Hayne Plane. It is soaring to new heights.
The Coaching Crosshairs: Speculation has been running rife that Penrith coach Ivan Cleary has fallen out with General Manager Phil Gould. That speculation went into overdrive today when Cleary spoke to Gould’s nemesis Phil ‘Buzz’ Rothfield. The Panthers endured a very disappointing season after playing preliminary final football last year but have had excuses. The club would be mad to let him go but Cleary has been linked to a return to the Warriors. If the Panthers do axe Cleary, Gould will almost certainly go for young prospect Garth Brennan to take over.
Referee Power Rankings: The video refereeing in the Parramatta-Canberra match was nothing short of criminal with Shayne Hayne awarding two tries to Semi Radradra that were blatant drops. We can have absolutely no faith in the video officials going forward into the finals.
- Adam Devcich (1)
- Ben Cummins (3)
- Matt Cecchin (2)
- Ashley Klein (5)
- Gerard Sutton (4)
- Jared Maxwell (7)
- Gavin Reynolds (6)
- Henry Perenara (8)
Game of the Year Nomination, Round 26: Brisbane-Melbourne, 8-15. Top quality teams played an outstanding match with the Storm signalling that they are far from out of contention by clinching a second-chance with a gripping win. Cameron Munster is a superstar on the rise. Their defence is as sound as any team not named the Roosters. On the back of their third game in 10 days, their courage cannot be underestimated.
Ricky Stuart Stat of the Week: Canberra’s ninth-placed finish is Ricky Stuart’s highest since 2008. Over that time he has coached five seasons at three clubs.
Beard Watch: It was pleasing to see a beard top the tryscoring tally this year with Semi Radradra finishing top with an incredible 23 tries. Radradra finished the season with a double. Radradra is the first bearded player to finish top tryscorer since Nigel Vagana in 2002.
Watch It: With the sad passing of great Rugby League journalist Alan Clarkson, we go back to 1979 and Clarkson’s fabulous television show ‘Controversy Corner’ where he tangled with the likes of Rex Mossop, Noel Kelly and Ferris Ashton. Watch him in action here.