Season 2010: Round 26

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

From The Couch

Farewell Robert Finch, Don’t Let the Door Hit Your Ass on the Way Out: It has taken many years, some vicious words and a whole river of hate to drive Robert Finch out of his job as the referees boss but finally we have rid ourselves of him. Finch is reportedly quitting at the end of the season after eight years where he has done untold damage to the game with his complete redoing of how rugby league is refereed. Referees now have very little control and even less confidence thanks to Finch’s abhorrent rule “interpretations”, his constant defence of the indefensible and his insistence that referees reach “key performance indicators” such as calling out captains after certain penalties. All of these problems are only magnified with video referees like Bill Harrigan and Steven Clark, whose egos and wont to get cute has led to some obscene decisions over the years.

It is time to look to the future now though. We have finally rid ourselves of this bum, this thief, this stubborn old germ who has taken so much and provided so little.

It is imperative that the NRL hires a former coach to head the referees from 2011 on. An intelligent former player and coach like Michael Hagan would be a perfect fit and should see us move back to a time when rules made sense and referees had control and ridiculous decisions were avoided. The one thing the game cannot do is give Bill Harrigan or Steven Clark the job. They are both worse than Finch. If they are going with a former referee, Greg McCallum is the best bet after a solid stint in England. It is critical; however, that an intelligent former coach is involved so there is some cohesion with how the game is played and how it is officiated.

For now though, let’s get the champagne out. We are free. Bye, bye Finch. Go away and don’t ever come back.

Premiership Chances in Limerick Form: The chances of each finals contender, in limerick form.


There once was a team called the Dragons
Who every year fall off the wagon
This year it should end
Death to the choking trend
God help us with all of the braggin’


There once was a team led by Pet
With a centre who flies like a jet.
But its kick after kick
Pretty easy to pick
The Panthers sure are no bet.


There once was a team led by Robbie
With finals a part-time hobby
They can run and can pass
With the skill to outclass
To the penthouse straight from the lobby

Gold Coast

There once was a team from the Gold Coast
A prince and a bull they do boast.
But they are stumbling in
Like a drunk on the gin
And now they are nothing but toast.


There once was a team who wore black
Warriors with beards and the sack
On the wing is the Beast
And on side is the priest
They can win it with their attack


There once was a team called the Chooks
Whose premiership would fleece the books
But Smith is their coach
Titles aren’t his approach
And we all know that they are crooks.


There once was a team with the Tongue
Red haired and full of lung
They’re young and their keen
With a pack that is mean
The Green Machine sure will be sung


There once was a team in maroon
Filled with the typical goon
Stewart and Perry
Matai’s a damned fairy
Those betting Manly need a saloon.

Dane Tilse, Almost the Unintentional Hero: Had it have come off, it would have been perhaps the greatest rugby league moment ever. That is no exaggeration. The moment would have needed no hyperbole. If only the ball had of been three inches higher and two inches to the right. The play I am talking about, of course, is Dane Tilse’s accidental field goal attempt. Tilse was backing up on the inside with the Raiders on the attack and the tackle count at five. Tilse did well to catch the ball and even more exceptionally to get a kick in as he looked to chip ahead. Tilse actually dropped the ball though and toe-poked what would have been a field goal had it gone over. The drop goal hit the intersect between upright and the crossbar and bounced away. What a tremendous shame that the ball did not go over. We would be talking about that field goal for years and years. Dane Tilse, you were so close to becoming an unintentional hero.

While on the field goal, I am pleased to announce that 38 field goals were kicked this season, the most since the 39 of 2007 and the second largest number since 1998 when 42 were kicked. Jamie Soward topped the field goal leaderboard for the second straight year with 4 one-pointers.

2010 Dally M Predictions: The Dally M Awards go off this week and here are the annual predictions of From The Couch, along with those players I think should get the gong.

