From The Couch: Round 8

Filed in From The Couch, NRL by on May 3, 2011

How Nepotism and Despotism Killed a Football Team: David Furner should not be the coach of the Canberra Raiders. He should never have been appointed in the first place. He certainly shouldn’t have had his contract extended due to a two-month late season run. And he certainly shouldn’t be coach after a disgraceful 1-7 start, finished with a 49-12 home loss to the Wests Tigers.

He has resigned as the Australian assistant coach. He should do the right thing and resign as the Canberra Raiders head coach.

Would Furner be the head coach if his brother wasn’t the chief executive and his father the club patriarch? I doubt it very much. In his third season with the Raiders, he has a 24-34 record, has offered little in the way of player development, is known to micromanage and ignore the advice of assistant coaches and has allowed a culture of selfishness and divisiveness to foster.

It is not overly apparent what Furner offers. In his three seasons, the best the Raiders have been after nine games is 3-6. That suggests Furner has done nothing but waste his pre-seasons with the club. This year, as in 2010, as in 2009, the Raiders look unfit and confused. They lack both a mental and physical edge that allows them to compete. They offer no toughness, no resilience, no concern to opposition defences. Attacking structures are non-existent. That is on him. Those numbers don’t lie. Canberra are always starting in the hole because Furner cannot get his team prepared on par with other coaches.

Structurally, Canberra have nothing in attack. Their only tries come from broken play or kicks. They have little understanding of width or depth and there is certainly no reasoning in the way they move with the ball. The late start to the season of Matt Orford offers some excuse but not enough.

Furner lacks the bottle to make the hard calls. I love Alan Tongue but it is doubtful he is in the Raiders best seventeen. He won’t drop Matt Orford. He wouldn’t lay the law down and mend the divide after the Joel Monaghan fiasco.

In post-match press conference, he constantly makes excuses, be it the referees, the bounce of the ball, the quality of the opposition or the religious bigotry of God. He accepts no responsibility, personally or for his club.

The Canberra Raiders were an absolute disgrace on Sunday. On a picture perfect Canberra afternoon, the sun blazing and the punters thinking Canberra, the Raiders turned in perhaps the most pathetic display I have ever seen a Raiders team put in. Never have the Raiders thrown the towel in so early. Everyone from Josh Dugan to David Shillington shirked the task. Not one player did the hard work, adhered to the fundamentals or even put their head over the ball or down for the tackle.

To describe the performance as insipid would be insulting to the term insipid.

Furner seems to be prepared to take the credit for last season but none of the responsibility for 2009, the first half of 2010 or this year. The Raiders have no choice but to fire him and put in a strong personality, a man who can create a harmonious environment built on discipline and mental toughness.

Furner cannot do that. He has to go. Now. He won't though. Nepotism will save this tin-pot despot.

What the AFL Television Deal Means for Rugby League: The AFL’s record $1.256 billion broadcast deal should be viewed with nothing but glee.

The NRL are sure to get a monster deal when negotiations are finished because, quite simply, the bar has been lifted and while there has always been some disparity between AFL and NRL ratings relative to broadcast deals worth (thanks, primarily, to Kerry Packer’s greed, News Limited ownership, a general lack of vision and traditional negotiating incompetence brought on by a lack of corporate confidence), there is a general parity between the two deals. The AFL deal increased over 60%. With the NRL already undervalued and outrating the AFL, an increase of at least 80% to around the $900 million should be seen as the minimum. New media broadcast rights should see that up to $1 billion.

And that, really, is before the cut and thrust of hardcore competition comes into play.

There will be heavy competition for NRL rights and with the League sure to split the rights up between at least two free-to-air stations for premiership matches and perhaps another station for State of Origin and Test match rights.

Nine are in the box seat. They have first and last rights. But they won’t get the armchair ride they have always had, screwing the game in the ass for decades. Kerry Packer is no longer at the helm and rugby league will no longer cower at his presence, nor has he been around to bankrupt other networks. Nine are now owned by an equity firm so the usual shenanigans from Nine are unlikely to get very far.

