From The Couch: Round 5

Filed in From The Couch, NRL by on April 14, 2011

Wayne Watch: As mentioned in this column first on the day after Darren Lockyer announced he would retire at the end of the season, Wayne Bennett will not be coaching the Brisbane Broncos in 2012 and will, instead, be calling the shots at Newcastle.

“Those with a penchant for reading between the lines have no doubt reached the conclusion that Darren Lockyer’s retirement is a clear indication that Wayne Bennett will not be at the Broncos in 2012. With South Sydney conceding defeat and St George-Illawarra reportedly aware that Bennett is leaving, that points to Wayne coaching in Newcastle in 2012 for a bucket-load of cash and the prospect of winning a title for a rugby league heartland.”

And so it has seemingly came to pass, with all those willing to naively buy into a fairytale Broncos return sat on their ass last Friday when the supercoach announced he would not be returning to the club.

Brisbane may have seemed like the favourite to many but they were always a long shot once Darren Lockyer announced his retirement. Lockyer is a sentimental type who would have loved nothing more than one final swansong under Bennett with the prospect of leaving a five-time premier. Bennett may be happier with how the Broncos are now being run but his desire to win titles at three different clubs and provide financial security for his children once he and his wife are gone always had Brisbane behind the eight-ball.

Bennett has a great deal of respect for Tinkler, he enjoys living out of the milieu of a major city, he has an appreciation for rugby league in the Hunter and he is being thrown a truckload of cash. It is a good fit and one rugby league fans should be happy to see. Hell, it is better than seeing him at Souths.

Good luck to Bennett and good luck to Newcastle. The Knights are, all of a sudden, title hopefuls in 2012.

I do hope Rick Stone is looked after though. Stone is an outstanding coach, underrated yet a potential ten-year mentor for a club. He obviously cannot compete with Bennett but it is hoped that he is named as Bennett’s successor at Newcastle and held on as an assistant or he is given the chance at another club. I would have few problems with him coming to Canterbury and Penrith are certainly one club that should look at Stone with Penrith, perennial underachievers, sure to play well under the current Newcastle boss, who gets to most out of his team nearly every week.

Idris Flees to the Titans Like A Rat: I'm not sure why but I get the feeling that Jamal Idris has just started down a very slippery slope, selling out a solid football experience from a club that made him a star for the bright lights and television fantasies of the Gold Coast. It wouldn't surprise me one bit if Idris found the distractions too much to overcome. It is not a good sign that he insisted that a television deal become part of his contract. I don't wish Idris any ill will. But I think he has made an extraordinarily bad football decision and one that he will regret immensely when he grows up.

King of the Milk Drinkers: John Sutton is the king of the milk drinkers. There are few players I can recall with his natural ability and devastating physical tools who have such little impact on a game because of his sheer disinterest. Sutton is a gutless, lazy, selfish footballer who rarely does anything more than harm South Sydney’s chances of victory. The only time he switches on is when the Bunnies are up by 30, a cheap flat-track bully.

The left fringe of the Rabbitohs have rightfully been given a bath this year by all and sundry for underperforming with Greg Inglis and Dave Taylor both showing up overweight and both opening the season tentatively. Sutton deserves much of the blame and was certainly the key culprit for Souths’ underperformance against the Tigers. Every time Sutton gets the ball, he lazily takes a couple of hops before either meekly falling into the defensive line or giving the ball to Inglis or Taylor way too late. Those two monsters just aren’t getting any early ball, which is exactly what they need. And Sutton is to blame.

Sutton is off-contract at the end of the season. Souths should let him go, telling the Bra Boy that he can surf and get caught up in all-kinds of colourful mischief on his own time and on his own coin. No self-respecting club would keep Sutton on their books. Milk drinkers aren’t that highly respected in rugby league.

Injury Update: The saddest sight of the week was seeing South Sydney prop Luke Stuart limp off the field, rupturing his ACL in what looks like a career ending injury. Luke Stuart has been one of the great servants of the game over his 242 game career where he has not found trouble on the field or off it. He should have played Origin in 2009 and never received the recognition he deserved because he played on such sorry teams. Here is hoping that we see Luke Stuart again.