* 2010 Dally M Medal: Robbie Farah

This is the tightest Dally M Medal race in years with as many as eight contenders including Darius Boyd, Robbie Farah, Paul Gallen, Todd Carney, Issac Luke, Benji Marshall and Josh Dugan. I fancy Robbie Farah will get the award after being only 5 votes behind when voting went behind closed doors and finishing the season in good style. If I was dishing the award out, however, I’d be giving it to Josh Dugan. Dugan has been brilliant for much of the season and he was the key figure behind Canberra’s great finals run. He shouldn’t be far away.

* Provan-Summons Medal: Nathan Hindmarsh

Hindmarsh has won this award four times and he remains the most popular player in the NRL. It is tough to argue otherwise.

* Rookie of the Year: Matt Gillett

This is clearly a race in two between Brisbane’s Matt Gillett and Manly’s Trent Hodkinson though Cronulla’s Nathan Gardner is only a step behind. Gillett will get the award because he was seen more on free-to-air television and while a deserving winner, I think Trent Hodkinson had a better rookie year in a far tougher position.

* Captain of the Year: Ben Hornby

The Dragons have clearly been the most professional team all season and Hornby deserves praise for being the leader of said outfit.

* Coach of the Year: Brian Smith

Smith will win it because of all this gushing over the Roosters coming from last to make the finals but the man who should win the award is Craig Bellamy, who has done a remarkable job in getting the Melbourne Storm team to win 14 games this season in what has been the most trying of circumstances.

* Rep Player of the Year: Billy Slater

Slater had a great Origin series and Test match though Darren Lockyer would be the fairytale recipient and had such a good Origin series that he would not be undeserving of the award.

* Best Fullback: Josh Dugan

This is probably a battle between Dugan and Boyd. Boyd had a great opening to the season while Dugan has finished off like a train. I have a soft spot for Dugan and voters do tend to get excited about late season form.

* Best Winger: Akuila Uate

This is a no contest for me with only Manu Vatuvei in the mix. Uate scored 21 tries and led all wingers in tackle breaks and average metres. He has been the most exciting winger in the comp this year.

* Best Centre: Jamie Lyon

Lyon has been the lynchpin of the Eagles attack this year and has been both a try scorer and a provider in what has been a down year for centres.

* Best Five-Eighth: Todd Carney

Carney has had an outstanding comeback season but he hardly played five-eighth this season. Jamie Soward is deserving of going back-to-back but the maligned six probably will be forgotten about again.

* Best Halfback: Scott Prince

You couldn’t give it to anyone else. Prince was super consistent all season and was the key playmaker. It is tough to gauge Cronk but Thurston certainly doesn’t deserve to be considered.

* Best Lock: Paul Gallen

Gallen was brilliant all year for a struggling Cronulla team and is deserving of recognition. For me, Corey Parker is the only other player in the mix but I doubt he will be recognised.

* Best Second Rower: Gareth Ellis

Ellis has added a toughness that has been critical to the Tigers success and he should win a close call over Sam Thaiday.

* Best Prop: David Shillington

This is another close race between Shillington, Matt Scott and Luke Bailey. Shillington has been key to lifting the Raiders to the finals and that is probably the difference.

* Best Hooker: Robbie Farah

Issac Luke was the early leader in the Dally M but he never recovered from injury and struggled during the backhalf of the year. Farah has to get this for consistency over the entire season.

The 2010 Broncos, the Worst Broncos Team Ever: For the first time since 1991, the Brisbane Broncos will not be playing in the finals. It is also the first time in the history of the club that the Broncos have finished outside the top half of the table and it is only the second time the club has finished the season with a losing record.

The 1991 Brisbane team have arguably been the worst Brisbane team to date. The Broncos went 13-9 after starting 5-5, just missing the playoffs. That Broncos team was chock full of representative talent including Alan Langer, Gene Miles and the Walters brothers and they did defeat defending premiers Canberra twice along with eventual champions Penrith.

