Season 2009: Round 15

Filed in From The Couch, NRL by on December 2, 2010

From The Couch

Five Star Freddy: Brad Fittler provided plenty of amusement over the weekend for those who despise the Roosters and the whorish sensibilities they represent. Fittler decided to punch his liver hard in the lead-up to the Roosters-Cowboys match, a great show of leadership and responsibility from the mentor of the last placed team. Fittler, as most would no doubt be aware, ended up shirtless, banging on the hotel room that he mistakenly thought was his but rather contained a young lady. An interesting aside is the question of whose attention Fittler was trying to get? Presumably the coach doesn’t have a roomie on away trips. More concerning, however, is the way the Roosters have handled the issue.

Fittler was allowed to fine himself and was not sacked or forced to resign. The leadership problems at the Roosters are systemic and it is little wonder the club is locked into last place on the premiership ladder. At no well run club would a coach be allowed to get away with such an appalling display of leadership (and hypocrisy), let alone if the club was running last and embarrassing the jersey week in, week out. It is all spin and no substance at the Roosters. CEO Steve Noyce has no actual power to do anything. Chairman Nick Politis has too much control yet wants to protect his boy. The players, for the most part, are only in it for the paycheque. The only way the Roosters are going to turn it around is if they fire Fittler, bring in Storm assistant Michael Maguire and let him put a broom through the club.

Origin II Thoughts: What hope do New South Wales have? The so-called youth policy was abandoned with an aging five-eighth who has never exhibited anything at Origin level bought in as the saviour. Craig Wing was selected and persisted with despite the fact he is getting on and was carrying a hamstring injury that has subsequently seen him ruled out. Yet form players like Brett Kimmorley and Nathan Hindmarsh were completely ignored. Do Bob McCarthy and his coven of rugby league skeletons known as the New South Wales selection panel have any plan in mind? Again, seemingly not. The team is headed in no direction. “I’m not singing for the future/I’m not dreaming of the past” in the words of The Pogues. It is not selected for the future or on current form or on past Origin deeds but for reasons unknown to the reasonable man. Perhaps a lottery was conducted? Throw in the fact that half of those selected have been battling injuries and it appears the Blues have virtually no hope on Wednesday night. A team on such a disjointed preparation just can’t win despite the advantage of playing in Sydney. Only arrogance could stop the Queensland Express and the group in the Maroons looks far from arrogant. Queensland are going to whip New South Wales. Prediction: Queensland 26 New South Wales 10

Rookie of the Year: He may be a smoky but 24 year old rookie Cronulla halfback Scott Porter is right in the running for rookie of the year this season. Porter has been getting better with each passing week and though he has only played four matches, he has guided Cronulla to four straight wins. His kicking game has been outstanding, his hands have been first class and he has shown the poise of a more experienced player. With no standout contender, another month of performances from Porter like the last and he will not only have claimed rookie of the year honours but will have clubs rioting down Main Street, Cronulla to sign him.

Send Off City: Ashley Klein’s immediate dismissal of Melbourne Storm centre Dane Nielsen was very cool and completely deserved. The tackle wasn’t malicious but it was high and it was dangerous and at first it looked like he may have decapitated Tigers winger Beau Ryan. Beau Ryan’s headless body certainly would not have been a good look for the game. Klein wasted no time, sending Nielsen to the showers before he was even off the turf. It was the right call and it would be nice to see referees use the send off for relevant incidents more often.

Ben Pomeroy: Could not catch Chlamydia in a Cambodian brothel. His fine ball handling was once again on display on Monday night against the Broncos, dropping the ball twice in his 25-odd minutes on the field.

Ben Teo: Has such a low football IQ that he would be classed by sports psychiatrists as “rugby league retarded”. That was evidenced against the Sharks when Teo cost the Broncos a potential try by batting a ball away from his own teammate despite Teo being in an offside position. He managed to build on that by dishing out a spear tackle that very nearly got him sent off. “Teo shows little sign of rugby league intelligence…sometimes it looks as if he doesn’t even recognise he is on a football field” said one prominent expert.

