From The Couch: Round 6

Filed in From The Couch, NRL by on April 10, 2012

The Shoulder Charge Must Stay: Those calling for the ban on the shoulder charge should be sentenced to an eternity in hell – that is, for those unclear, a lifetime of watching pussy-ass sports like rugby union and soccer. This is rugby league and it is not some soft-cock sport with ticky-tacky penalties and where physical contact is frowned upon.

Protecting the head should be important in rugby league. Nobody is arguing otherwise. Any shoulder to the head should lead to a penalty as should a swinging arm. If it is a bad shot, the offending player should be sent off. These rules are already in place and should be enforced.

But to ban the shoulder charge would be cheap populism and the complete debasement of what rugby league is all about. Rugby league is a man's game and the shoulder charge has been a part of the code forever. Laying shots on is what brings people to the game, encourages kids to play, makes the sport one of the only two that really matter in Australia.

Banning the shoulder charge would be stupid, moronic and a complete anathema to what rugby league is all about.

If the NRL is serious about protecting players, they will do two things.

They will firstly start actually enforcing their concussion guidelines. At the beginning of the year, players with bad concussions weren't to be allowed back on the field. That rule seems to only apply to average or below average players. Benji Marshall was in Disneyland against Canberra but wasn't removed.

The second would be to have referees start sending players off. The send off is there for a reason and acts as a deterrent to overtly reckless play, including high shoulder charges.

But the shoulder charge must stay. The big hit is as good as rugby league gets and it would be a tremendous shame to have the hardness of the code watered down because of some silly hysteria.

The 18th Man: All the talk this week following the shoulder charge debate has been the possible introduction of an 18th man to be used in case of an injury caused by foul play. The idea has merit: a club shouldn't be disadvantaged by an act of foul play. It is even more galling for said club if the player who committed the act of foul play then gets suspended and another club gets the benefit.

The problem with the 18th man is, however, who determines that a substitution is allowed and after how long. It takes times to assess injuries and rugby league already has an increasingly large problem with diving – we saw it a number of times just last weekend, hey, Adam Reynolds?

A better solution would be to move to a mixed substitute/interchange bench like the AFL. Each team would be allowed one substitute to be used at any time plus three interchange players to be used eight times. What this situation has allowed for in the AFL is that teams who lose a player early to injury aren't seriously disadvantaged. While the impact will be smaller in the NRL – the AFL has unlimited interchanges and high rotations are the norm – it will help the club that loses a player to injury early.

This system allows greater fairness and it won't put the situation in the hands of referees or officials, who already struggle with their basic duties. It also won't encourage diving, as the original 18th man call will.

Suburban Grounds are Rugby League: Shane Richardson could not have misjudged the temperature of the rugby league community more when he called for all games in Sydney to be played at the Sydney Football Stadium or ANZ. He is clearly mad.

Fans hate attending games at ANZ. It has no atmosphere, no soul and is an absolute prick to get to by public transport with everyone having to switch at Lidcombe if coming by train. It is a generally horrible place to watch the game.If I never watched a game there again it would be too soon.

The SFS is typically great but it is also hard to get to – there is no rail access and it is a long way for those coming from west of Marrickville. It also lacks in atmosphere for most matches.

The idea of the NRL scheduling a Sydney blockbuster, an old school "match of the day", is a good call and there would be few problems if these were held at big grounds. But punters love Brookvale, Leichhardt, Shark Park, Kogarah, Penrith Park and games should continue to be played there. Melbournians yearn for the days of suburban grounds. Rugby league still has them and must never let them go.

If the NRL ever ends the game's connection with suburban grounds, whoever makes the call should be castrated at Kogarah and have his balls sent to Brookvale and Campbelltown as a reminder to the next given the seat of power as to what happens to those who try to take the people's game from the people.

NSW Origin Selection – The Backline: Who will get picked for Origin? Who should get selected? Here is how the NSW backline willl breakdown.

Fullback: This really should be a no-brainer with Josh Dugan, if fit and healthy, the man who should and will be selected. He was in outstanding nick before going down hurt and if fit is well clear of Jarryd Hayne, Brett Stewart and Anthony Minichiello. Hayne is injured and out of form, Stewart has struggled this year and Minichiello is done.

