Season 2010: Round 28

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

From The Couch

Baby Toots Should Have Nailed It: Canberra fans will long remember Jarrod “Baby Toots” Croker’s penalty miss that cost the fast finishing Raiders a chance at a preliminary final berth. Croker was almost directly in front and only 25 metres out but he shanked it hard as he choked badly under the pressure. Croker is now lumped in the same category as Jason Bulgarelli and Albert Fulivai for finals busts. It was disappointing that it happened to a fine young player like Croker, who has had a top notch year. He will have to live with costing his team victory though. He will have plenty of making up to do next season.

Gus Goes North: To the credit of the North Queensland Cowboys front office, they are making the right moves for 2011. They have made some positive signings. Dallas Johnson adds some starch to the pack, Brent Tate is a classy centre and Kalifa Fai-Fai Loa is going to be a top-ten tryscorer within three years. They have cut some significant deadweight in Luke O’Donnell, Willie Mason, Antonio Kaufusi, Manase Manuakafoa and Carl Webb, among others. They have demoted Peter Parr and installed a new chief executive. They are doing a full and transparent review of all club operations. They are going to fire Johnathan Thurston as captain. They are likely going to completely overhaul the training staff. And now they are looking at bringing in Phil Gould as a coaching consultant.

For all Gould’s bluster, he does have an outstanding understanding of rugby league and in particular the formula needed for a club to succeed. Gould has clearly lost the zeal for coaching and has not been involved in an official capacity in over a decade. It is also unlikely that he would give up his media gig. So bringing him in as a consultant/coaching director is a positive move by the Cowboys. His corporate knowledge alone should help improve the Cowboys practices while he should help to better improve the relationship between the players and the coaching staff, a major issue for the Cowboys for at least five years.

I think the Cowboys are shaping as sneaky bolters for 2011.

Oh, Edison’s Backhair, No: Since word emanated from NRL headquarters that Robert Finch was set to walk away, I have been happier than I have all season. Finch is a pariah, a blight on the sport and a scumbag who has done his best to destroy the sport of rugby league. But he is going and that was enough to calm my nerves, knowing that one of rugby league’s greatest enemies was going to be driven from the code. Then last week Finch announced that he hasn’t quit and that he may well continue on as referee’s boss next year. The NRL cannot allow this to happen. Finch has sent refereeing backwards in his tenure. He should have his ticket to Fuckoffville punched as soon as the final whistle of the Grand Final sounds. He is a mug and a fool and a dangerous one at that. The quicker he is exterminated, the better off we all will be.

Why the Dally M Does Not Match It with the Brownlow: It is a tremendous shame that the NRL does not have an awards ceremony with the same meaning and excitement of the Brownlow Medal. It is only the lack of vision by those who run the game who have prevented it. The Dally M Medal is a fine award but it is tainted by a number of factors including voting being undermined by former players voting on the awards, voting being public for two-thirds of the season and the awards night not being an all-encompassing celebration of rugby league.

The major problem with the Dally M Medal is the public voting. Votes are revealed up to round 16, taking away the tension, drama and excitement that Brownlow Medal night has. The Brownlow Medal is a monster night for the AFL with all of Australia looking on as votes are revealed. The Dally M Medal has nothing on it. The NRL has had a decade to adequately replace the Rothman’s Medal but have sat on their hands. The new independent commission will hopefully make this a top priority.

Stanley Gene, PNG Coach: It was wonderful to hear throughout the week that Papuan legend Stanley Gene will coach the Kumuls at the Four Nations tournament at the end of the year. Gene replaces Adrian Lam after a political powerplay saw Lam punted. Gene is a legend of the game and there is some talk that he may actually play as a captain-coach. Stanley Gene, estimated to be somewhere between 35 and 60, is a rugby league icon who never fails to entertain.

The Purtell Factor: Penrith fans must have grimaced in pain when it was announced that Adrian Purtell would start the Panthers semi-final clash against the Roosters in the second row. Purtell is a rubbish outside back and presumably would only prove worse in the forward pack. It was a bad sign of things to come for Penrith who were outsmuscled, outhustled and outplayed by the Roosters. Purtell ended up playing most of the match out wide when Michael Jennings went down hurt but it didn’t hide the fact Adrian Purtell was still playing in a finals match. Matthew Elliott is mad for sticking with Purtell. Elliott has coached in seven finals matches for seven losses. In three of them he selected Adrian Purtell to start. Elliott isn’t going to break that drought real soon if he sticks with Adrian Purtell, a NSW Cup player at best.