With Lachlan Murdoch and James Packer now involved with Ten, as well as Fox Sports, and with Ten withdrawing early from AFL negotiations, the move is on for a new franchise sport. The station may buy rights to two games from Seven for the AFL but Ten have said they won’t pay the price and Seven said they won’t lower it, so it is hard to see Ten taking on AFL. More likely, Ten will go for rugby league, possibly entering into some deal with Fox Sports to minimise overheads to broadcast one or two games a week, including Monday Night Football.

Seven are the real threat though. They paid big money for the AFL but they have been saving a war chest to go after NRL rights for a long time and have indicated they will pay big. Seven does not have the halo north of the Murray that it has south of the Barassi line and realises it needs rugby league to get it. Seven want to own Friday night and potentially Sunday afternoon and with Seven agreeing to broadcast AFL up north on secondary channel Seven Mate, there is a symmetry that would work well if the station also owned NRL rights.

My only concern regarding Seven is the possible retirement of station boss David Leckie. It was rumoured and subsequently reported after the deal that Leckie was going to go out on a high. He has subsequently denied the report, saying there is “no fucking way” he is leaving television. Leckie is critical to keeping Seven in the race for rugby league. Leckie has no interest in AFL. He is a rugby league man to the core and is desperate to have rugby league on the station. If he remains involved, all three commercial networks will remain in the race and the NRL will have the upper hand in all deals meaning they can get maximum dollar value along with ensuring the NRL wins out on coverage clauses including a full slate of nationally televised live matches.

The three most exciting things to come out for the NRL, outside of money, are increased live national coverage, a dedicated AFL channel and the value of new media rights.

The AFL will now reach every part of Australia with four matches broadcast live on Seven, all nine matches broadcast live on Foxtel and all matches broadcast live over the internet. The NRL, simply, has to ensure it gets the same deal for the growth of the code. Every match live, everywhere across Australia. The NRL cannot accept the rubbish that goes on now with Nine refusing to broadcast before midnight outside of Queensland and New South Wales. It is also imperative that the NRL gets one extra match on free-to-air television per week. Rugby league needs Saturday coverage and if that means expansion and a Saturday day game or Fox Sports’ Super Saturday being broken up, so be it. The AFL have backed their expansion with better coverage. The NRL must do the same.

A dedicated NRL channel to match the AFL channel could also be on the agenda and certainly should be pushed by the NRL. NRL matches outrate AFL matches, old classics regularly rate well and Fox Sports has a better NRL infrastructure in place. This may be wishful thinking but it is a dream well within reach.

When it comes to new media, rugby league has always been hopeless. The ARL gave away pay television rights for nothing (resulting in the Super League war) and rugby league has since been bogged down in a quagmire of an archaic administration, a convoluted and conflicted ownership model and a fundamental misunderstanding of how new media works since. That is slowly changing and with the AFL setting the benchmark for the value of new media rights, rugby league won’t get swindled by its own stupidity again.

Even with the traditional NRL fuck-ups, the game is set for a monster television deal. If we hurry up and get an independent commission, we may well smash through the billion dollar barrier as well.

Stupidity at South Sydney: John Sutton’s agent must be the smartest manager in the business. That, or those running the Rabbitohs are the biggest fools in rugby league. It could well be the latter.

For reasons unknown to anyone who follows rugby league, Souths gave Sutton a three-year extension. This followed on from eight matches where Sutton bummed through seven, playing reasonably in only one.

No decent club would have been chasing him. South Sydney had other needs in the halves, namely keeping Chris Sandow who, though I don’t rate him particularly highly, at least tries every week and has some upside.

There is one rule in sports contracts that holds true across every game across the globe: you don’t sign bludgers to long-term deals. Anyone who has seen Sutton loaf through this season or the last will no he is the epitome of a bludger. He couldn’t even be bothered in a contract year.