The 2010 version was not nearly as impressive in terms of playing talent or performance. For the first time in the club’s history, the Brisbane Broncos actually looked bad. They were not simply beatable or disappointing. They were, at times, downright horrible. The limp-dicked way in which they finished the season is arguably the most horrible finish to a Broncos season ever. Brisbane started the season losing four of their first five games and they finished off the year with four straight losses. They lost more games at Suncorp than they won. They conceded 22.3 points per game and missed on average 37 tackles per match, the second worst in the NRL. The Broncos conceded the most offloads and the second most line-breaks as well as the second most metres.

Brisbane still had their fair share of stars in Darren Lockyer, Sam Thaiday, Israel Folau and Corey Parker along with marginal rep players like Peter Wallace. They also have plenty of young talent sure to be around for many years like Matt Gillett, Andrew McCullough and Josh Hoffman. The problem was the team’s lack of commitment to defence. Brisbane were not only soft in defence, they were ineffective when they did get involved. The club is going through a rebuilding phase and will be better off for this year but there is plenty of young players coming through that simply won’t make it. Antonio Winterstein is rubbish and will be a Cowboys discard within two years. The young forwards are a concern with no promising young props coming through. I also remain unconvinced by Ben Hunt.

The club is currently trying to get out of two messes created by Wayne Bennett’s dismissal. Brisbane are trying to undo the wasted money spent on the likes of Ashton Sims. They are also trying to get out of the Ivan Henjak mess. Some players have clearly been overpaid and most players clearly aren’t responding to Henjak. This is not good news for Brisbane fans.

The 2010 Broncos were the worst in the history of the club. I expect them to improve significantly in 2011 but structural and cultural changes will need to be made if they are to get better.

The Farewell Conversion: One of the outstanding annual traditions in rugby league is the conversion attempt given to farewell a retiring or departing legend of the club. That tradition was sullied in Origin III when Israel Folau was given a shot but it regained some of its lustre this weekend when Jeff Lima and Ryan Hoffman were both given shots by the Storm. The Lima conversion, in particular, was gold. Lima was the only of the departing players not to score a try and was called on by Cameron Smith, who set up the ball on the tee, to kick from in front. Lima showboated, went back and then slotted it in what will be the only goal of his NRL career. Ryan Hoffman then attempted one from out wide. It never looked likely. Sadly, the likes of Nathan Cayless, Luke Patten, Brett Kimmorley and Trent Barrett did not get an opportunity with regular Sharks goal-kicker the only other retiring player to line up for goal.

The farewell conversion is a delightful custom and will hopefully be more widespread in future years.

And One Last Goodbye: Seven players with 150-plus NRL matches played their final game on the weekend with three others having already hung up the boots. Here are 10 quick thoughts on the career of each:

Brett Kimmorley: One of the top halfbacks of his generation and arguably one of the top 100-150 players to ever play the game in Australia, Noddy won a premiership and rep jerseys as well as the accolades of most true fans of the game.

Luke Patten: A true statesman of the Bulldogs, Patten is one of the finest players never to play Origin football. He was as safe as a house and carried himself with the mentality of a devoted fan.

Nathan Cayless: A leader from a young age and the defining face, along with Nathan Hindmarsh, of the Parramatta team of this era, he never won a premiership but he lost little trying and was one of the Kiwis all-time best prop forwards. Once kicked a field goal.

Brett Finch: A generally despised player for his outspoken ways and larrikin behaviour, Finch has been to four clubs but really excelled when playing second fiddle in the halves where his organisational skills could take a back seat. Won an Origin game for the Blues with an extra-time field goal but lost one for Canberra when kicking out on the full off an optional 20 metre restart. There have been few more polarising players in the history of the game.

Trent Barrett: One of the last true five-eighths, Barrett was a crisp passer and damaging ball-runner highly regarded throughout the game, even captaining the Blues this year in his final season. Never won a premiership but he was pretty to watch.

Luke Covell: Arguably the slowest winger since Daryl Halligan but he played smart and is Cronulla’s greatest ever point-scorer outside of the Rogers family. He also played a lone Test for the Kiwis.

