From The Couch: Round 9 2017

Filed in Uncategorized by on May 4, 2017

From The Couch: Round 9

City-Country Disgrace: I grew up in the country. I was born in Cowra and then spent most of my formative years in Orange. I obviously love Rugby League. And I always loved the City-Country match. One of my earliest footy memories was Ricky Walford dominating for Country one game. He kicked one from the sideline. I think it was to win. Maybe it was to tie. Either way, it was something I’ve always remembered despite watching more Rugby League than is healthy and potentially even humanly possible. The game went to Orange a few years back. I was a Rugby League writer by that stage but went back as a fan. It was a blast. The town was hit hard by Rugby League fever. Players attended school camps and autograph sessions and mingled at pubs. After the game I got blind with Luke Patten. I can’t think of too many more fun nights I’ve had in footy. The town was abuzz. It was great and I can only imagine it is the same when the match went to Mudgee, Tamworth, Wagga, Albury and wherever else it lobbed.

It is an utter disgrace that this game – 106 years old – was the first game scratched from the schedule. It is appalling that it will be farewelled in such an embarrassing, completely undeserving manner. The league has allowed a jewel in the Rugby League crown – a minor one but a jewel nonetheless – to be rendered worthless. It has spat on and shat on the history of the match. And that is to say nothing of Canterbury, Canberra and North Queensland – and to a lesser extent Cronulla, who at least caved and allowed their players to participate – who again showed why clubs need to have their powers curtailed.

This great game has met a sad end. And sadly it is something that is classic Rugby League.

The Diver: There are fewer bigger scourges on the game of Rugby League than diving. It is what separates us from less masculine sports where that carry-on has so infiltrated the game it is expected. Paul Gallen has been doing this for over a decade. He should have been suspended for his weak-as-piss carry on against the Tigers.

2017 Field Goal Update- 10: Mitchell Pearce added a one-pointer in a losing effort, the second week in a row Pearce has hit one after not slotting one since 2011.  

Fun Fact #1: Andrew Ettingshausen, Paul Sironen and Steve Menzies hold the record for the most appearances in City-Country Origin with eight

Fun Fact #2: Hazem El Masri holds the record for most points with 32

Fun Fact #3: Bill Harrigan has refereed the most City-Country matches with three

Betting Market of the Week: If Josh Papalii breaks the law again, the Raiders will:

$3.50: Find a big fluffy teddy bear and make him hug it
$3.00: Name him captain
$2.20: Offer his a 10-year contract extension

Rumour Mill: The Wests Tigers are going hard at Alex Johnston and look set to win him over by offering him the vacant No.1 jersey. Josh Dugan has been linked with Canterbury but how the Bulldogs can afford him is probably a question for Gary McIntyre and Punchy Nelson. Boyd Cordner is expected to be named NSW captain. Te Maire Martin is expected to sign with the Warriors in 2018 and could be granted an early release to move there.

Robbie Farah Anger Level – High: His performance against the Sea Eagles could best be described as putrid though he wasn’t given much of a chance, getting on the field when the game was all but over.

What I Like About … Billy Slater: One of my favourite players to watch, seeing him back to near his best against the Dragons was one of the most heartwarming moments of the year. Slater was at one stage being talked about as a potential Immortal. While that would seem unlikely, he is legitimately one of the top two or three fullbacks to play the game. Hopefully we still have him for another year or two and that Queensland and Australian honours are not behind him.

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 9: Canterbury – Canberra, 16-10. The Bulldogs pulled off one of the grittier wins of the year against a Raiders team going very well. Will Hopoate’s comeback game was arguably his best game as a Bulldog.

The Coaching Crosshairs: Michael Maguire’s days at Souths appear to be numbered after another embarrassing loss, this time going down 46-8 to Manly. His players appeared to put very little effort in. There was no discernible game plan. South Sydney’s defence has conceded at least 18 points in every game this year including Newcastle. Maguire has been on the nose for a while at the Bunnies and with Souths a long way from winning anything there could be a change coming up.

Moronic Coaching Decision of the Week:  Nathan Brown’s idea that Jaelen Feeney is a first grader is laughable. Feeney looked like he did an ACL when he just had a cramp and then got annihilated by Konnie Hurrell. The decision to drop Trent Hodkinson is nothing more than an attempt by Brown to stall his inevitable firing.

Beard Watch: After Paul Gallen dived, the referee should certainly have trusted the player with the beard in Aaron Woods and not the player who has a history of embarrassing the game.

Correspondence Corner: Gus, I’d love to have Boyd Cordner cloned and signed at the Bulldogs.

George Treweek, it was Canterbury’s stupidity that cost them, not the refereeing.

Hospital Pass, Gal would have to get off the floor to knock anybody out.

Davey G, gutless stance from the Raiders on Papalii.

Watch It: This week we go back to 1988 and one of the early City-Country affairs that was highlighted by a brilliant try to Terry Lamb. Watch it here.

Comments (3)

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  1. Rick says:

    Great article as usual. I have an idea for solving the rep. round disaster. Players sign their primary contract with the NRL. This contract includes the conditions under which the represent i.e. who they are eligible for, and wages for representing them. Once they sign their NRL contract, clubs are able to sign these players, only the condition that they fulfil their NRL obligations first. Clubs then know what they are in for. Players know that they will get paid for rep games fairly. What are your thoughts?

  2. Davey G says:

    The thing I liked about City vs Country was that it was the only game where the teams were actually represented. With New Zealanders representing QLD and NSW, Fijians representing Australia, Australians representing England (and the list goes on), the City team are made up 100% of City folk, and the Country team is 100% Country folk. I recall arguing this very point on the radio when I called in and spoke to that dimwit Ray Hadley from a mate’s backyard BBQ in the early 90’s, so the argument has been going for 25 years at least. Shame it’s not on – there is no reason why it can’t be played the same weekend as the Allstars weekend.

    I also used to get frustrated that the MOM was neglected for higher honours, but figured out early it wasn’t an Origin trial, then totally gave up after John Skandalis was MOM 2 years in a row (as if he would ever get selected for the Blues).

    The thing I really disliked about City vs Country though was seeing players like Kris Keating get a rep jersey, it kind of devalued the concept and and the jersey when not-even-close-to-rep-level players were selected. Funny to name a team of them though – Country stars like Tim Moltzen, Ben Harris, Ben Cross, Daniel Abraham, Luke Covell, Chris Hicks against City legends like Beau Falloon, Corey Payne, Mitchell Allgood, Reece Williams, Jody Gall and Dean Collis (wikipedia has the full lists, worth a look).
    It’s not about the players though, more about getting out to the bush and letting the fans see the players in the flesh – something we can only tell our kids about.

  3. Tony Soulman says:

    Referees fondness of Melbourne and Brisbane over other clubs. Discuss.
    Tackling a player without the ball when they have been dummied to. Surely the purspose of a dummy is this such deception and tackling player should not be penalised. Discuss.