From The Couch
Bring Back Ando: Craig Bellamy is done as New South Wales coach. While he certainly doesn’t deserve a great deal of the blame being directed at him, he did play a major role in the selection of the abhorrent New South Wales team and must take some responsibility for the series defeat. The NSWRL won’t reappoint him and Bellamy would be unlikely to seek reappointment. It has become apparent that the job is too difficult for a club coach to undertake these days. As such there have been calls for Phil Gould to come back. Those calling for Gould are on the right path but are on the wrong man. The populace of New South Wales should, to a man, be calling for Chris Anderson to take on the role as Blues coach.
Anderson is a legend of the game and one of the greatest coaches of the modern era. Anderson won 21 of 24 Test matches when coaching Australia, is one of only a handful of coaches to win premierships with two different clubs and he has a career win record of 56.5% in club football despite being in charge of both Cronulla and a gutless Roosters team who refused to play. Anderson is a renowned old school coach who is a motivator that can get his players ready for the big occasion. He won’t overburden his players with tactics or information and he will bring in some of the Queensland culture by getting the team to bond over a drink or two. Most importantly, he won’t tolerate having rubbish players in his team just as he did when Australian coach, snubbing Luke Lewis for Darren Smith, who was bought in from outside the squad. Chris Anderson would be the perfect appointment for New South Wales and hopefully moves are afoot to approach him about the role.
Should I Stay or Should I Go?
Kurt Gidley: Stay…was courageous and always trying in game two.
Jarryd Hayne: Stay…clearly the best of the Blues.
Joel Monaghan: Go…or at least played in position…looked lost on the left.
Jamie Lyon: Go…his club form hasn’t translated to Origin and his defence has been poor.
David Williams: Go…four handling errors and a terrible kick on tackle one. Terrible.
Trent Barrett: Go…taking out Inglis was only contribution. Shouldn’t have been there.
Peter Wallace: Go…just isn’t up to Origin standard in either kicking or organisation.
Brent Kite: Go…one of the softest props to play Origin…even Bellamy didn’t want him.
Robbie Farah: Go…tough to figure out what was worse, his passing or his defence.
Michael Weyman: Stay…fearless early but had limited opportunities.
Luke O’Donnell: Go…his “aggression” is overrated…played dumb and dropped the ball.
Ben Creagh: Stay…was ordinary but survives after an outstanding game one.
Paul Gallen: Stay…and only just. Set the rot in motion but he has played well before.
Justin Poore: Go…missed 5 tackles in 31 minutes and made only 41 metres. No heart.
Glenn Stewart: Go…poor hands and looked out of his depth.
Anthony Watmough: Stay…the Blues most effective forward, he actually threatened.
Josh Morris: Stay…was given no chance from the bench but is a definite starter in G3.
New Faces: New South Wales selectors need to sweep a broom through the Blues team for game three. New faces are required. Luke Patten should wear the number one jersey with Kurt Gidley going to five eighth. He never gives up and is safe as a house. Michael Jennings should return to the centres with Josh Morris to start on the left. His brother Brett should get a chance outside him. Jamie Soward with his long kicking game and ability to create should start at halfback. Luke Douglas is the obvious replacement to take the spot of Brent Kite. Michael Ennis should have been on the bench in game two and is now clearly ahead of Farah. Nathan Hindmarsh should have been involved in the first two matches: he tries all day and adds some starch to the pack. Alan Tongue must come onto the bench and add some spirit to the team. Craig Wing was outstanding in game one and deserves the utility role if fit. And the last prop position should be between Chris Houston, Tommy Large and Luke Stuart.
Say Goodbye To Hollywood: Bill Harrigan is ruining rugby league. He and he alone should be justification for the abolishment of the video refereeing system. In the space of three days and two matches he made three of the most abhorrently wrong and inconsistent rulings of the season. In Origin II he disallowed a clear try to Ashley Harrison, ruling that Willie Tonga had knocked the ball on. Tonga actually passed the ball so Harrigan should not have ruled on the decision but regardless, Tonga was facing his own tryline and clearly propelled the ball backwards. Moments later Harrigan awarded a try to Jarryd Hayne after Luke O’Donnell had wrapped his arms around marker Israel Folau. The video referees have been disallowing tries like those for years yet Harrigan took it upon himself to disregard precedent and even the match up by awarding the try. Harrigan has been renowned for evening matches up for years. Two nights later, Harrigan awarded a benefit of the doubt try to Anthony Watts despite no evidence suggesting Watts grounded the ball or ever placed it over the tryline. It should have been a refs call yet Harrigan gave Watts the benefit of the doubt. These calls followed Harrigan’s disgraceful decision to disallow Jarryd Hayne’s try in Origin I. Harrigan is a narcissist, a fool or a cheat. He always needs to be the centre of attention and his arrogance is such that he believes he is above criticism. He should never be involved in rugby league ever again. The quicker his career is taken behind the shed and shot in the head, the better off we will all be.
