The Short Dropout: The short kickoff and dropout have long been advocated by these pages so it has been so great to see the Bulldogs using it. It was used almost exclusively on Thursday night and it got some great results including making Jordan Kahu look like an absolute dill. It could be argued that the short dropout turned the momentum in Canterbury’s favour in their huge upset win. That kind of initiative is needed more at the top level.
Chris Heighington is a True Mensch: It takes a special player to play 300 premiership games and Chris Heighington is just that. He is not a fashionable type. He isn’t the biggest player. He isn’t the strongest. But he is beloved by his teammates, he is relentless when he gets on the paddock and is as reliable as an old boot. No player in the NRL personifies Rugby League more than Heighington.
Matt Frawley: Des Hasler must find room for Matt Frawley. The Bulldogs need a half who can organise and kick and Frawley is just that. He looked cool, composed and centred and should be fostered for the rest of 2017.
Newcastle are Closer Than We All Thought: The Knights are not going to get out of the bottom four this year. But they are a lot closer than this judge or anyone thought. The key is that they keep on trying. They are responding to Nathan Brown. And he has unearthed some quality in Mitch Barnett, Brock Lamb and Nathan Ross. The Knights don’t deserve the spoon this year.
Fun Fact #1: Canterbury’s 10-7 win over Brisbane was the first 10-7 scoreline since 1986.
Fun Fact #2: Chris Heighington is one of just three 300-game players to have won premierships with two different clubs. The other two are Brad Fittler and Luke Priddis.
Fun Fact #3: Chris Heighington is the only 300-game player to start more than 100 matches from the bench. Second is Corey Parker with 84.
Betting Market of the Week: The chance of Matt Prior – who this week declared himself available for Origin – will be selected:
$1001: Will play Origin, ever, for any state, even if 98% of the NSW population is destroyed by an unstoppable virus.
$1.01: Will never play Origin because he isn’t very good and Bob Fulton doesn’t owe him any favours
Rumour Mill: Bob Fulton has lost a power struggle at Manly and a “graceful exit” will be staged over the next month or two. The Penn family have backed new CEO Tim Cleary in his battle with Fulton and Peter Peters, who will also go sooner rather than later. Former Manly boss Joe Kelly is set to take over from John Lee at the Sydney Roosters. Canterbury are rumoured to be in pursuit of ‘The Big 4’ from the Tigers but – sadly – they seem to only be interested in Mitchell Moses.
Robbie Farah’s Anger Level – Catastrophic: Robbie would not have enjoyed being dropped to the bench against the Cowboys. Playing just seven minutes would not have amused him in any way.
What I Like About … Melbourne’s Defence: Melbourne have long been hit with the tag of being just a three-man team but that is unfair, particularly when it comes to their defence, which on Saturday night as per usual was a 17-man effort. The Storm are relentless in defence, particularly on their goal-line. If one team was to worry them it was Penrith with their ability to keep the ball alive. But the Storm just kept coming, led in intensity by centre Will Chambers, who had his best ever match on Saturday. This season the Storm have not conceded more than 14 points. It is effort, energy and discipline that makes the Storm defence so incredible.
Game of the Year Nomination, Round 5: Sydney Roosters – Manly, 12 – 18. An absolute cracker of a game on a weekend where there was plenty of good footy. The Sea Eagles have really lifted and the last try set up by Brian Kelly was top notch.
The Coaching Crosshairs: Des Hasler will somehow survive at Canterbury and get a two-year extension despite strong rumours last week that he would be replaced by Ivan Cleary. The Bulldogs certainly sounded Cleary out. But without a firm offer he had little option but to take the Tigers gig. It has worked out for Hasler. It remains to be seen whether it works out for the Bulldogs.
Moronic Coaching Decision of the Week: Michael Maguire has a weird issue with playing new recruits. He killed Damien Cook last year. And now he has dumped Robbie Rochow to reserve grade when he has barely got any playing time when the Souths pack is as tough as a roomful of babies. Rochow should be playing 80 minutes of first grade every week.
Beard Watch: The moustache has well and truly made a resurgence in 2017 primarily thanks to your hipster types who enjoy the old 1970s dad drinking a stubby wearing a pair of stubbies kind of setup. The leader of that movement in the NRL is definitely Penrith’s Regan Campbell-Gillard. His fat moustache is something to behold, a real aging country cop type operator.
Correspondence Corner: Tony Monero, Tom Trbojevic should be the second back picked by the Blues after James Tedesco.
Kel and Differential Penalty, spot on about jerseys. Show some respect NRL!
Thetruthteller, the issue with Des has been that he has been given total power and he has destroyed a lot of what was important to the club. If the Dogs can’t get Cleary then Des is probably the best option but he still leaves a sour taste.
Davey G, Luke Brooks is no good.
Watch It: The Battle of Fartown was a brutal affair from the 1981 English season, a rolling brawl between Wigan and Huddersfield that saw six players sent off. Watch it here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPCR7idsvv8