May 27, 2019
From The Couch 2019: Round 11
A Legend Says Goodbye: The term ‘Immortal’ is thrown around too often these days. Not every great to retire is going to be an Immortal. Thurston, Lockyer and Smith are. Slater is in my view. Inglis is not. Neither is Cooper Cronk. That is not to say he has not been an incredible player who should be remembered as a Hall of Famer who did all there was too and more. He has played in a remarkable eight Grand Finals, winning five of them. His performance in last year’s decider with a busted shoulder will go down in Rugby League lore. He has won Origin matches for Queensland and Tests for Australia and has without question been the half of this decade. He has won Dally M Medals and Clive Churchill Medals. He is a player who came into top grade without a position and left as a great halfback who almost never had a bad game. He was a thorough professional who never seemed to love the game but never disrespected it. They never came like Cooper Cronk before and we will never see one like him again.
Jared Maxwell Needs To Go: There is no doubt that the standard of refereeing has been vastly improved this year. That is not a reference to the reduction in penalties, of which there are arguments for and against. It is in reference to general consistency, particularly around how decisions are referred to The Bunker and then how they are ruled on. There can be very few complaints about obstructions or groundings this year. That went out the window on Saturday when Jared Maxwell made an all-time howler in awarding Cameron Murray a try that neither team thought was one and video evidence clearly showed at least two offsides in the play. Maxwell has rightly gained a reputation as a video referee who thinks he knows more about the game than anyone else and likes to see that up in lights. It was a heinous decision that only Maxwell and Henry Perenara seem capable of. The quicker Maxwell goes the better The Bunker will be.
Brennan Cast Once Big Mal Lobbed: There are few coaches as widely derided in the game as Garth Brennan. He is mocked as one club for playing ‘Garth-ball’. A personality in the game tells the story of how Phil Gould convinced Rebecca Frizelle Brennan was the next coaching superstar so he could offload him because Anthony Griffin didn’t rate him. It is hard to overcome a reputation like that, a losing record and then Big Mal coming in as a coaching director. If there is one certainty in Rugby League it is that a mid-season review by a former coach ends up in the coach being sacked. Brennan is dead in the water and there is nothing that can be done about it now … even winning won’t be enough.
2019 Field Goal Update – 17: Stop the presses … Ben Hunt kicked a field goal on halftime to give the Dragons a 9-8 lead, one they would not hold.
Fun Fact #1: Suliasi Vunivalu has the best win rate of any player to have played 50 premiership games since 1980 – he is 62-17 all-time.
Fun Fact #2: Danny Levi leads all active players in lowest win rate – he is 16-59-1 all-time.
Fun Fact #3: Eight of the 16 players with the worst all-time win rate played for the Gold Coast – Adrian Vowles, Craig Weston, Danny Peacock, Terry Cook, Michael Searle, Tony Durheim, Ray Herring and Geoff Bagnall.
Betting Market of the Week: If all 16 NRL headquarters were to enter a wrestling battle royal, who would come out on top.
$2.50: Stephen Kearney
$3.00: Dean Pay
$4.60: Michael Maguire
$5.00: Craig Bellamy
$17: Paul McGregor
$21: Trent Robinson
$26: Des Hasler
$31: Brad Arthur
$41: John Morris
$51: Ricky Stuart
$67: Nathan Brown
$101: Paul Green
$126: Ivan Cleary
$201: Garth Brennan
$501: Wayne Bennett
$1001: Anthony Seibold
Rumour Mill: Tyrone Peachey is desperately unhappy at the Gold Coast and is looking to get out as soon as possible. A return to Penrith is not beyond the realm of possibility if the rumour mill is to be believed. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak is likely to end up at Parramatta but a shift to the Wests Tigers is not out of the mix. The Roosters are looking at Kyle Flanagan as Cooper Cronk’s replacement.
Game of the Year Nomination, Round 11: Canberra – North Queensland, 16 – 22.
Random Fact of Rugby League Stupidity: There have been 92 venues that have hosted premiership matches since 1908 including 18 that hosted just a single match.
Worst Coaching Decision of the Week: Resting Cooper Cronk was not a smart short-term idea by Roosters coach Trent Robinson, a coach who almost never makes mistakes. It was particularly strange in a week that Cronk announced his retirement in a game that shapes as a big one. The Roosters lost Luke Keary early and then were lambs to the slaughter. It isn’t really clear why Cronk would need rest so early in the season.
The Coaching Crosshairs: Shane Flanagan has been strongly linked to Canterbury and it would not surprise at all if Dean Pay is moved on at the end of the year. Despite some sparkles of acceptable Rugby League, the Bulldogs have been poor this year and Pay has not shown much out of the box thinking to try to get the most out of a limited roster outside of not playing his best players. Flanagan is a polarising figure and is perhaps a little simplistic tactically but his players loved him and he achieved plenty at the Sharks.
Beard Watch: Red beards have been in short supply since the retirement of Brad Meyers but Corey Horsburgh looks set to fill the void. The flaming Raider has a patchy beard that a teenage stoner would be proud of but it is starting to fill out.