August 7, 2019
From The Couch 2019: Round 20
Vale, John Chalk: Rugby League lost a giant over the weekend with the passing of John Chalk. A plumber by trade, Chalk went on to be involved with Balmain and the Wests Tigers for over half a century, serving as chairman and key powerbroker at each for a long, long time. He became a genuine powerbroker of the game this century with his deft negotiation skills critical in the establishment of the ARLC and the end of the News Limited-ARL stalemate. There have been plenty of pretenders over the years with power to wield in Rugby League. Chalk was not one. He was the real deal.
Speed and Energy: Canterbury have made a mess of their recruitment and retention for a long-time now. The biggest issue in recent years has been the complete lack of speed and energy, particularly among the outside backs. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak has brought that. He has been excellent since joining Canterbury and turned in his best performance for the club against his old team. He has been courageous in the air, full-throttled on the ground and sizzling in space. When the Bulldogs signed him, it seemed questionable. They look to have found a jet though.
The Big Problem with The Captain’s Challenge: Theoretically, there is nothing wrong with the captain’s challenge. There are significant benefits to it, notably putting the onus back on the whining team, therefore preventing further whining and carry on. This should speed up the game and it is clearly a good idea if Phil Rothfield cannot see its merits. The problem remains an intrinsic one though that will not be removed by a shift to the captain’s challenge. That problem is the battler’s making the decisions in the box. As long as Henry Perenara or Ashley Klein are adjudicating on decisions, it matters not how they are sent there. The league needs to find better qualified officials and then better train them if we are going to reduce the trauma of video referee howlers.
Two Icons Pass: The world is worse off today for the passing of two icons. Former six-time NWA world champion Harley Race passed away last Friday. Celibate Rifles front man Damien Lovelock passed away from cancer at just 65 on Saturday. Race was a remarkable performer who carried the NWA during its heyday of the 1970s and early 1980s, a rugged beast of a human who was harder in real-life than even his tough guy image suggested. Lovelock was as unique a character as there was, a lover of soccer and hard rock and Rugby League and yoga. He was a quintessential Australian who had a remarkable joy to him. The world is better for their being and worse for their passing.
2019 Field Goal Update – 28: Chad Townsend slotted a completely meaningless one-pointer in the last play of the game to extend Cronulla’s lead from 38-24 to 39-24 in what is now the best field goal of 2019.
Fun Fact #1: Brett Morris is just the second player to score 150 tries across three different clubs after Matt Sing.
Fun Fact #2: Three of the top six all-time tryscorers have played for Manly.
Fun Fact #3: Phil Blake is the only player to score 100-plus tries and play for six clubs.
Betting Market of the Week: Excuses Anthony Seibold will trot out for Brisbane’s next shocking performance:
$2.50: Wayne Bennett left an awful roster
$2.25: The team has had a horrid run of injuries
$2.00: The Broncos are getting stitched-up by the referees
$1.50: The dog at his game plan
Rumour Mill: Jesse Ramien has been linked with a move to both Melbourne and Canterbury with the Storm well and truly in the box seat. Dylan Walker looks set to re-sign with Manly. Shane Flanagan is well in the hunt to replace Justin Holbrook at St Helens. Michael Lichaa will be ousted at Belmore with Api Koroisau the latest in a long line of rakes to be linked to the Bulldogs.
Random Fact of Rugby League Stupidity: The premiership has had at least one of its all-time Top 20 tryscorers playing from 1911-1933 and 1959-present meaning only 1908-1910 and 1934-58 failed to witness a Top 20 tryscorer.
Game of the Year Nomination, Round 20: Cronulla – South Sydney, 39 – 24.
Moronic Coaching Decision of the Week: Nathan Brown must have a fairly thin skin to sack Jesse Ramien for a supposed bust-up. Ramien is regarded as a cleanskin and a tryer, both of which the Knights desperately need. Brown is prepared to put his career on the line with his current contract and it is not clear he should be.
The Coaching Crosshairs: Stephen Kearney’s standing at the Warriors is surely set to come under question after another horrific display, this time at home against the Raiders. The Warriors conceded 30 first-half points and 46 across the entire match. Kearney has a career NRL coaching record of 39-69-2. At the Warriors he is 29-38-1. The Warriors have leaked at least 18 points in eight straight. The Warriors can do better. They should be doing better.
Beard Watch: Administrators never get a run in this part of the column but it is impossible to overlook the fine Castaway beard of Shane Richardson. He has just let it go and it could not be more impressive.
Correspondence Corner: Cam, Brad Parker has become a different player under Des Hasler.
Thetruthteller, Jack Wighton is having a hell of a season. I’m happy to taste the humble pie if they give me the big collects at season end.
Geoff, that is an outstanding take on RTS and the Warriors captaincy. I implore everyone to read Geoff’s comment here.
Robbo, the Saints have been appalling throughout the Jack De Belin saga. They have every right to wait to pass judgment on his guilt but they also have a responsibility to the game.
Watch It: Ken Irvine was the greatest tryscorer and Rugby League winger the game has ever produced. He was sadly taken from us way too early. A champion sprinter, his speed set him apart. Watch a fine tribute to him here.