Luke Walsh is no Benji Marshall: Luke Walsh did his best to replicate Benji Marshall on Saturday night as he drifted across field and flicked inside to Sandor Earl to set up a try. The ball sailed past Earl but fortunately for Walsh ended up in the hands of Adrian Purtell, who fell over the line. There was no need for Walsh to flick the pass and he very nearly cost the Panthers a try. His numbers may have been very good for 2010 but Luke Walsh still does not rate in the top ten halfbacks in the NRL. The Panthers would have been better off keeping Wade Graham.

What I Learned from Twitter this Week: It was further reinforced that Cory Paterson is a skirt of the highest order with C-Pat this week proclaiming to the world that “just the two of us by Will Smith is one of the best songs ever.” Get some bottle and some taste, Paterson.

Tim Sheens has also been in fine form, apologising to Daniel Fitzhenry for forgetting to play him on Friday night while comparing Blake Ayshford to a “young Brad Izzard.” Sheens also dropped the winning Keno numbers from Friday night for his followers.

How the Finals Should Have Played Out: Under a proper finals system, Penrith would have hosted Canberra in week two of the finals while the Titans would have hosted the Warriors. The likely results would have been the Raiders upsetting the injury ravaged Panthers while the Titans would most likely have had too much power for the Warriors.

Daine Laurie is Filth: There is no more selfish footballer in the NRL than Daine Laurie. Well, that would be the case if Laurie was actually playing in the NRL instead of the NSW Cup. Laurie talks a big game and is always bitching and moaning about how hard done by he is. Well, he copped it from his Windsor teammates on the weekend when he was sent off. Laurie selfishly went out looking to get his marching orders and that is exactly what he got after repeated high shots and fighting. His Windsor teammates let him know how selfish his behaviour was by absolutely giving it to him. Windsor trailed 14-2 at the time but went on to win the match, bouncing back as soon as Laurie was dismissed. My prediction is that Laurie will be fired by Penrith soon and will never play another game of first grade again.

The Dream: It was most pleasing to read throughout the week that journeyman Arana Taumata had quit the North Queensland Cowboys and has signed on with Penrith for 2011. Taumata is only 21 years of age but Penrith will be his seventh club. Taumata is now in a position to play for every club in what would surely be one of the great achievements. Best of luck, Arana.

Fun Fact #1: Premiership winners at each remaining club:

-Dragons 3 (Darius Boyd, Luke Priddis, Jeremy Smith)

-Gold Coast 4 (Preston Campbell, Ashley Harrison, Anthony Laffranchi, Scott Prince)

-Tigers 9 (Jason Cayless, Robbie Farah, Daniel Fitzhenry, Bryce Gibbs, Chris Heighington, Benji Marshall, Todd Payten, John Skandalis Lote Tuqiri)

-Roosters 2 (Braith Anasta, Anthony Minichiello)

Fun Fact #2: Defensive ranks for 2010:

1st: Dragons, 4th: Wests Tigers, 5th: Gold Coast, 7th: Roosters

Fun Fact #3: Attacking Ranks for 2010:

3rd: Roosters, 4th: Wests Tigers, 6th: Gold Coast, 7th: Dragons

Fun Fact #4: Players in the top 10 in the NRL in each statistical category:

Tries: 1st: Shaun Kenny-Dowall (Roo), 3rd” Brett Morris (Dra)

Line Breaks: 2nd: Brett Morris (Dra), 3rd: Todd Carney (Roo), 6th: Shaun Kenny-Dowall (Roo), 7th: Lote Tuqiri (Tig), 8th: Jason Nightingale (Dra)

Line Break Assists: 2nd: Benji Marshall (Tig), 3rd: Mitchell Pearce (Roo), 3rd: Todd Carney (Roo), 7th: Robbie Farah (Tig)