Wing: This is probably down to a fight in three with Michael Gordon out hurt. Akuila Uate will have one spot. He is proven in the rep arena and in good tryscoring form. The other spot will be fought over between Brett Morris and Hayne, both playing fullback for their clubs. Morris has more experience on the wing and is a better player so should win out though I get the feeling Stuart will plump for the Eel.

Centre: There are probably only three contenders for the New South Wales centre positions if Jamie Lyon doesn't put his hand up – and they all prefer to play on the left. Chris Lawrence was probably the favourite pre-season but has been in awful form while Michael Jennings is getting back to his best and Josh Morris has been spectacular. The best option is probably Morris on the left and Lyon on the right but Jennings is acceptable if Lyon, as will likely be the case, prefers to avoid rep honours. Morris and Jennings are who Ricky Stuart will likely go with.

Five-Eighth: This is the most contentious of the Blues' backline positions with incumbent Jamie Soward, favourite Todd Carney, James Maloney, Jarrod Mullen and Terry Campese all in the mix for the No.6 jersey. Soward is copping a bum wrap and needs to be in the halves. His running game has been poor but his kicking game is critical to New South Wales' hopes. Carney did outplay him on Saturday night though and he will get the nod and probably deservedly so. Campese is a front-runner and not the kind of player the Blues need at the moment. Maloney has struggled in recent weeks. Mullen is just no good. Carney will get the gig and I find it hard to argue against the call.

Halfback: Mitchell Pearce is the incumbent but it would be a disgrace if he was selected. Peter Wallace has been the most consistent half all year and is worthy of a call-up if a conventional halfback is chosen. Wallace is going a treat but I would shift Jamie Soward into the No.7 jersey. His lack of running at present has him going like a halfback and he creates a nice blend with Todd Carney. I think Pearce will get the nod but I'd love to see Soward picked.

Farewell Dean Young: A true warrior, it was sad to hear the Dragons forward announce his retirement throughout the week at the tender age of 28. Injuries and illness have hampered Young's career but he has never stopped trying and was rewarded in 2010 with an Australian jersey and in 2011 with a Blues jumper. A player from the old school, with the right combo of skill and hardness, Young is the last of a dying generation. He will be sorely missed. He will also be a top class coach if that is the way he chooses to go as he has worked for everything he has ever achieved.

Why the Fuck Does Benefit of the Doubt Exist? I am sick to death of these pig molester video referees applying benefit of the doubt at their own convenience and ignoring it when it doesn't suit. The latest example of this horse-shit was the no-try ruling against Jason Nightingale. It was a close call with video evidence inconclusive. If anything, the lean was against Nightingale's foot touching the sideline. Yet Russell Smith gave no benefit of the doubt to the attacking team, as the rule states, and awarded no try. If it was another video ref, it would have been a different decision. The NRL must stop this rubbish and abolish benefit of the doubt once and for all.

Oh, Paul Carige: I try to mention Paul Carige at least eight times a year, just so one of the great rugby league fuck-ups is never forgotten. But it is always pleasing when someone else decides to carry some of the load. Last week, on NRL on Fox, Matthew Johns pulled out some old tape and then had a bit of a chuckle mentioning Carige watching. The memories …

Scrum Penalty Heaven: Those of us who love the differential had a field day on the weekend with two very odd penalties over the course of Easter. The first, awarded against Michael Ennis, came after the rake could not get his arm over the prop. The second came when Cronulla, with a 12-0 lead in their pocket, refused to pack a scrum late in the game. It was differential heaven.

Retro TNT Referees Shirts: Speaking of differentials and refereeing, why have those in the business of retro jersey making have not gone out and brought back the old school TNT referees tops. They were outstanding. I would buy 12 if they were available and I would grow a Mick Stone moustache and I'd walk around like a madman awarding differentials and sending someone for five in the bin all the time. Get cracking, jersey makers.

The Worst Match-Up of the Season (and Perhaps All-Time): Canterbury's Jonathan Wright against South Sydney's Shaune Corrigan. Two players who shouldn't be playing NSW Cup squared off on Good Friday as opposing centres. It was a disgrace. What has Tim Lafai done wrong at Canterbury? And if Michael Maguire needs a centre, I live just a suburb away from Redfern Oval and my skills are stronger than those of Corrigan.

