From The Couch: Round 9

Filed in From The Couch, NRL by on May 7, 2012

Only at Parramatta: There is just a small part of me that loves the Parramatta Eels. Loves how incompetent the joint is run. Loves how poor the recruitment is. How bad the attitude seems to be. How consistently self-defeating the club seems to be. The Eels always make my job as a front-line rugby league penman very, very easy.

And so it was over the last few days.

On Friday night, the hapless Eels managed to play the Bulldogs back into form with one of the most inept and gutless displays any rugby league fan is ever likely to see. It was stunning to see such a horrid performance up close. To watch the likes of Ben Roberts, Willie Tonga, Jarryd Hayne, Ryan Morgan, Justin Poore, Mitchell Allgood and Casey Maguire was something else.

The Eels, of course, reacted in a typically Parramatta way. Rather than accept the inevitable and realise that Stephen Kearney, no matter how good a man he may be or how good a fit as a coach he would be another club, is not suited to the Eels gig, a move was made to undermine the coach by hiring a coaching director.

Kearney, of course, had rejected the idea previously. So the Eels leaked it, another traditionally Parramatta way of doing business. The word is Eels emperor Roy Spagnolo – he of such sound judgement –  is behind a move to not only bring in a coaching director but to bring in Jason Taylor, a coach with a first grade win record of 46.1 per cent, a coach who was fired from his last senior job in disgrace and a coach who is currently mentoring a Toyota Cup team and not an NRL side.

Only at Parramatta.

The Eels want their first grade coach to answer to a coach not good enough to work in the NRL.

Taylor, being Jason Taylor, will certainly accept the position if offered, even if it under the guise of being an assistant. Taylor can see himself as the successor and being the Machiavellian type he is, will happily bide his time until he has the reins again.

As for the club, it is hard to see Parramatta exiting this disaster anytime soon.

Origin Chit Chat: The closer we get to Origin, the more the madness ramps up when it comes to New South Wales team selection.

The highlight of the last week has certainly been talk over who will fill the utility role on the bench. In a position that was once Kurt Gidley's was seemingly passed (rightly) to Ryan Hinchcliffe before Ricky Stuart, Bob Fulton and the majority of the NSW media lost their minds last week with Jarrod Mullen and then astonishingly Josh Reynolds and then Jamie Buhrer were all thrown up for the jumper. Give it another fortnight and Stuart will soon be tossing up between himself and me for the position.

For starters, Mullen isn't a utility. He is a half and a poor one at that. And talk of Reynolds and Buhrer is just absurd. I like both. They are both honest youngsters who are ultra-competitive. But both have glaring holes in their game. Reynolds has played fewer than 20 games, is not overly creative and would not rate in the top 250 players in the NRL. Buhrer is the fourth rated Eagles backrower who could not get a start last year. For either to be considered ahead of Hinchcliffe is absurd. Ricky Stuart seems to have talked himself out of the versatile Hinchcliffe because he "wants all possibilities covered for". Well, Hinchcliffe can't play in the halves. But he wouldn't need to if Robbie Farah was picked. Farah can cover the halves and Luke Lewis has the outside backs covered. At any rate, you can’t pick a team for the worst-case scenario.

And then there is the hooking role. Robbie Farah was attacked by Blues assistant Steve Roach for not being – wait for it – "an Origin type player". Blerg. The powerbrokers want Michael Ennis. Farah is clearly the in-form players. It is a joke.

Finally, Ricky Stuart says he has almost fully picked the team. That should fill everyone with confidence. The Benito Mussolini of the NRL has been left to implement his crackpot theories and allowed to let his crazed predispositions run wild. A further weekend of football seemingly won't have any impact on selection. Stuart has picked his favourites. There is no point in the rest of us arguing.

Ah, belatedly, go Maroons.

Take the Goddamn Two: Why are players so bloody stupid? Twice over the course of the weekend teams passed up the option of taking two points to tie or take the lead. On Saturday night, the Wests Tigers moronically rejected the two points when down 14-12 with 20 to go. They ended up levelling the scores on fulltime when given a penalty right in front. I'm surprised they took the two and didn't go for the try. Manly then passed up the easy penalty shot with the scores level at 6-6. There is something wrong with modern footballers that they can't see the value in taking an easy two. It is two points with almost no risk yet they go for a try that has odds of less than 20 per cent of working … and is worth just twice as many points. Players need to stop being so bloody stupid and just slot the easy points when they are on offer.