Mick Maguire is a good coach who may well be one of the greats. But he will have his work cut out for him making Sutton into a player who, firstly, cares and secondly, plays anywhere near the way someone with his physical tools should play.

Tim Sheens Made the Right Call: So, Tim Sheens decided to stay at the Wests Tigers, rejecting a huge play from the supposedly cash-strapped Penrith Panthers. His decision surprised nobody.

Penrith went with a two-pronged attack on Sheens. A huge financial offer over a significant period of time and a play on Sheens’ roots, talking about the ability to return home to the team he played at from 1973-82 and coached from 1984-87.

Sheens is a smart operator who craves premiership success. He is also a forward thinker. He was never going back to Penrith, a club beset by a horrid roster and relatively small spending on the club’s football department. In a year the Wests Tigers spent significant sums on a freeze chamber, Penrith reportedly don’t have a physiotherapist. Football department spending, uncapped and unregulated by the central body, is a huge factor in success and it is no surprise that Penrith, who spend a minuscule amount, have struggled since their title in 2003. The simple fact is, the Panthers have not adapted to life since the increased poker-machine taxes came into affect, letting other clubs leap ahead of them through alternative revenue streams while the Panthers have remained reliant on the poker machine dollar.

At the Wests Tigers, he is far from loved, at least from a front office perspective. But he has tenure while he keeps on winning and he has a list that can take him to a fifth premiership. He has the structures in place at the club and he has the kind of attacking flare he thrives on. In an era where the spine is as important as ever, he has two of the best players in the NRL in Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah while Penrith have a decent fullback in Lachlan Coote with no halves and a hooker struggling for form this year.

Sheens may go somewhere after 2013. But he will stay through this premiership window and was always going to. He is a smart man and he knows that Penrith are as poorly placed to make a title run in the next half-decade as any team in the NRL including Cronulla.

Representative Selection Thoughts:


There were very few shocks in the Australian team and for mine, they have picked a very good team.

The most interesting selections were Jharal Yow Yeh and Jamal Idris. Yow Yeh has had a very good year for Brisbane and the decision to keep the Broncos right hand fringe together. He was a better choice than Jarryd Hayne, who is having another average year, and with Darius Boyd hurt, he was the natural choice. The call on Idris is a little more questionable. Tim Sheens loves a back on the bench but I’m not sure Idris offers a lot off the pine. He is outstanding at his best but with the likes of Ben Creagh in the second row, a player who can shift to the centres if required, the spot would have been better used with another backrower. Dallas Johnson or Ashley Harrison should have been selected.

It was pleasing to see Ben Hannant selected ahead of Trent Merrin. Merrin has upside but he was only being pushed along state lines. Hannant has the runs on the board and is going well this year and deserved his position.

The selection of David Shillington surprised. Shillington has been playing very poorly for the Raiders. Luckily, he got injured and Kade Snowden, a forward I have a lot of time for, was called in. Snowden is hard as nails and will do a great job for Australia.

New Zealand

Well, Steve Matai at least Steve Matai wasn't selected again. If the Kiwis want a cheap thug who is as selfish as any player in the NRL, go to Matai. He was at it again on Saturday night, pushing a tackled player while Aaron Payne walked by him for a try. He is a terrible player and the Kiwis can do better than that. Luckily they have overlooked him.

Kieran Foran has a big international career ahead of him and he deserves his spot in the halves alongside Benji Marshall.

I think Lewis Brown is made for Test football. He is one of the most underrated players in the NRL and he is the perfect bench player.

City Origin

This is the worst City side I have ever seen. Brad Fittler’s men will lose by 40 and deserve too with some of the stupid selections. Adam Cuthbertson? Please. He couldn’t get a run at the Sharks last year and his selfish, stupid, uncontrolled, ill disciplined style of play should not be rewarded. Whoever picked him should be shot. That person was supposedly Brad Fittler. With that kind of ignorance of rugby league, it is no surprise Fittler got fired at the Roosters and you would take long odds that he will ever coach in the NRL again.

