Season 2009: Round 26

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

From The Couch

Finals Preview with Resident Expert Confucius:

Dragons: Be not ashamed of mistakes and thus make them crimes.

Bulldogs: Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in getting up every time we do.

Titans: Everything has its beauty but not everyone sees it.

Storm: The cautious seldom err.

Sea Eagles: When you have faults, do not fear to abandon them.

Broncos: Study the past if you would define the future.

Knights: Respect yourself and others will respect you.

Eels: It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.

The Ryan Hoffman Postulate: I have come to the conclusion that there is enough evidence to suggest that Ryan Hoffman is not actually Ryan Hoffman, son of Jay Hoffman. Rather, he is Ryan Hoffman, illegitimate son of Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy. This is my four pronged theorem:

1. Jay Hoffman and Craig Bellamy both played for the Canberra Raiders at the time of both Ryan’s conception and birth.

2. Hoffman and Bellamy do not look dissimilar. Both have sandy brown hair and strong jaw-lines.

3. Hoffman and Bellamy both sound identical. They even share the same speech impediment.

4. Ryan Hoffman’s entire career is a result of Craig Bellamy’s goodwill. Hoffman was a Tigers off-cast when he was bought to Melbourne by Bellamy. He made his City Origin debut a year after Bellamy had taken up as Country Origin coach where he had the ear of NSW selector Laurie Daley as assistant coach. Ryan Hoffman duly made his state debut a season later. Hoffman has also only started three Origin matches for New South Wales: all in Bellamy’s first season as New South Wales coach where Hoffman was ordinary at best. It seems entirely doubtful that any reasonable coach would have given a player of Hoffman’s capabilities so many opportunities.

Hence forth The Hoff shall be known as The Bell with a proper nod and a wink to his true ancestry.

Dally M Award Predictions:

Dally M Award:

Winner: Jamie Soward
Runner-up: Johnathan Thurston
Third: Jarryd Hayne

Rookie of the Year:

Winner: Daniel Mortimer
Runner-up: Josh Dugan
Third: Jamal Idris

Coach of the Year

Winner: Kevin Moore
Runner-up: Wayne Bennett
Third: Daniel Anderson

Team of the Year:

Fullback: Jarryd Hayne
Wing: Taniela Tuiaki
Centre: Josh Morris
Five-Eighth: Jamie Soward
Halfback: Johnathan Thurston
Lock: David Stagg
Second-Rower: Anthony Watmough
Prop: Ben Hannant
Hooker: Robbie Farah

The Dally M Medal will be a three-way go with the form of Jamie Soward from rounds sixteen to twenty-two and in the final Dragons match of the regular season set to put him just ahead of Thurston, who led when voting went behind closed doors, and Hayne, who was the hottest player during the backend of the year. Hayne’s biggest worry is Daniel Mortimer, who certainly would have taken some votes from Hayne. Thurston was ordinary down the stretch but did play on a shocking and gutless team. Soward has certainly been the star attraction in 2009 and expect that to be rewarded with a Dally M.

Young Daniel Mortimer is a clear cut winner of the Rookie of the Year award. His inclusion in first grade virtually mirrors Parramatta’s resurgence as a finals contender. A special mention does go out to Josh Dugan who is the most courageous young kid in the game and will be an institution at Canberra for many years to come.

Kevin Moore and Wayne Bennett are the only two in the running to win the Coach of the Year award. Moore gets the nod for his involvement in recruitment and culture change at Belmore. The Bulldogs have gone from last to second place and Moore deserves most of the credit.

Ken Stephen Medal Nominee: The Souths player who allegedly knocked out Jason Taylor on Mad Monday. He has done a tremendous community service and deserves to be honoured. Unfortunately the player is said to be departing. That kind of passion is just what South Sydney need and the player should have been rewarded with the captaincy for 2010. Those after a wager should look to David Fa’alogo who is well in the red at $1.50 with David Kidwell at $3.25. Jaiman Lowe sits at $5.00 with Craig Wing the roughie at $9.00.