Dancing in the Streets of Campbelltown: The Wests Tigers may be 15th on the NRL ladder and they may have suffered yet another loss over the weekend but supporters from Campbelltown to Leichardt are dancing in the streets after news that the rightfully maligned utility John Morris has signed with Cronulla. In the most recent display of Ricky Stuart’s obvious loathing for the Sharks, he has signed the incompetent John Morris. Morris has only 71 try assists and 38 tries in 186 matches and only 21 try assists in the last three seasons. Sharks fans thought they got a rough trot with Corey Hughes. The situation isn’t about to improve with John Morris in the team.
Fittler’s Folly: The surprising issue surrounding Jake Friend and Sandor Earl’s arrest and charge for assault on Saturday night is the fact that anyone is surprised. These two kids think they can get away with anything because their coach acts like he is above his own rules. There is absolutely no leadership at the Roosters and until Fittler is sacked, the selfish and reckless culture at the club will continue to thrive. If Brad Fittler was coaching at any other club, he would have been fired on the spot last week. The Roosters could not be more deserving of the wooden spoon.
Where Are They Now? Former Manly, Wests Tigers and Harlequins player Nick Bradley-Qalilawa was spotted at Tank in The Rocks getting into a bit of a dust up with Roosters recidivist Jake Friend and the wonderfully named Roosters one-gamer Sandor Earl. Bradley-Qalilawa has dropped the Qalilawa from his name, much to the joy of sportswriters everywhere, and is getting more physical these days than he ever did in his 42 NRL matches.
Beau’s Black Eyes: Wests Tigers winger has gone old school over the weekend with the use of eye-black for the Tigers clash with St. George-Illawarra. In a move not seen since the Jack Gibson coached Origin teams of the late-eighties, Beau Ryan went out with the old shoe polish under the eyes for the Friday night match at the Sydney Football Stadium. It certainly improved his traditional mediocre performance with Beau-Beau scoring a try, running for 137 metres and breaking 9 tackles. Hopefully the eye black is back!
“Hacksaw” Josh Dugan: It comes as little surprise to those who follow the Canberra Raiders that The Green Machine managed to turn their season around against the Storm on Sunday with the return of “Hacksaw” Josh Dugan laying the platform for a victory over long-time nemesis Melbourne. Hacksaw was brilliant and was involved in everything. His kick return was as good as any fullback in the NRL. He has a deft ability to break tackles and get his arms free for an offload. He backs up like Terry Lamb and he is not afraid to touch the ball plenty of times. The Raiders have won only five matches this season but three have come with Dugan at the back. Hacksaw has only played six top grade matches but he can quite readily be compared in style to Brett Hodgson. Hacksaw will be wearing the Blue number one sooner rather than later so David Furner would be well advised to keep the young gun in the top grade, even when David “The Axe” Milne returns from injury.
Fun Fact #1: The Roosters replaced a winger named Sisi, who has a brother named Stanley, with a player named Sandor.
Fun Fact #2: The five wingers the Roosters have used in 2009 have been called Sam, Shaun, Sisi, Sonny and Sandor. S seemingly stands for speed at the Roosters.
Kevin Moore  The Dogs were clinical in destroying the Cowboys. Both defence and attack were top class.
Wayne Bennett  The Dragons grinded out another big win with plenty of Origin back-ups. Ticking along great.
Craig Bellamy [4.5] Bad loss to the Raiders. Struggled with intensity and big questions over daytime football ability.
Brian Smith [4.5] Good comeback from the bye with a strong win over Souths. Would be disappointed with first half.
John Cartwright [4.5] Won without 4 of the Titans big guns. Had few opportunities but still got the points. Good team.
Des Hasler [3.5] Bye: Have fought back well but must keep up momentum post-bye against Dogs.
Neil Henry  Road worries continue. Final score flattered Cowboys. A few commitment concerns up front.
Matt Elliott [2.5] Bye: Losing Petero for two months will cost them any hopes of finals play.