Shane Shackleton on the bench is also a big query. He has done nothing special in a very ordinary team in a position full to the brim with options. Not for mine.

Tom Symonds and Mark Minichiello were other questionable calls.

Trent Hodkinson should have been given a run. Pearce, of course, deserves to start but Hodkinson should have been chosen either off the bench or at six to show what he has to offer.

Country Origin

Finally, Jamie Soward is being given the chance he deserves. Soward is a brilliant player whose constant condemnation comes from fools, morons and idiots who understand nothing of the game. The Dragons pivot was amazing against Parramatta, carving the Eels to shreds with an outstanding running and passing game. Throw in the fact he has the best kicking game in the NRL and he should not be spoken about as a contender for the New South Wales No.6 jersey: he should be a certainty. He will thrive for Country and should be the heir apparent to Darren Lockyer’s Test jersey.

Tom Learoyd-Lars did not deserve a spot. He is lucky to not be playing for Souths Logan. How he got the job ahead of Luke Douglas, again criminally overlooked, is astonishing. It would be a disgrace if he was picked for New South Wales.

I’m not sure what Tim Moltzen has done to earn selection but I would have though being in the best 300 players in the NRL would have been a starting point for Country selection. Apparently not.

I am hoping for big games from Chris Heighington and Aiden Tolman. Both have again been outstanding this year and both will make the Blues team stronger.

Injury Update: A huge weekend for injuries with some big names going down. The worst was no doubt Roy Asotasi, who may have finished South Sydney’s season, while Kurt Gidley’s injury will have a major impact on the rep scene.

Roy Asotasi (South Sydney): Played 38 minutes in South Sydney’s win over Cronulla on Friday night but broke bones in his wrist, which will keep him sidelined for four months. Souths now have only one legitimate prop-Ben Ross- in what is a major worry for John Lang. George Burgess shapes as the likely replacement though he is far from ready.

Beau Champion (Melbourne): Champion, who is likely off to the Gold Coast in 2012, took a heavy fall against Newcastle but shook it off to finish the game and was named for City. Will not miss any time.

Kieran Foran (Manly): Sustained a corked quad and was forced from the field after 62 minutes. Is named to play for New Zealand. I doubt he will play two games. With David Williams set to return, expect Jamie Lyon to be playing five-eighth for the Sea Eagles this week.

Nathan Gardner (Cronulla): Shane Flanagan rushed him back early from injury and Gardner never looked comfortable, his ankle still causing him a great deal of discomfort. Hopefully no long-term damage has been done. He will rest up over the bye and be right soon.

Mark Gasnier (St George-Illawarra): Damaged his calf in the demolition of Parramatta which saw him ruled out of representative contention this weekend. He will likely play for the Dragons though.

Kurt Gidley (Newcastle): Did significant damage to his shoulder against Melbourne, going off in the first half. He will miss 4-6 weeks, which is horrible news for both Newcastle and New South Wales. Unless Beau Henry is ready to return, Tyrone Roberts will get the start for the Knights. Robbie Farah or Dean Young shapes as the bench utility for New South Wales now.

Jason King (Manly): The Manly skipper did damage to his ribs and will miss City-Country as a result. I can’t imagine he will miss anymore than a week.

Grant Millington (Canterbury): Millington injured an elbow and offered the Bulldogs only 17 minutes against the Broncos. He won’t be missed.

Aaron Payne (North Queensland): The Cowboys rake sustained a corked elbow against the Sea Eagles, meaning he played only 41 minutes. He is in some doubt to take on the Dragons with James Segeyaro likely to take his spot in the team.

David Shillington (Canberra): Damaged his pectoral muscle against the Wests Tigers. I initially thought it was a heart string. He has been ruled out of the Australian team, replaced by Kade Snowden. He will miss 1-2 weeks. Dane Tilse, the one Raider forward in form, should see more playing time as a result.

Esi Tonga (Gold Coast): Suffered a concussion early against the Roosters but played most of the game and will start this weekend.

