From The Couch: Round 4

Filed in From The Couch, NRL by on April 1, 2013

The Story of a Damned Fool: Josh Dugan may be the personification of a moron. Only a legitimate idiot would throw away $2 million on a drunken Twitter rant after throwing away over $1 million on a drunken Twitter rant.

I have long been an admirer of Josh Dugan’s talents. I have also been steadfast in believing the NRL have no right to refuse registration for his next contract. But Dugan has shown he is so self-absorbed, so self-delusional, so immature and so in need of psychological help that no club with any self-respect can sign him.

Dugan had all but secured a contract with the Broncos, who were in desperate need of his playmaking talents. They are a club with a strong culture that could have got the best out of Dugan. But Dugan couldn’t keep his mouth shut, engaging in some low-level twitter back-and-forth that even a loud mouth like Willie Mason wouldn’t lower himself to responding to. He declared that he wanted to sleep with the guy’s wife and that the man should kill himself. Classy.

Josh Dugan is clearly not ready to play big-time football. So let him go. To Super League. To oblivion. Worse, to rugby. He may finally get some respect for the game, the fans and the position he holds. We certainly won’t be seeing him again in 2013. We may not see him in the NRL again either.

Lay Off Anderson: There is some serious garbage being spread regarding the obstruction rule. HG Wells would be proud of the hysteria caused by some coaches, players and fans in recent weeks, saying the game will implode upon itself with players diving, the second man play abolished and attack all but shrivelling up if the current interpretation persists.

Daniel Anderson has attempted to bring consistency to a rule that is mired in grey. He isn’t attempting to make it black and white but he is attempting to ensure that the interpretation is simple enough that it carries from game to game. And it is not unreasonable for decoy runners not to initiate contact with the defensive line. On-field referees have discretion if they believe a defender is diving and have shown same. While there have been some unfortunate no-try decisions, Anderson has done more in a month than his two predecessors did in nearly a decade.

While it may not be totally ideal, we are on the right track. And if this means clubs need to be more creative than running boring second man plays, so be it. The likes of Robbie Farah and Ivan Cleary should be more worried about the form of their own attacks rather than

Hit the Pine, Krisnan: The Canterbury Bulldogs will be the long-term winners with Krisnan Inu likely to be suspended for at least five weeks and possibly seven. He deserves a long stint. His tackle on Greg Inglis was highly reckless, if not intentional. He drove Inglis all the way into the turf and was lucky not to injure the Bunnies custodian. At any rate, his attitude this year has been ordinary and he has put in about as much effort as Josh Dugan puts into his Twitter rants. Tim Lafai will get the call up and will give much more effort for 80 minutes than Inu has all season.

Potter’s Poo-Poo: Wests Tigers coach Mick Potter made two terrible blues that cost the Tigers any chance of victory against the Sea Eagles. While Manly may still have collected the two points, the Tigers were severely hamstrung by Potter’s decision to start James Tedesco on the wing before dragging Robbie Farah for a crucial 15-minute period and replacing him with Masada Iosefa. Tedesco is a fine player who will be a long-term first grade but he is a fullback who was dreadfully exposed on the flank. With Matt Utai available, it was an unnecessarily risky call. Tedesco should have been in the team – and Tim Moltzen should have been in reserve grade, where he belongs. And taking an 80-minute matchwinner like Farah off was just the height of stupidity. Farah was not tired and is regarded as one of the most valuable players in the premiership yet was hooked for no apparent reason. He was not happy after the game. Nor should he have been.

A Bomb Waiting to Explode: Akuila Uate is capable of amazing things on the rugby league field. He has won the last three Dally M Winger of the Year awards and has crossed for an astonishing 76 tries in 94 games. He has become such a liability in defence, however, that he can’t possibly be considered for NSW selection in 2013. Uate was exposed by Canberra, a team so incapable of playing to a game plan that they would be more likely to re-sign Josh Dugan than actually be able to target the weakness of an opponent. His hands are also anything but safe. The worst thing is Uate seems totally uninterested in fixing these flaws in his game. It would be a tragedy if Uate got the nod ahead of players like Nathan Merritt and Michael Gordon, the Blues would deserve to suffer an eight straight series defeat.