Geoff Daniela (Wests Tigers): The injury crisis at the Tigers just gets worse with replacement centre Geoff Daniela likely out for the season after tearing a pectoral muscle. He is a long way off at any rate, with the Tigers now at bare bones out wide.

Isaac De Gois (Newcastle): The Newcastle hooker played his first game since busting a thumb and in only about half an hour of play did his collarbone. He went off pretty quickly. It is unlikely to be a break but he could be out for another couple of weeks.

Mitch Dodds (Brisbane): Received a nasty concussion and may miss a week as he was pretty dusty.

Luke Douglas (Cronulla): Sustained a concussion early on against Manly but played on and his consecutive game streak of 127 is in no danger.

Glen Fisiiahi (New Zealand): The exciting Warriors prospect lasted only 34 minutes before doing an ankle in a nasty incident that could sideline him for up to 12 weeks. The likely diagnosis is six weeks but a syndesmosis tear could see him out for three months.

Keith Galloway (Wests Tigers): Big Keiffy suffered an adductor strain and couldn’t return for the second half against Souths. It is a nasty problem that could lead to OP. He won’t be playing for a few weeks at least and it is an injury that will hamper him all season.

Matt Gillett (Brisbane): Went off early in the first half with a shoulder injury but returned in the second half and looks to have no major concerns.

Jamal Idris (Canterbury): Corked his thigh against the Dragons and was limping heavily though he didn’t seem to put much effort in after he copped the knock in what was a disappointing revelation. He should be right to play against Parramatta.

Anthony Laffranchi (Gold Coast): Hobbled off in the second half of the Cowboys clash with a high ankle sprain. He will miss eight weeks after scans revealed it was a bad sprain. Is another huge loss for the Titans, irreplaceable in the middle of the park.

Steve Michaels (Gold Coast): Got busted up but finished the game against the Cows and will be fine for next week.

Ben Ridge (Gold Coast): Strained a quad and most Titans fans wished he’d done it earlier after butchering a certain try against the Cowboys.

Luke Stuart (South Sydney): Looks like he did an ACL and at his age is unlikely to return if he did, in what will be an unfitting finale for a true gentleman of the game.

Troy Thompson (Melbourne): The woes of Troy Thompson continue with the big prop damaging his knee. The suspicion is that it is a medial ligament and he will miss four weeks. Being completely replaceable, someone like Jaiman Lowe will come in for him.

Luke Walsh (Penrith): Did his shoulder in his first game back from an AC concern. He will have to manage it all season as it won’t go away anytime soon. Shouldn’t miss any games though.

The Mystery that is Todd Payten: Having spent the majority of my life closely following the great game of rugby league, I fancy that I have a fair understanding of the sport. I appreciate its history, applaud its stars, accost those who disrespect it and analyse its brilliance. I figure I have a fair grip on most players, coaches, administrators and issues. One player, however, remains a mystery to me. That player is Todd Payten.

Payten has played 252 games dating back to 1996 for three clubs and I still haven’t figured him out.

I look at Payten and think, there goes a slightly better Dean Widders, a halfback stuck in a prop’s body. He isn’t renowned for his hard running or heavy workload or ability to hit. On face value, he appears to be a moocher, a player who prefers to throw a ball rather than take a hit-up, one more concerned with trying to play-make rather than ball-take.

Yet his coaches love him, his teammates adore him and victory seems to follow him, at least at a greater rate for his teams when he is playing.

While at the Canberra Raiders, the club missed the finals only twice in seven years. His one season at the Roosters saw the club reach the Grand Final with the Roosters going 13-5 with Payen and 5-3 without him including losing then Grand Final. At the Tigers, the club has a 50.3% since Payten arrived in 2004 yet when Payten plays, the Tigers win at a rate of 54.17%.

Somehow, Payten is a talisman like figure, a mystery wrapped in a riddle, wrapped in a winner’s jacket. I can’t explain it. I just don’t know. But Todd Payten is pretty damn important to the Tigers.