Anthony Watmough (Manly): Hurt both his shoulder and ankle but saw out the game. He is said to have been ruled out of rep contention because of the injuries but he has apparently had a line put through his name. He is in doubt for the Canberra match but I expect him to play.

John Williams (Cronulla): Damaged ankle ligaments that could rule him out for the reason. The Sharks are unlikely to miss him. Isaac Gordon will take his spot in first grade.

Paul Simpkins Dumped: At least Bill Harrigan had the bottle to drop Paul Simpkins.

In what may be the most disgraceful decision of the season, Paul Simpkins disallowed a try to Manly for reasons unknown to any moron who has a set of eyes and a simpleton’s understanding of rugby league. The try proved costly. Manly were on the fightback and Michael Oldfield had scooted away for a classy try after a piece of broken play where Jamie Lyon picked up a loose ball, knocking it backwards over a line in the process, before sending it to Oldfield.

Under no form of reasoning could the play be deemed a knock on. Unless you are a video referee. How many awful decisions must we put up with before the video refereeing system is overhauled?

Brad Fittler is a Genius: Brad Fittler was incredulous at the aforementioned decision. On The Sunday Footy Show, Fittler said: “He hit it a metre in front of the line and picked it up a metre behind the line. It’s gone backwards three metres!” Freddy is no maths genius, sure, but the old 1+1=3 equation explains how Adam Cuthbertson is now playing rep football for City when he shouldn’t be playing second grade for the Maitland Pumpkin Pickers.

Blow Job and The Owl:The Sydney Roosters have my favourite wing pairing in “Blow Job” Leulia and Justin “The Owl” Carney. Leulia is asking for trouble going by the moniker B.J and Justin Carney is the human version of an owl, a player with no neck, a stocky frame and big bulging eyes. Lucky they are so entertaining because their football has been rubbish in 2011.

Pass the Ball, Willie Tonga: I thought I was doing a bit of alright taking the 125-1 about Kalifa Faifai-Loa for top tryscorer for the season. Neil Henry screwed me early on by playing Michael Bani but Faifai-Loa was brought in by round three and a double had me dreaming big dreams. Those dreams have been scuttled by Willie Tonga, perhaps the biggest ball hog in the NRL. Pass the ball Tonga. Faifai-Loa sits outside Tonga and I’m sure he has never thrown taken a pass from Willie T.

What Does Adam MacDougall Do? He is supposedly a Newcastle centre and a host of One Week At A Time but he does neither very often. My guess: ASIO.

The 2011 Willie M Medal: Matt Orford did his best to extend his lead but his Raiders teammates were not too keen to see him shoot clear with at least eight players turning in truly inept performances. If Tim Smith remains in the top grade, he will give the Willie M a red hot shake too.

Brisbane v Canterbury

3-Michael Lett (Cant)

2-Grant Millington (Cant)

1-Andrew Ryan (Cant)

South Sydney v Cronulla

3-Tim Smith (Cro)

2-Wade Graham (Cro)

1-Matthew Wright (Cro)

Gold Coast v Sydney Roosters

3-Phil Graham (Roo)

2-Steve Michaels (GC)

1-Nate Myles (Roo)

North Queensland v Manly

3-William Hopoate (Man)

2-Steve Matai (Man)

1-Michael Oldfield (Man)

Melbourne v Newcastle

3-Chris Houston (New)

2-Jarrod Mullen (New)

1-Cooper Cronk (Mel)

New Zealand v Penrith

3-Michael Jennings (Pen)

2-David Simmons (Pen)

1-Krisnan Inu (NZ)

Canberra v Wests Tigers

3-Bronson Harrison (Can)

2-Jarrod Croker (Can)

1-Trevor Thurling (Can)

St George-Illawarra v Parramatta

3-Daniel Mortimer (Par)

2-Jacob Loko (Par)

1-Jordan Atkins (Par)


11: Matt Orford (Can)

10: Jarrod Mullen (New), Michael Jennings (Pen)

9: Blake Ferguson (Can)

8: Feleti Mateo (NZ)

