From The Couch – Rd 16

From The Couch: Round 16, 2018

by Nick Tedeschi @ makingthenut.com

A Crime Against Rugby League: Jared Maxwell should be fired immediately. He should be made to turn in his credentials to the NRL and told to leave immediately with the threat that if he returns he will face complete public humiliation through the game’s admission that they hired a complete nincompoop.

His decision to award Adam Reynolds a try against North Queensland was the most outrageous and incendiary decision of 2018. It was a complete disregard for process and precedent while showing all the Rugby League judgment of a music festival bucket hat.

Let’s recap: George Burgess ran into the Cowboys line and flattened a virtually stationery Jake Granville, who had moved in a slight diagonal out and past Burgess. Adam Reynolds took the gap, grubbered and collected to plant down for a four-pointer. Matt Cecchin rightly sent it up a no try. Warren Smith and Greg Alexander in commentary rightly dismissed it as a no try. Then Maxwell – in an act of either complete stupidity or criminal negligence – cleared the play and awarded the try.

Maxwell shouldn’t be fired for his incompetence. If that was the case, he would have been gone long ago. He should be sacked though for completely disregarding the process implemented by the NRL. It was sent up no try. There was clearly no evidence to overturn that call.

Allowing this rubbish to go on does a great disservice to the game. I would happily video ref all eight games every week just to get this crap out of the sport we all love.

The Great Chokers: Canberra’s ability to clinch defeat from the jaws of victory is truly historic. They are arguably Rugby League’s greatest chokers. It is now more than a statistical anomaly. This is genuine fear of defeat crippling a team that should be winning. It is the castration of a mentally fragile unit who clearly don’t believe in their coach. The Raiders have the talent to defeat nearly any side in the competition. But they can’t even beat the battlers because they can’t beat their own demons. Stuart has done nothing to rein in his hot-headed half or done anything to give confidence to his meek one. Outside backs are constantly forgiven for mental errors. Forwards continually drop the ball or give away unnecessary penalties. The Broncos loss might be the worst of them as it means the Raiders won’t be playing finals football. If that is what they come up with when the season is on the line, they don’t deserve anything but misery.

The Unrealised Potential of Ash Taylor: Ashley Taylor should be on the verge of making his Queensland debut. That’s if he wasn’t the clear first choice for the opening two games following the retirements of Thurston and Cronk. He has been touted as the heir apparent since winning Rookie of the Year honours in 2016. Despite his blueblood reputation though, he isn’t close to being in the mix for a spine berth. Ben Hunt, Cameron Munster, Michael Morgan, Anthony Milford and Kalyn Ponga all got games when the series was on the line with Daly Cherry-Evans likely to get recalled for game three. Moses Mbye is also believed to be ahead of Taylor. It is incredibly disappointing from a player who has more ability than any player on that list with the exceptions of Munster and Ponga. He has the potential to be a great player. But through a lack of work ethic, fitness and commitment he is just another Luke Brooks. Taylor has no consistency to his game. His fitness seems to be a constant issue. He doesn’t seem to care enough about winning or losing. He is not a player who seems driven to be the best. For a player with his ability, it is incredibly sad to see.

Pray for the Willie M: There have been plenty of tears shed for the injury crises at Penrith and Queensland and any number of other clubs but the real injury crisis is at the top of the Willie M Medal leaderboard, potentially setting up the dullest finish in Medal history.  Eight players are on 10 votes or higher and three – Jack Bird, Michael Morgan and Kieran Foran – are out for the year. Bryce Cartwright has been dropped and then broke his hand at training and is unlikely to feature. Mitchell Moses is only just back from injury and with a lead of six over the next fit player it looks like he is set for another gong as the game’s most mediocre.

A Sliver of Hope: The road ahead for Canterbury fans will be long and the days dark but the faithful received a sliver of hope on Saturday night in the debut of Lincoln Lewis and the kicking game of burly forward Rhyse Martin. Both were instrumental in leading Canterbury to not only an upset win over Newcastle but arguably their most entertaining performance in a half-decade. Seeing some talented young players come through the ranks is about all the Bulldogs have to hope for over the next few years

2018 Field Goal Update – 26: Big weekend for field goals with Cameron Smith and Adam Reynolds slotting long winners while Shaun Johnson also potted one to put the Warriors up late before they went down to the Sharks.

Fun Fact #1: David Fifita became the first player to play NRL football who was born in the 2000s.

Fun Fact #2: The other David Fifita is currently playing in Super League after his girlfriend defrauded Centrelink of a significant sum of coin.

Fun Fact #3: Canberra are 3-13 in one-score games over the last two seasons.

Fun Fact #4:  Aaron Woods has now been penalised for incorrect play-the-balls at three clubs in 12 months.

Betting Market of the Week: Jared Maxwell is:

$2.20: Legally blind
$2.10: Criminally insane
$1.70: Intellectually disabled

Rumour Mill: Billy Slater is set to be named Queensland captain for the third game of the series with Greg Inglis ruled out for the series. Daly Cherry-Evans is also in line for an unlikely Origin recall with Ben Hunt to be demoted to the bench. Kieran Foran is being shopped to Newcastle but the Knights seem unlikely to bite with Nathan Brown set to make a play for Corey Norman instead. Martin Taupau has supposedly threatened to sit out 2019 if Manly don’t grant him a release. Cronulla may be the next home of Jarryd Hayne in 2019 if the Eels decide to cut bait. Paul Gallen and Robbie Farah are both hoping to play beyond 2018.

Key Stat for a Player Who Should Not Be Playing First Grade: Michael Oldfield has played a total of nine games across his last four NRL clubs.

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 16: Canberra – Brisbane, 22 – 26. A cracking weekend of football with five games decided by a single score or less. Hard to go past the Broncos-Raiders clash though. Canberra came out firing and led 16-0 but probably should have been leading by more when the halftime siren rang. When Brisbane scored, it was obvious the Raiders were heading into a mental hellscape and so it came to be that Brisbane scored 26 points to not only win by kick a pointless penalty to cover the closing line of 2.5 points.

The Coaching Crosshairs: The pressure is mounting significantly on Canberra to dump Ricky Stuart after another season has been ruined by poor discipline and an inability to close out games. Players are just not changing under Stuart so either the message isn’t coming or it isn’t being received and each are the fault of the coach. Stuart clearly hasn’t been able to find a solution and is unlikely to. The Raiders still have a window with the right level of talent to challenge in the next few years but need to upgrade significantly at coach.

Moronic Coaching Decision of the Week: Anthony Griffin’s decision to play both his representative halves against Manly had a real Ricky Stuart stink about it with zero regard for burnout. Nathan Cleary is only just back from injury and has played the first two Origin games of his career. He needed a spell. His partner James Maloney also looks like he would benefit from a spell.

Beard Watch: Elliot Whitehead’s wild beard is a real bushman effort. The blokes looks like a hermit who has not had contact with civilisation since the concept of the Nokia flip-phone freaked him out and he headed for the hills.

Correspondence Corner: Mike Butterfield, rules were changed to try to strengthen tier 2 nations. It is working.

Watch It: Andrew Voss always brings the gold and he did way back during his stint with Channel Nine where he pulled together the worst kicks in premiership history. Watch it here.

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