Try Assists: 2nd: Robbie Farah (Tig), 3rd: Scott Prince (GC), 4th: Benji Marshall (Tig), 6th: Darius Boyd (Dra), 7th: Mitchell Pearce (Roo), 7th: Todd Carney (Roo)

Offloads: 5th: Frank-Paul Nuusausala (Roo), 10th: Greg Bird (GC)

Tackle Breaks: 2nd: Shaun Kenny-Dowall (Roo), 3rd: Sam Perrett (Roo), 4th: Darius Boyd (Dra), 8th: Todd Carney (Roo)

Average Tackles: 3rd: Nathan Friend (GC), 8th: Jake Friend (Roo), 9th: Liam Fulton (Tig)

Average Missed Tackles: 5th: Joseph Tomane (GC), 8th: Greg Bird (GC)

Errors: 1st: Todd Carney (Roo), 3rd: Benji Marshall (Tig), 8th: Anthony Minichiello (Roo)

Penalties Conceded: 5th: Nate Myles (Roo), 7th: Anthony Laffranchi (GC), 9th: Frank-Paul Nuusausala (Roo)

Power Rankings:


Last Week
Gold Coast`
Wests Tigers


How They Stand:

St George-Illawarra: The Dragons have not had a better opportunity to claim a premiership in the last thirty years than this year. The Dragons are carrying no major injuries, the finals are lacking a touch of class with no Melbourne Storm and the Dragons have the top defence in the NRL. Throw in the experience of Wayne Bennett and the Dragons will be devastated by anything less than premiership glory.

Gold Coast: The Titans have snuck under the radar all year but they are legitimate title hopes and will benefit from being on the easy side of the draw. The Gold Coast has improved every season since entering the league and John Cartwright’s steady hand has been critical. He may be the least experienced coach remaining but he brings confidence and calm to an experienced Titans team that has premiership winners like Prince, Laffranchi, Campbell and Harrison. The Titans have the look of a premiership winning team.

Wests Tigers: The Tigers looked right back on song against Canberra in what was a tremendous mental bounce back after a draining defeat to the Roosters the week prior. Tim Sheens was obviously foxing in regards injuries as all those in doubt turned out on Friday and played remarkably well. The worry for the Tigers is the way they fade in the back half of matches. They most likely would have lost had Campese remained healthy and they blew a 13 point lead against the Roosters. They need a positive start against the Dragons.

Sydney Roosters: The Roosters were never going to lose to Penrith, particularly after more of the Panthers best went down throughout the contest. The Roosters have had their share of luck but they deserve to be here after finding form again in September. The halves are flying and showed a lot more patience against Penrith. Leaving Sydney is a worry.

Rumour Mill: With Terry Campese expected to miss much of next season, it is believed Canberra will heighten their chase for Matt Orford. Orford wants back in Australia and Canberra’s premiership window may be opening so the Raiders brass will be keen to not let a year pass by. Orford is currently contracted to Bradford but a transfer fee will likely be negotiated for his release. Mark Riddell looks set to return to his former club St George-Illawarra with Wayne Bennett believed to be trying to lure Riddell back as a back-up to Nathan Fien. Johnathan Thurston is set to lose the Cowboys captaincy with his latest drunken arrest the final straw for a Cowboys front office looking at a total cleanout. Matthew Scott will be handed the job. It has also been rumoured that Phil Gould is about to be appointed coaching director of the club. Willie Tonga will not be at the Cowboys next season with Tonga being linked to the Titans. Tonga could be the replacement for retiring Mat Rogers. Tonga is believed to be unhappy at the club whilst many in the coaching ranks at the club are unhappy with his attitude since joining from Canterbury.

Game of the Year Nomination, Finals Week 2: Canberra-Tigers, 24-26. The Tigers were involved in another crackerjack contest with the Tigers eliminating the Raiders in Canberra in a thrilling semi-final. The Tigers came out flying with a delightful Benji Marshall flick pass and they should have been up 10-0 when a superb Benji kick fell through the arms of Beau Ryan. The Tigers got out to an 18-6 lead after a wonderful scrum play put Lote Tuqiri away and the game would have been over at halftime if it wasn’t for Bronson Harrison having his best game of the year. The Tigers appeared to be home when getting to a 24-12 lead after 50 minutes as Joel Monaghan made yet another terrible defensive read but then the Raiders started to fire up with Terry Campese carving the Tigers to shreds before going down with a knee injury that will likely keep him out for most of the 2011 season. Campese’s injury proved to be the pivotal moment of the match as the Raiders struggled for cohesion as the Tigers faded. In the end it was a dicey penalty goal to Benji Marshall that proved the difference as Jarrod Croker went into the books as a goat with a penalty miss from in front of the sticks. It was a very good game in front of the biggest Raiders crowd in 15 years.