More Proactive Thinking From The Raiders Board: From John McIntyre, Canberra Raiders chairman, on the prospect of David Furner being fired in The Sunday Telegraph:

"It's the greatest lot of rubbish I've ever heard of in my life."

"David Furner doesn't drop the balls, he doesn't leave gaps in the middle of the ruck, he doesn't come up out of the line. Tim Sheens has got a lot of faith in David Furner, that's why he's got him as the assistant coach of the Australian side."

"To the people who are looking for David Furner's head, it's not going to happen under my watch. He's there until the end of next season."

And on Ricky Stuart taking the reins from Furner:

"I've known Ricky Stuart all of his life and we're still very good friends."

"There's no prospect and it's never been a matter of discussion between any of those individuals mentioned about Ricky taking over from David Furner. It's never, ever been a possibility."

"The only job that might get [Stuart] back here is my job but the money's not good enough."

The quotes certainly speak for themselves. That is quite a reassurance for a coach with Furner's abhorrent record. Furner has long been a problem at the Raiders. It is now quite apparent that McIntyre is a far bigger one. I'd hate to be on the Raiders doing well anytime in the near future.

Jarryd Hayne Is a Grade A Milk Drinker: If Jarryd Hayne thinks he is deserving of a New South Wales Origin jersey, he needs to see a therapist immediately. He is not even deserving of a first grade gig with Parramatta given his attitude that is so far south of disgusting I can't even think of a term for it. After a shocking loss to the Wests Tigers, he shows up an hour late for training and then lies about where he was. He then shows not an ounce of commitment against Canterbury. When Matt Keating, Nathan Hindmarsh and Stephen Kearney talk about some members of the team lacking toughness and commitment, they are talking of Hayne. If Ricky Stuart hands him an Origin jersey, it will devalue the Blues jersey more than hyperinflation ruined the German mark in the Weimar Republic. There is no player less deserving of an Origin jersey.

Bring Back Saturday Afternoon Football: The talk of the town in television circles is that the NRL is pushing for the return of Saturday afternoon rugby league. Sure, it is 20 years too late. Rugby league should never have abandoned the timeslot, even if they did abandon the ABC, who once covered the match. Hopefully there will be a 3.30 match locked in on Saturday afternoons and hopefully it will be on free-to-air television and hopefully it won't be on Channel Nine. The NRL needs a presence on Saturday afternoon and needs to stop giving a free kick to other sports. It is just common sense.

Prior Must Sit: It may not "be his go," to quote Dragons coach Steve Price, but Matt Prior must be suspended for at least six weeks after his savage elbow to the head of Johnathan Thurston. Prior has never played like a grub but an elbow to the head suggests that dirty play may, in fact, be his go. Ballplayers must be protected when they run at the line and all players need to be protected from violent elbows to the jaw.

Thank You, Brian Smith: Braith Anasta may think the odds of collecting a short kick-off are 1 in 100 but Roosters coach Brian Smith sees it differently and put his captain straight. Likely a true believer in this column, Smith has read my pleas for coaches to think outside the box and employ the short kick-off more often and that is exactly what the Roosters did against the Knights, opening the game with a short kick, which they collected. From that moment on I was sure the Roosters were destined to win. They showed bottle and they showed brains. More teams should follow.

Quote of the Week: "I love speed" – Phil Gould. I always wondered how a lazy man like Phil Gould could get as much media work done along with his work as Penrith boss. He made it clear during the coverage of Canterbury-Parramatta that the answer was his love of methamphetamines. It appears one side-effect of speed use is the losing of colour in your hair.

Gossip Column: There was some controversy throughout the week when Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce was photographed late at night with a rather attractive bird from some band called The Pussycat Dolls. It was widely assumed that Pearce was dating Ricky Stuart. It is unclear how Stuart will respond to the deception.

Cronulla Sharks: The Sharks deserved to lose on Monday night. Their laying down was just pathetic. They should be better than that.

Lote Tuqiri is Shot: Lote Tuqiri has been dreadful this season and turned in a performance so bad against the Titans that he would seem better suited back in a far simpler game like union than a tough sport like league. Tuqiri committed five errors, gave away a penalty and missed three tackles. Those figures do not include the countless poor defensive reads he made. Tuqiri has done nothing since returning to the NRL and he won't be missed for a second when he is axed sometime between now and October.

Good Call: It is pleasing to see Perth attract another big game with a replay of last year's decider, Manly and New Zealand, to be played in round 21. Perth has a good rugby league community and deserves some quality matches.

