From The Couch: Round 6

Filed in From The Couch, NRL by on April 15, 2013

David Gallop Returns to Rugby League: Anyone who reads this column and doesn’t listen to Fire Up on FBI Radio is either deaf or enjoys self-punishment because it is the best thing that you can get through your ears this side of ‘Rocky Top’.

And if you don’t listen this Friday morning at 9am, you may need to be treated by a psychiatrist or at the very least a deranged mailman because in an exclusive for the ages, they have lured David Gallop from the wilderness of soccer. It is his first rugby league interview since he was shunted out by John Grant and company.

This is going to be epic.

Oaten. Ferris. Gallop. I trust that the boys will ask all the big questions – including, and not limited to, how much he would love to punch Brett Stewart, whether he was involved in the Glenn Stewart stick-up and why he never banned Sonny Bill Williams for life.

I’m Coming for You, Buzz: I – like most self-respecting rugby league readers – do my best to avoid the work of Daily Telegraph uber-populist and rabid drumbeater Phil Rothfield. I tend to feel a little queasy afterwards. It is tough to swallow the thoughts of a man who called for Todd Carney to be banned for life before hailing him as a hero when he signed with the Sharks.

So it was with some surprise – and much disgust – that it was brought to my attention that Rothfield has blatantly plagiarised the Willie M Awards by dishing out his own ‘Sally M Awards’, recognising the worst of the worst. Sound familiar? That is because you have been seeing it on these very pages and in this very column for the last four seasons. The only difference is that this so-called award is a typically-Rothfield half-assed attempt, with few rules and no count.

My lawyers are currently in the process of serving a cease and desist order.

Three points for whatever plagiarised award you want to create next Rothfield goes to you. Maybe that will help you feel relevant.

Rep Selection Notes and Thoughts: 1. Why do New Zealand always name a squad in alphabetical order? It is annoying and ridiculous. Just name a goddamn team.

2. There were five changes in the Australian team but none too surprising. Justin Hodges is going better than Josh Morris. Kurt Gidley is a better utility than Robbie Farah. Sam Thaiday for Tony Williams was a no brainer. David Shillington was hurt and Anthony Watmough is a fair replacement for him. The only real questionable call was that of Luke Lewis for Ryan Hoffman. Lewis has not done much at the Sharks and the position could have been used for a younger player like Aaron Woods or Trent Merrin (if Watmough was to play wide) or Ben Te’o. The calls to drop Darius Boyd are silly. He has scored in seven of his 10 Tests and has never played in a losing one.

3. How did Shaun Fensom miss out for Country? He should be a moral for NSW. This is just another case of the NSW system ignoring a player on body type, disregarding statistics and the eye test. Plenty of greats have been disregarded because of it. Plenty more will. And we will continue to pay the price.

4. How do Joel Reddy and Adam Cuthbertson get picked for rep football? Talk about diminishing the value of a jersey.

5. Laurie Daley has done his best to suck the life out of City-Country by declaring that he has already made up his mind on 12 or 13 positions. It is this reason and this reason alone that the likes of Mitchell Pearce, Robbie Farah, Aaron Woods and Josh Reynolds have pulled out, the former three in and the latter almost certainly out. Even if Daley believed his side is almost certain – and it shouldn’t be – he should have kept his mouth closed.

6. So Sonny Bill Williams is hurt is he? I bet if there was a fight on against some old fat boy he would be in the ring. He has no respect for rugby league or for his country. He didn’t look too injured Friday night.

The Whistleblower Wank: The NRL’s decision to set up a whistleblower hotline and attempt to entice players to rat on their teammates and fellow players is utterly ridiculous on so many levels. There is not a single player in the NRL who will call that number. Nor should they be expected to. This is nothing but a knee-jerk reaction from an administration that seems incapable of getting its ducks in order. If the NRL was serious, they would invest heavily in education and investigation resources, not attempting to get the last demographic in Australia – the team sportsman – to snitch and fundamentally become ostracised from all many have ever known. The NRL needs to stand firm against the Government and ASADA until there is some real evidence that there is widespread and systematic use of performance enhancing drugs in league. So far 15 clubs have been cleared – and no players charged. I’d say the odds of systematic rorting are low. The AFL has stood firm and naturally its reputation has taken far less of a battering than the NRL’s because Demetriou has helped protect the code and its clubs, a lesson the NRL would do well to heed.

