From The Couch 2019: Round 10

From The Couch 2019: Round 10

The Passing of a Giant: Bob Hawke was the last of an era, a giant of a time where masculinity and intelligence ran one in the same, where knockabouts could prove themselves intellectual giants, where men could balance power with the pursuits of sport and gambling and thrive. Much has been said about Hawke in recent days. It is not for me to wax lyrical about his political achievements that ranged from modernising the economy to introducing universal health care to his monumental environmental wins. I will however briefly note his love of Rugby League. His deep love of sport is of course well known. His quote after the 1983 America’s Cup is legendary. He took a bouncer in a Media v Pollies cricket game. He always had a formguide at his desk. He also had a deep and abiding love of Rugby League, the first and arguably only PM between Arthur Faddden in 1941 and Scott Morrison in 2018 who genuinely loved the code. He was born in South Australia, grew up in Western Australia and came to federal politics in Victoria but Hawke loved the rough and tumble of Rugby League. Brought in by the legendary Fred Daly, Hawke became a lover of the Canberra Raiders, regularly attending games. He was also a regular at Grand Finals to present the trophy and was known to dish out the Rothmans Medal. Hawke was so big he was almost a myth and his affection for Rugby League should not be forgotten when most politicians on both side of the aisle tend to ignore it.

A Win for Rugby League: Scott Morrison’s election victory, no matter what side of the political divide you sit on, was a win for Rugby League. Morrison is a true league man who spent his first day after his election miracle at Shark Park watching the Sharkies. Bill Shorten is just another Victorian chronie who doesn’t seem to enjoy sport and if he does, his code is certainly distinctly southern. If forecasts are to be trusted, the 2022 election should be a ripper for league fans with Scott Morrison facing Souths diehard Anthony Albanese in a death match where there will be only one sure winner … Rugby League.

Origin Team Forecasts: The teams that should be ridden out for Origin I:

1.James Tedesco
2.Josh Addo-Carr
3.Latrell Mitchell
4.Josh Morris
5.Nick Cotric
6.Cody Walker
7.Adam Reynolds
8.Andrew Fifita
9.Damien Cook
10.Paul Vaughan
11.Boyd Cordner
12.Tyson Frizell
13.Jake Trbojevic
14.Luke Keary
15.David Klemmer
16.Jordan McLean
17.Cameron Murray


1.Kalyn Ponga
2.Edrick Lee
3.Dane Gagai
4.Will Chambers
5.Corey Oates
6.Cameron Munster
7.Michael Morgan (assuming Daly Cherry-Evans is unavailable)
8.Matthew Scott
9.Jake Granville
10.Josh Papalii
11.Felise Kaufusi
12.Matt Gillett
13.Jai Arrow
14.Josh McGuire
15.David Fifita
16.Kurt Capewell
17.Ben Hunt

Making The Smart Call: Canberra and South Sydney did the smart thing throughout the first half of their game by taking the two at every opportunity. The halftime score was 6-4 made up entirely of penalty goals. Neither team was worried about the mythical notion of “momentum” (fact: worth zero points) or this idea that the two can only be taken to break a deadlock or extend beyond a score.

Vale, Quentin Pongia: The game felt a great deal of heartache over the weekend when news filtered through that one of its own had been lost too early with Quentin Pongia finally succumbing after a long battle with cancer. Pongia was a brutally tough prop, standing out for his hardness in an era when the name of the game was brutality. While he finished his career with runs at Auckland, the Sydney Roosters, St George Illawarra and Wigan, he will always be remembered for his five-season stint at the Canberra Raiders where he was in the engine room for the 1994 decider. Oft-suspended, Pongia asked no inch and gave no inch. Pongia passed at just 49 and leaves behind a loving family and a code that has nothing but respect for him.

2019 Field Goal Update – 16: After two field goal free weeks, Anthony Milford and Jordan Kahu both slotted key one-pointers for the Broncos and Cowboys respectively. The real highlight though was Mitchell Pearce’s monster in the final minute

Fun Fact #1: Quentin Pongia is the grandson of 8-Test NZ international Jim Calder.

Fun Fact #2: Pongia scored just six tries in 137 club games – but scored two against both Cronulla and Newcastle.

Fun Fact #3: Pongia made his Test debut in the backrow with Gavin Hill and Tawera Nikau.

Betting Market of the Week: What would be a bigger surprise than the Coalition returning to government:

$1.01: Bryce Cartwright learning how to tackle
$1.30: Mitchell Moses showing he can control a game
$1.70: Wayne Bennett getting invited to James Maloney’s next party
$101.00: Paul Crawley successfully operating a burner Twitter account
$501.00: Braith Anasta becoming a doctor

Rumour Mill: Shane Flanagan has been strongly linked to a move to Canterbury as a replacement for Dean Pay. Flanagan would need to get approval from the NRL. Joe Stimson and Bevan French have both been approached by Canterbury about joining the Bulldogs before the June 30 deadline. The Penn Family is looking to get out of Manly with some personal issues very much at the heart of it.

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 9: Sydney Roosters – Canberra, 30 – 24.

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 10: Canberra – South Sydney, 12 – 16.

Random Fact of Rugby League Stupidity: The last season there was not a single ‘Smith’ playing premiership Rugby League was in 1956. Bob, Doug and Fred Smith played in 1954. Kevin Smith debuted in 1957.

Worst Coaching Decision of the Week: It is hard not to give Ivan Cleary an absolute carve-up. The Panthers were in strife and are playing no good at all. Changes needed to be made. Fullback Caleb Aekins was more than a little stiff though to be dropped for Dylan Edwards, who had an all-time shocker not that long ago. Aekins had done little wrong. It was a sign that Cleary is just not getting through to his team.

The Coaching Crosshairs: Parramatta’s decision to re-sign coach Brad Arthur throughout the week could not have been anymore Parramatta. The Eels rushed through a deal with Arthur the week after the club conceded 64 points to the Storm in one of the club’s all-time worst losses. The club celebrated with a butcher job in Townsville when a complete lack of game awareness and/or preparation in the final 10 minutes killed all hopes. Parramatta made the deal when there was no market for Arthur. He may be the right coach and he may not be but the Eels should have afforded themselves more time to find out.

Beard Watch: It was a slaughterhouse for facial hair at Penrith this week with Josh Mansour and Regan Campbell-Gillard both sent to the NSW Cup for their sins of playing terrible Rugby League.

Correspondence Corner: Davey G, moving a star outside back to five-eighth nearly always ends in disaster. Anyone remember Mark Gasnier?

Robbo, I’m not sure the ARLC board have the authority to run a chook raffle.

Knight Vision, Darius is a very selfish footballer.

Joey, first time I’ve ever been called scholarly.

CTPE, Hasler excuses starting to wear a little thin but he certainly put the Bulldogs in the salary cap hole they are now in.

Cam, it is terribly sad that the Brisbane comp went the way it did.

Watch It: Bob Hawke loved his Rugby League and was seen at many games, including the 1988 Grand Final, where he presented the Winfield Cup. Watch him at work here.

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