Farewells and Goodbyes and Pleased-To-See-The-End-of-You’s: Two legends of the game played their final match on the weekend and neither went out like Royce Simmons or Mal Meninga or Ray Price. Stacey Jones ended an ill-fated comeback with a 30-0 home loss to the Storm. Jones, the greatest Warriors player ever and the finest New Zealand footballer since Mark Graham, was brilliant in his first match back, engineering a victory against Manly but as the season wore on it became quite apparent Jones had lost his magic touch and was now bowling into a very stiff breeze. Craig Fitzgibbon, one of the toughest sons-of-bitches to ever step onto a football field, also said goodbye to rugby league in Australia. Old Raw Bones, as he was named by Roy and HG, won a premiership and represented Australia and New South Wales in a career that had it all. He never gave less than 100% and his greatest legacy will be his perpetuation of the old school style that says hard work will take you further than natural talent. Fitzgibbon was a champion and is well in the running for a position in the Team of the Century, to be named next week in this very column. Corey Hughes and Mark O’Meley have also played their last matches. Neither will be missed, particularly by Bulldogs fans. O’Meley had a few decent years but was nothing more than a mercenary while Corey Hughes could well be the worst player to ever notch up 200-plus matches and has been the bane of my existence for over a decade. And Craig Wing and Will Chambers have pissed off to rugby…good luck with that fools.

Captain Indecision: It is little wonder that New South Wales have lost four series in a row and Country got towelled up this year with Laurie Daley unable to make a decision and stick with it. Not only does he chop and change the New South Wales team as well as the television station he works for, he refuses to make the simplest of decisions even for a mean-nothing magazine column. In last week’s Big League, Daley was one of three experts, along with Graham Murray and Andrew Voss, called on to make predictions for the Dally M Medal. These were his responses. “Too close to call” for the Dally M Player of the Year. “The coach of the minor premiers” for Coach of the Year. “Idris or Dugan” for Rookie of the Year. In no category did he give a definitive answer. What a complete and utter waste of space. Get somebody with an opinion Big League. The same goes for you New South Wales Rugby League. Failure to offer an opinion is usually a sign of ignorance and Daley has presented himself as an ignorant gimp over the last week.

Jersey of the Year: The Newcastle Knights have completed a rare double this season, winning the From The Couch award for both the best and worst jersey of 2009. The claimed the worst jersey of the season (and possibly ever) with their tribute to aboriginal art during Indigenous Round. This week they claimed the jersey of the year with their throwback “Henny Penny” jersey to pay homage to the old boys who rocked up for Sunday’s affair. It may have been Mark Taufua hitting it up but if you squinted your eyes just so it could easily have been Sam Stewart. It was tough to tell if it was Matt Hilder or Marc Glanville in the thirteen jersey. Throw some headgear and moustache on Kurt Gidley and it could very well have been Gary Wurth. Throwback jerseys are fantastic and kudos goes to the Knights for pulling it out for such a critical match. It is just a damn shame they don’t pull the royal blue and bright red with a touch of yellow every week.

The Macaulay Culkin-Tim Smith Award: Awarded annually to the hottest prospect that is likely to be nothing more than a trivia question in five years despite projections of greatness. It tends to see the only headlines revolving around fathering Michael Jackson’s children or drunken antics on Parramatta Road at eight in the morning. This year the projection is that Jharal Yow Yeh will, much like Leon Bott or Reece Robinson, soon be on the scrapheap. Young Broncos wingers rarely seem to last long and Yow Yeh has definite weaknesses in his game. I’ll give him 20 more NRL matches at most.

Rumour of the Week: Hardly even a rumour but a full blown news story reported in both The Australian and The Daily Telegraph. The Roosters allegedly tanked their final match of the season against the Cowboys with plenty of smart money for the Cowboys to win by 13 plus. The Roosters led 16-0 before all of a sudden “switching off” as the Cowboys ran roughshod to win 32-16 with a very simple try at the death to Donald Malone proving critical to betting. It was not dissimilar to the David Stagg try that finished off the Roosters loss to the Bulldogs three weeks back while the betting was only as heavy as it was for the Storm-Roosters match when the Storm minus got out from 18 ½ to 26 ½ despite the absence of any significant personnel changes (it was assumed Greg Inglis would play when betting opened). This kind of thing happens every year and there always seem to be a certain few involved. The NRL would be well advised to employ a betting officer because these kinds of liberties being taken by players in meaningless matches are embarrassing for the sport.

Fun Fact #1: The finals records of the remaining eight teams since the formation of the NRL in 1998:

Finals Years
Grand Finals
St Geeorge-Illawarra


Gold Coast

Fun Fact #2: Only two Dally M Medal winners will be playing in the 2009 finals series: Matt Orford (2008) and Cameron Smith (2006).

Fun Fact #3: Four Dally M Rookie of the Year winners will be playing in the 2009 Finals series: Israel Folau (2007), Jarryd Hayne (2006), Karmichael Hunt (2004) and Mat Rogers (1995).