Tim Sheens  The knives are out for Sheens after another loss to a team they have the wood over. Spoon shot.
David Furner  Win over Storm Furner’s greatest. Recalling Dugan was crucial. Directness and enthusiasm keys.
Ivan Henjak [1.5] The Broncos has lost 4 in a row and are out of the eight. Criticism of Bellamy unjustified and low.
Ricky Stuart  lost all momentum in failing against pathetic Roosters. More losses to follow.
Ivan Cleary  Another disgraceful performance on the road. Lack of attacking zeal a major concern.
Daniel Anderson  Big win over the sliding Broncos. Young Mortimer will be a star. Hindmarsh again amazing.
Jason Taylor [-0.5] Souths again show little heart or fight. Continues to stick with Sandow. Should be gone soon.
Brad Fittler [-10] Pulled off a win over the Sharks but the club was once again in the papers for drunk brawling.
Game of the Year Nomination, Round 16: Canberra-Melbourne, 26-16. A crackerjack contest at Canberra Stadium and another display of how good daytime football can be. On a cold and grey Canberra afternoon, the Raiders jumped from the blocks and stunned a Storm team that struggled to warm to the contest. Greg Inglis remarkably played for the Storm but was unsighted in the first half when the Raiders peppered the left hand fringes of the Storm defence. Joel Monaghan was outstanding in the first stanza, setting up the first try when climbing high for a bomb and flicking it down to Justin Carney before scoring the next two. Joe Tomane was having a nightmare and Inglis was providing little assistance. The Raiders were carving the Storm to shreds. The Storm hit back just before the break, however, with Cameron Smith burrowing over on the stroke of half-time. The Raiders looked ready to extend the lead after half-time but blew numerous opportunities including an exceptionally selfish play by Terry Campese where he tried to score himself off a Josh Dugan kick return rather than pass to the unmarked Jarrod Croker. A beautiful Joel Monaghan pass to Justin Carney put the Raiders up 20-4 though and Canberra appeared to have a winning score. The Storm fought back though with a long distance Greg Inglis try and a sensational 50-metre movement that started with Adam Blair and finished by Will Chambers. The try has legitimate claims to the try of the season with the burly prop Blair touching the ball three times in the play while back rower Sika Manu provided a miraculous ball to Chambers when he appeared all but wrapped up. That was the Storm’s final breath, however, and though they continued to pressure Canberra, a last minute try to Bronson Harrison secured an incredible victory for the Raiders, who had not beaten the Storm in fourteen matches dating back to 2002. Joel Monaghan was brilliant in scoring two and setting up two more. Josh Dugan was incisive and a perennial threat. Marc Herbert is developing into a very good halfback. Dane Tilse, Tom Learoyd-Lars and Bronson Harrison were penetrating with the ball. And Alan Tongue was creative and hard working, as always. A sensational match and one of the most enjoyably free flowing, dramatic and entertaining of the season.
What Did Shane Rodney Do This Week? “Sugar” Shane began hypnotherapy in order to prevent his constant subconscious efforts to damage his own body. Self harm is a real concern at the moment.
The Colin Best Express Fan Revue: The Colin Best Express was derailed on Monday night. Three errors, a penalty and only 53 metres. It was a terrible performance from our hero. He is surely regretting abandoning the Raiders to play with such a bad team.
Beard Watch: The facial hair highlight of round sixteen was no doubt the light ginger moustache of Cowboys utility Anthony Watts. While it is not quite in the league of Yosemite Sam, Watts has done a fine job with his chutney bum fluff on the upper lip. There was a good deal of confusion at one point, however, when Watts had his mouth and nose opened up. Fans and trainers alike were not sure what was blood and what was an uber-seventies porno ‘stache. Had Watts been a victim of the Dirty Lanny or just bad taste? It was well into the second term before it could clearly be established that he had indeed made a conscious effort to indulge in the Fanta facial hair scene. A mention must also be given to Parramatta bench hooker Kevin Kingston. Kingston has got tremendous coverage and could easily be mistaken for a midget version of Shane Elford circa round twelve.
Kevin Kingston or The Bearded Midget? Evidence is inconclusive at this stage.
Thems Were The Days: The opening round of the 1996 season was one of the most memorable weekends of rugby league in the history of the code in Australia despite only four matches being played no match having a result of closer than nine points and no crowd exceeding 10,000. The Super League war had broken out the previous year and by 1996 News Limited was ready to proceed with their breakaway competition. The players were signed and the inaugural Nines tournament had taken place and all was in readiness.
