From The Couch – Rd 11

From The Couch – Round 11. By Nick Tedeschi at makingthenut.com

A Game Run By Amateurs: Former North Sydney Bear and New Zealand international Mark Graham once fired off an apt quote in the 1980s: Rugby union is an amateur game run by professionals and Rugby League is a professional game run by amateurs. It held true in the 1980s and it holds even more true today, shown no more succinctly and accurately than on Saturday night in Melbourne, when it became even more clear than ever that a billion dollar game is run by a cadre of fools, idiots and nincompoops.  

Let’s just recap, briefly, the Petri Dish of Embarrassment that truly showed that the running of this great game is being handled by a bunch of incompetent jokers with absolutely no idea:

  • A brawl ensues after constant niggling between Curtis Scott and Dylan Walker, leading to Scott belting Walker in the eye
  • Scott was rightly sent off but only after The Bunker is clearly seen to be directing a disoriented and confused referee Henry Perenara
  • The Bunker then directs that the victim Walker is sin binned – an erroneous decision
  • The Bunker also directs that Manly hooker Api Koroisau is sin binned for throwing a punch – he should have been sent off under the logic used on Scott
  • Koroisau and Walker’s replacement then return to the field 1:41 short of the 10 minutes when an NRL official – believed to be the Ground Manager – lets the players back on, despite Storm Football Manager Frank Ponissi telling the official he has got it wrong AND NRL rules stating that timekeeping is the responsibility of the home team if the road team does not nominate someone
  • The NRL Ground Manager not having the ability or the bottle to tell the on-field officials that the players should not be on the field
  • Exposure of the rule that says that despite this being a billion dollar game, the NRL maintains archaic time-keeping procedures that relies on clubs
  • The NRL immediately attempting to dodge all responsibility with its press release immediately following the game

The NRL should be rightly chastised for having the game run so amateurly but the total lack of accountability shown by HQ should see very senior people lose their jobs.

Maths Beats Feelings: So-called analysts have taken to bleating and moaning about teams taking the easy two points when a penalty goal is on offer. It is infuriating and makes me incredibly happy that none of them are captaining any team I support. They bleat on about feelings and setting the tone and all that rubbish. What they fail to consider is the simple notion that you need points to win a match, that you don’t need them all at once and that the expected value of taking an easy two points (nearly 2.0) if far higher for most teams than the expected value of scoring a from a stopped start, inside the 20 and against a good defensive team. Teams should take the 2 nearly every time it is offered. No team has done it more than the Saints and they are winning the comp. It may not be entertaining but it is smart and at the end of the day, nothing is more entertaining than winning.

Rugby League’s Latest Blight: Referees blowing penalties for hookers deliberately throwing passes into players near the ruck but not in it is a stain on the game and has to be eradicated this week. Referees need to show some bottle and common sense and not reward such play. If a player is in the ruck, it is understandable. When they are beside or behind it, not acceptable at all. One call of play on and we will see the end of this cynical trend once and for all.

Gerard Does it Again: Brisbane have now won 14 straight games at Suncorp under Gerard Sutton and 13 of their last 16 overall and again did it with all the help they could receive when Dylan Napa was obscenely sent to the sin bin for “leading with his head”. It cost the Roosters the game, pure and simple. No player would ever attempt a tackle like Napa did deliberately. It was a play that went wrong. To bn him was just the latest example of referees having no feel or understanding for the game. There was no surprise when he got let off. Sutton should never be given another Broncos game.

Talking Origin – Maroons Backs: With State of Origin just around the corner, attention turns to Queensland and this week the backline:

Fullback
Kevin Walters made the mistake of overlooking Billy Slater in the opening game last year. He won’t make the same again. Despite the irresistible form of Kalyn Ponga, Slater has the No.1 jersey sewn up. 

Selection: Billy Slater

Wingers
The Maroons pride their loyalty, which should make the selection of their wingers incredibly interesting. Dane Gagai played all three games last year. Valentine Holmes is the incumbent. Darius Boyd is dreadfully out of form but has been a long-serving member of a team now short on experience. And Corey Oates has played well for the Maroons and opened the 2017 series. Gagai and Boyd probably get the nods on history alone but Holmes and Oates are the two who should be picked.

Selections: Corey Oates and Valentine Holmes

Centres
There will be no surprises here. Greg Inglis is likely to get the job as Queensland skipper and Will Chambers is one of the best defensive centres in the game.

