The End of an Era: Fans of Rugby League should watch as much of the Melbourne Storm as they can in 2017 because it will be the last we will see of one of the great Rugby League teams to ever come together. Cooper Cronk’s departure is the first rock to go in the foundation of the Storm. They say about the great Dragons team “never before, never again”. Well we will never see a team as disciplined, as defensively well-drilled, as well coached and well prepared.
Cooper Cronk has never been mentioned as a future Immortal. He won’t be. But he has been as integral to the Storm’s success as Bellamy, Smith and Slater. Together they have fit together perfectly, creating something far greater than the sum of their parts. Cronk has added work ethic and the constant pursuit of perfection. No player has ever gotten more out of his God-given ability. Arguably of the three players, none have represented Bellamy more closely.
All great things must come to an end. And so it is with the Storm.
Only at Parramatta: $800,000 a season for Mitchell Moses is approximately $700,000 a season too much for a player that is selfish, flaky and poor defensively. The Eels appeared to be on the right road. They have reverted to making stupid, expensive purchases making them ‘The Candyman’ of NRL clubs.
The Worst Game in 20 Years: Add the name Braidon Burns to a list that includes Paul Carige, Greg Smith and Steve Mavin, so horrific was his performance against Penrith. It was – this is no word of exaggeration – among the most inept performances ever seen in first grade. He was clueless. Worse, his effort was that of someone who orders dominos six times a week and just hits the reorder because he can’t be bothered going through the process. If he plays first grade again, Michael Maguire needs to be examined for having rocks in his head.
Ivan Cleary is a Gun: Jason Taylor wasn’t coaching a team to win in Townsville, of that I am sure and certain. He is a gun coach and will improve the Tigers no matter what happens to their players.
North Queensland are in Real Strife: The one truth that nobody is talking about this year is that Johnathan Thurston is secretly having a terrible season. He is missing a lot of troops around him but his individual performances have been not only sub-standard by his level but below par for a quality starting half. He is taking bad options. He is getting frustrated. His kicking game is off. And it has flowed through to the entire team. North Queensland have largely been injury free in recent years and now they have had a run of outs, they aren’t coping. The Cowboys have the class to make the finals but home losses to the Tigers and Sea Eagles are a poor but fair reflection of where the team is at.
2017 Field Goal Update – 7: Jordan Kahu (and James Maloney) ridiculously leads the count with two but we have finally caught up to averaging one a week. Adam Reynolds slotted the match-winner over Penrith while Gareth Widdop slotted a meaningless one against Manly. James Maloney added one late against Melbourne to send the score to 3-2 for the first time since 1992.
Fun Fact #1: The centre inside Jordan Rapana in his debut game was Gavin Cooper.
Fun Fact #2: Hazem El Masri is the only player to score over 1700 points and not kick a field goal.
Fun Fact #3: Billy Slater is the highest pointscorer in premiership history without having kicked a goal with Brett Stewart second.
Betting Market of the Week: The primary reason behind Parramatta offering Mitchell Moses $800,000 a season:
$21.00: The club’s need for a half
$17.00: His defensive ability
$8.00: His calmness and ability to run a side
$6.00: His two Willie M Medals
$1.50: Someone killed the real Bernie Gurr and we are in the throes of ‘Weekend at Bernie’s III’
Rumour Mill: Canterbury have emerged as the favourites for the signature of Cooper Cronk. They are the most natural fit and it would not surprise at all if Des Hasler’s extension was linked to a deal with Cronk to move to Belmore. James Tedesco is expected to leave the Tigers with the Roosters favoured for his signature though the Bulldogs are also in the mix. Canterbury have also supposedly made a play at Aaron Woods with the idea that James Graham will shift to Newcastle but that would seem highly unlikely. Nathan Peats looks certain to return to Parramatta in 2018. Jack Bird is high on the list of a lot of clubs with Brisbane joining the mix but his desire to play in the spine could see a move to the Knights.
Robbie Farah’s Anger Level – Catastrophic: His starting position at South Sydney is gone and it would seem likely that his Blues jumper is not far behind.
What I Like About … Jordan Rapana: There is absolutely no question that he is the best winger in the game. He is close to being the best winger of a generation. He has an incredible combination of skill, speed and strength that makes him nearly unstoppable. No winger even comes close to his try assist tally over the last two seasons and he very much knows his way to the tryline. It is that will to get to the tryline though that sets him apart. He wrestles and rocks til he gets there. And he is so competitive that even when the game is over and there is a spill at his own end he tries to create something. There are few players in the premiership who are as magic to watch.
Game of the Year Nomination, Round 6: Melbourne – Cronulla, 2 – 11. Any game with a scoreline of 3-2 after 73 minutes is good enough for me. Terrible game but gee the scoreline made it fun.
The Coaching Crosshairs: Is Craig Bellamy’s time at the Melbourne Storm coming to an end? Bellamy has the job as long as he wants it. But with Cooper Cronk’s decision to move to Sydney and Billy Slater continuing to battle injuries – as well as some big-name departures over the last 12 months – Bellamy may be looking to wrap up his time in Melbourne. The day he leaves the Storm will be one of the saddest in the game as he is arguably the finest coach the sport has ever known.
Moronic Coaching Decision of the Week: Anthony Griffin taking a hardline stance on his senior players may reap some long-term rewards but a suspension and public outing hardly seems the right move. It certainly cost them a near-certain win over South Sydney.
Beard Watch: Braidon Burns should perhaps focus more on learning to catch a bomb than manicuring his dicey little moustache that makes him look like a cross between Michael Cera and an associate of Neddy Smith.
Correspondence Corner: Andrew Quinn, Fox League definitely has some fault – primarily Steve Roach – and I agree that Saturday afternoon’s call was not the best.
Norths Tiger, the Fatty field goal!!
Jason, I think it is a necessary rule as to get penalised for not going 10 it has to have the opportunity to travel 10. Korbin Sims is no good at all.
Differential Penalty, the Eels should be fined and penalised two interchanges the following week.
Watch It: After Braidon Burns pulled out the worst game since Paul Carige 20 years ago, we go back to that wonderful day where the beleaguered Eels outside back put the Bulldogs single-handedly into the Grand Final. Watch it here.