Fun Fact #4: Three Dally M Coach of the Year winners will be coaching in the 2009 finals series: Craig Bellamy (2006 and 2007), Daniel Anderson (2002) and Wayne Bennett (1987 and 2000). Craig Bellamy is the only one of the trio still with the club he won the award with.

Coaching Stocks: The final coaching stocks for 2009…

Kevin Moore [4.5] Rough loss to Tigers but ended up with the good draw. Will be at Bulldogs as long as he likes.

Wayne Bennett [4.5] The old fox managed to switch the Dragons back on. Only he could pull that off.

Craig Bellamy [4] The Storm have overcome plenty of adversity and a top four finish is an outstanding result.

John Cartwright [3.5] The Titans enter the finals in up-and-down form but Cartwright has done a brilliant job.

Daniel Anderson [3.5] Has done a remarkable job to get Eels into the finals but 37-0 loss has probably ended season.

Rick Stone [3.5] Almost single-handedly salvaged Knights season. Away form concerning but on legends day won.

Des Hasler [3] Manly won irrelevant game on Saturday. Form questionable. Hasler safe though.

Tim Sheens [3] Another missed finals campaign but end of season win will see him safe for another year.

Ivan Henjak [2.5] Season was gone and so was he then regrouped and won five on the trot. Huge turnaround.

Matt Elliott [1] Awful capitulation to lose 35-0 in must win game. Terrible fade. Three years with no finals now.

David Furner [1] Put up a courageous effort with nothing to play for. Has the blocks now needs to build something.

Neil Henry [0.5] A shocking year when he was bought in to harness talent. Cowboys again failed.

Jason Taylor [0.5] Probably should have been fired. Had the talent to make finals but couldn’t click when needed.

Ricky Stuart [-2.5] Another tough effort. Still, finished second last and can consider himself lucky to be employed.

Ivan Cleary [-15] Sonny Fai excuse is maybe the only reason Cleary is still coach. Simply horrendous 2009.

* Brad Fittler Team showed their respect for him by being accused of tanking. Unlikely to work again.

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 26: Brisbane-Canberra, 22-10. It was not what you would call a brilliant weekend of matches. Three teams were held scoreless in games that saw margins of thirty-plus inclusive of two teams who had finals aspirations in Parramatta and Penrith. Another finals contender was beaten by 34. With the minor premiership on the line the Bulldogs were rolled by 22. One match stunk like the 1919 World Series. That left the Brisbane-Canberra match which was a surprisingly brutal affair despite the fact there was very little on the line. The highlight of the match was certainly wiry Andrew Leeds doppelganger Josh Dugan twice getting in front of The World’s Biggest Centre Dave Taylor and getting smacked as a result. Dugan’s whole body looked to be collapsing in pain but he never shirked he task and got up to finish the match. The Raiders were right in the match but couldn’t cop a decision, much like the rest of the year, and Brisbane escaped with the points. It was an unconvincing performance from Brisbane but one that ended well for the club.

The Colin Best Express Fan Revue: Strange fact. The Colin Best Express has played on Hazem El Masri nine times. CBE has defeated Haz only once and never in the regular season. The Colin Best Express did own Darren Rogers, Luke Rooney and Dean Gaskell, however, whom he never lost too in thirteen combined appearances.

What Did Shane Rodney Do This Week? Shane Rodney decided to play Operation on Father’s Day and came to the realisation that he had been through nearly every operation available on the board before he electrocuted himself and needed to be taken to hospital for emergency surgery.

Beard Watch: Farewell to one of the more consistent NRL beards of the last five years with Adam Woolnough playing his last game on Sunday afternoon for Penrith against his former club Newcastle. Woolnough, whose beard can best be described as that of a conservative Pakistani money mover and arms trader, was once considered a fairly handy prospect before he was cut in the great Brian Smith purge. He was never able to establish himself at Penrith. His beard remained a constant throughout most of his career, however, and that is an achievement he can be mighty proud of.

Referee Brett Suttor also gets a commendation. His junkie beard is really starting to fill out and is starting to enter the ranks of Eighties Television Dad Beard. Eliot Weston from Thirty something would be proud.

Thems Were The Days: When the radio waves belted out the soothing tones of King Wally Otto from The Soundproof Booth, you knew it was time for The Festival of the Boot where legendary league lovers and Lithgow locals “Rampaging” Roy Slaven and H.G Nelson, two rugby league “piss artists on day release”, were on the microphone ready to call either the Grand Final or the State of Origin in their most unique style. It became tradition for many rugby league aficionados to listen to the call from The Card Table, the characters of Roy and H.G intertwined and wrapped up in rugby league’s greatest moments of the last quarter century.

