From the Couch – Rd 21

From the Couch – Round 21 by Nick Tedeschi @makingthenut.com

The NRL Nails Immortals: For once, the NRL got something right. They didn’t stuff it up. They didn’t fall on the spin. They didn’t shirk their responsibilities. They nailed it. By naming five Immortals – three pre-World War II – the NRL made the Immortals concept whole. Ian Heads and the panel deserve great credit for pushing the NRL to name five Immortals rather than the two that was announced.

The most pleasing announcements were that of Frank Burge and Dave Brown. Dally Messenger is the one player from the game’s fledgling days that is still rightly honoured by history. Brown and Burge, the latter in particular because his club was thrown out of the premiership 88 years ago, have seen their contributions to the game fade with time. Burge is the greatest forward the game has known while Brown was known as the ‘Bradman of League’ and still holds some of the greatest records in the game.

Two players who should certainly be considered next time from the era are Harold Horder and Duncan Thompson.

While Norm Provan wouldn’t have got my vote, it was great to see him honoured. The same with Mal Meninga. Darren Lockyer will eventually get in as well so should not feel hard done by.

Well done NRL for getting this most important of concepts right.

Farewell, Matt Cecchin: It was with a good deal of sadness that news hit the wires last Friday that Matt Cecchin was leaving Australian Rugby League. This was ostensibly because of death threats he received and the severe level of criticism thrown at officials this season. No doubt playing a part was the way he was marginalised by the Sutton-Archer powerbase. Cecchin is the best official in the game but has been forced to conform too much this year and was overlooked time and time again for the big games. The NRL should be deeply ashamed for allowing this to happen.

Congratulations, Nick Politis: If Peter Moore was the greatest administrator in the back-half of the 20th century, Nick Politis is the finest over the first two decades of this century. Politis has done a magnificent job in rebuilding the Roosters from a mess when he arrived 25 years ago to a powerhouse in the game. He devotes both money and time and inspires unparalleled loyalty. No powerbroker can get more for a dollar and he never seeks the limelight. The Roosters can consider themselves lucky they have the game’s foremost powerbroker running their show.

Politics at Play: There are significant political plays being carried out right now and none of them are good for Todd Greenberg. Peter V’landys is very much eyeing off the CEO role and is moving his pieces around with aplomb. He is now just waiting for the kill. Greenberg either didn’t see it coming or was unable to stop it. It would be a major surprise if Todd was at the helm come season’s end.

Statistically Insignificant: It was reported last week that the NRL was launching an investigation into a stats rort that went on 11 seasons back. While they are at it, they should launch an investigation into the horrendous stats offering provided to the public at nrl.com. No sport in the world has a worse stats offering than the NRL, who find it either funny or acceptable to offer a minimal stats service and then accept significant changes post-game. The League is kidding itself. The NRL spends $140M on a digital offering – a good thing – yet they cannot get a decent stats service, the one thing fans actually want.

More Rugby League: Too much Rugby League is not a phrase I am familiar with. Reader Matthew Willoughby sent in a great idea:

Heres my idea: The Foxtel Cup, which is a knockout cup played between the QRL and NSW Cup teams. Games played on a Tuesday or Wednesday night and televised. Played at local ground like Leichardt, Henson, Kogarah, Central Coast, Redcliffe, Townsville etc. With 14 QRL and 12 NSWRL teams it would be knockout down to 13 teams with the 3 closest losers going through as well to create 16 and a pure knockout. In total we would have 28 games, we could have 2 a week in earlier/preseason when people are desperate for content, then one a week from there on out, with maybe a game extra at Origin time to feed the masses. Ideally the GF played prior to Finals time after the Origin window. Manipulate the draw initially to try and keep the Qld and NSW teams in competition, so we see those different teams play each other as much as possible. Imagine game 1 being the PNG Hunters vs Warriors.

2018 Field Goal Update – 30: Luke Brooks slotted one to seal it for the Tigers on Friday night before Daly Cherry-Evans hit one with the left foot to give Manly a win in golden point. Then Sam Williams nailed one to provide the 30th for the season.

Fun Fact #1: John Sutton and John Morris are the only 300-game players not to play international or state Rugby League.

Fun Fact #2: Suliasi Vunivalu has the best strike rate since 1980 with 52 wins in 65 games.

Fun Fact #3: Adrian Vowles has the worst strike rate with just 12 wins from 79 games. Danny Levi sits second with just 10 wins from 61.

Betting Market of the Week: After spending a week shoving Sonny Bill Williams down our throat, to top their offensiveness, Fox NRL will spend this week:

$2.50: A week devoted to covering the best of the Bledisloe Cup (whatever that is)
$2.00: “The Matty Johns Show Salutes Donald Trump, Adolf Hitler and Jarrod McCracken”
$2.70: A week advocating for the recall of John Grant and the reappointment of Bernard Sutton
$1.04: Steve Roach does colour commentary for three games
$1.01: Phil Rothfield gets air time

Rumour Mill: There is strong speculation that Anthony Seibold is set to shift from South Sydney to Brisbane in 2020 and potentially as soon as next year. He is the latest to be identified by the Broncos as the replacement to Wayne Bennett. Nathan Cleary has rejected a contract extension at Penrith and is set to join his father wherever he may be … most likely the Wests Tigers. Canterbury have been linked to Corey Oates, able to offer him a backrow position. James Segeyaro has also been linked to the Bulldogs. Corey Norman is still a chance of ending up at the Titans despite all the public posturing. Daniel Tupou may be a Raider in 2019.

Key Stat for a Player Who Should Not Be in First Grade: Sione Mata’utia played for Australia at just 18.

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 21: Cronulla – Manly, 32 – 33. A perfect showcase of Sunday afternoon football in bright sunlight at a suburban ground between two rivals. The game went to golden point and Daly Cherry-Evans proved the hero.

The Coaching Crosshairs: Anthony Griffin will not be Penrith coach in 2019 with Phil Gould telling confidants that he made a grave error in judgment in sacking Ivan Cleary and replacing him with Griffin. Gould has blown up at suggestions that Trent Barrett will replace Griffin – and that is because he is sounding out Cleary about a return to the Panthers, knowing full well he will lose halfback Nathan if he can’t get his father back at the helm.

Moronic Coaching Decision of the Week: Nathan Brown is a tactically astute mentor but his personnel calls are questionable at best. There is just no justifiable reason why Ken Sio can play first grade and Nick Meaney is forced to run around in the NSW Cup. Meaney is unproven. Sio is proven alright … proven for constantly making the most idiotic plays possible. He almost singlehandedly cost the Knights another game on Friday. The fact Sio was given kickoff and goalkicking duties, the coaching staff need to have a long hard look at themselves.

Beard Watch: There isn’t much to it but an underrated bit of facial hair going around is Latrell’s whispy moustache. It takes a trained eye to see it but it sits hair by hair on his upper lip, as elusive as a shadow, as versatile as a swiss army knife. Well played Latrell.

Correspondence Corner: Mike Butterfield, lower grade football is a lot more enjoyable to watch than the NRL most weeks.

Watch It: Let’s go back to the 1985 Brisbane Rugby League season and the Rothman’s Medal presentation of Wynnum Manly legend Ian French. The event is hosted by a young Pat Welch and we see Dick ‘Tosser’ Turner. Watch it here.

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