Well Done, Warriors: If the Titans are to recover and go on a finals run (and by the beard of Geoff Robinson, I hope they do as I am swinging pretty heavily on them in futures bets), 2011 will be their final season in the mix for a while after they stiffed Nathan Friend, who announced on Monday he was heading to the Warriors. It is not the first time the Titans have attempted to bend Friend over and if their showing without Friend over the first month is anything to go by, they are red hot runners for the spoon next year, even with Idris. Friend is not the most creative rake in the comp but he is the equal of any defensive hooker in the game and is certainly only a level below Cameron Smith, Robbie Farah and Isaac Luke. He is a major coup for the Warriors and will stiffen their middle up immensely in 2012.

No Dice, Warriors: While the Warriors recruitment staff did well to sign Nathan Friend, letting Lance Hohaia go was not bright. He is a handy utility and a player who can contribute plenty to the Warriors. They should have saved some of the money they wasted on Krisnan Inu and Feleti Mateo and kept Lance a Warrior.

Jarrod Mullen is Not Playing Origin: Talk of Jarrod Mullen getting an Origin recall this year is silly and bordering on the mentally insane. Jarrod Mullen showed on Monday night that he does not have the composure to mix it at Origin level, time and time again putting the Knights under pressure with his poor decision making and disappointing hands. Mullen has to be behind Mitch Pearce, Trent Hodkinson, Kurt Gidley, Jamie Soward, Todd Carney and Peter Wallace, if he is even that high up the list.

Reason 9,112 to Hate Channel Nine: Rugby union ads during rugby league coverage. The disrespect Nine have for league continues to astound and the fact they would advertise some silly rugby union event during the actual coverage of the match is disgraceful. At least Phil Gould had the decency to fend it off to Rabs. Fans of the Great Game think rugby union is for skirts, toffs and the sexually confused. Worse, it disrespects the history of rugby league and the fight many have endured against oppression by rugby union types, both here and in the Northern Hemisphere.

Luke Nails Taylor: The one thing Issac Luke and I have in common is our complete and utter disregard for Jason Taylor and after Taylor took it upon himself to suggest Luke was not an 80-minute player, Luke fired back with a stinging assessment of Taylor the coach, the analyst and the man. Luke told Rugby League Week that “what he says doesn’t mean a thing to me”. “Where is he now?” Luke asked. “I don’t listen to one thing he says now because he doesn’t really matter.” Return fire. Good stuff Issac…keep those fires of hate burning. 

Mark Your Calendar: If you were around for last Friday’s Titans-Cowboys game, you witnessed the last NRL match of Luke Capewell. Capewell had a shocker and is not a good enough player to recover from that kind of howler. He was named this week but I refuse to believe he would be given another chance.

Nice Work: Kudos to Cory Paterson for sticking by Mitch Dodds after he had received a pretty nasty concussion. It was a selfless act and one that deserves applause.

Folau Wants to Come Home: Matthew Johns is adamant that Israel Folau is disillusioned with AFL and wants to come back to rugby league. I hope he is right. And I hope the NRL tells him to go to hell. He embarrassed the game that made him famous, made him rich, made him a star. He chose to sell his ass for cash and now he must live with the consequences, running around on low-rent Western Sydney ovals, getting no touches in a game he knows nothing about. Let it be an example to any punk who wants to turn their back on the Great Game.

The Arrogance of Anthony Hudson: AFL commentator Anthony Hudson, a caller I have no beef with, was chatting away on radio last weekend when he said without a hint of irony that he could not believe the glee in the Sydney media about the failings of Karmichael Hunt and Israel Folau. “You’d have to see it to believe it,” Hudson said on SEN, before asking why those in New South Wales had it in for AFL. The answer is pretty damn simple, Anthony: stop arrogantly coming into rugby league’s backyard and trying to kill off the Great Game. Anthony’s attitude is common down in Melbourne, where they view expansion as some kind of missionary act. The AFL are trying to engage in an unwinnable war. Rugby league, meanwhile, just keep ticking over just as it always will.

Do Yourself a Favour: And visit these five offbeat rugby league sites, which are all super awesome and get a ringing endorsement from yours truly.