Deserved: It is pleasing to see the NRL award the 2013 mid-season Test against New Zealand to Canberra. Canberrans rarely get any treats from rugby league so it is nice to see the new commission rewarding a passionate league town with a big game.

Injury Update: Both Cronulla and South Sydney suffered horrid season-ending injuries with Nathan Gardner and Roy Asotasi both done for 2012. The loss of Gardner is particularly damaging for the high-flying Sharks, with Gardner being one of their best attacking weapons and fullback being a weak position for the Sharks.

Roy Asotasi (South Sydney): The Bunnies prop tore his pectoral and is no hope of returning in 2012. The smart money is against Asotasi ever pulling on the cardinal and myrtle again.

Dylan Farrell (South Sydney): The South Sydney winger sprained his ankle and is unlikely this weekend. Sadly for Souths, Fetuli Talanoa is his likely replacement though James Roberts should be considered.

Kieran Foran (Manly): A late withdrawal against Penrith but will be back for round seven.

Nathan Gardner (Cronulla): The Sharks custodian is out for the year with a bad ruptured ACL. It was an innocuous play but finding a replacement is going to be difficult, particularly with Nathan Stapleton out hurt. Stewart Mills will probably go back to fullback.

Matt Groat (Tigers): Took a heavy concussion after a Ben Te'o shoulder charge and is unlikely this week. That is good news for the Tigers. Ray Cashmere will get a run.

Jarryd Hayne (Parramatta): The Eels fullback got through the Knights game okay but Phil Gould reckons he needs surgery. Clearly not 100 per cent but he won't go to surgery while Stephen Kearney clings to his job.

Chris Heighington (Tigers): The hardworking Tigers backrower is the latest to join the team's long-term injury list, breaking his hand against the Broncos. He will miss at least six weeks and possible longer.

Kevin Kingston (Penrith): The Panthers rake hurt his elbow on the last play of the round. Should be fine.

Reni Maitua (Parramatta): Left the paddock with a sore ankle but should be okay. As one Eel who seems to care, Parramatta need him.

Frank-Paul Nuuausala (Roosters): Played 27 minutes with a broken jaw in a tremendous act of courage. Aidan Guerra isn't far away and could replace the tough lock.

Matt Prior (Dragons): A groin injury made him a late scratching against the Sharks but he should be back for Newcastle.

Chris Sandow (Parramatta): Apparently took a knock to the knee but appears to be looking for excuses. Peter Sterling's assessment that Sandow is just overweight is probably closer to the mark.

Brett Stewart (Manly): Sore ribs kept him out against Penrith. Should be back this week if he has any ticker.

Fun Fact #1: The total crowd of round six of 155,054 spectators was the 20th highest of all-time and the 11th highest non-round one total in the history of rugby league in Australia.

2012 Willie M Medal: So bad was Tim Moltzen on Friday night against the Brisbane Broncos, I received numerous messages asking me to break with convention and award him a "perfect five". His inept performance defied belief. It was in equal parts stupid, cowardly, pathetic and soft. Very few performances from fullbacks have been the equal in poorness. He almost single-handedly cost the Tigers any chance of victory. It deserves comparisons to Paul Carige, Greg Smith and Steve Mavin. The Bronx cheers after he caught one told the story. If he is in first grade next week, then Tim Sheens needs to have a good hard look at himself. Matt Groat would almost be a better option in the No.1. Moltzen, of  course, deserves all his poor fortune after his childish knifing of St George Illawarra. Had he have honoured the contract, he would have had a job playing professional rugby league in 2013 and 2014. It would seem highly doubtful he will have that now.