The ARL, however, was fighting a rearguard action in the courts, attempting to have Super League banned with the aligned players and clubs forced to play under the banner of the ARL. While history will record Super League as winning the war, they lost the first legal battle on the eve of the 1996 season with the Federal Court banning Super League until at least 2000. ARL lawyer Mark O’Brien called it a “100-0 victory to the ARL” while News Limited’s Lachlan Murdoch retorted with “1-0 at half-time”. Super League players and clubs were livid and threatened to sit out the season. That didn’t eventuate but all Super League clubs with the exception of the Auckland Warriors forfeited or had cancelled their first round matches in the ARL competition. There had not been a forfeit since Balmain handed South Sydney the 1909 premiership in farcical circumstances when they forfeited the Grand Final and ARL powerbrokers believed the Super League players and clubs would back down. They were wrong. When the ARL refused to even consider a 15-point compromise plan put forward by Super League that included a 22 team competition inclusive of the Hunter Mariners and the Adelaide Rams, the introduction of a tri-series in place of State of Origin and the use of Nike playing gear, Super League players refused to play in the ARL with clubs such as Brisbane stating “they have no desire to take part in any rugby league competition run by the Australian Rugby League”. Debacle ensued with Canberra, Penrith, Cronulla and the Western Reds all forfeiting to their ARL opponents, the Canterbury-North Queensland match being cancelled and Brisbane forfeiting to the Auckland Warriors after the Warriors said they would field a team of local players. Only four matches took place. Wests defeated Illawarra 17-8 on Friday night football. The Roosters touched up the Tigers 38-10. A Brett Dallas hat-trick on debut for North Sydney gave the Bears a 42-26 win over the Gold Coast. And a “Beaver” Menzies four try haul helped Manly beat Souths 44-6 on Sunday afternoon. The pall cast by Super League was heavy, however, and that weekend would be remembered as a warning shot to the division on the horizon. The happiest team that weekend was the Tommy Raudonikis led Wests, who had pulled off an upset win over Illawarra. The Magpies had lost seven of their last eight in 1995 and were given little chance in 1996 but inspired by Tommy, Western Suburbs won a bruising encounter. When the ARL threatened to rule the opening round null and void and redraw the competition, Tommy threatened the ARL with his personalised strike, saying that his players would “be on the drink” all week if those two points were taken from the Magpies. ARL powerbrokers didn’t doubt Tommy’s threats and the points stood. And thus ended one of the most tumultuous rounds in the history of rugby league.
Fantasy Team of the Week:
1. S. Perrett (Roo)
2. J. Carney (Can)
3. J. Monaghan (Can)
4. J. Reddy (Par)
5. E. Grothe (Par)
6. B. Roberts (Bul)
7. B. Hornby (Dra)
13. L. Brown (War)
12. B. Harrison (Can)
11. N. Hindmarsh (Par)
10. R. Asotasi (Sou)
9. C. Smith (Mlb)
8. K. Snowden (Cro)
Geurie Greens Update: The Geurie Greens turned in their most courageous performance but it was all in vain. In a top-of-the-table clash with the Ulladulla Underwear, the Greens went in severely undermanned due to the bye (the Greens have an abundance of mediocre-to-fair Penrith and Manly players including Paul Aiton, Matt Ballin, Gavin Cooper and Jarrod Sammut), injury (Craig Wing, you and your fucking hamstring…) and team selection (what justification did you have for dropping the Pack-Man, Ivan Cleary?). Big scores to the returning Josh Dugan, “Slammin’” Sammy Perrett and debutant Joel Reddy helped Geurie to a big score but it wasn’t enough as a near full-strength Undies outfit rolled the Greens. With two weeks to go until the finals, Geurie hold a one game lead over the Underwear.
What I Hate About Rebecca Wilson This Week: Her snide attack on the prospect of Phil Gould being courted for the New South Wales coaching gig. Gould may be irritating but at least he has contributed to rugby league. What have you added, Wilson? Nothing but the entertainment of your hypocrisy.
Watch It: This is how derby hatred should be displayed with one sharp witted Hull Kingston Rovers fan giving it to the Hull F.C team with a highly amusing You Tube clip. This has everything from catchy tunes and Adolf Hitler to a dancing Hull KR hating hamster and the delightful mockery of Peter Sharp. If only Australian local derbies bred such amusing sledging. This is absolute gold! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dIiwMeKKdlk)