Oh Errol: Written by the delightful and ever-wise Sassy and Kiki, the two coolest chicks in rugby league are the best footy writers you will find anywhere.

Zero Tackle: For all the latest on contract talk, vicious rumours and player transfer news, go to Zero Tackle.

RL1908: Sean Fagan is the preeminent rugby league historian of our time and this website has so many nuggets of gold it could be a bank.

Love Rugby League: James Gordon has a brilliant site here that provides great info and editorial about league across the globe.

League Freak: Not short on an opinion or a tweet, League Freak is an interesting read that will get you feeling something.

Whatever Timana Tahu is Earning: It is way too much. I wouldn’t pay him $10 to play for the Orange CYMS reserve grade team. He is washed up and will do nothing but hurt Penrith this season.

Hit of the Week: Greg Inglis went close with hits on both Chris Heighington and Matt Utai but the nod goes to Anthony Quinn, who flattened an off-balance Jarryd Hayne with a shoulder charge right to the side of his head. Hayne lay prone while the Storm fans cheered, myself among them.

Fun Fact #1: 42 different players played in St George’s world record run of 11 straight premierships between 1956 and 1966. Those who played in the most were second-rower Norm Provan (10), winger Eddie Lumsden (9), five-eighth/lock Brian “Poppa” Clay (8), lock Johnny Raper (8), winger Johnny King (7), prop Kevin Ryan (7), prop Monty Porter (6), prop Billy Wilson (6), halfback Bobby Bugden (6), centre Reg Gasnier (6), hooker Ken Kearney (5) and fullback Brian Graham (5)

Fun Fact #2: Over those 11 premierships, the Dragons won by a cumulative score of 205-63, scoring 40 tries to a total of four by their opposition.

Fun Fact #3: Between 1959 and 1966, a total of eight Grand Finals, the Sains did not allow a try.

Fun Fact #4: 18 players scored Grand Final tries for St George between 1956 and 1966: Eddie Lumsden (8), Johnny King (7), Norm Provan (3), Bobby Bugden (3), Brian “Poppa” Clay (2), Reg Gasnier (2), Kevin Brown (2), Kevin O’Brien,  Harry Melville, Tommy Ryan, Jack Fifield, Brian Graham, Geoff Weekes, George Evans, Billy Smith, Bruce Pollard, Dick Huddart, Kevin Ryan.

Fun Fact #5: Six players kicked Grand Final goals for St George between 1956 and 1966: Graeme Langlands (14), Harry Bath (13), Brian Graham (10), Kevin McDonald (3), Doug Fleming (3), Reg Gasnier (1)

Fun Fact #5: St George defeated five opponents over their streak: Western Suburbs (4-58, 61, 62, 63), Balmain (3- 56, 64, 66), Manly (2-57, 59), Eastern Suburbs (1- 60) and South Sydney (1- 65).

Fun Fact #6: St George had four coaches over their premiership run: Noel Tipping, Ken Kearney, Norm Provan and Ian Walsh.

Fun Fact #7: Two referees officiated those eleven Grand Finals: Darcy Lawler (8) and Col Pearce (3).

The Willie M Medal:There are often games throughout the season where the race to mediocrity is so great that giving a simple 3,2,1 does not do the levels of poor performance justice and is a difficult if not impossible task. Parramatta’s performance against Melbourne was such a game. Votes could have gone to 10 or 11 players, such was their laziness, ineptitude and general disinterest in the game. The Parramatta Eels are a disgrace.

Round Five Votes

North Queensland v Gold Coast

3-Luke Capewell (GC)

2-Scott Prince (GC)

1-Bodene Thompson (GC)

Wests Tigers v South Sydney

3-John Sutton (Sou)

2-Fetuli Talanoa (Sou)

1-Dave Taylor (Sou)

New Zealand v Sydney Roosters

3-B.J Leulia (Roo)

2-Bill Tupou (NZ)

1-Mitchell Pearce (Roo)

Penrith v Canberra

3-Matt Orford (Can)

2-Daniel Vidot (Can)

1-Blake Ferguson (Can)

Cronulla v Manly

3-Paul Aiton (Cro)