The Greg Bird Longest Yard All Stars (aka The Jail Birds): Greg Bird will spend this week and many more over the next eight to sixteen months in prison after he was found guilty of glassing his then girlfriend and now fiancée. He is not the first rugby league player to be found guilty by the courts of an offence. Below is a team of rugby league players convicted of some criminal activity, some of whom have served time at Her Majesty’s pleasure. One would anticipate there is a very good prospect of there being a send off or two in this lot.

1. Craig Trindall: Panthers 3-gamer who beat a woman with a blackboard.

2. Joe Kilroy: Broncos wing done for marijuana trafficking.

3. Wes Naiqama: Got periodic detention for a multitude of driving offences.

4. Leon Pryce: British star convicted of violent assault and break and enter.

5. Noa Nadruku: Avoided jail for assaulting two women due to his severe drunkenness.

6. Todd Carney: Banned from Goulburn for malicious damage; drink driving charge too.

7. Paul Hayward: Former Newtown halfback, convicted of drug trafficking in Thailand.

13. Greg Bird ©: Sharks and Australian back rower convicted of glassing his girlfriend.

12. John Elias: 6 club veteran who was done on many offences including shooting a man.

11. Michael Crocker: Threw hands with Mr. Plod and now can’t play in England.

10. Anthony Cherrington: Roosters youngster done for pulling a knife on his girlfriend.

9. Tevita Latu: Punched a 19yo woman in the face and then attempted to flee the country.

8. Brent Todd: Sent to home detention for poker machine fraud.

Fun Fact #1: Dale Copley became only the ninth Dale to play top grade rugby league in Australia.

Fun Fact #2: Only Dale’s Shearer and Fritz played more than fifteen games with five Dale’s playing less than five first grade matches.

Fun Fact #3: Dale Copley made four errors

Fun Fact #4: Copley was the first Dale to play top grade rugby league since Dale Shearer in 1998.

Fun Fact #5: The P.J Marsh/Corey Hughes hooker match-up on Monday night was the worst hooking match-up since the classic Allan Fallah/Michael Porter classic of June 18, 1989.

Coaching Stocks:

Wayne Bennett [5] Bye: The Dragons are in the prime position to win the minor premiership.

Craig Bellamy [5] Gritty victory over the Tigers sans four Origin players. They are exactly where they want to be now.

Kevin Moore [5] The Dogs were far from impressive but got the points against Penrith. A great sign.

Brian Smith [4.5] Bye: Newcastle has shown some poor signs in recent weeks. The bye should do them good. Need to rejuice.

John Cartwright [4.5] Bye: The Titans sit on top of the table and perhaps the expected fall off won't be coming.

Neil Henry [3.5] The Cowboys don’t win without Thurston yet they did on the weekend. It was only against the Roosters, however.

Des Hasler [3.5] Big win by the Eagles without their stars. Disappointing fall off in the final twenty but they showed some class in winning.

Matt Elliott [2.5] The Panthers showed plenty of fight against the Dogs but they had their chance and just can't capitalise w/out Jennings.

Tim Sheens [2.5] The Tigers were courageous in holding the Storm to only 2 points without Farah but they really should have won.

Ivan Henjak [2] Excuses because five were missing but the effort of the Broncos was embarrassing. Defence has been pathetic.

Ricky Stuart [1] The Sharks have put together four on the trot and are now moving north up the table. Young guns working out well.

David Furner [0.5] The Raiders were shocking in the first hour. Furner struggling to get teams ready for games. Came good too late.

Jason Taylor [0.5] Bye: Positive move in benching Sandow but he really should be looking to drop him to get some impact out wide.

Ivan Cleary [0.5] Bye: The Warriors need to take a deep breath and start stringing good performances together or they will again fail.

Daniel Anderson [-1.5] Bye: The Eels needed a week off. No back half consistency and Anderson's position could become very dicey.

Brad Fittler [– 10] Getting drunk the night before a game when your team is last is unacceptable. His position is now untenable.