Rugby League Ratings: A site worth checking out for rugby league nerds is Rugby League Ratings. While it is incomplete, it attempts to use the Elo System to rate teams historically. The page to check out is the best Australian teams from 1910-50 here. Not surprisingly, the Eastern Suburbs teams of 1936-37 rated as the two best ahead of the 1927 Bunnies. This will be an interesting site once filled out. 

Worth Reading: Anyone after an interesting piece should read this fantastic article on “Smokin’” Joe Kilroy from Robert Craddock in The Courier Mail. Check it out here

The Kind of Footballer to Worry About: ManlywingerJorge Taufua this week said he was unaware Ben Barba had made his comeback to the NRL last Friday. He said he doesn’t watch football and doesn’t read about the game. Apparently he is deaf and blind as well. It would explain his ball handling. Taufua may be able to run and finish but he is a liability in defence and with a loose ball in his own half, averaging 1.5 errors a clash. NRL players should appreciate the game they are making a living from, not just milk it for coin without an interest in its present or its future. Manly can have Jorge Taufua – and any of those players who only see rugby league as a cash cow and nothing else.  

Travis Bickle Lookalike: Well done to Manly No.7 Daly Cherry-Evans for claiming the worst haircut of  the year award …and forcing Phil Gould and Peter Sterling to explain to Ray Warren who Bickle was. It was high comedy and I mean high. Brad Fittler would certainly have enjoyed it.

Meaningless Field Goal Update: It was a quality weekend for meaningless field goals with Adam Reynolds booting one for the Bunnies with the score 16-6 late in the clash with Canterbury. The final ended up 17-12. Raiders halfback Sam Williams also tried one just before the break, hoping to send the Raiders up 13-10. Nice work lads.

Fun Fact #1: There have been four shutouts this season after four rounds. Last season, there was just seven.

Fun Fact #2: New Zealand coach Matthew Elliott has coached against 11 of the current crop of NRL coaches. He has a winning record against just John Cartwright (3-2) and David Furner (4-2). His overall record against current NRL coaches is 28-64-2 (29.8%).

The Willie M Medal: Such has been the popularity of The Willie M Medal that it has become bigger than the confines of From The Couch. The Willie M Medal votes and leaderboard will now be published each and every Tuesday. So check in tomorrow for all the latest Willie M action.

Power Rankings:
1. Melbourne 4-0 (1)
2. South Sydney 4-0 (2)
3. Manly 3-1 (3)
4. Newcastle 3-1 (5)
5. Gold Coast 3-1 (6)
6. Sydney Roosters 3-1 (9)
7. Canterbury 1-3 (7)
8. Cronulla 2-2 (4)
9. Brisbane 1-3 (11)
10. Wests Tigers 2-2 (9)
11. North Queensland 1-3 (10)
12. Penrith 1-3 (12)
13. New Zealand 1-3 (16)
14. St George Illawarra 1-3 (15)
15. Canberra 1-3 (14)
16. Parramatta 1-3 (13)

Rumour Mill: Tim Sheens is reportedly in contact with St George Illawarra and could take over anytime. It is highly unlikely Steve Price will make it to 2014. The Wests Tigers are in the market for prop forwards. Joel Clinton and Ray Cashmere have both been mentioned but don’t be surprised to see George Rose make the move across from Manly. Retired prop John Skandalis is another possibility if the injury run continues. The Josh Papalii saga is reportedly far from over with the Eels supposedly cranking up their offer for the indecisive Raiders bopper. Melbourne No.6 Gareth Widdop is supposedly in the sights of the Broncos, who are desperate for a playmaker. Widdop prefers to play fullback so could be enticed north. Todd Carney is very seriously considering an offer from St George Illawarra. The Sharks remains favourites to keep the NSW pivot but the Dragons are in with a shot. The Dragons have already made a move for Daniel Mortimer but the Roosters hit the release on the head. Craig Wing won’t be making an NRL comeback soon, despite the rumours.