Ty Williams: Is probably best described as a poor man’s Matt Sing but he did get the most out of his talents, playing for Queensland and starring in the Cowboys most successful period.

Steve Price: One of the greatest props and captains of all-time, Price made the grade at a young age but matured later into a smart bookend who excelled even at the highest levels of the game.

Steve Simpson: Simpson was a fearsome gap runner and hard worker in his day, winning a premiership at Newcastle and playing Test match and Origin football, but injuries have forced him into an early retirement.

P.J Marsh: A much travelled hooker who got the most out of his limited ability to play Origin footy for Queensland and back-to-back Grand Finals with different clubs in 2001-02.

What I Learned from Twitter This Week: Seemingly Panthers reserve grader/former Cronulla speed hump David Simmons is a Jesus Freak, quoting Hebrews 9:28 on Twitter this week in a tweet that didn’t surprise or shock. I also found out that many people are offended by Stephanie Rice’s homophobic tweets but not nearly enough are expressing offense at her for watching rugby union. Israel Folau also promises to be back in four years time. Here is to hoping he isn’t.

Scott Price Wears a Sports Bra: The rugby league world was a little surprised last Friday night when it became apparent that Scott Prince was wearing what Frank Constanza might call a mansierre or a bro. It was a little disconcerting. So paranoid was Prince that he had the Titans PR department tweet that the garment he was wearing was a GPS pad and not support for some excess upper body heft. Scott Prince is a bit of a skirt but I never had him taken for a transvestite. Each to their own though.

Paul Gallen’s Brother Debuts: It was pleasing to see Paul Gallen’s brother debut for the Sharks on Saturday night. He turned in a fine effort with 37 tackles and 10 hit-ups in a full game in the backrow. His name? Trent Grubb. The Grubb brothers could cause all kinds of mayhem next year and beyond.

Steve Matai is a Thug: Manly centre Steve Matai is a dirty, cheap thug and he should be rubbed out of the game for his vicious late shot on Michael Ennis. Matai constantly attacks the heads of opponents. He should have been dismissed the other night. He deserves at least three months on the sidelines. Matai is one of the filthiest grubs to ever play rugby league and what Manly see in him is beyond me. He is a liability, plain and simple.

Willie M Medal Voting: A drum-roll please for the final votes in the inaugural Willie M Medal, rewarding mediocrity and terrible rugby league in 2010.



Willie M Team of the Year

1. Preston Campbell (GC)
2. Michael Robertson (Man)
3. Joseph Tomane (GC)
4. Ben Pomeroy (Cro)
5. Krisnan Inu (Par)
6. James Maloney (War)
7. Chris Sandow (Sou)
13. Chris Bailey (Man)
12. Mark Minichiello (GC)
11. Dave Taylor (Sou)
10. Carl Webb (War)
9. John Morris (Cro)
8. Jason Ryles (Roo)

And the Inaugural Winner of the Willie M Medal Winner, Chris Sandow: Congratulations to South Sydney halfback Chris Sandow and by extension his coach John Lang for winning the inaugural Willie M Medal. Sandow played 23 games for Souths this year and had 28 errors as well as a league high 5.8 missed tackles per match to go with only 15 try assists. Sandow started the season off in fine style with worst on ground in the first two matches of the year against the Roosters and Gold Coast while also recording a point against the Sharks in round three. He then got worst on ground against Manly and Brisbane before finishing the season with a flourish with seven points from his final three matches. Sandow just pipped Parramatta cat Krisnan Inu, who hit 10 points in the last month of the season but just missed out.

Thanks to the many, many rugby league aficionados who voted this year including Kendall, Boss, Fisky, Flash, Mik, Flanners, Sting, Robbo and Jamo.

