Weary Warriors: The New Zealand Warriors have taken my money for the last time. Once again they have proven themselves pretenders. They should have belted Brisbane in Auckland on Sunday but were crippled by their own stupidity and inconsistency. It defies belief that Manu Vatuvei can continually get away with having such horrid hands. Shaun Johnson may be the Golden Boot winner but is playing like a reserve grader. There is no excuse for having Jono Wright on the field, none at all. Andrew McFadden will get nowhere with the Warriors until he gets the club playing consistent, smart football – not the dumbass style they are running now. It is such a shame to see the Warriors in such a state – so much talent, so little hope.
Too Many Ads: I hate to follow the lead of my old copycat Buzz Rothfield – the man who has done his fair share of plagiarism from these pages – but he was spot on the mark for criticising Nine and the NRL for allowing the second Friday game to be shown on replay with a ridiculous number of ads. What other major sport in the world embarrasses itself by allowing a match to not be shown live anywhere in the country? The NRL should be deeply ashamed.
Alex McKinnon Cup: Rugby League can be a hard, cruel game at times but it has always had a kind heart and it is wonderful to see this weekend’s clash between the Knights and the Dragons honoured with the first Alex McKinnon Cup. It is a wonderful tribute to a courageous young man.
2015 Field Goal Count: 7 – What a great weekend for the field goal with five slotted in a field goal feast! It kicked off with Chris Sandow and Moses Mbye slotting one-pointers on Friday – the latter a golden point match-winner – before a spectacular three on Monday from Test halves pairing Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk. Let’s hope for more weekends like this.
Fun Fact #1: Ben Pomeroy – The Special Needs Penguin – scored 52 tries in his Under-12s season.
Fun Fact #2: The Sydney Roosters players 1-6 all scored tries against the Canberra Raiders on Sunday.
Rumour Mill: The race is on for James Maloney with Canterbury apparently in front of both Manly and the Sydney Roosters. Maloney is slated to wear the No.7 with Josh Reynolds. The dominoes will fall with Trent Hodkinson expected to join either the Sea Eagles or Sharks and Aiden Sezer a certainty to join Manly. Jeff Robson will shift to Super League. Canterbury are also in the race for Israel Folau though that is a long shot. There is more to the Dane Nielsen story than has been released. James Tamou will be at the Dragons in 2016.
What I Like About … Roger Tuivasa-Sheck: There is no more graceful player to watch in the NRL than Sydney Roosters fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. He has the footwork of Baryshnikov with the vision of a dragonfly and boy can he bust a tackle. He has become a star at fullback after just a month owning the No.1 jumper. His upside is the best player in the game. Watching him develop has been an absolute treat.
Betting Market of the Week: Included in Sam Kasiano’s deal to re-sign with the Bulldogs was:
$3.00: A clause that ensures he is the club’s third string halfback
$4.00: A clause that gives him a release if doppelganger Frank Pritchard isn’t re-signed
$1.20: A voucher for 13 kebabs per week from Belmore Classic Kebabs
Manly Collapse Update: The Sea Eagles have dropped three straight – including a loss to the hapless Dragons – and have been decimated by injury with Feleti Mateo, Brenton Lawrence, Jamie Lyon and Josh Starling added to an increasingly big injury list. The forward pack got molested by the Dragons last week – it was humiliating – and it isn’t getting any better with the roster the Eagles have. It will be a major shock if Manly find themselves anywhere near the eight in 2015.
Referee Power Rankings: Matt Cecchin won’t be getting off the bottom of the power rankings anytime soon if his performance in the Warriors-Broncos clash is anything to go by.
- Gerard Sutton (1)
- Ashley Klein (2)
- Ben Cummins (4)
- Adam Devcich (3)
- Jared Maxwell (5)
- Gavin Badger (6)
- Matt Cecchin (7)
The Coaching Crosshairs: Word out of the Manly camp is that Geoff Toovey will be fired next week if the Sea Eagles get rolled by the Raiders in Albury. Manly have not lost four straight since 2009 and the club has reportedly already cut a deal to bring in Trent Barrett in 2016. Toovey is gone and it could happen soon.
Correspondence Corner: Ryan, I’m always fired up pal!
Madpunter, there are no automatic solutions but here is the start:
1-Hold those who make wrong decisions accountable
2-Clean up the rulebook
3-Invest more money into officials
4-Eradicate video referees altogether and have on-field officials review decisions
Game of the Year Nomination, Round 4: North Queensland-Melbourne, 18-17. There were some cracking games across the weekend but the pick had to be the Monday night clash where the Cowboys overcame a seven-point deficit in the final five minutes to win in golden point on the back of a Johnathan Thurston drop goal. It was an astonishing comeback with Thurston’s poise quite remarkable. The Storm were harshly treated but the finish was something very special.
Ricky Stuart Stat of the Week: Stuart is 2-9 against the Sydney Roosters since being sacked from the club in 2006.
Beard Watch: Canberra’s Blake Austin might have the most unique beard in the NRL, a strange devil-like goaty that has him looking like he belongs in a Stephen King movie circa 1987.
Watch It: There is something special about watching old Rugby League and this week we go back to 1939 for a Christmas Test between Wales and England at the Odsal in Bradford. The great goalkicking fullback Jim Sullivan kicked five goals in the 16-3 win to the Welsh in a side that contained greats Gus Risman, Trevor Foster and Frank Whitcombe. Watch it here.