What I Like About … Tyrone Roberts: The pudgy young Newcastle halfback can play and has shown as much with two show-and-go tries in the space of a week. He has wheels and he has smarts and he has a big future, be it at Newcastle or one of the many clubs that need a legitimate playmaker. You need to be a pretty good player to shift Kurt Gidley about and Roberts is just that. Burdened by Jarrod Mullen at No.6, the Knights need Roberts on the paddock for 80 minutes. Ideally, Mullen would be dumped, Boyd moved to No.6 and Gidley to No.1 but the likely scenario is Gidley will play hooker and lock when Danny Buderus hits the field. Keep an eye on young Tyrone. He is set for a breakout season.

Betting Market of the Week: Josh Dugan’s next foray onto Twitter will be:

$3.25: To show his latest tattoo – of hero The Iron Sheik, tattooed on his left thigh
$4.00: To abuse Australia’s beloved treasure, Sophie Delezio
$13.00: To express an interesting, unique insight
$1.22: To bitch and moan and expect some sympathy for being rich, talented and spoilt.

Combo XIII of the Week: The Cronulla were born out of the district of the almighty St George Dragons. They have shared some tremendous players. Here is the best of that lot.

1.Kurt Wrigley (21 games for Cronulla, 5 games for St George)
2. Colin Best (126 for Cronulla, 45 games for St George Illawarra)
3. Graham Quinn (125 games for St George, 11 games for Cronulla)
4. Steve Rogers (202 games for Cronulla, 29 games for St George)
5. Nick Zisti (32 games for St George, 11 games for Cronulla)
6. Trent Barrett (154 games for St George Illawarra, 36 games for Cronulla)
7. Perry Haddock (44 games for Cronulla, 59 games for St George)
13. Jeremy Smith (30 games for St George Illawarra, 42 games for Cronulla)
12. John Maguire (2 games for St George, 137 games for Cronulla)
11. Ken Maddison (101 games for St George, 77 games for Cronulla)
10. Jason Stevens (64 games for St George, 167 games for Cronulla)
9. Monty Porter (119 games for St George, 22 games for Cronulla)
8. Lance Thompson (69 games for St George, 132 games for St George Illawarra, 38 for Cronulla)

The Coaching Crosshairs: The pressure is reportedly on St George Illawarra coach Steve Price, even after the Dragons broke through for their first win of the season. Former Wests Tigers mentor and current Australian coach Tim Sheens has been linked to both the Dragons and Warriors but has little interest in the latter. Sheens is reportedly prepared to step in midseason if required. There seems little that Price can do as his NRL career seems to be stuttering towards its inevitable conclusion.

The Life and Times of the Special Needs Penguin: Ben Pomeroy made his return to the NRL on Saturday night after a groin injury kept him hobbled for the first three rounds. And what a special return it was when the Penguin flipped the ball back in when nearly dead for a spectacular try assist. It was almost like he had flippers for hands!

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 4: Canterbury-South Sydney, 12-17. This season, the most exciting Sydney rivalry is that of the Bulldogs and Rabbitohs, who are set to fight it out for No.1 contender status to the Melbourne Storm’s title. Such is the excitement when these two square off that over 51,000 showed up to ANZ Stadium. The crowd was no doubt helped by the return of livewire Bulldogs fullback Ben Barba, who had a fine return. The game was of an exceptional standard but it was a Bulldogs injury this time that left a telling mark on proceedings when Michael Ennis went off with concussion. The Bulldogs couldn’t get it going in attack afterwards and were eventually beaten 17-12. These two are sure to be crossing paths again come September though.