Willie Mason Buggers Off to Britain: Willie Mason was quick to shake off Australia after presenting the inaugural Willie M Medal to Chris Sandow, signing with Hull Kingston Rovers. Having run out of options and chances on Australian shores, Mason fled to England where he will join fellow cats Joel Clinton and Michael Vella along with other Australians Clint Newton, Jake Webster and Ben Galea. Hull KR have snuck into the playoffs this year. I would happily bet against them making it in 2011. It has been three seasons since Mason played finals footy and the smart money is on that streak extending in England.

Fun Fact #1: The Dragons are a lowly 5-8 in finals matches over the last decade and have the longest premiership drought of any team in the finals that has previously won a premiership (St George, 1979).

Fun Fact #2: Trent Waterhouse is Penrith’s last remaining player from their last finals match back in 2004 while only nine other players on their roster have played in a finals match: Petero Civoniceva, Travis Burns, Shane Elford, Kevin Kingston, Luke Lewis, Frank Puletua, Adrian Purtell, Davis Simmons and Nathan Smith.

Fun Fact #3: Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheens is 17-10 all-time in finals matches and he has eight players remaining from the 2005 premiership team: Benji Marshall, Robbie Farah, Chris Heighington, Liam Fulton, Bryce Gibbs, Todd Payten, John Skandalis and Daniel Fitzhenry.

Fun Fact #4: The only Gold Coast team to ever win a final was the Chargers, who beat Illawarra 25-14 in the ARL finals series in 1997. Trent Barrett, who retired on Saturday night, was the last remaining player from the match. Graham Mackay, Jeremy Schloss, Scott Sattler, Jason Nicol and John McKelleher all scored tries for the Chargers with Wes Patten kicking the field goal.

Fun Fact #5: Lance Hohaia is the remaining player from the Warriors 2002 Grand Final team. The current fullback was on the bench in the Grand Final. The fullback that day was current Warriors coach Ivan Cleary.

Fun Fact #6: Roosters coach Brian Smith has never won a premiership but Smith is 12-12 all-time in finals matches.

Fun Fact #7: Canberra have lost seven straight finals matches and have not won a playoff match since 2000 when they beat Penrith 34-16 in the qualifying final. Alan Tongue is the only remaining Raider while Brett Finch, Todd Payten and Shane Elford are the only remaining players in the NRL from that match.

Fun Fact #8: Manly have lost three of their last four matches heading into the finals and no team has ever won a premiership losing three of its final four regular season matches since mandatory Grand Finals were introduced in 1954.

Power Rankings:

Gold Coast v Tigers 3-Beau Ryan (Tig)
  2-Simon Dwyer (Tig)
  1-Robert Lui (Tig)
Brisbane v Canberra 3-Peter Wallace (Bri)
  2-Ben Teo (Bri)
  1-Josh McCrone (Can)
Parramatta v Warriors 3-Krisnan Inu (Par)
  2-Jarryd Hayne (Par)
  1-Timana Tahu (Par)
Cowboys v Roosters 3-Nick Kouparitsis (Roo)
  2-Aaron Payne (Cow)
  1-James Tamou (Cow)
Penrith v Cronulla 3-Trent Barrett (Cro)
  2-Blake Ferguson (Cro)
  1-Taulima Tautai (Cro)
Storm v Newcastle 3-Adam MacDougall (New)
  2-Scott Dureau (New)
  1-Con Mika (New)
Manly v Bulldogs 3-Michael Robertson (Man)
  2-Jamie Lyon (Man)
  1-Ben Farrar (Man)
Dragons v Souths 3-Chris Sandow (Sou)
  2-Dave Tyrell (Sou)
  1-Dave Taylor (Sou)
Final Standings 21-Chris Sandow (Sou)
  20-Krisnan Inu (Par)
  18-Carl Webb (Cow)
  17-James Maloney (War)
  16-Mark Minichiello (GC), Tim Smith (Cro)
  15-Preston Campbell (GC)
  14-Scott Dureau (New), Ben Pomeroy (Cro), Peter Wallace (Bri)


Last Week
Gold Coast
West Tigers


Where the Melbourne Storm Would Be If: The Storm probably wouldn’t be on the first plane out of Melbourne for Bali or Hawaii or Vegas or wherever the boys are heading for their end-of-season trip. They also probably wouldn’t have been causing all kinds of trouble at Molly Meldrum’s Richmond pad on Sunday night with police making more than one appearance.

