Season 2008: Round 1

Filed in From The Couch, NRL by on December 1, 2010

From The Couch

Non-Issue of the Week…the Riley Brown tackle. Riley Brown has been lambasted from many quarters for being the third man into a tackle that dislocated Craig Wing’s shoulder. There seems little doubt that the Roosters duo were holding him up to get smacked but to suggest it was a deliberate ploy to injure wing is somewhat ludicrous. That tackle is, as Brad Fittler said, rugby league. Brown rightfully had no charge to answer and now we can all move on from such a non-issue.

Gut-Wrenching Injury #1…Benji Marshall. The Tigers are somewhat impotent without Marshall and will struggle over the next three months with either a rookie or Matthew Head taking his place.

Gut-Wrenching Injury #2…Craig Wing. Wing was to bring starch to the Bunnies defense and life to their attack. The Rabbitohs outside backs will not be seeing a lot of quality ball in 2008.

Gut-Wrenching Injury #3…Steven Price. The Warriors need Price like the rest of us need air, cigarettes and short shorts. He is the life force of that team and without him; there is no cohesion and no calm. The Warriors need him back and soon.

Gut-Wrenching Injury #4…Steve Simpson. The Knights are lacking in leadership and can’t afford to have him missing for months. Unfortunately, he will be out and the Knights will pay a heavy price.

Why Rugby League is Great…Josh Perry’s hit on Ben Ross. Perry laid him out and Ross is still seeing stars.

King of the Bleeders…Dallas Johnson. DJ took a while to warm up against the Warriors but a few bumps to the head, a touch of concussion and some crimson on the forehead and Johnson was back to his best. Not since Kevin Campion has a player been at his peak when dazed and bloodied.

Video Referee Screed #1…The stupidity and inequity of a game being stopped (though the clock continues to tick) and referred to the video referee when a ball is lost and picked up by the team who had lost possession. There is no reference if the opposition picks the ball up. That inequity should be enough to have not considered the rule. Yet, here it is. The rule should be scrapped forthwith. To make the whole deal worse, video referees are overturning decisions without clear evidence. The video referee should have no impact on the game except to decide on a try. David Gallop needs to get heavy now.

Bitches #1…South Sydney. After weeks Don King-like huff from the so-called Pride of the League, Souths embarrassed all who dig the myrtle and green. The Roosters ran up a score on a team that appeared allergic to tackling. Souths should learn to fight before picking fights.

Bitches #2…Canterbury-Bankstown. The Bulldogs gave their best impersonation of Parramatta in September by throwing away a twenty-point half-time lead to, of course, Parramatta. It was one of the more horrifying losses in Canterbury-Bankstown history.

Bitches #3…Penrith. Not particularly surprising, given that they have played soft and easy for most of 2007 and a good deal of 2006. Penrith play the dumbest football in the NRL and not even Petero Civoniceva can seemingly save them. Expect the Panthers to be labeled bitches plenty of times this year.

Bitches #4…St. George-Illawarra. When your coach say you play to “look pretty”, you know you have played like bitches. That is one boom-town of a whack.

Coaching Stocks





Michael Hagan

Safe and has the support of the only power at Parra.


Craig Bellamy

Regarded as the best coach in the game by most.


Des Hasler

Gave the Eagles success and the Eagles always pay with loyalty.


Jason Taylor

New owners are infatuated with him so he will stay in the burrow.


Ricky Stuart

Still has the aura of a good coach and he has created peace not seen for years


John Cartwright

Loved by ownership after a decent first season and a dominant Rd1 victory.


Tim Sheens

Legend but needs to get the Tigers firing if he is to remain at the team.


Ivan Cleary

Seems to be well regarded and looks to have a long-term gig in Auckland.


Brad Fittler

Big Rd1 win will buy him at least this season.


Wayne Bennett

Already gone but will walk into a job in 2009.


Graham Murray

No job in 2009. An astute thinker whose time may have passed.