Weirdest Rugby League Moonlight: Dale Copley is studying to become a pharmacist. It is a shame he doesn't spend more time learning how to catch a ball but it is weirder that Copley, hardly one of the sharpest players in the game, is working at a rather intense profession. Good luck to him. It is good to see a player thinking of life after footy.

Jarrod Croker Has No Idea: It would be a rare moment indeed for the top pointscorer in the competition to be dropped but surely David Furner will have no choice but to dump centre Jarrod Croker soon after another horrid defensive display against Manly. It would seem to defy the laws of mathematics and probability that Croker could make the incorrect read as often as he does. He runs up when he should hold, the slides when he should move forward, he doesn't commit to either the inside or the outside man, he tackles with his arms. Toyota Cup sensation Edrick Lee should soon find himself in the top grade.

From The Showers: A mole at the Canberra Raiders recovery came up with this tidbit: Shaun Fensom's skin reacts poorly to chlorine. It is unclear how this impacts upon his football.

Recruitment in the NRL Era – Cronulla: The Sharks have always found it tough to bring in big names but the club, surprisingly, is nearly square in the number of rep players brought in and those they have lost. The problem for Cronulla though is that they have invested constantly in aging players – something good clubs don't do.

Best Year: It is a bit hard to go past 2012. The big signing, Todd Carney, is the first genuine match-winner the club has brought in since Brett Kimmorley a decade earlier. But the "bit" players who joined Carney – Jeff Robson, Bryce Gibbs, Andrew Fifita, Isaac De Gois, Ben Ross – have all been excellent and have the club as legitimate contenders for the first time since Chris Anderson was coach.

Worst Year: 2009. The Sharkies lost club stalwarts Greg Bird and Brett Kimmorley and decided to replace them with the near-dead Trent Barrett, the overpriced Anthony Tupou, soon-to-be drug cheat Reni Maitua and the hopeless Corey Hughes.

Best Buy: It may well turn out to be Todd Carney after a stellar start to 2012 but the two buys who stand out above all others are Brett Kimmorley and Jeremy Smith. Kimmorley played 140 games over six seasons for the Sharks, holds the record for the most points in a game for the club, sits seventh all-time in points for the club and led the team to two preliminary finals and three finals series in his six years. Smith has played just two seasons for the Sharks but has added some real starch and has not played a bad game for Cronulla.

Worst Buy: Without question, Anthony Tupou. Signed on a big-money deal believed to be over $400,000 a season when Ricky Stuart inflated his price by selecting him for Test football, Tupou has provided nothing for the Sharks except a black hole for some very limited resources.

Worst Loss: In hindsight the loss of Keith Galloway (2006) and Beau Scott (2007) were bad as they went on to become internationals five years later each but the two huge losses were toughman Greg Bird and speedster Nathan Merritt. Bird was forced out after an unsavoury incident but was the kind of player the Sharks needed. Merritt's loss for the 2006 season though has never had its impact properly assessed. In an era when the Sharks have been by far the lowest tryscoring team, Merritt scored 115 tries in 163 games and topped the Bunnies' tryscoring every year he has been at the club. The Sharks would have done anything to get him back.

Origin/International Players Recruited:
Already: (12) Matthew Johns, Brett Kimmorley, Nigel Vagana, Darren Albert, Ben Ross, Richard Villasanti, Trent Barrett, Anthony Tupou, Reni Maitua, Paul Aiton, Jeremy Smith, Todd Carney
Became: (3) Phil Bailey, Danny Nutley, Kade Snowden

Origin/International Players Lost:
Already: (13) Richie Barnett, Tawera Nikau, Geoff Bell, Paul Green, Craig Greenhill, Martin Lang, Russell Richardson, David Peachey, Danny Nutley, Nigel Vagana, Greg Bird, Brett Kimmorley, Kade Snowden
Became: (3) Keith Galloway, Beau Scott, Dane Nielsen

*Super League Tri Series and International matches are recognised.
** Only players who went to or came from another NRL club are noted with the exception of English internationals.

Injury Update:Origin plans were again thrown into disarray for New South Wales with centre Michael Jennings hurting his shoulder again and Peter Wallace ruled out of contention.

Nathan Friend (New Zealand): In a performance reminiscent of John Sattler in the 1970 decider, the Warriors rake played 75 minutes with a broken jaw that will keep him out for 6-8 weeks. It was one of the toughest showings you will ever hope to see.

