From The Couch 2019: Round 5

By Nick Tedeschi at

Sense is What Has Killed Shaun Johnson: Shaun Johnson has all the natural gifts to be the premier player in the game. Yet much like Jarryd Hayne, it is common sense and dedication that separate him from not only the greats of the game but put him in the same class as halves with talent not even close to his level. It was all shown pretty starkly on Saturday night. At home to the defending premiers and down 6-0 with 30 seconds left in the half, the Sharks had an attacking scrum. Johnson put in a careless, mediocre kick. The Roosters scored a freakish try soon after. It was 12-0 and game over.

Michael Chee Bam: Michael Chee Kam has always been regarded as a rugby league plodder, a grinder, a journeyman, a workhorse. So it was a fairly big slap in the face to Darius Boyd, who was walked around by Chee Kam, who came off a standing start.

Henry Perenara Needs To Learn the Rules: The performances of the video referees this year have been generally much improved. Decisions have been quicker. They seem to be more accurate. They seem to make more sense. His decision to award Aidan Guerra a try against Manly was nothing short of criminal. It was a tough call where the ball and line were not clear. It was sent upstairs no try though and there was no clear evidence to overturn the on-field call. Yet Henry just makes up the rules as he goes.

Bronson Xerri Has The Hands of Ben Pomeroy: Cronulla endured eight years of a centre trying to catch the ball like he had two flippers for hands. It looks like they have found another one in young speedster Bronson Xerri, who made catching a football look more difficult than understanding the Facebook algorithm or trying to watching a game of rugby union.

Rugby League Hits The Big Apple: Rugby League is headed to New York City. The RFL voted this week to admit a team from New York akin to the Toronto Wolfpack. The New York Times is clearly happy to get the Greatest Game of All hitting town, declaring it “a faster, more open version of the sport than rugby union”.

Coach Safety Rankings: Coaches are ranked from those who will almost certainly be sacked this year to those who are safe for life.

Will Be Sacked This Year
Nathan Brown
Garth Brennan

Should Be Sacked This Year
Dean Pay
Paul McGregor

Could Be Sacked This Year
Brad Arthur

Saved By Club Finances
John Morris

May Need a Fresh Start
Paul Green

Won’t Be Sacked But Hardly Helping His Team
Stephen Kearney

Are We Sure They Are Good?
Anthony Seibold
Ivan Cleary

Will Never Be Sacked Regardless of Results
Ricky Stuart
Des Hasler

Wayne Bennett
Michael Maguire
Trent Robinson

Safe for Life
Craig Bellamy

2019 Field Goal Update – 8: Sam Williams saved the day with four minutes of the round to go with a field goal to extend Canberra’s lead to 19.

Fun Fact #1: Since the start of 2010, the Broncos and Roosters have the best cover rate at 53%. Parramatta and the Wests Tigers have the lowest cover rate at 46%.

Fun Fact #2: Melbourne and Cronulla have been the best head-to-head betting propositions over the last decade. Parramatta and Newcastle have been the worst.

Fun Fact #3: The Storm and the Dragons have gone under in 61% of games over the last decade.

Betting Market of the Week: Next to step/dummy past Darius Boyd:

$1.70: Aiden Tolman
$1..60: Wayne Bennett
$1.30: Statue of Wally Lewis

Rumour Mill: Rumours are swirling that Greg Inglis missed the Warriors game after showing up to training hungover. Sharks forward Kurt Capewell is expected to sign with the Titans next season. Israel Folau will not be welcomed back in Rugby League. The game will cop plenty of self-harm but it has always stood for inclusivity and diversity. Tevita Pangai is set to join the Roosters in 2020. George Williams is a done deal at Canberra next season.

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 5: Brisbane – Wests Tigers, 16 – 22.

Random Fact of Rugby League Stupidity:  The two most popular names in the inaugural premiership season of 1908 were Arthur and William with 10 apiece … though William may have won the tie breaker with Bill McCarthy of Norths making it 11.

Moronic Coaching Decision of the Week: Keeping Jake Granville on the bench for the entire second half after naming Ben Hampton to play on a wing has Cowboys coach Paul Green at the top of the list for moron decisions this week.

The Coaching Crosshairs: There has not been a coach in the long and storied history of Rugby League who has been given more leash for less return than Nathan Brown has at Newcastle. Brown suffered his 60th loss in charge of then Knights … in just his 77th game at the helm. His strike rate is just 21%. Brown has spruiked the need for a rebuild since he arrived in 2016. He put a broom through the club and now has the team he recruited. They went into the season well fancied but have lost four of their last five. He has taken his star fullback and put him at five-eighth. He has been playing Kurt Mann as a hooker and Connor Watson as a first grader. Nearly all the forwards he signed have given very little. They are playing with a very rudimentary structure in attack and key players are not executing the fundamentals.

Beard Watch: Referees rarely get much love here and rarely indulge much in the facial hair scene but we will give some love here to Phil Henderson and his sweet looking gnome beard.

Watch It: The 1999 season marked the final we saw foundation club the Western Suburbs Magpies as a standalone club in the NRL. The 7.30 did a report during those heady times on club mergers and the heartbreak that many felt. Watch it here if, for no other reason, than to understand why Neil Whittaker was driven from the game so quickly.

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