South Sydney v Canterbury
3-Jonathan Wright (Bul)
2-Michael Crocker (Sou)
1-Michael Ennis (Bul)
Judge: Nick Tedeschi

Wests Tigers v Brisbane
3-Tim Moltzen (Tig)
2-Chris Lawrence (Tig)
1-Dale Copley (Bri)
Judge: Nick Tedeschi

Gold Coast v Sydney Roosters
3-Steve Michaels (GC)
2-BJ Leilua (Roo)
1-Scott Prince (GC)
Judge: Nick Tedeschi

Cronulla v St George Illawarra
3-Leeson Ah Mau (Dra)
2-Jamie Soward (Dra)
1-Ben Hornby (Dra)
Judge: Nick Tedeschi

Canberra v New Zealand
3-Jerome Ropati (War)
2-James Maloney (War)
1-Manu Vatuvei (War)
Judge: Rohan Kendall

Newcastle v Parramatta
3-Chris Sandow (Par)
2-Timana Tahu (New)
1-Willie Tonga (Par)
Judge: Rohan Kendall

North Queensland v Melbourne
3-Antonio Winterstein (Cow)
2-Ashley Graham (Cow)
1-Kane Linnett (Cow)
Judge: Cliff Bingham

Manly v Penrith
3-David Simmons (Pen)
2-Travis Burns (Pen)
1-Sam McKendry (Pen)
Judge: Craig Finlayson

11: Tim Moltzen (Tig)
7: Steve Michaels (GC), Willie Tonga (Par)
6: Ben Hornby (Dra), Jerome Ropati (War)
5:Roy Asotasi (Sou), Adam Cuthbertson (New), Matt Groat (Tig), Chris Lawrence (Tig), Mark Minichiello (GC), Mitchell Pearce (Roo), Ben Pomeroy (Cro), Chris Sandow (Par)

Rumour Mill: There is a rumour going around that South Sydney chief executive Shane Richardson is on the outer and will be moved on by season's end. Richardson has done plenty for the game and is resilient as hell but his comments on suburban grounds clearly are wide of the mark. Scott Prince is not going to be playing at the Titans in 2013. He has lost his touch and is holding the club back from moving to its next generation. Look for Clint Greenshields to re-sign with his form club St George Illawarra soon.

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

What I Like About … Cronulla: No club, with the possible exception of South Sydney, embraces singing like the Sharks with their fine victory song 'Up, Up Cronulla'. It was a wonderful scene on Saturday night when a sold out Shark Park belted out in full voice their tune of choice. It is a damned shame that more clubs in the NRL don't embrace singing. It is the best thing about AFL as well as English league. It is just a shame the Sharks don't win too much.

Betting Market of the Week: The odds of eligible hookers who would get picked ahead of Michael Ennis if a civilized and right-thinking selection panel was in place:

Danny Buderus: $1.02
Robbie Farah: $1.05
Isaac De Gois: $1.08
Ryan Hinchcliffe: $1.10
Dean Young: $1.12
Cameron King: $1.33
Mitch Rein $1.45
John Morris: $1.70
Glen Buttriss: $1.75
Matt Keating: $1.95

Moniker XIII of the Week: To honour the current form of Paul Gallen, we this week name the greatest Pauls in Australian rugby league history. The great Paul Carige just missed selection.

1. Paul Hauff (51 games for Brisbane)
2. Paul Bowman (203 games for North Queensland)
3. Paul Sait (165 games for Souths)
4. Paul McGregor (158 games for Illawarra/St George Illawarra)
5. Paul Cross (112 games for Roosters/Balmain)
6. Paul Langmack (310 games for Canterbury/Wests/Roosters)
7. Paul Green (162 games for Cronulla/North Qld/Roosters/Parra/Brisbane)
13. Paul Gallen (206 games for Cronulla)
12. Paul Vautin (238 games for Manly/Roosters)
11. Paul Sironen (247 games for Balmain)
10. Paul Harragon (169 games for Newcastle)
9. Paul Aiton (108 games for Penrith/Cronulla)
8. Paul Dunn (253 games for Roosters/Canterbury/Penrith/Parramatta)

Analysis: The Pauls are one of the best teams we have come across with 11 Australian internationals, a PNG international and a Queensland representative. The forwards are just magnificent with 310 game veteran Langmack forced to five-eighth. Gallen, Haragon and Sironen are all greats while Sait in the centres is right up there. The only real weakness is the back three with the sluggish Bowman forced to the wing. A hard, strong, tough team.

The Coaching Crosshairs: New Zealand Warriors coach Brian McClennan is only six games into his contract with the club but he is in serious trouble. The Warriors have had plenty of injuries this year but that is no excuse for the terrible tackling, lack of line speed, poor ball handling and shocking defensive reads. McClennan's lack of NRL experience was perceived as an issue by his knockers but I figured he would be right. He is not. He seems too far out of touch with how games are won and lost in the big time. There is a very real chance he won't see out the season.