7: Lachlan Coote (Pen), Jarrod Croker (Can), Wade Graham (Cro), Matt Wright (Cro)

6: Jarryd Hayne (Par), BJ Leulia (Roo), Daniel Mortimer (Par), Nate Myles (Roo), Anthony Quinn (Mel)

Round 8 Judges Panel:Nick Tedeschi, Matt Clements (Zero Tackle), Brett Oaten (Fired Up), Rohan Kendall, Adrian Flanagan, Nathan Boss

Georgie Porgie: It seems George Rose took none too kindly to the little rhyme thrown his way in these pages last week and decided to take it out on Daly Cherry-Evans, pushing his halfback after spilling a ball. George should take some responsibility for himself and stopping blaming his halfback. Maybe a few less pies, a decent training session and some commitment on game day would be nice.

Fun Fact #1: Israel Folau had four possessions in his second Foxtel Cup game, following on from his zero possessions in his debut. One was from a free kick, another was kicked directly to an opponent who kicked a goal. He twice dropped marks that led to goals and was called “clueless” by Greg Buckle of The Age.

Power Rankings:

1. St George-Illawarra (7-1) LW:1, R:1-3

2. Brisbane (7-1) LW:2, R:2-14

3. Melbourne (6-2) LW:3, R:1-4

4. Canterbury (5-3) LW:4, R:1-5

5. North Queensland (6-2) LW:7, R:5-16

6. Wests Tigers (4-4) LW:8, R:3-8

7. New Zealand (4-4) LW:9, R:7-14

8. Newcastle (4-4) LW:5, R:5-8

9. Manly (4-4) LW:6, R:6-13

10. South Sydney (3-5) LW:10, R:8-11

11. Gold Coast (3-5) LW:13, R:9-15

12. Sydney Roosters (2-6) LW:11, R:5-12

13. Cronulla (2-6) LW:12, R:10-16

14. Parramatta (3-5) LW:14, R:8-16

15. Penrith (2-6) LW:15, R:10-16

16. Canberra (1-7) LW:16, R:8-16

LW: Last Week, R: Range

Round 9 Selection Notes:

Brisbane: I'm not sure if Anthony Griffin is aware of the rules but he has not named any of his six Test players in the team to take on Melbourne. Darren Lockyer, Jharal Yow Yeh, Ben Hannant, Sam Thaiday, Justin Hodges and Gerard Beale all won't play, or so the Broncos say. I wouldn't be surprised to see a few backups.

Melbourne :The Storm have seven players backing up from rep duty with Ryan Hinchcliffe rumoured to be a late call-up for Mick Ennis as the Country rake. Most will back up with only Adam Blair, Cameron Smith and Beau Champion a chance of being rested if all come through unscathed.

Gold Coast:The Titans have only Mark Minichiello on rep duty and he will back up,Gold Coast coming away from rep selection surprisingly unscathed.

New Zealand:The Warriors have only four players on rep duty this weekend and are surprisingly backing up from the Test match two days late. Manu Vatuvei may make a surprise return and hopefully it will be in place of the hopeless Krisnan Inu.

St George-Illawarra:The Dragons have this week named a team with 10 player to back up and 15 rep players in all. Wayne Bennett will play them but he won't risk any long-term injury. I expect all backs to go around again. The likes of Mick Weyman and Dean Young will be expected to play big minutes.

North Queensland: Thurston and Scott are both in the Australian team and both are tough nuts who will turn out against the Dragons in their first day game in many years. Word is Brent Tate may be only a month away.

Manly: Brett Stewart has again been named so expect Michael Oldfield to play again. Anthony Watmough, Jason King and Glenn Stewart are all in some doubt this weekend.

Canberra:David Furner has dumped Daniel Vidot from the NRL, laying the blame on the 37-point home thrashing at his feet. Glen Buttriss, Josh Miller, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs and Trevor Thurling have all been relegated to the bench. Danny Galea is called in to replace the injured David Shillington. Matt Orford remains as does Bronson Harrison. Furner has again proven to have no bottle. Josh Dugan, Joel Thompson and Tom Learoyd-Lahrs are the three on rep duty.

