From The Couch – Rd 13

From The Couch: Round 13, 2018 by Nick Tedeschi at

State of Origin I Preview: To put this New South Wales team into context, I have never been more excited about a NSW team since the days I collected footy cards, the team was sponsored by Tooheys Blue and Darrell Eastlake was in the box. This is an exciting team. It is one that has very few of the remnants of the previous regimes that were so conservative they make Tony Abbott look like a green tea drinking, dreadlocked hippy selling the ‘Green Left Weekly’ on the street corner. The era of ‘loyalty’ to big bodied players, incumbents and those on the in is over. No more Mitchell Pearce, Aaron Woods, Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson. The new coach has – to what should be the joy and eternal gratitude of a state – prized form, speed and an ability to put team first. It is the blueprint that will take the Blues to a big game one win, a series victory and a nice run of success over the coming years.

The Blues look to have the upper hand across most of the paddock. At worst, they have a push. New South Wales, by any measure, have a major advantage in class. This won’t be the first time that has happened. Where the Blues look so good this time though is the focus on team over self and the diminishing Queensland talent stocks following some key retirements.

For the first time in a long time, the Blues have a team built to score points, not merely contain the Maroons. From Damien Cook in the middle to the speed machines in the three-quarter line, this is a team that can get Queensland on the backfoot all night. Confidence is high that NSW win and win the opener in style.


Pray for Parramatta: A heavy home loss to Newcastle has confirmed Parramatta as the worst team in the NRL with a glut of issues, on and off the field. On the paddock, there has been an obvious lack of desire. No play encapsulated that more than the pathetic attempted tackle by Will Smith when Jacob Saifiti burst over for the softest of tries on Saturday night. The club has four fullbacks on the books but can’t find a single custodian who can contribute. Mitchell Moses will go down as one of the worst signings in club history. Not only is he a poor halfback, he has helped turn Corey Norman from a Dally M Medal leader to a fringe first grader. Jarryd Hayne has contributed nothing on the field and reportedly done little for club culture since returning. The outside backs have no speed. The pack lacks both size and aggression. The hooking role has been a disaster. There seems little hope for the Eels and a review that has been fast-forwarded is going to expose plenty.

Moses Walks … And There Will Be More: The cleanout at Canterbury has begun with Moses Mbye signing a four-year deal with the Wests Tigers. It is a game signing by the Tigers considering Mbye has failed to live up to expectations in the halves, at hooker and now at fullback. Moses won’t be the last to go. The Morris boys, Greg Eastwood and Aidan Tolman will all be let go while the Bulldogs are doing their utmost to offload Aaron Woods and Kieran Foran, if there are any takers in the market.

Fergo Proves Freddy Right: Blake Ferguson was correctly dumped from the NSW State of Origin set-up. He shouldn’t be in the first 10 wingers chosen and proved that in a very poor performance where the ball resembled a piece of soap. Ferguson then had the gall to say he was “pretty disappointed” about Fittler’s decision. Some never learn. Some never get it.

Wrong Way Ava: Ava Seumanfangai running to the wrong end after halftime is one of the most unintentionally funny moments of the season.

The Rugby League Media Needs More Doctors: It has become a common occurrence for callers and analysts to declare that they are not, in fact, doctors before they proceed to make a full medical assessment of a potential injury. Braith Anasta is the most frequent at this and also likes to declare – just in case we weren’t quite clear – that he isn’t a doctor. Fox needs to take the lead on this and get the likes of Nathan Gibbs, Merv Cross and even Stephen Dank some air-time. At the very least, get @NRLPhysio on the ready for every live game.

2018 Field Goal Update – 21: Nothing doing in the shortened round, sadly.

Fun Fact #1: Braith Anasta is not a doctor.

Fun Fact #2: Mark Gasnier, also not a doctor.

Fun Fact #3: Andy Raymond has also declared he is not a doctor.

Betting Market of the Week: The turning point for Parramatta’s fall from grace came:

$3.00: When they signed Mitchell Moses
$2.50: When they signed Jarryd Hayne
$1.70: When they realised they weren’t very good last year and just benefited from a very easy draw

Rumour Mill: Craig Bellamy will sign a contract extension with Melbourne this week. Aaron Woods is almost certain to be playing for Cronulla by the end of the month but Canterbury will not release him if they have to pay any of his contract. North Queensland are set to make a massive offer to lure Valentine Holmes back to Queensland. Corey Norman is being forced out of the Eels with his most likely destination being Canberra.

Key Stat for a Player Who Should Not Be in First Grade: Justin O’Neill has played two Tests for Australia.

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 13: Sydney Roosters – Wests Tigers, 16 – 14. Ordinary weekend of football. Very ordinary. At least this game had some drama.

The Coaching Crosshairs: Brad Arthur may be a quality coach but his rope has shortened considerably after the humiliating home loss to Newcastle. Parramatta have already been linked to Wayne Bennett while the form of St Helens in Super League has Justin Holbrook’s star soaring. If the Eels continue to lose, Arthur won’t see the season out.

Moronic Coaching Decision of the Week: Referees boss Bernie Sutton would be well positioned to take up a role in Filipino politics or the Trump organisation with his penchant for both nepotism and vindictiveness. That is the only explanation for his decision to name brother Gerard Sutton and best mate Ashley Klein to Origin while not only not selecting the man who refereed last year’s Grand Final and is considered the best in the game, Matt Cecchin, but dumping him to the role of assistant referee.

Beard Watch: NSW head into Origin I with one of the great facial hair teams of all time. Reagan Campbell-Gillard has the Freddie Mercury special. Josh Addo-Carr rocks a sublime Abe Lincoln. James Roberts has a wispy little mo. Damien Cook has a little mo and goatee combo. It goes on. The Blues are in great stead.

Correspondence Corner: Jason, referees always crack down on something at the start of the season and then let it slip. It’s very disappointing.

Norths Tiger, it is a gift.

Watch It: With State of Origin returning to the MCG, we go back to the greatest Origin moment at the ground, the infamous 1995 brawl. Watch it here.

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