Paul Gallen (Cronulla): The tough NSW captain appeared to do a pretty bad leg injury late in the Monday night game. If he misses Origin, New South Wales will get rolled by 40.

Kurt Gidley (Newcastle): The Knights skipper's season is over with Gidley set to undergo a shoulder reconstruction. Tyrone Roberts will play out the season in the halves.

Michael Jennings (Penrith): Appeared to re-hurt his shoulder in the heavy loss to Melbourne but coach Ivan Cleary appeared not to be convinced about the seriousness of the injury by saying Jennings just wasn't putting in. Very doubtful for Origin and may be on the way out at Penrith as well. Brad Tighe shapes as his replacement.

Andrew McCullough (Brisbane): Looked to severely sprain his ankle against the Warriors. Played on but is in danger of missing some time, which would leave Brisbane in a real spot. Kurt Baptiste will be on standby.

Alex McKinnon (Newcastle): Took a concussion against the Roosters but is likely to be right for the Cowboys.

Ben Te'o (Brisbane): Hobbled around with an ankle injury but it isn't serious and he won't miss any time.

Sam Thaiday (Brisbane): Has been carrying a rib concern all season and was further hurt against the Warriors but will miss no time as he is a tough hombre.

Johnathan Thurston (North Queensland): The Cowboys halfback took a concussion after Matt Prior elbowed him in the head but he won't miss any time.

Willie Tonga (Parramatta): Has been a total liability for the Eels this year and was playing poorly again when he appeared to break his ankle. Will miss at least three months. Cheyse Blair or Esi Tonga will replace him.

Peter Wallace (Brisbane): The consistent Broncos No.7 hurt his groin again and will miss 2-4 weeks, ruling him out of Origin contention and leaving the Broncos to rely on young Ben Hunt.

Fun Fact #1:Teams that have opened the season with two competition points or fewer from their opening nine games since 1990 and the fate of their coaches:

2011: Canberra (1-8): Finished 15/16: David Furner still coach
2006: Souths (1-8): Finished Last: Shaun McRae fired at end of season
2005: Newcastle (1-8): Finished Last: Michael Hagan left in 2006
2003: Souths (1-8): Finished Last: Paul Langmack fired midway through 2004
1998: Wests (1-8): Finished Last: Tom Raudonikis not hired in 2000 merger
          Adelaide (1-8): Finished 17/20: Rod Reddy fired midseason.
1997: South Queensland (1-8): Finished Last: Club died, Steve Bleakley unhired
1996: Souths (1-8): Finished 19/20: Ken Shine fired at end of 1997
          North Queensland (1-8): Finished 17/20: Graham Lowe fired
          Western Reds (1-8): Finished 16/20: Peter Mulholland fired
1995: North Queensland (1-8): Finished Last: Grant Bell fired at end of season
1993: Gold Coast (1-8): Finished Last: Wally Lewis fired at end of season
          Penrith (1-8): Finished 12/16: Phil Gould left midway through 1994
1990: Gold Coast (1-8): Finished 15/16: Bob McCarthy fired at end of season

The 2012 Willie M Medal: After nine rounds we have a new leader in the Willie M Medal with the incomparable Ben Roberts moving to 12 votes after collecting two against the Bulldogs. It was another stellar showing from the misguided five-eighth, making an error and giving away two penalties as well as putting in some of the most forgettable and often stupid kicks you would ever hope to see. He was eventually hooked by coach Stephen Kearney. His likely dropping to Wentworthville may save him from the ignominy of the Willie M Medal.

Parramatta v Canterbury
3-Mitchell Allgood (Par)
2-Ben Roberts (Par)
1-Jarryd Hayne (Par)
Judge: Nick Tedeschi

North Queensland v St George Illawarra
3-Matt Prior (Dra)
2-Mitch Rein (Dra)
1-Ray Thompson (Cow)
Judge: Rohan Kendall

New Zealand v Brisbane
3-Gerard Beale (Bri)
2-Petero Civoniceva (Bri)
1-Russell Packer (War)
Judge: Nick Tedeschi

Penrith v Melbourne
3-Josh Mansour (Pen)
2-Clint Newton (Pen)
1-Gareth Widdop (Mel)
Judge: Rohan Kendall

Gold Coast v Wests Tigers
3-Lote Tuqiri (Tig)
2-Jordan Rankin (GC)
1-Phil Graham (GC)
Judge: Rohan Kendall

Manly v Canberra
3-Blake Ferguson (Can)
2-Daniel Harrison (Man)
1-Jarrod Croker (Can)
Judge: Nick Tedeschi

