From the Couch – Rd 14

From the Couch – Round 14. by Nick Tedeschi @ makingthenut.com

Freddy Proved His Predecessors Wrong: New South Wales’ victory over Queensland was a seminal moment for many reasons. It ushered in a new generation. It highlighted that a beleaguered state had finally got their coaching selection right. It showcased that playing football can win an Origin game.

It also made absolute fools of Brad Fittler’s predecessors, whose continued conservative doctrine continually fought against wholesale change, the promotion of players not expected to feature or the prioritisation of speed over size. Bob Fulton, Laurie Daley and Ricky Stuart all insisted this was the only was forward. Those with any intelligence knew at the time they were wrong but because those in charge at the NSWRL couldn’t see it, we had to cop their rot for over a decade.

Not anymore. Freddy showed that putting faith in team-first players who were in form, who were footballers rather than athletes and who had speed and smarts rather than just size could work.

The Blues had some favours. The great Queensland side of the last decade has lost so many of its stars. Injuries wreaked havoc as well.

The point remains though. Freddy had the bottle to deviate from the rigid thinking that has castrated the Blues for so long. It was a seismic shift that has put the competition back in Origin.

Best Buys of 2018:

1.Kalyn Ponga – In the running for a Dally M. Outstanding. Club changing buy.
2.James Maloney – A winner everywhere he goes, Maloney now has Penrith on top of the table.
3.Jai Arrow – Has huge numbers in his first full year. A player to build around.
4.Ben Hunt – Went to the Saints on huge money but has been a perfect fit for best attacking team.
5.Blake Green – The perfect complement for Shaun Johnson. Astute purchase.

Worst Buys of 2018:

1.Jack Bird – Went on big money to play in the halves and has been awful. Out of shape, unmotivated and sulking after being overlooked for a spine role.
2.Bryce Cartwright – Been embarrassing this year with his efforts in defence. Coach feels obliged to stick with him.
3.Kieran Foran – On seven figures for the Bulldogs and has led the Bulldogs to the 15th best attack. There is no half slower in the game.
4.Jarryd Hayne – Was reportedly a major disruption over the offseason and was extremely poor before his injury.
5.Lachlan Croker – Surely not on much but was horrific when given the Manly No.6 jumper.

Eels Performance Sans Moses Says It All: Parramatta turned in arguably their most impressive performance of the season in beating the Cowboys in Darwin. It should come as no surprise that it was without Mitchell Moses. No longer were the Eels playing like a liquid mess. They played with some direction. It is fairly clear the team would prefer to play behind Corey Norman than Moses.

Long Live Fox NRL: One lesson that was reinforced after watching the Channel Nine commentary for the first time this year was that the coverage from Fox should never be taken for granted. They are far from perfect – Steve Roach and Dr Braith Anasta are but two examples – but you’d take Vossy or Waz over Rabs, Jess over James and Brandy over Gus any day of the week.

Clearys Forever: Rugby League should count itself lucky it has Ivan and Nathan Cleary. Seeing a dad so proud of his boy after his Origin debut was a special moment for the game.

2018 Field Goal Update – 22: Nathan Cleary kicked his first career field goal to win Penrith their clash in Canberra. The match also saw the worst attempted field goal of the season from Silvia Havili.

Fun Fact #1: Keegan Hipgrave became the first player since Michael Buettner in 2001 to be sin binned twice in a single game.

Fun Fact #2: Kaide Ellis has been sin binned twice in his first three career games.

Fun Fact #3: There have been 18 grounds in premiership history that have hosted just a single match from Goulburn Showground in 1914 to three new additions this season in Toowoomba, Tamworth and Gladstone.

Betting Market of the Week: The chances Blake Ferguson ever plays for NSW again:

$1.01: Never

Rumour Mill: Aaron Woods has been linked to a move to Newcastle but Cronulla remain firm favourites to snare his signature and before June 30. Canterbury have no interest in Lachlan Coote despite rumours to the contrary but Tyrone May is on their radar. Danny Wiedler is peddling a ridiculous rumour that Cameron Smith and Billy Slater have fallen out when it is patently not true. The Roosters and Sharks are favourites to snare Dylan Walker’s signature.

Key Stat for a Player Who Should Not Be in First Grade: Keegan Hipgrave has conceded 18 penalties in just 11 first grade games. He ranks eighth in the NRL for penalties conceded this year.

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 14: Canberra – Penrith, 22 – 23. For those who enjoy strange happenings and goings on, this game had it all. Stupid field goal kicks. Jordan Rapana conceding a try, scoring one, doing a hamstring and booting a 40/20. Canberra bombing another one. A third-gamer copping his second sin bin. Fun game.

The Coaching Crosshairs: Ricky Stuart’s time at the Raiders will surely come to an end as a talented squad is squandered by stupidity and what looks like total unpreparedness. The amount of games the Raiders have thrown away over the last two seasons has been astronomical. It comes down to coaching. Well coached teams wouldn’t have had a situation where Silvia Havili thought it was okay to take a stab field goal from dummy half. The Raiders have a talented roster. They now need a talented coach before it is all too late.

Moronic Coaching Decision of the Week: Trent Barrett has made some odd decisions over his time as Manly coach but his decision to go into the Warriors game without anyone capable of playing hooker cost them dearly. The Sea Eagles led 8-0 before Api Koroisau went down hurt. Instead of naming genuine utility Lewis Brown on the bench – who sits on 199 NRL games and is from Christchurch – the very average outside back Matt Wright was preferred. Great coaching.

Beard Watch: One of the fore-runners of the modern day beard was Manu Vatuvei so it was terribly sad to hear of his retirement. Vatuvei, who sported a full and hefty beard for much of his career, enjoyed a stellar career with the Warriors before injuries ruined an autumn sojourn to Salford.

Correspondence Corner: Martin, the 1999 Wests Magpies tried a lot harder than the 2018 Parramatta Eels.

Jason, the Nine commentary was horrendous. Rabs’ Cordner story topped a pretty ordinary performance all-round. Teddy was amazing and standout for me with Cook and Turbo just behind.

Norths Tigers, Blocker and Rothfield the clear two worst.

Watch It: This week we go back to 1962 and the first ever televised game in Australia between Canterbury and South Sydney. The match featured the likes of Fred Anderson, Brian Davies and Michael Cleary. Watch it here.

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