Rumour Mill: The rumour mill has it that Darren Lockyer and Ivan Henjak almost came to blows when Henjak rejected a bid by Lockyer to play with injury in Brisbane’s must win clash with Canberra. The relationship between captain and coach has deteriorated beyond repair with players siding with Lockyer. Henjak very nearly cost the club the signature of Greg Inglis. It is expected Henjak will be fired in the next few weeks. Ricky Stuart is the favourite for the job but his micro-management style won’t be a good fit at Brisbane. Steve Folkes, Graham Murray or Michael Maguire would all be better choices. It has been rumoured that Adam MacDougall will be at Canterbury next season. The Bulldogs are keen to get Jamal Idris into the backrow and see MacDougall as an adequate centre replacement. MacDougall wants to stay with Newcastle but is on the record as saying it would be easier for his family to move to Sydney. The net is closing in on those involved in the Bulldogs-Cowboys rort with police interviewing a number of key parties. Expect charges to come from this scandal including charges against players. There was also plenty of money for the Roosters minus on Saturday night from similar sources to those who bet the Cowboys first scoring play a fortnight back. Punters missed the cash though after the Roosters got nailed 9-4 in the penalty count.

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 26: Brisbane-Canberra, 16-18. This game shaped as a defacto finals match with the winner likely advancing and the loser most likely out. It didn’t disappoint. Brisbane went into the match knowing they needed to win by 15 points but they were in trouble early when the Raiders jumped to a 12-0 lead after back-to-back kicks led to tries to Daniel Vidot and Josh Dugan. Brisbane made it 12-4 thanks to yet another defence falling to yet another Andrew McCullough dummy but some sturdy defence and a 59th minute try to Daniel Vidot finished the Broncos semi-final streak. They got the score back to 18-16 with eight minutes to go but Brisbane were never going to score three more converted tries. Regardless, it was a game full of desperation and excitement and a very important match in the development of Canberra’s new generation of young guns.

Exchanges with Fisk:

Tedeschi on Robert Lui: “There are streamers that are tougher to get through.”

Coaching Stocks:

Wayne Bennett [5]  Huge win with weakened team on Sunday night. The Saints are deserving of the minor premiership

Craig Bellamy [4.5]  It was pleasing to see the Storm end such a tumultuous season on such a positive note.

Tim Sheens [4.5]  The Tigers went down to the Titans but they showed plenty of fight with some big outs.

John Cartwright [4]  The Titans secured a home final with a good win over the Tigers. Prince showed courage.

Ivan Cleary [4]  Another big Australian win for the Warriors against Parra thanks to great enthusiasm.

Brian Smith [3.5]  The Roosters were terribly disappointing against the Cowboys and have some real attack problems

Matt Elliott [3.5]  The Panthers can certainly put away a bad team, that is for certain.

David Furner [3.5]  Canberra are a serious team with 7 wins from 8 matches and a solid victory in a must-win game.

John Lang [2.5]  In the end, injuries ruined Lang’s hopes of taking Souths back to the finals. Poor effort Sunday.

Des Hasler [1.5]  Manly are going as bad as any team in the comp. Injuries hurt but attitude a major issue.

Rick Stone [1.5]  The Knights season must be considered a success following the preseason upheaval.

Ivan Henjak [0.5]  Henjak may have coached his last game in the NRL in a disappointing season.

Kevin Moore [0.5]  At least Moore could manufacture an adequate farewell for Noddy and the General. Ordinary ’10.

Shane Flanagan [0]  Awful loss to Penrith to finish the season on but will get his chance next year. Recruitment key.