Selections: Greg Inglis and Will Chambers

Halves
There are plenty of names being thrown up as to potential replacements for Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston. Cameron Munster, Michael Morgan and Ben Hunt are the three favourites while Daly Cherry-Evans and Ash Taylor considered outside chances. Anthony Milford and Corey Norman have played themselves out of contention. Munster is considered a lock after a man of the match effort last year. Morgan’s versatility probably counts against him. Hunt is more a traditional halfback and is playing well enough for the call-up.

Selections: Ben Hunt and Cameron Munster with Michael Morgan on the bench

The Worst Short Kick Off in History: Advocates of the short kick-off – it is a club of two with myself and Joel Caine – call for it time and time again on every kick off because the maths works. Put it high and the scenarios are this: a 50/50 chance you’ll get the ball back or you’ll lose approximately 15-20 metres with the other team getting no momentum if you don’t. Pretty sweet options. This, of course, is advocated under the assumption of a high kick. So dumb teams – who only pull it out when in an obvious situation – and then do the dumbest thing possible and kick it on the ground straight ahead deserve exactly what they get. The maths goes – not surprisingly – from around 50% to approximately 0.0002%. Dumb teams deserve bad outcomes.

The End of a The Line for a Champion: State of Origin will not be the same this year with the sudden and jolting news that Cameron Smith will not be playing. Smith is the most successful footballer this country has ever known. He has done nothing but succeed at every level. His records of dominance at club, state and international level are unparalleled and will never be neared. He is arguably the greatest ever and the rep scene will not be the same without him.

2018 Field Goal Update – 19: A big weekend for field goals with Ash Taylor and Gareth Widdop both slotting sealers to go up seven while Michael Morgan thought he had kicked a winner before a late penalty finished off the Cowboys’ hopes.

Fun Fact #1: Shannon Boyd has averaged 31.3 minutes a game in his 101 NRL games.

Fun Fact #2: Shannon Boyd has won more games than he has lost in just one of five career games.

Fun Fact #3: Shannon Boyd is not being considered for selection for NSW but has just signed a deal to play for the Titans for four years for $2.4 million per year.

Betting Market of the Week: With Matthew Scott doing an MCL, Beau Scott doing an ACL and Curtis Scott becoming the first player in three seasons to be sent off, the next Scott concern will be:

$7.00: Finding former Canterbury and Melbourne forward Dennis Scott
$6.00: Colin Scott getting surpassed for the worst kick in Rugby League history
$3.00: Remembering the brief career of former Balmain and Wests player Marshall Scott

Rumour Mill: Ben Barba is expected to return to Australia midseason with the Tigers the favourites to snare his signature. Curtis Rona is also expected back in the NRL and the Tigers are in the mix along with Parramatta. Raiders half Sam Williams has been strongly linked with a move to Canterbury in 2019. Martin Taupau is likely to sign with the Sydney Roosters for next year. The Warriors are now favourites to snare Leeson Ah Mau.

Key Stat for a Player Who Should Not Be in First Grade: Justin O’Neill has two tries in his last 32 games.

Game of the Year Nominations, Round 10-11: Round 10: South Sydney – St George Illawarra, 24-10
Round 11: Brisbane – Sydney Roosters, 28 – 22

The Coaching Crosshairs: Brad Fittler hasn’t coached a game for the Blues and New South Wales will go into the series prohibitive favourites but he is already under pressure over his ridiculous love of Mitchell Moses that could see him selected in the Blues halves. Moses has been a horrible footballer for nearly all of his five-year career. He has won multiple Willie M Medals. He is leading this year. He has had one winning season. Moses is not in New South Wales’ top 20 halves options and if Fittler picks him, he is going to have a mutiny on his hands.

Moronic Coaching Decision of the Week: Paul Green’s decision to stick with his pathetic array of outside backs has cost the Cowboys another win. Green was right to dump Lachlan Coote. He should have pulled the trigger on at least one of Justin O’Neill, Antonio Winterstein or Kyle Feldt, probably more. The season is all but gone now because of Green’s failure to be proactive has cost North Queensland dearly in 2018.

Beard Watch: It is hard not to be impressed by the plethora of beards permeating the Gold Coast Titans pack. Will Matthews, Jack Stockwell, Ryan James, Mitch Rein … the list goes on. No club has a pack of follicles to match.

Watch It: One of the great moments in cross-competition history was Anthony Gelling’s chargedown of a Corey Parker match-winning penalty goal attempt when the Broncos took on Wigan in 2015. Watch the bold move here.

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