2-William Hopoate (Man)

1-Nathan Gardiner (Cro)

Melbourne v Parramatta

3-Jarryd Hayne (Par)

2-Jordan Atkins (Par)

1-Jacob Loko (Par)

St George-Illawarra v Canterbury

3-Kris Keating (Bul)

2-Jamal Idris (Bul)

1-Michael Ennis (Bul)

Brisbane v Newcastle

3-Jarrod Mullen (New)

2-Adam MacDougall (New)

1-Wes Naiqama (New)


11-Matt Orford (Can)

8-Feleti Mateo (NZ), Jarrod Mullen (New)

7-Lachlan Coote (Pen), Michael Jennings (Pen)

5-Luke Capewell (GC), Dave Taylor (Sou), Daniel Vidot (Can)

4-Paul Aiton (Cro), Adam MacDougall (New), Mitchell Pearce (Roo), Jason Ryles (Roo), Matt Ballin (Man)

Round 5 Judges Panel: Nick Tedeschi, Matt Tedeschi, Sarah Neill (Oh Errol), Rohan Kendall, Luke Jamieson

Welcome Back to First Grade: On his first grade debut for the Gold Coast Titans, Jordan Atkins scored four tries. On his debut for Parramatta, he dropped the ball four times. Welcome back to first grade. Atkins’ performance is another thumbs up to Parramatta’s off-season recruitment that has seen Chris Hicks, Chris Walker and Paul Whatuira confined to the NSW Cup, Carl Webb managing a solitary game due to “injury” and Reni Maiuta still seeing off a drugs ban. The recruitment officer at Parramatta should enjoy his year at the Eels: it will surely be his last.

Rumour Mill: Be sure and certain that the Melbourne Storm wooden spoon scandal is far from played out with investigations continuing into betting that saw the Storm well supported in the days before the NRL stripped them of all points. Those close to one senior and very public rugby league official are believed to have wagered on the Storm running last. There are also rumours of a couple of very suspicious performances in matches this year with one well-known recidivist believed to be mixed up with large punters. Nathan Brown has entered the frame at Penrith for 2012 with Matt Elliott as good as done. Darius Boyd has been strongly tied to Wayne Bennett but with Gidley, Henry and Mullen at Newcastle, Boyd may head home to Brisbane. Wherever he goes, he won’t be at the Dragons next season. Adam Blair has signed with the Wests Tigers. A deal has yet to be announced but the Tigers, somehow, have scrounged together the big payday Blair was seeking. Brent Tate may not be far away. The Cowboys centre is supposedly flying in his recovery from an ACL and will make a shock return during the Origin period according to sources.

Power Rankings:

1. St George-Illawarra (4-1) LW: 1, R: 1-3

2. Melbourne (4-1) LW: 2, R: 1-4

3. Brisbane (4-1) LW: 4, R: 3-14

4. Wests Tigers (3-2) LW: 6, R: 3-6

5. Canterbury (3-2) LW: 3, R: 1-5

6. Sydney Roosters (2-3) LW: 5, R: 5-8

7. Newcastle (2-3) LW: 7, R: 5-7

8. Manly (3-2) LW: 9, R: 6-13

9. New Zealand (2-3) LW: 10, R: 9-14

10. North Queensland (3-2) LW: 14, R: 10-16

11. South Sydney (2-3) LW: 8, R: 8-11

12. Cronulla (2-3) LW: 11, R: 10-16

13. Penrith (2-3) LW: 16, R: 10-16

14. Canberra (1-4) LW: 9, R: 4-14

15. Gold Coast (1-4) LW: 12, R: 9-13

16. Parramatta (2-3) LW: 15, R: 8-16

LW: Last Week R: Range

Round Five Selection Notes:


Anthony Mitchell was very stiff to get dropped after a fairly decent game against the Storm where his workrate was good. Ben Smith is very lucky to keep his spot on the bench.


It defies belief that Chris Armit is still in first grade. Surely Steve Turner and Bryson Goodwin are on their last chances.

Gold Coast

Greg Bird is back but will play in his preferred backrow while Luke Capewell was astonishingly kept in first grade after a shocker. William Zillman at six is interesting and I’d say unlikely to work.