Sydney Roosters v Newcastle
3-Kade Snowden (New)
2-Darius Boyd (New)
1-Willie Mason (New)
Judge: Brett Oaten (Fire Up)

South Sydney v Cronulla
3-Mark Taufua (Cro)
2-John Williams (Cro)
1-Andrew Fifita (Cro)
Judge: Craig Finlayson

12: Ben Roberts (Par)
11: Tim Moltzen (Tig)
8: Jarrod Croker (Can)
7: Steve Michaels (GC), Mitchell Pearce (Roo), Chris Sandow (Par), Willie Tonga (Par)
6: Ben Hornby (Dra), Clint Newton (Pen), Jerome Ropati (War), David Simmons (Pen), Timana Tahu (New), Brad Tighe (Pen), Antonio Winterstein (Cow)

Rumour Mill: The most terrifying rumour of the week has careless Warriors outside back Krisnan Inu going to Canterbury. Apparently Des Hasler thinks he is God and can make Inu into something resembling a first grade footballer. Let's hope this rumour is nothing but a savage lie. Matt Ballin will be squeezed out of Manly with Canberra and North Queensland in the mix. Expect Ballin to end up replacing Aaron Payne in Townsville with James Segeyaro going to the Raiders. As mentioned above, Parramatta are looking to bring in a coaching director. Jason Taylor is favoured and is odds-on to be the coach in 2013. Graham Murray and Ricky Stuart have also been mentioned as possible candidates. Steve Matai will almost certainly be at the Sharks in 2012. Lote Tuqiri won't be offered a new contract at the Tigers for 2013 after another shocker against the Titans and will retire.

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

What I Like About … Ben Barba: The Canterbury fullback has always had electrifying speed. He has also always had that ability to break a game wide open. This season though, he has added two new dimensions to his game. He is now a most reliable defender, safe under the high ball (after a horror 2011) and excellent in cover. He is also playing more within a structure as a ballplayer rather than just a runner. The perfect example of this was the try Josh Morris scored just before halftime off an error when Barba was passed the ball off a Parramatta error. Rather than just fling it wide, he played a wonderful second man play that opened up the outside and led to Kris Keating bursting through a hole. Barba should be selected for Queensland and he should be selected to start on the wing. It worked with Billy Slater when he first got his break and it will work with Barba.

Betting Market of the Week: Stephen Kearney's next genius move to reignite the Eels will be:

– Drop Nathan Hindmarsh's playing time to 6 minutes: $2.25
– Shuffle hopeless outside back A for hopeless outside back B: $1.80
– To rebuild Chris Sandow's confidence by naming him captain-coach: $4.00
– Naming Ray Price, Mick Cronin, Brett Kenny and Peter Sterling: $3.50

Obscure Score of the Week: Cowra Magpies-Oberon Tigers, 30-28. The Magpies clawed their way back from an 18-12 halftime deficit to win with Brendan Tidswell, a cousin of your author, scoring a double on his first grade debut.

Moniker XIII of the Week: To pay heed to the ridiculous notion that Josh Reynolds is an Origin bolter this year, we find the best team of Joshes to play premiership football.

The Joshes
1. Josh Dugan (56 games for Canberra)
2. Josh Hoffman (50 games for Brisbane)
3. Josh Morris (115 games for St George Illawarra/Canterbury)
4. Josh Graham (51 games for Melbourne/Gold Coast)
5. Josh Hannay (153 games for North Queensland/Cronulla)
6. Josh White (33 games for Western Suburbs/Illawarra)
7. Josh McCrone (63 games for Canberra)
13. Josh Papalii (22 games for Canberra)
12. Josh Miller (114 gamers for Canberra/St George Illawarra)
11. Josh McGuire (54 games for Brisbane)
10. Josh Stuart (133 games for North Sydney)/Northern Eagles)
9. Josh Reynolds (18 games for Canterbury)
8.  Josh Perry (211 games for Newcastle/Manly)

Analysis: The one notable characteristic about the team is that it is very young with eight of the players still in the NRL. The pack is solid while unspectacular with Perry the only rep player of note. The halves are also a little shaky. But the three-quarter line is chock full of talent with Dugan, Hoffman and Morris three of the most promising players in the game. Not one of the best teams but capable.

The Coaching Crosshairs: The gun is again firmly squared on Parramatta coach Stephen Kearney. Rumours are swirling about a coaching director, about his pay packet, about the club's recent history with coaches, about the club sponsor. With each passing week though, Kearney is proving that he does not have the personality or the chops to handle the Parramatta job.