Beard Watch: One issue with the refereeing ranks is that there is not an ounce of facial hair among them and I’m including whatever bum fluff resides on Brett Suttor’s head. Where is the Greg McCallum beard or the Mick Stone moustache or even the Kevin Roberts sideburns? Totally unacceptable. How can anyone respect an authority figure without facial hair? It is time Daniel Anderson comes down hard on his boys and enforces a “must-have” facial hair strategy.

Correspondence Corner: Davey G, great eye! Tony Williams is not playing with any depth and is clearly unprepared to adapt his game to the Canterbury style. That shouldn’t surprise. He has not put any effort in at Canterbury on the paddock at all. The Broncos need to find their rhythm and I think that means sticking with their current positional structure. The Eels’ pack is close to the least effective in the premiership.

Robert Horry and Semi Pro, no, Fa’aoso tried to lay on a shoulder charge, which should be legal. The risk of the shoulder charge can be stymied by cranking up penalties to such a way that players will only attempt them if they are sure they can do it safely. And safe shoulder charges should be allowed. Full stop.

Watch It: This needs no explanation and is worth watching in its entirety. The 1966 Grand Final between St George and Balmain, the last of the Saints’ tremendous 11 consecutive premierships. This is amazing footage and shows how different the game was nearly 50 years ago. The 1966 Grand Final also happens to be the decider that capped the season halfway between the beginning of the Sydney premiership and now. Watch it here


Comments (8)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Anonymous says:

    If the refs can’t tell a tackle attempt on a decoy runner a’la Lyons on th weekend then they may as well go do the soccer mob, I have never liked the decoy runners touching anyone, however the main hindrance has been to cover defenders having to run around the decoys.

  2. SemiiPro says:

    End of the Peptide era?

    The Peptide era of Rugby League was perhaps the most boring period in RL history. It was characterised by very, very dumb coaches who insisted on ‘getting to the kick’. Suffused by a delayed love affair of Moneyball like stats (how many Championships have Oakland won again?) the Peptide era coach insisted that completion rates was THE most important stat in the game. The Peptide era coach would insist that his team was awesome after it completed 85% of its sets while neglecting the once popular ‘for and against’ stat. You know the one – it’s also known as ‘the final score’ of each game.

    These dumb-dumb coaches insisted on their players being super fit, super dumb, staying only within their lanes and never, never doing anything off the cuff. It bored people silly. During this period there were only ever 4 decent teams to watch. The rest were god-awful teams happy to collect their $4million a year for turning up, sometimes.

    Peptide era coaches included R. Stuart, L. Daley, N. Henry, M. Elliot (probably a Queanbeyan United/West Belconnen thing). They were able to con the cheque writers into believing useless, useless stats like completion rates were much, much more important than wins/losses, fan engagement, success, etc. It is no coincidence the Peptide era coincided with the Global Financial Crises era. Just a really, really stupid time in world history.

  3. Anonymous says:

    "engaging in some low-level twitter back-and-forth that even a loud mouth like Willie Mason wouldn’t lower himself to responding to"


    Funny you mention Willie, didnt he do something similar not long ago?  Perhaps Dugan should claim his phone was "hacked", like Mason did

  4. Anonymous says:

    Roger Waters is a Manly fan. Him and Pink Floyd wrote a record dedicated to their D in 2013.




    Manly Fan.

  5. Anonymous says:

    "This season, the most exciting Sydney rivalry is that of the Bulldogs and Rabbitohs, who are set to fight it out for No.1 contender status to the Melbourne Storm’s title."

    This is a gee up right? I know you're a Dogs man, but surely you can't see a premiership contender in that side who JUST managed to beat the Eels for their only win in 2012. Manly and the Roosters have been far more impressive.

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed, of the five shutouts So far this year manly and easts have 2 each.

    • Anonymous says:

      uhhh both Roosters shutouts have hardly been impressive considering they were against a flacid Broncos and Eels. I'll be impressed when they knock off a top side

  6. Anonymous says:

    How can you consider the Bulldogs to be a challenger to the Storm and Rabbitohs? No where near the same class. 2012 was a fluke.