Neil Henry

Highly regarded but needs to get some wins on the board this season.


Matt Elliott

Stocks continue to plummet for a man who can't harden his team up


Brian Smith

Loathed most places and needs results if he is to stay at Newcastle.


Steve Folkes

His time has come and it is doubtful that he will see out 2008.


Nathan Brown

Needs a miracle after Rd1 humiliation.


The five-eighth is dead…in the opening round of the centenary season of rugby league in Australia, only six players were named to play five-eighth who experts would consider are genuine five-eighths. Named at number six this week were two halfbacks (both somewhat acceptable given there is a degree of interchangeability between the seven and six), three backrowers, three outside backs and a fullback (though Ben Hornby is reasonably proven in the halves). Long gone are the days of Lamb, Lyons, Lewis and Kenny. Today the likes of Frank Pritchard, Feleti Mateo, David Stagg, Matt Geyer, Mat Rogers and Jamie Lyon start at five-eighth. The five-eighth, a victim of the modern game.

Betting Lesson of the Week #1…The new interchange rule may be leading to higher scores. Players appear to be getting tired with fewer subs. It may be best to avoid unders bets in the next few weeks.

Betting Lesson of the Week #2…Never fork it before it’s done. Those who took the 4 ½ on the Bulldogs, your wordsmith included, never thought the Dogs could butcher a 20-0 lead. Not only was the lead blown, the Eels covered. There were plenty of gamblers roaming the gap on Saturday night, considering strange and final happenings.

Down Memory Lane…Ben Ikin remembering Paul Hauff as Jordan Atkins scored his third try in the Titans win on Friday night. Anybody young enough to be collecting footy cards in the early nineties knows just how big Paul Hauff actually is.

Moment You Thought You Were Eating Fairy Floss, Wearing Yellow, Picking Flowers and Watching Ballet …Amos Roberts and his lame attempt to collect the ball against Souths when it was bouncing around his own in-goal. He ran straight past the ball, avoided getting his jersey dirty and was happy to allow Yileen Gordon to score a try that saw him do nothing more than fall on the ball. Roberts needs to harden the fuck up. An honourable mention goes to Anthony Minichiello, who was more intent on shepherding than collecting the ball in the very same play.

Team Dumb Enough To Scrap the Cheerleader in Favour of Highly Irritating Drummers…the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

Round One in 1993…The highest score of the weekend was twenty-two, scored by the Dragons in a 22-8 win over Canberra at Bruce…seven field goals were kicked, compared to none this season, including two from Noel Goldthorpe and a match-winner from Tulsen Tollett…five games were played at Sydney and all were on suburban grounds… Souths scored a grand total of zero points.

Great Canterbury Backrower of Yesteryear…Simon Gillies.

Fantasy Players of the Week…Luke Bailey, Robbie Farah, Billy Slater, Cameron Smith, Liam Fulton, Kurt Gidley, Paul Gallen, Anthony Laffranchi.

Surprise Fantasy Player Performances…Anthony Tupou, Adrian Purtell, Manu Vatuvei, Darius Boyd, Brett Finch.

Rebecca Wilson-Danny Wiedler, Scorecard…There is nothing like the petty jabs of two cheap gossipmongers to fill you with excitement. The prospect of them both gouging each others eyes out fills one with teary-eyed wonderment. This week Weidler took the upper hand by gloating over a lost defamation lawsuit, noting that Wilson led to News Limited being sued by ex-ARU boss Gary Flowers. Round One: Weidler 10-8.

And One Final Thought…Those with their ear close to the ground are well aware of rumours that former Crusher, Eel and Raider Clinton Schifcofske is considering a rugby league comeback. Schifcofske has, like most converts, been underutilized in rugby and would be much better off in rugby league. The word is he will go to Penrith to play under former mentor Matthew Elliott. The Panthers could certainly do with someone of his quality and reliability.

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