The Life and Times of the Special Needs Penguin: Ben Pomeroy has reportedly signed a deal to star in "March of the Penguins II". Apparently he just walks for like an indefinite period of time.  

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 6: Cronulla-St George Illawarra, 12-0. It was as old school as it gets, two rivals who loathe each other in front of a packed house where defence ruled supreme. It wasn't the most free-flowing game but it was one of desperation, of class, of importance. Todd Carney was magnificent. Paul Gallen never stopped trying. Colin Best played his finest game in three years.  The faithful went ballistic. It was a belter.

Correspondence Corner: Anonymous, I didn't see Watmough try to work on Hayne's knee but it wouldn't surprise me. That kind of behaviour does need to be stamped out because it is completely cowardly.

Hunter, there were plenty of contenders in the Souths game and Shaun Corrigan was certainly one of them. He is a terrible player and certainly not a first grader. He was just lucky at the incompetence around him.

Anna, I would love to have your positivity around Michael Ennis but I don't. I do trust Des but I'm not sure Des trusts Mick.

Arthur, I would pick Jamie Soward and Todd Carney in the halves though Peter Wallace should also be in the mix. I think the Soward-Carney tandem offers the right balance, the right versatility with kicking and running and the right amount of game-breaking ability. My only worry with that duo would be the lack of organisation. If I was to go for a pure No.7 then I would go with Peter Wallace. I have been harsh on him in the past but he has been the most consistent halfback available. I don't think Maloney is consistent enough and Terry Campese is a front-runner while Jarrod Mullen is no good and Mitchell Pearce is going as bad as Mick Ennis.

Ferret, I think you are being very harsh on Nathan Hindmarsh. He still has his chops. I agree that the Warriors are still young but they should still be going better with their talent than they are. And you can have Dave Taylor. If Madge Maguire can't flog him into shape, I doubt many others will be able too. And I'm glad you located Andrew Voss … Queensland Cup, hey?

Dragons68, you have to admit that Ben Hornby is going awful. In regards the first/last rights, what that means is that Nine get the opportunity to match any bid from a rival station. That essentially means that other stations have to blow the incumbent out of the water to win the rights. First and last rights also scare off rival bidders in many cases but in this situation, with the rights being so valuable, that won't occur.

Rabby, that is the best and most accurate rant against the criminals at Channel Nine I have ever read. I tip my cap to you.

Cam, some is what I read about the place, others is with contacts I have at clubs. What must be remembered with the 'Rumour Mill' aspect though is that it is just that: rumours. I will occasionally comment on how strong I believe those rumours are. But rugby league circles are like hair salon circles … it is chinese whispers at its best. The latest on Kieran Foran is that he will stay at Manly, which goes totally against what was being said a month back, that is for sure.

Fred, Clive Palmer is a nutjob. But an entertaining one…

Col Quinn, politics has certainly played a part in inhibiting the growth of rugby league south of the Barassi Line.

Beard Watch: Nate Myles is a renewed force this year … and much of the credit has to go to his full and fearsome beard. It is a mighty number.

Watch It: There weren't many on hand to watch the 1972 World Cup final in Lyon – just 4,231 to be exact – but the match turned out to be a classic encounter best remembered, at least in these parts, for the "greatest try never scored" when Graeme Langlands dived full stretch to score off a Denis Ward kick only to be ruled offside by flamboyant French referee Georges Jameau. To Jameau's credit, he apologised to Langlands after the match. It was an incredible try and showed just why Langlands is as revered as he is. The match featured plenty of other wonderful moments though. England captain Clive Sullivan scored a magnificent length-of-the-field try and then played a hand in the second, scooting across field before some wonderful ball play by British forward Brian Lockwood. In the true tradition of the great British ball playing forwards, Lockwood dummied and in a deft touch threw the ball to an unmarked Mike Stephenson on the inside. It was pure pleasure to watch. And Sullivan, well, he was quite a player himself. Watch the final here.


Comments (1)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Anonymous says:

    Yo Nick any chance it will be renamed to the Timmy M Medal for being lazy, disloyal and clueless?