Wests Tigers

Beau Ryan returns for the Tigers, who are deep in the throes of an injury crisis. Aaron Woods is back for the injured Keith Galloway, which is pleasing to see.


Brett Stewart has been named again for Manly and hopefully plays though match-winner Michael Oldfield makes way for him.

New Zealand

Lance Hohaia has earned a recall to the starting team, coming in for injured excitement machine Glen Fisiiahi. Russell Packer is also back on the bench and hopefully his attitude has changed after a spell in the NSW Cup.

Sydney Roosters

Mitch Aubusson shifts to the centres but considering how wide he plays, it is a change in name only and he is probably a better option out there than Phil Graham.


The Broncos played Monday night and Anthony Griffin named an unchanged team though Josh Hoffman is a chance of returning and Mitch Dodds is unlikely to play after a head knock.

North Queensland

Gavin Cooper and James Tamou have both been suspended with Ashton Sims and Scott Bolton set to start. Sims is a massive downgrade. Antonio Winterstein is also back with the hopeless Will Tupou dumped. The Cowboys bench looks very thin.


Word out of Canberra that Matt Orford has a back injury but that is bollocks. He is being spelled for a week to take the heat off him. If Sam Williams leads the Raiders to a win, he will have the starting seven job. Josh Dugan is still unavailable.


The team named is unchanged from Monday night though Zeb Taia is a chance of returning, likely in for Cory Paterson, who accepted a one match suspension.


The Sharks turned in another honest effort against Manly and the result has been no changes. With little depth, that is not surprising.


Lachlan Coote is still out but Michael Gordon goes so good at fullback that isn’t a major concern. Timana Tahu is still on the bench as Matt Elliott tries to justify the purchase.


Why is Justin O’Neill behind Anthony Quinn and Dane Nielsen? Craig Bellamy is a genius but this is silly. Jaiman Lowe is in for the injured Troy Thompson.

South Sydney

John Sutton can count himself very lucky to still be playing first grade after some disgraceful showings this year. Sam Burgess moves to prop for the injured Luke Stuart while the promising Nathan Peats moves to the bench. Workrate could be a worry for Souths.

St George-Illawarra

The Dragons go in without any changes and who am I to question Wayne Bennett.

What I Like About…Corey Parker: In a newspaper article over the weekend, Corey Parker praised the Broncos defensive efforts in 2011, saying he would be happy if the Broncos won 1-0. Hopefully Corey Parker sets about implementing such a plan, downing some side 1-0 or at the very least, opening the scoring with a field goal.

Betting Market of the Week:

Greg Bird to beat Sam Burgess in a fight:                       $5.00

Greg Bird to beat “Baby” John Burgess in a fight:          $3.75

Greg Bird to beat Dorothy Burgess in a fight:                 $2.40

Greg Bird to beat a paper towel on a dry day:                 $1.95

Coaching Stocks:

5: Wayne Bennett: A win at the SCG, telling his old club no and a rich new deal…

4.5: Craig Bellamy: Bellyache took his apprentice to school on Sunday.

4.5: Tim Sheens: A huge win for the Tigers to go with a new contract extension.

3.5: Rick Stone: Lost no admirers after a tough showing in Brisbane but injuries a worry.

3.5: Anthony Griffin: Has the Broncos flying at present and won a new 2-year deal.

3: Kevin Moore: The Bulldogs tactics were too conservative to roll the Dragons.

3: Des Hasler: Was far from impressive but the Eagles still got the points.

2.5: John Cartwright: A disgraceful and ill-disciplined showing v Cowboys.

2.5: Brian Smith: Oh my, the Roosters are in much more trouble than it seems.

2.5: Ivan Cleary: Seems to have straightened the Warriors ship after a slow start.

2: Stephen Kearney: Got a heavy lesson in what Parramatta are all about.

1.5: Shane Flanagan: A disappointing result but the Sharks are showing resolve in ’11.

0: David Furner: What excuse do the Raiders have outside of being underdone?

-0.5: John Lang: The knives are out for Langy after more interchange blues.