Exchanges with Fisk:

Fisk on the Tigers: “What a win by the mighty Tigers. I’m on cloud nine.”

Tedeschi on Adrian Purtell: “He is the new Hegarty.”

Fisk after a Purtell error: “Hegarty!!!”

Tedeschi on Purtell: “Is it any wonder Matt Elliott has never won a finals game. There is a strong correlation between Elliott, Purtell and losing.”

Fisk in response: “The Golden Triangle”

The Queanbeyan Kangaroos 2010 Campaign: Yes! We have done it! I am so damned emotional! The Queanbeyan Kangaroos are the 2010 premiers, the winners of the Canberra Raiders Cup, the Pride of Queanbeyan and the rulers of the group eight universe. After 25 long years of waiting, the Aaron Gorrell led Kangaroos smashed Belconnen Scholars 41-16 on a glorious Sunday afternoon at Seiffert Oval. It was the sixth premiership for Kangaroos. The Kangaroos jumped the gun early and were never headed with halfback Beau Dunley starring with a two try performance. Travis Robinson was also brilliant while captain-coach Aaron Gorrell was awarded man of the match. The highlight of the match was Gorrell’s meaningless field goal, a clear nod to this column. Gorrell slotted a 35-yard field goal with 10 minutes to play to make the score 41-10. Well done Roos. Plans are already being devised to go back-to-back in 2011.

Stats from the Special Needs Penguin: The Special Needs Penguin shares a birthday with terrible Cleveland Browns quarterback Jake Delhomme, Korean r&b singer Brian Joo, wrestler Buff Bagwell and pornographer Al Goldstein. January 10 is not what you would call a day of champions.

Obscure Score of the Week: Maitland 24-Cessnock 8. The Pumpkin Pickers claimed their first title since 1983 with a dominant win over arch-rivals Cessnock in a match that drew an amazing 13,000 people. There is no doubt that the Hunter really is rugby league to the core.

Watch It: This week we take a trip back to 1992 and the six best tries of the year. There is a magnificent team try to Roosters winger Jeff Orford, a delightfully skilful try set up by big Dragons forwards Tony Priddle and Scott Gourley, a bustling solo try to Balmain prop Derrick McVey and a sensational run by Manly champion Geoff Toovey. Catch it here.

Lazy Long Bay Days, Part 29: The net appears to be closing in on Danny on gambling related charges with two officers coming to interview Wicks. “What do you know Mr Wicks about the Cowboys-Bulldogs match?” Wicks says nothing. “What is your connection to Mr John Elias.” Wicks just smiles. “You aren’t being very helpful Danny. Don’t make this any harder on us.”

Beard Watch: Well, it is that time of year again and to the surprise of nobody, Titans legend Brad Meyers has been awarded the annual From The Couch Beard of the Year. His commitment to his flowing red beardy goodness is something to behold. Meyers is a beast on the field with his massive red hillbilly beard and essentially went unchallenged. The likes of Simon Mannering and Kevin Kingston did their best but nobody was in the league of Brad Meyers.

Correspondence Corner: Pete Thompson this week wrote: “Did you happen to catch the fastest footy player race last Wednesday? It was embarrassing to see Greg Inglis tail off like that. Do you think he will be a success or a bust at Brisbane next year?”

Inglis was embarrassing in the race. Sure, it meant nothing and there was no reason other than pride for Inglis to put in but the fact he showed up in such awful shape was extremely sad to see. It should also be extremely worrying for Brisbane fans that Inglis has done nothing to shake his excess weight this year. 2010 was Inglis’s worst season in first grade and the primary reason was the excess baggage he was carrying around the belly. Broncos staff may well flog him into shape and back into his old form but there is certainly some worry for Brisbane fans who may have a bust on their hands.

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