Daniel Anderson [-1.5]  Parramatta were embarrassing in the farewell game of Cayless. Not Anderson’s complete fault.

Neil Henry [-15]  Henry has some how survived an internal review. Next year is his last chance.

Obscure Score of the Week: Orange CYMS 23-Mudgee 16, Group 10 Grand Final. Orange CYMS won their first premiership in 22 years in a magnificent victory over Mudgee at Wade Park last Sunday. Led by former Cronulla and Canterbury gambling addict Michael Sullivan, CYMS were down 8-6 at the turn but built a 16-8 lead with 66 minutes elapsed before Mudgee fought back with two unconverted tries. A tense Orange crowd of nearly 2,000 looked on and it was captain-coach Michael Sullivan who broke the deadlock with an outstanding field goal. The premiership was secured in the 78th minute with a try to centre Josh Nixon. It was a tremendous day for Orange and for the CYMS.

The Queanbeyan Kangaroos 2010 Campaign: The Pride of Queanbeyan will be forced to qualify for the Grand Final the hard way after going down 28-14 to Scholars in the Major Semi Final. The Kangaroos led 14-12 early in the second half but couldn’t close the deal in torrential Canberra conditions as Scholars finished like Bernborough to book a ticket to the decider. The Kangaroos will play Goulburn next week for a Grand Final berth.

Stats from the Special Needs Penguin: Ben Pomeroy once again had more errors than games played making it four straight years errors have won said head-to-head battle. It was Pomeroy’s best handling season, however, with errors only winning out 17-16 this year.

Fantasy Team of the Year: The best fantasy football has to offer.

1. Kurt Gidley (Newcastle)
2. Michael Gordon (Penrith)
3. Israel Folau (Brisbane)
4. Matt Cooper (Dragons)
5. Brett Morris (Dragons)
6. Todd Carney (Roosters)
7. Scott Prince (Gold Coast)
13. Corey Parker (Brisbane)
12. Paul Gallen (Cronulla)
11. Nathan Hindmarsh (Parramatta)
10. Sam Burgess (Souths)
9. Issac Luke (Souths)
8. Luke Bailey (Gold Coast)

Watch It: The Brisbane Broncos this year missed the finals for the first time since 1992. This week From The Couch takes you back to where it all began for Brisbane, back in 1992 and the Grand Final. That day Brisbane thumped the Dragons 28-8 after qualifying for their first Grand Final with a major semi-final win 22-12 against Illawarra. The most famous moment of the ‘92 decider was Steve Renouf’s sublime 95 metre try where he brushed off the incomparable Rex Terp (39 first grade matches) and outran Ricky Walford after making the covering Mick Potter “look pedestrian”. That long streak is now over. Click Here.

Lazy Long Bay Days, Part 27: John pops in to see Danny to tell him what a good job has done. “Even with the big start you made it happen, Old Boy” Elias grins. “We got the cash and nobody knows anything. It was beautiful. We have made a nice quid and we could all have a laugh by the end of the match.” Danny smiled and asked about his cash. “Haha. What cash? You just bought yourself some protection. Consider yourself lucky.”

Beard Watch: The globe celebrated World Beard Day on Saturday but sadly there were few who recognised the event. Not one backpacker, hipster or do-gooder rattled the tin raising money for beards and not one punter stopped to shake my hand and thank me for the service I have provided to beards everywhere. Luckily those fine bearded gentlemen of the rugby league world are honoured right here each and every week. This week we pay homage to Raiders winger Reece Robinson, who has the fullest black beard in the competition. After years in the rugby league wilderness, Robinson has obviously turned to the beard and it is now reaping rewards as he is set to play his first finals match this weekend.

Correspondence Corner: The inbox has been full this week with email after email expressing gratitude, excitement and relief that Robert Finch has finally decided to walk away from the role of referees boss. Well, all I can say is, we’ve done it, we’ve finally driven him from the game. He has sent refereeing backwards in his eight years in charge. Hopefully whoever takes over can undo the mess he made.

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