Rumour Mill: There are rumours of significant unrest at both the Sydney Roosters and Canberra. Roosters players are reportedly very unhappy with Brian Smith in the true Brian Smith mould. He is again playing favourites and he has again got senior players offside. The division in Canberra is player related but has not been stopped by David Furner. It relates to the Joel Monaghan incident last year. There is talk Israel Folau will return to the NRL next year, namely with Newcastle. There is absolutely no chance Folau will play in the NRL next year. The AFL simply won’t release him from his contract. They are committed to him, for good or ill. Ben Roberts will be at Cronulla within a fortnight. He is unhappy at Canterbury and Cronulla need a half. William Hopoate will play at Canterbury next year. They have made a massive play for the Manly young gun, an offer Manly cannot match. Anthony Laffranchi will be at St Helens next year and possibly sooner. Like Nathan Friend, he is extremely bitter at the big bucks being thrown to players from opposition clubs after the work he has put into the club.

Betting Market of the Week: The highlight of Matt Elliott’s season to be:

Winning a premiership with Penrith:                                                    $1001.00

Finding another NRL job for 2012:                                                       $2001.00

Guiding the Tomahawks to an Atlantic Cup win:                               $2.50

Playing Adrian Purtell in every remaining NRL match he has:       $1.45

Matt Elliott, he sure does love Adrian Purtell.

What I Like About…Tim Smith: I love that Tim Smith is so horribly bad that Cronulla are now considering Ben Roberts as the club’s saviour. Good luck with that Cronulla. He is better than Tim Smith, I’ll pay that. But he is arguably the dumbest first grader ever and will have more brain snaps than Charlie Sheen in the throes of a Charlie Sheen binge. So hopefully that will be it. Ben Roberts gone. Oh Lordy Lord, let the good times roll.

From Deep in the Bowels of Twitter:Nathan Cayless serving it up to old teammate Nathan Hindmarsh: “Just wishing @NathanHiney the best of luck with his hemearoid removal operation!”

Scott Prince is showing no mercy on Nathan Friend, who everyone on the Gold Coast seems to try and sort out for some reason: “I think we'll all agree it'll be definitely someone better looking RT @legendsports: Who will replace Friendy this Sunday?”

Chris Walker, on top of world affairs: “Can't believe barack obama was killed, wat was he doing in Pakistan anyway???”

Obscure Score of the Week: LAU-Belgrade, 38-0, final of Czech Nines tournament. Lebanese team LAU marched through the Czech Nines undefeated against fellow Lebanese outfit AUB, Serbian team Belgrade and Czech teams Beroun, Pardubice and Vrchlabi. LAU were clearly the superior team, holding opponents scoreless five times.

The Life and Times of the Special Needs Penguin: 11 runs for 87 metres, 2 errors, 6 tackles and 1 missed. Ben Pomeroy is certainly back to his lethal best. Though with Brad Fittler picking Adam Cuthbertson for City, I was shocked to see The Penguin miss out.

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 8: Brisbane-Canterbury, 20-12. It was a very disappointing week in terms of games with only one game finishing with a margin of less than six and three games blowing out by 30. A top of the table clash, the Bulldogs-Broncos game was of a fairly high standard if you take out the officiating. Ben Hannant was particularly outstanding for Brisbane while the Dogs deserve credit for their defensive strength.

Coaching Stocks:

5: Wayne Bennett: No Boyd, no worries as Soward stepped up in fine style.

4.5: Craig Bellamy: The Origin period will be the test for the Storm this year.

4.5: Anthony Griffin: Griffin is the real deal as the Broncos thrive under his care.

4: Tim Sheens: Flogging the Raiders in Canberra was a big result considering injuries.

3.5: Rick Stone: He is just getting no luck with injuries at the moment now Gidley is out.

3.5: Kevin Moore: Tried hard but got no luck with refereeing though didn’t deserve win.