There was nothing quite like the Call from the Card Table. The drama, the passion, the proper perspective of where rugby league sits in world importance: The Cold War stopped to watch the 1988 decider between Canterbury-Bankstown and Balmain when Baa Lamb allegedly clocked The Leisure Technician, Ellery Hanley. “Send the bugger off” Roy decried before reminiscing twenty years on that it “took the attention off the Cold War and turned it on to rugby league…it was the turning point in world rugby league”. H.G Nelson was never short on excitement while Roy Slaven was always prepared to go out on a limb, at times calling for the dismissal of entire teams or the castration of all referees or slandering the Manly Sea Eagles by stating that cesspools looked like skyscrapers compared to the club.

Names like “The Burning Map” (John Cartwright), “The Unmade Bed” (Andrew Johns), “Backdoor Benny” (Ben Elias), “Fire Up Bitch” (Mark Gasnier), “Fridge and Freezer” (Petero Civoniceva), “Debbie Does” (Brett Dallas), “Robbie Roids” (Robbie O’Davis), “The Brick With Eyes” (Glenn Lazarus), “Cheese & Chives and Salt & Vinegar” (Darren and Jason Smith), “The Poo in the Shoe” (Julian O’Neill), “Dish-head Dowling” (Greg Dowling), “The Prince of Darkness” (Steve Mortimer), “The Smiling Assassin” (Steve Roach), “Tooley” (Laurie Daley), “Tripod” (Mick Hancock) and “Mad Dog” (Adam MacDougall) all became entrenched in rugby league folklore because of the wiot and candour of Roy and H.G.

All of Australia knew that Wendell Sailor had the ball when the call of “Hello Sailor” went up. Everyone knew that Rod Wishart was involved when H.G would tell people to “put the kettle on” or “put the cat out” or “check on the cheesecake” due to the fact nothing happened when Wishart had the ball. Steve Price was in the throes of a hit-up when the duo shouted “Woo Woo Woo” in tribute to the Price Attack red light sales. “Nobody’s talking Tate” was a common phrase in recent years. “Fizz, Fizz, Fizz” always meant Terry Hill was about to do something terrible because he is “too old, too slow, too stupid”.

Sadly the days of The Unmade Bed, tackles on the Triple J sign and references to “men eating ice creams” and “the fastest man in league” Rod Wishart are over, at least for the meanwhile, with Roy and H.G now Triple M staples. Their contribution to the game though will always be remembered fondly. Grassy Grannal, Roy’s old coach at the Lithgow Shamrocks, would have taken the boys for a Chinese feed at the Golden Brown Door and said “job well done”.

Fantasy Team of the Week:

1. B.Slater (Mlb)
2. D.Nielsen (Mlb)
3. G.Inglis (Mlb)
4. W.Chambers (Mlb)
5. B.Morris (Dra)
6. B.Marshall (Tig)
7. J.Thurston (NQ)
13. C.Parker (Brs)
12. B.Harrison (Can)
11. P.Gallen (Cro)
10. S.Tronc (NQ)
9. C.Smith (Mlb)
8. K.Snowden (Cro)

What I Hate About Rebecca Wilson This Week: Where does she get the nerve? After making a big song-and-dance earlier this year calling for Matthew Johns to be publicly humiliated and castrated and sacked from Nine, she this week offered to “pass on all messages of support” to Johns after he rejected a comeback. Wilson was one of the first to jump on the bandwagon, vitriolically demanding David Gyngell fire Johns after the 2002 Cronulla sex scandal broke. She was disgusting in her vindictiveness, painful in her moralising and embarrassing in her views. And now she is on his side? Now the heat is off and there is nothing to be gained from slaying Johns she wants him back? She should be ashamed to put her name to anything.

Watch It: These two outstanding videos are for the true believers, celebrating the 50th and 70th anniversaries of the greatest club of all, Canterbury-Bankstown. Both are outstanding tributes with some outstanding footage of the blue and white heroes of days gone by. It will bring a tear to the eye of every Bulldog fan. Everyone from Eddie Burns and Ron Bailey through Les Johns and Chris Anderson to Terry Lamb and Steve Mortimer are covered. Chris Anderson may well be the smartest winger in the history of the game and anyone who dares argue Sterling was a better half than Mortimer should just watch this. Two of the most enjoyable videos ever. Click here and Click here.


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