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 15: Melbourne-Wests Tigers, 14-12. Not a great weekend of matches despite the closeness of the majority of games. The Storm-Tigers clash was the best of the lot. The Tigers travelled to Melbourne having never won at Olympic Park and without their star Robbie Farah but they put in a hell of an effort to take the Storm to the wire. Admittedly the Storm were missing four Origin players and their coach but Melbourne still sent out the likes of Cronk, Finch, Hoffman and Lima and were still an imposing unit. The Storm seemed to always be ahead in the arm wrestle but they were never safe right until the final whistle. An offside penalty just before the half-time break turned out to be the difference between the two teams who scored two tries apiece. The Tigers had their chances to grab victory but Dane Laurie’s poor hands and worse discipline didn’t help with Laurie dropping the ball when facing an open line the most obvious of his errors. The send off of Dane Nielsen added a bit of intrigue as well. The Great Dane’s really played an impact on this one! Sika Manu was outstanding for Melbourne while young Blake “Inappropriate and Hard To Place Y” Ayshford showed plenty of promise for the Tigers. Storm assistant Michael Maguire also did an outstanding job in the box as the man in charge of the team on Sunday. Not one for the highlights reels but a pretty decent match all in all.

The Colin Best Express Fan Revue: A rough week for the Colin Best Express when he was named by Big League as South Sydney’s disappointment of the season. A little harsh considering he is playing outside of Chris Sandow in a position that isn’t his best. How about going after the real reason for the Bunnies failings: Jason Taylor. Leave the Colin Best Express alone…he is a victim of circumstance.

What Did Shane Rodney Do This Week? The Sporting Gods and The Fates were back at it over the weekend, getting their kicks from an old favourite pastime: striking down Shane Rodney with injury. “Sugar” Shane went down with what could be a serious knee injury. Those who follow his career closely don’t fancy he will be back anytime soon. Oh Fate, why are you so cruel?

Beard Watch: The rise in popularity of the beard reached new levels over the weekend when the beard of David Williams was given its own column in The Sun Herald on Sunday. The Beard has been lauded as a superstar and as such was called upon to interview its “landlord”, The Wolfman. To think that only a decade ago the beard was derided as the property of the Bogans and the unfashionable and now here we are paying homage to a pink beard with a column all of its own. David Williams will be enshrined as one of the all-time great beard promoters. In other beard news, the clean-shaven Panthers lost their first non-bearded game, falling out of the eight for the first time in many months. Coincidence? Unlikely.

Thems Were The Days: This year British back rower Gareth Ellis signed for the Wests Tigers. He has bucked the trend of the last decade where it has been Australian players heading to the mother country rather than the best of Britain heading down under. Having played 22 Tests for England, Ellis decided he wanted to test himself in the best league in the world. He is only the second established superstar of the British game in the last decade to test his wares in the NRL after Adrian Morley put his brutal best on show for the Sydney Roosters during their glory period of 2001-06. The dearth of British players in the Australian game hasn’t always been so common and in the late eighties and early nineties, before Super League and the move to summer time footy in the Northern Hemisphere, some of Britain’s finest would come out for guest stints in Australia. They added flair and excitement and a sense of the unknown and exotic to the season. The list of superstars who came out to play was long and most fans who remember the era remember such players fondly. Ellery Hanley, member of the British rugby league hall of fame and regarded as the best British player of the last twenty-five years, played eight matches for Balmain in 1988 and was written into rugby league lore when he was knocked out (by Terry Lamb, according to Balmain fans, though nothing was ever proven) in the first half of that year’s Grand Final and left in a daze on the sideline. He came back for Wests in 1989 before making a cameo with Balmain in 1996-97.