The Most Disappointing Crowd of 2013: Only the NRL could manage to fuck up possibly the greatest grudge match ever played out. It is like Don King mucking up the Rumble in the Jungle. How the Roosters and Bulldogs managed to attract under 25,000 on a beautiful Sydney night is as astonishing as it is incompetent and an indictment on the NRL and both clubs.

The promotion for the match was virtually non-existent. Sonny Bill Williams was not put up to be front and centre. The Roosters tried to hide him away. The Bulldogs talked down the rivalry. And nobody showed up to a match that should have been a sell-out. The NRL cannot allow clubs to hide players away. Clubs should wise up and pump up rivalries, not take the heat out of it.

I have rarely felt as disappointed in the game as I was on Friday night, standing on the sideline, looking around and seeing a half-empty SFS for a match that was expected to be one of the most anticipated games in years. Yet another opportunity missed by rugby league …  

Farewell, Ashley Graham: It was sad to read that North Queensland winger Ashley Graham has announced his retirement. The outstanding tryscorer will retire at season’s end. Graham has been one of the best finishers in the game, scoring 99 tries in 192 appearances including season hauls of 21 in 2012 and 18 in 2007. He has continued to get better as he has gotten older but a chronic knee injury has forced him to give the game away. He retires in career best form, having scored 38 tries in 54 matches.

Graham ranks 10th among active players for tries and if he crosses for one more four-pointer, will become just the 58th player to knock up 100 career tries. He will be sorely missed when he goes. There are few more reliable players.

Welcome Back, Trent Hodkinson: It was supposed to be the glorious return of a proper halfback to the Bulldogs side but unfortunately Trent Hodkinson’s first game in nearly a season was terribly disappointing as he continued to find out whatever player he was trying to avoid kicking at. Canterbury need to stick with Hodkinson – he is just a better player than Keating, offering more structure and a stronger kicking game. But the No.7 is going to need to get up to speed quickly if he is to keep his top grade position.

Must Follow: Those on twitter should start following David Furner @davidfurner. The gold includes “Do i not bleed? Why do you hate me so much? I love my team. They love you. Yet you have nothing but hate and sloppy dinners.”

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 Monday night. So check in tomorrow for all the latest Willie M action.

Fun Fact #1: Jamie Soward became the first player to boot a field goal in four consecutive weeks since St George halfback Noel Goldthorpe did so in 1993.

Fun Fact #2: Nathan Peats was selected for Origin after being an unused replacement last Saturday. The fortnight before, he played 21 minutes and five minutes.

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

Rumour Mill: Israel Folau has signed with Canterbury. News won’t filter out until the season wears on but take it as gospel that he has inked a new deal to return to league with the Bulldogs. The drums are beating that Todd Carney will leave the Sharks. The Dragons and Warriors are the two favourites. The Dragons are also speaking to Rangi Chase. The Eels are set to sign English forwards Gareth Hock and Lee Mossop. The Broncos are also in contention for English superstar Sam Tomkins, one of the few teams who would pay the required transfer fee. Sharks backrower Jason Bukuya could be in for a midseason move to the Warriors.

What I Like About … Terry Campese: The highlight of Heritage Round was without question the return of Canberra captain Terry Campese. Campese, who has managed just eight games over the last three seasons thanks to two horrid knee injuries and a groin worry, was brilliant in his return. Bouncing around like the Energizer Bunny, Campese inspired the Raiders to a comeback victory with his enthusiasm and willingness to be involved in everything. He defended with vigour, busted through the line and put up the perfect bomb for the match-winning try. No player deserves a good run with injuries. Let’s hope the football gods are smiling on him.

Betting Market of the Week: The next idea Phil Rothfield will steal from your valiant author will be:

$41: An unexplained obsession with field goals.
$51: The constant mocking of a certain Cronulla centre – Buzz sees no wrong with the Sharks.
$1001: An intellectual or original way to analyse and write about rugby league.
$1001: A respect for the insight of Phil Gould.

Combo XIII of the Week: The Bulldogs and the Roosters have certainly shared some players over the years. Here is their combined top team.

