From the Couch – Rd 7

By Nick Tedeschi

From The Couch: Round 7

Rugby League is Not In Great Hands: Iconic North Sydney and New Zealand lock forward once said that Rugby Union was a sport played by amateurs and run by professionals while Rugby League is a sport played by professionals and run by amateurs. Never has the latter part of that sentence been truer. Let’s start with the new Chairman. Not long after not knowing who the Cronulla Sharks were, he totally killed his reputation by a totally unnecessary and utterly stupid gaffe when he called a kid wearing a Barcelona jersey a Newcastle fan. It is now quite apparent that he is a total moron who is only in this for his own ego and benefit. Then there is the CEO, who rather than addressing any of the serious issues facing the code like allowing the likes of Matt Lodge to play, the lack of transparency with the salary cap, refereeing inconsistency and the lack of professionalism in the administration relative to other codes, he tried a cheap PR stunt by starting the hashtag #TalkTheGameUp. I will happily talk the game up – it is the greatest game of all. But the administration needs to be severely held to account for their inability to elevate the game, sustain the game, plan for its future or stabilise its present. How about this for a hashtag: #PrayForRugbyLeague

Jackson Hastings is Being Stitched Up: Be sure and certain that Jackson Hastings is copping a Grade A stitch-up from Manly, who are doing their best to drive him out of the club in the most sordid – and incompetent – manner ever. Hastings is no doubt an odd cat. He has struggled with his own arrogance and his inability to fit into the team environment. But this is far more about Manly’s salary cap woes, his big and increasing contract next season and the culture of the Sea Eagles. Hastings should feel aggrieved at his treatment and should stick it out. He should get that option too thanks to Manly’s unofficial pressman ensuring no other club will sign him based on his personal issues being aired in public.

Defending The Indefensible: There is nothing more infuriating to a Rugby League fan than some pokey-assed official from NRL HQ pointing to the sky on a clear sunny day and telling you it is green. But that is exactly what Bernard Sutton did over the weekend in defending Billy Slater’s try – that Slater admitted he did not score – by claiming Slater didn’t drop the ball but drop kicked it. There will be no more time wasted on that idiotic explanation. The only jokers who believe that are Sutton, Ashley Klein and the other idiots at HQ who think they know more about the game than everyone, including the players and the fans. The referees just make it up as they go and it clearly is still coming from the top.

A Bitter Blow for Newcastle, A Massive Bolt for the Blues: Mitchell Pearce’s season-ending pectoral injury is a bitter blow for Newcastle, who have grafted so well under Pearce this year. The No.7 has been close to the Knights’ best and his ability to organise and set a tone will be sorely missed as the Knights have to go with two of Lamb, Cogger and Watson. Pearce’s injury though is a massive win for new Blues coach Brad Fittler, who will now be released of any pressure to pick Pearce for NSW, something Laurie Daley before him just could not do.

Send Him Off: The referees have been up against it again this year but have at least got one thing right: they have brought the sin bin back. Unfortunately, that bottle has not extended to sending players off. Sam Burgess should have been marched immediately for his vicious high shot on Aidan Sezer. Referees need to bring the send off back the same way the sin bin has been reinvigorated.

Vale, Darrell Eastlake: Rugby League lost a true legend last weekend when beloved caller Darrell Eastlake passed away after a long battle with illness. Eastlake was never the most accurate caller, the most well researched, the longest serving. He understood the most important element of commentary though: to entertain. And that he did as the voice of State Of Origin and big-time Rugby League during my formative years. Eastlake was larger than life, huge to paraphrase the great man. The game should be sadder for his passing.

2018 Field Goal Update – 12: Field goal-less weekends are sad weekends.

Fun Fact #1: Widnes defeated Coventry 90-0 in the Sixth Round of the Challenge Cup on the weekend.

Fun Fact #2: Wally Lewis is the only Immortal not to win a premiership.

Fun Fact #3: Australian premiership Rugby League turned 110 on Friday when Balmain and South Sydney both won at Birchgrove Oval and Eastern Suburbs and Glebe won at Wentworth Park.

Not-So-Fun Almost Fact #1: Danny Fualalo has approximately 9000 touches inside the attacking 20 metre zone against the Sydney Roosters.

Betting Market of the Week: The happiest that Mitchell Pearce will not be available for State Of Origin this year:

$5.00: Queensland Fans
$1.70: NSW Fans
$1.30: Mitchell Pearce

Rumour Mill: Daly Cherry-Evans is not expected to be called in from the dark at Queensland despite the retirement of Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston with his behaviour in the Jackson Hastings affair viewed as a continuation of that which saw him on the outs with the Maroons previously. Leeson Ah Mau has been linked to a move to Newcastle next year. Tyrone Roberts has been rumoured about a return to the NRL with Brisbane. Todd Payten is angling for the gig at Parramatta by all reports.

Key Stat For A Player Who Should Not Be In First Grade: Lachlan Croker has had 30 or fewer possessions in each of his last three games.

What I Like About … Andrew Fifita: The Sharks were desperate for leadership this week with Wade Graham and Paul Gallen out and then Luke Lewis last only 11 minutes. Fifita stepped up. He was epic in attack. He defended like no tomorrow. And whenever something good or bad happened he was there to gee-up or console. He can be a real grub at times but at his best he is some kind of player and leader.

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 7: Brisbane – Melbourne, 20-34.

The Coaching Crosshairs: The pressure is mounting significantly on Wayne Bennett with strong speculation that the Broncos are looking to end his tenure at the end of this season and replace him with Storm mentor Craig Bellamy. Bellamy, of course, has links to Brisbane as a former assistant coach at Red Hill. Bennett refused to take questions on the matter. The Broncos, once a ruthless club, are in the throes of a 12-year premiership drought, once an unthinkable proposition. Bennett is powerless in this situation. Bellamy will get any gig at any club he wants. That is the reward for being the greatest coach of all-time.

Moronic Coaching Decision of the Week: Trent Barrett’s decision to hang Jackson Hastings out to dry has not served himself, Manly or the star player he was hoping to look after any favours. Barrett now looks like a bully and cheap lackey willing to stitch a player up for salary cap purposes. The Sea Eagles have continued to kill their brand with more underhanded behaviour. And Daly Cherry-Evans has been outed as arrogant, unpopular and unable to handle the pressure that he thrust upon himself.

Beard Watch: There has not been a single player in premiership history with the last name ‘Beard’ but there has been W Beardmore, who played for Annandale in 1915, and Keith Beardsmore, who played two seasons with Manly in 1948-49.

Watch It: Brian Bevan may well be the most underrated superstar in the long and storied history of Australian Rugby League. Bevan scored a remarkable 757 tries in a 662-game English career, an astonishing feat. He was, of course, born in Sydney and played eight games for Easts. Here is a tribute to his outstanding Warrington career. Watch it here.

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