-0.5: Neil Henry: The Cowboys are playing decent footy at home in a major surprise.

-1: Matt Elliott: Even a hammering of his old club doesn’t appear enough to save him.

From Deep in the Bowels of Twitter:

David Williams is undergoing a hipster transformation: “Let the Hipster Transformation Begin! Stage 1: Spectacles…”

Brendan Cowell seemingly inspired Manly to a victory and is seemingly responsible for George Rose’s blockbuster try: “Worst thing from last night @brendancowell and his smug grin as we walked in at half time down 7 nil, If only I saw him at full time too”

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 5: Cronulla-Manly, 13-19. For the most part, it wasn’t the most exciting game and if you were in the crowd, it was seemingly far from enjoyable with many reportedly lining up for 90 minutes for food. But the finish was a classic, a real heartbreaker for the Sharks who had the game in the bag for most of it. An early Matt Wright try and a cheeky Wade Graham drop goal gave the Sharks a 7-0 half-time lead and when Stuart Flanagan crossed after 55, they would surely have thought the game over. How wrong they were. For the second week in a row, Manly launched a stirring late comeback and this time they got the chocolates. Kieran Foran finished off a wonderful movement, “Gorgeous” George Rose showed sheer strength to bust over and Daly Cherry-Evans potted a wonderful left-footer to leave the scores tied with a minute to go. It seemed a game destined for extra-time. Then a moment of sheer brilliance: Jamie Lyon chipped in his own half, a swooping Michael Oldfield pounced on the loose ball before bursting clear to score the winner. It was a heartbreaking loss for the Sharks and one that may be felt for many weeks to come.

Obscure Score of the Week: Te Atatu-Mangere East Hawks, 12-32. The Te Atatu Roosters, the club that produced the likes of Dennis Williams, the Paul brothers, Mark Horo and Shontayne Hape had few problems disposing of the Hawks in the Fox Memorial qualification. Te Atatu, last won the Fox Memorial in 1988, their last great season. The Hawks are the team of the “Mad Butcher” and boast Tea Ropati, Ali Lauititi and Lesley Vainikolo amongst its luminaries.

The Life and Times of the Special Needs Penguin: It has been a miserable six years for Cronulla fans and the lowlight, quite possibly, has been the now century of games Ben Pomeroy has played. Memories of the Special Needs Penguin dropping the ball, throwing out unwarranted shoulder charges, missing tackles, running wrong lines, dropping the ball again, being out of position. Grand times. Pomeroy didn’t disappoint in his 100th game for the club, only the 36th Shark to reach the century, making one error and missing a couple of tackles. Here’s to reaching 200, Penguin.

Fantasy Team of the Week:

1. Michael Gordon (Pen)

2. Steve Michaels (GC)

3. Matt Cooper (Dra)

4. Beau Champion (Mel)

5. David Simmons (Pen)

6. Benji Marshall (Tig)

7. Johnathan Thurston (NQ)

13. Glenn Stewart (Man)

12. Cory Paterson (New)

11. Simon Dwyer (Tig)

10. Kade Snowden (Cro)

9. Cameron Smith (Mel)

8. Roy Asotasi (Sou)


14. Cooper Cronk (Mel)

15. Gavin Cooper (NQ)

16. Robbie Farah (Tig)

17. Trent Waterhouse (Pen)

Waiver Wire Advice: If you haven't got David Stagg in your team, now is the time to get him. After a cracking opening week, Stagg has fallen in price primarily thanks to a concussion and an unexpected rest against Melbourne, where he sat out most of the second half. Stagg, the ever-reliable tackling machine, has dropped $46,800 so far this year and is now more than affordable at $277,100. As he showed against the Dragons, he is an 80 minute player with plenty of tackles in him and his scores will start heading north now.

Beard Watch: I very nearly decided to shut this portion of the column down, my sadness over Brad Meyers’ decision to shave was so great. Faith was restored on Sunday, however, when David Stagg showed up with a wonderful Reno 911 moustache. It was sensational, sitting just above the lip. Stagg is bringing back the ‘stache. He really is the biggest man in the NRL.