1.Vic Bulgin (33 games for Easts, 10 games for Canterbury)
2. Sam Perrett (148 games for Roosters, 18 games for Bulldogs)
3. Sandy Campbell (49 games for Bulldogs, 24 games for Roosters)
4. Sonny Bill Williams (73 games for Bulldogs, 6 games for Roosters)
5. Rod Silva (92 games for Roosters, 100 games for Bulldogs)
6. Paul Langmack (171 games for Bulldogs, 3 games for Roosters)
7. Braith Anasta (110 games for Bulldogs, 147 games for Roosters)
13. Paul Dunn (60 games for Roosters, 100 games for Bulldogs)
12. Nate Myles (39 games for Bulldogs, 90 games for Roosters)
11. Willie Mason (148 games for Bulldogs, 40 games for Roosters)
10. Pat Jarvis (12 games for Bulldogs, 37 games for Roosters)
9. Don Sinclair (55 games for Roosters, 51 games for Bulldogs)
8. Mark O’Meley (110 games for Bulldogs, 35 games for Roosters)

Correspondence Corner: Anonymous, you are right, I should have been clearer. The Bulldogs are certainly well below the Bunnies and Eagles.

Davey G, I’d be livid if I was a Broncos fan. Let’s hope it doesn’t turn out to be a Brent Sherwin-Johnathan Thurston situation. And  you are spot on about Aaron Woods and have a fine eye for talent – I’d trust you as NSW selector before any of the mugs that have done the job for the last decade.

Anonymous, that was an oversight on my part. Merrin should have been on the bench with Bird on an edge.

Semi Pro, I can’t deal with this Tony Williams crap anymore.

Anonymous, the Bulldogs took some good teams very close, hence their high ranking. The last fortnight though has shown they are actually a mile off the top dogs.

The Coaching Crosshairs: New Zealand coach Matt Elliott could be dismissed by the end of May. The Warriors again found another way to lose, this time blowing a big lead against the Raiders in Canberra. The Warriors managed to have 50 fewer plays in the second half, a combination of reckless handling and shocking discipline. The Warriors didn’t want Elliott in the first place. They are doing their best to get him fired.

The Life and Times of the Special Needs Penguin: Ben Pomeroy decided to make a nuisance of himself during Paul Gallen’s underwear run last week by honking his horn and lairising and the like. Paul Gallen’s apt response was hilarious – and no doubt directed straight at Pomeroy, who was dragged with 20 minutes to go. “If you guys didn’t play so shit, I wouldn’t be here.” So true, Gal.

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 6: South Sydney-Melbourne, 10-17. In what was widely touted as the likely Grand Final preview – and just the second time two undefeated teams had met in April during the NRL Era – the Rabbitohs-Storm match let nobody down. In what was a tough, bruising, tough battle, the Storm got the money but only just. Amazingly, Souths jumped the faves but it was the Storm who scored first and never looked back. The standard of football was, however, of an exceptional quality. The Bunnies made just five errors and missed only 17 tackles but they failed to control the tempo and they failed to win the middle and if you can’t do that, you can’t beat the Storm. Chalk this one up as just another big game won by Melbourne.

Beard Watch: Penrith hooker James Segeyaro has always been a lover of the beard and he has now cranked it up a notch by shaving his head. He now looks like a dwarfed version of Louis Gossett Jr. Nice look.

Watch It: A classic 1981 match from England between Wigan and Huddersfield that became known as ‘The Battle of Fartown’. Just six players were sent off. Huddersfield would win 9-7, not that it was all that relevant. Watch it here


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  1. Anonymous says:

    Semiipro, it's spelled TRVTH when you go on a rant like that.  But yes, Cullen & the accountants deserve credit.

    The Sonny Boy (with thanks to those English tri-nations commentators) grudge match was a non-event because a large part of the community reckons that the lad did a good thing to get out of that place.  He's also delivered since then rather than riding on celebrity.

    Melbourne's biggest advantage against Souths was how early (as opposed to how fast) they got off their defensive line for the whole match.  They obviously know exactly what the rule is and played to it better than Souths.  They were penalised a couple of times early in the game proving they're right on the edge but refs always let these things slide later in matches so the danger becomes less. (I don't know exactly what the rule is because I can't find the official NRL version of the rules and never get around to calling them.)  Other teams take note, although you need confidence in your defence to withstand the early penalties.