3.5: Des Hasler: See Moore, Kevin.

3.5: Ivan Cleary: An underrated coach who has the Warriors right on song at present.

2: John Cartwright: The Titans nearly blew it but got the points in the end.

2: Neil Henry: It is tough to argue with results and his cleanout may be reaping rewards.

1.5: Stephen Kearney: The road is long for Parra and they were never winning Sunday

1: Brian Smith: The Roosters are going awful and he is right in the middle of it.

0: Shane Flanagan: Made a terrible call to play Gardner and the Sharks blew the game.

0: John Lang: Souths are struggling but he is getting the best out of Chris Sandow.

-2.5: Matt Elliott: Showed dignity after being fired but the Panthers still horrible.

-5: David Furner: He is the main culprit behind Canberra’s embarrassing year.

Fantasy Team of the Week:

1. Michael Gordon (Pen)

2. Matt Utai (Tig)

3. Mark Gasnier (Dra)

4. Beau Champion (Mel)

5. B.J Leulia (Roo)

6. Jamie Soward (Dra)

7. Chris Sandow (Sou)

13. Corey Parker (Bri)

12. Chris Heighington (Tig)

11  Anthony Watmough (Man).

10. Kade Snowden (Cro)

9. Cameron Smith (Mel)

8. Ben Hannant (Bri)


14. Trent Waterhouse (Pen)

15. Feleti Mateo (War)

16. Paul Gallen (Cro)

17. David Stagg (Bul)

Waiver Wire Advice: Canberra fullback Josh Dugan is getting back to an affordable price. He has fallen from $268,00 to $235,600 but is starting to hit form again and is a devastating fantasy player on his day, clearly an elite fullback. He has hit back-to-back 60s since returning from injury and is well worth investing in if you are having problems at fullback.

Correspondence Corner: Nick, no doubt Matt Utai had a cracker in the ’04 decider and he was always tough to tackle but I have too many horrible memories of him under the high ball and carrying the ball loosely to have any affection for him. And it was great to see Bryson Goodwin dropped. A shame about Michael Lett’s shocker. I’m not sure Goodwin did much in 2009 but finish off on a strong left hand side. I reckon Chook Halligan could have finished most of those tries off.

Warriors_Fan, yeah, I may be being a bit harsh on Neil Henry. The Cowboys are up and about. I’m just not convinced yet and he has been the source of many problems at the club.

Dragons68, prohibition never works and banning sports betting would be both foolish and harmful. Rumours still persist that both the ’52 and ’63 Grand Finals were fixed so this has been going on since the dawn of the game. Betting is part of league. It just needs to be regulated. And Gidley is a star. The Count is busted after so many injuries.

Doubter/Mitch/Chris Riediger, My thoughts on Roberts are well documented and you are right Doubter, the one or two good games everyone keeps prattling on about just show how rubbish he really is . Tim Smith also won rookie of the year and how is he going? Roberts has talent but he plays like a moron. At any rate, he will be at Cronulla by the end of the week and I could not be more chuffed. I will not miss him at all.

Zig, yep, Monday was a cracker and was probably a little stiff to miss out. I was there but it wasn’t until I watched the video later in the week when doing my analysis that I realised how good the match actually was. In regards the Nine disgrace, I would have mentioned it had I known about it. I was optimistically hoping they would stick with the league. I am clearly naïve. Don’t try and sell me anything. I’ll probably buy it.

Beard Watch: I am loving the work of Cronulla with their moustaches this year with John Williams and Matt Wright both sporting crackers on Friday night. Perhaps the lads should spend more time learning to catch and kick than crafting ‘staches. Just an idea. Each to their own though.

Watch It: Check out this fine You Tube show called “League Indeed”. Troy Higgins and Darren Smith take an irreverent look at the week in league in some good fun. This is the latest episode though the round 8 review will be out sometime this week. “I think they were unlucky to hire Matt Elliott” was my favourite line. Damn straight. Check it out here.

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