Correspondence Corner: Stevo wrote, noting that Stephen Kearney must be relieved that he doesn’t have to be brutally honest with Matt Keating for a few more weeks. Spot on, sister. Matt Keating really is not much more than a liability.

Mitch wrote asking what I think of Ben Roberts scoring a double in the NSW Cup. I think that Ben Roberts could score 10 tries in a half and it wouldn’t be nearly enough to eat away at the long list of stupidity that has cost Canterbury any number of games over the years. Aside from the Dragons game, Kris Keating has played very well and there is no way Ben Roberts should be considered among Canterbury’s 17 best available players. To the B Roberts Fan Club, come on now, where can we get you some help? It is time to get off that train wreck and find yourself a winner. Try Trent Hodkinson, a player who is going to be a star.

Yes Parko, I am in love with Kalifa Faifai-Loa though I am perturbed he is playing outside ball hog Willie Tonga and Woody, Inu has plenty of talent and not an ounce of heart.

Robert, Big Mal has been mentioned in plenty of places and from what I hear, is favourite for the job. He is looking to parlay his Origin success into an NRL gig. I don’t think it would be a very wise move on either party’s part but it looks like he could be heading to the foot of the mountains.

Watch It: It is difficult to grasp how much rugby league has evolved as a sport with the game of fifty years ago nearly unrecognisable and the sport of a century back nearly entirely different. This outstanding footage of the 1952 Test between Australia and Great Britain at Station Road, Swinton pays testament to that with players not required to retreat from the play-the-ball and the play-the-ball itself being much sloppier and more contested. Great Britain continued their winning streak at Swinton, retaining the Ashes in this match on the back of two tries to Barrow winger Frank Castle and a double from St Helen’s legendary centre Duggie Greenall, a member of the Saints greatest ever seventeen. The kicking of Ernest Ward, who kicked two goals to go with a try, also assisted in the 21-5 victory. Australia fielded many great players as well including captain-coach Clive Churchill (fullback, Team of the Century), seen putting up a bomb in this video. Also running around for the Kangaroos were Duncan Hall (prop, Team of the Century), Brian Carlson (one of league’s 100 Greatest Players) and Brian Davies (one of league’s 100 Greatest Players). Watch it here

The Slowest Winger in League: It is high time the NRL brings back foot races and no race would get the rugby league public pumped up more than finding the slowest winger in the NRL. So without further ado, the finalists in the slowest winger in league race, with a phantom call to come next week.

Sign up to Making The Nut and send your trifecta selections through to or leave them in the comments section, with your Making The Nut username, and whoever wins will get a selection of three football cards from somewhere between 1988 and 1994. To win the footy cards, you must be signed up to Making The Nut. Someone must win these rugby league artifacts. Make it you!

Lane 1: Anthony Quinn (Melbourne)

Lane 2: Michael Robertson (Manly)

Lane 3: Mitch Brown (Wests Tigers)

Lane 4: Steve Turner (Canterbury)

Lane 5: Chris Hicks (Parramatta)

Lane 6: David Simmons (Penrith)

Lane 7: Luke Burt (Parramatta)

Lane 8: James McManus (Newcastle)

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Comments (1)

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  1. PropThreeQuarter says:

    I'll bite. My triffy is:

    1 – Quinn
    2 – McManus
    3 – Turner

    Scary thing is, I think all three are even worse in defense than attack. Which doesn't explain why all three have been picked for Origin ahead of a handful of blokes who'd give it a real nudge, but whatever. It's not like there haven't been many over-rated centres for Inglis and Hodges to run over the top of anyway. David Simmons is the biggest threat to upset. In spite of that, he could have run in at least 4 tries against the Raiders if Jennings hadn't been there to intercept and save the try for the Raiders. I'd have given him the points in the Willie M noms. The Raiders were awful, but Jennings was noticably terrible in the winning team of a very one sided match.

    Incidentally, he's my tip for the Willie M Medal. Orford will pick up a "season ending injury" if he keeps his current form and will miss a lot of opportunities to rack up big points toward the back end of the season, leaving Jennings to lazily poke his nose in front.