Outstanding halfback Shaun Edwards also found himself in a Grand Final, playing for Balmain in the classic 1989 decider off the bench, the last of his twelve match spell for the Tigers. Great Britain skipper Garry Schofield was another to don the gold and black and he was one of the most popular imports, scoring 28 tries in 47 appearances. He even topped the try scoring in 1986, including two hat-tricks against arch-rivals Souths, despite arriving in round eleven. A spell for Wests in 1989 was just as successful with the moustachioed superstar scoring 5 tries in only 9 appearances. English speedster Martin Offiah set the league alight in his guest spells with Easts (1989 and 1993) and St. George (1991), scoring 20 tries in 27 matches. His speed was so exciting that he was even put into a foot race with Parramatta speed machine Lee Oudenryn prior to a tour match for Great Britain in 1992. Jonathan Davies scored 100 points in 14 matches for the Bulldogs in 1991 and pushed the Dogs to the fringe of their first finals appearance since their 1988 Grand Final win. Centre Gary Connolly was another who did an outstanding job in the blue and white, helping Canterbury to a preliminary final in 1993. Snippy halfback Andy Gregory had a spell for the Illawarra Steelers in 1989. Mike Gregory played for Cronulla in 1987. Deft fullback Joe Lydon spent two off-seasons at Bondi Junction with the Roosters. Even players like Andy Currier (Balmain) and Harvey Howard (Easts, Wests, Brisbane) added some excitement and flavour to Australian rugby league. At least we have Gareth Ellis out here now. He is a throwback to the days when the best of the Old Dart would head to Australia to show their skills and test themselves against the best.

Fantasy Team of the Week:

1. Sam Perrett (Roo)
2. Blake Ferguson (Cro)
3. Gavin Cooper (Pen)
4. Justin Carney (Can)
5. Bryson Goodwin (Bul)
6. Blake Ayshford (Tig)
7. Cooper Cronk (Mlb)
13. Corey Parker (Brs)
12. David Stagg (Bul)
11. Anthony Tupou (Cro)
10. Grant Millington (Cro)
9. Aaron Payne (NQ)
8. Kade Snowden (Cro)

Geurie Greens Update: It has been a brutal fortnight for the Geurie Greens and the legacy could be long lasting. Despite the Greens romping to a comfortable win over defending premiers Rylstone, the boys from the Central West have been decimated by injury. Jamal Idris dislocated his elbow and is out for between a month and two months meaning he could miss the remainder of the FFL season. Michael Jennings’ duelling injuries are not healing anytime soon and he was ruled out of Origin. Craig Wing has a dodgy hamstring and who knows how long he will be sidelined for. Luke Bailey fractured his arm a fortnight back. Shane Rodney has done a knee. Steve Simpson is permanently injured. Throw in Brett Stewart and the Greens are on the ropes. Only the magnanimous attitudes of the fantasy gods will provide salvation for the Greens now.

What I Hate About Rebecca Wilson This Week: I had a strange dream the other night where I was caddying for “Nature Boy” Ric Flair and when Flair started having a heart attack on the golf course I couldn’t find the medication. It was later discovered that Rebecca Wilson had stolen his heart pills in an act of deviancy and murder. Damn you, Wilson. Get the hell out of my dreams. I have never woken up so terrified in my life.

Watch It: There have been few, if any, better Origin brawls than this classic from 1995. At the first scrum only two minutes into game two of the series, pandemonium broke loose in front of 50,000 Melbournites hosting only their second Origin encounter. Word was around for days leading into the match that a brawl was on and those who eagerly anticipated the bout were not let down when Jim Sedaris fired off a shot at opposing hooker Wayne Bartrim, quite clearly on the orders of Coach Phil Gould if Gould’s nonplussed look on the sidelines is anything to go by. There were plenty of battles and the punches flew thick and fast though it is doubtful John L. Sullivan would have been all that proud of the technical aspects of the stoush. David Barnhill and Billy Moore threw plenty of wild haymakers at each other, spilling over the sideline and onto each other in a battle more wrestling than boxing with few shots landing. Hopoate showed glimpses of the future taking on a shirtless Danny Moore and a very scared Matt Sing. Rod Wishart held Adrian Lam in the old full nelson while old “Bargeass” Andrew Johns put a few shots on. Gavin Allen ended up without his jersey. To cap it off, the montage to “No Second Prize”. Brilliant. (

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