The Life and Times of the Special Needs Penguin: The Penguin continued his good run of form with two try assists. Not his best game – and not worthy of being the NSW right centre as some fools are suggesting on Twitter – but a good showing nonetheless.

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 9: South Sydney-Cronulla, 34-28. What an absolute cracker. The Bunnies and the Sharkies – two teams who have struggled for most of the last four decades – turned on an absolute belter with plenty of magical tries, some fiery fists and some pure, unadulterated quality football. Both sides play an exciting game and both teams showed up with Greg Inglis and Todd Carney both magnificent. This is a real show at game of the year.

Correspondence Corner: Anonymous, Des is doing a very good job at Canterbury thanks. He has changed the structure, got the side fit and has the side going fairly well with very limited resources. You are kidding yourself if you think the Dogs aren't overachieving this year. BulldogTimbo was right on the money in sending you to school.

Labrat, Ben Roberts' effort made me re-think the scoring structure of Willie M voting. It didn't get much better against Canterbury.

Kginger, I feel Ricky Stuart's shabby treatment of Jamie Soward will see Soward end up at Wigan next year. Stuart has no idea.

Anonymous, Luke Young certainly was a forgettable player.

Warriorman, McGuire has done an exceptional job turning Luke around. You were spot on. I was wrong. I am pleased Luke – who I have long thought of as a very good player – has eliminated that disgusting grubbiness from his game. Matai has a long record. I'll let that speak for itself.

Rabby, Stuart continues to get jobs because he friends in high places. If Bob Fulton wasn't pushing him, he would never have got this Origin job. I am all for a coach without a club coaching the Blues. I think it should be Chris Anderson or Daniel Anderson.

Queenslandah and Doubter, I was at the game but missed the alleged spear tackle you speak of.

Keith, I said Red V, not St George. St George make up an element of St George Illawarra so I believe it is a fair comparison.

Davey G, loyalty is dead for the most part in the game and those who talk about relying on it are idiots. That is Ricky to a tee though. He can't even stay loyal to his own notion of loyalty.

Jim The Knocker, I was evaluating on-field talent. When I get to the Storm, their recruitment in seasons 2007-10 will be evaluated looking at on-field talent only. I accept what happened at Canterbury but that is not going to impact on this little project I am undertaking.

Mitch, I hope you did watch Friday night. Did you see Roberts get hooked? I hope you enjoyed it as you will need to go out to Ringrose Park to watch him in future.

Renegade, I have not an ounce of hatred for Ricky as a person. He was one of my favourite players growing up. I just think he is a rubbish coach and a shocking analyst. And Jamie Soward was solid enough last year, don't mind that.

TigersMS, yes, I am a Bulldogs fan and have never attempted to hide it. And it is a bit rich labelling the comments against Roberts as "abuse" after your remarks about Thurston.

Davince25, the Manly-Bulldogs game was an absolute belter between two pretty good sides. Both have the right kind of defence. Their attacks though are a concern. The intensity was that of a finals game though. A real quality affair.

Col Quinn, some options for the NSW coaching job would be Daniel Anderson (smart), Chris Anderson (has the passion – maybe a little old), Graham Murray (has had his chance but is very good) or Andrew Johns (untried but could pull off a Mal).

Ferret, (1) Des would do a great job but I'm all for the separation of club and state duties, (2) Todd Carney has surely played himself into a Blue jersey, (3) I am unconvinced about Pearce who has been bad more often than he has been good over the last three years, (4) Hayne's attitude is disgusting and he surely cannot be rewarded with a jersey, (5) Gallen has become one of the great forwards, (6) Farah hasn't done very well at Origin level in the past but is the best option the Blues have available, (7) Josh Morris has been Canterbury's best player this year and deserves a spot as does winger Brett and (8) NSW are a long way from Queensland.

Beard Watch: When Cameron Smith is officially named as Queensland captain next week, he will become the first permanent Origin captain of either side to have facial hair (designer stubble) since Wally Lewis in 1991. The last New South Wales captain to have facial hair was Ray Price in 1984.

Watch It: We take a trip down memory lane to 1983 and the comings and goings of the Winfield Cup. It was one of the most controversial and significant years in the long and stories history of the game. Watch it here


Comments (1)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Gee I thought sutton deserved votes in mnf. Gallen can count himself lucky not to have got a vote either. I hope flash isn’t biased…