  2. SemiiPro says:

    Nick, I've let you get away with ranking Newcastle so highly all season long, but today, I am going to give it to you.

    They beat Penriff, at home, 8-6.  Penriff are god-awful amongst the bottom 4 teams of a god-awful bottom 10 teams in the comp.  Why the love-in with the Knights?  Newcastle are absolutely talentless, save K Gidley and an in-form Uate.  Do you just luurve the Knights because of Wayne Bennett, the luckiest coach in sports history?  Yes, that's right.  He's not a friggin Super coach, he's just a very lucky boy.  Let me count the ways:  1.  The Broncos won their first Premiership on the back of other club's bad luck.  The two best sides of the early 90s, Canberra and Penriff, suffered from a dismantling of their team due to the salary cap and the tragic death of Ben Alexander, respectively.  The Broncos then come in and win against the worst side to ever make a GF, the 1992 Dragons. 2. Bennett got to coach a SOO side hisentire time in Brisbane.  How hard could it have been to coach those guys?  3.  He was the coach on duty when the Australian test team lost its invincibility.  I can never forgive him for that.  4.  When he coached the Dragons to Premiership victory, that win became the exception that proves the law (a concept I have trouble understanding in any way but seems apt here).

    Save for a few financial infractions and a real tragedy, Bennett would never have won his first  Premiership and would have been punted to the dust bin of history.  Some people don't die with the arsey-ness inside them, that's for sure.  Time to rank Newcastle 11th.

    I'm not a revisionist.  I speak the TRUTH!

    True story.

  3. Anonymous says:


    SBW has a legit knee injury. I have the same problem in both knees yet I can perform as I always have. I pay for it afterward though and need to rehab rather than train hard to back up. You cannot use his performance against the dogs to discount his injury.


    Secondly most teams are pulling their stars, giving priority to their season. I don't know how you can single Sonny out? If he was truly Money Bill Williams, would he not jump at the chance to play a rep game for some extra $?


    The Roosters, the Dogs and every other club that has pulled players this week, are entitled to do so under the current rules. They pay the big $ for them and want them to last the year. They will manage them as best they can until the NRL step in and put some credibility back into these "rep" games.


    How you can single out Sonny, given the blatant move by the dogs to fabricate an injury with Reynolds after he was cleared is beyond me! Don't have a go at Rothfield for being Sharks bias, when you can't see past your blue and white hate for SBW and call your own club out on pulling the same crap!


    Good column as always 😉

  4. Davey G says:

    Rep selection for NSW has been a farce for years, again compounded by the City / Country teams for this weekend. We all remember fondly how these games would produce quality players who would be named Man of the Match (Ryan Hinchcliffe, John Skandalis 2 years in a row) and then not be mentioned in the same breath as the actual origin squad. it is really in the same category as the Allstars game – just a "friendly" for the fans. Not selecting Fensom reminds me of when another raiders legend didn't get a look-in – Alan Tongue. Solid team contributors haven't been picked for NSW for years, and the ironic thing is that there have been a stack of players who have represented QLD who would also never be considered for NSW, such is the awkwardness of their decision-making and criteria. NSW will keep picking the guys "to stay loyal" – NEWSFLASH : QLD stay loyal because they WIN every year. Stop copying them (may as well put Buzz in the coaching box).

    So, I have put together a starting 13 of players who have represented QLD but would never be considered for NSW in a million years : 

    FB – Paul Hauff / W – Ty Williams / C – Adam Mogg / C – Adrian Brunker / W – Adrian Vowles / FE – Paul Green / HF Adrian Lam / BR – Wayne Bartrim, Owen Cunningham, Chris McKenna / FR – Danny Nutley, John Buttigieg / HK – Jamie Goddard

    Unlucky to miss out includes : Jeremy Schloss, Daniel Wagon, Josh Hannay, Antonio Kaufusi and David Stagg among many, many others.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Nick, by highlighting Jamie Sowards recent field goals you may have uncovered Jamie touting his talents to kick and clap, in particular northern hemisphere yawnion.. Scoop!
    Tony Monero