From the Couch Round 2

By Nick Tedeschi

Peter Beattie, Another Fraud: Rugby League has a long and embarrassing history of handing the reins of power to frauds and fools and once again has found a combination of both in former Queensland premier Peter Beattie. Beattie, who claims to be a lifelong Rugby League fan, could not have started his tenure in worse fashion than it has by not knowing from a field of three, who the Rugby League team from the shire were. After the ineptitude of the John Grant years and Dave Smith’s humiliating ‘Benji Barba’ gaffe, all league fans wanted was someone with a genuine love of the game running the show. Clearly Beattie is not that, despite his protestations that he has loved the code all his life. Beattie is just another fraud who is using Rugby League to fund his ego and his back pocket.

300 of the Best: Billy Slater became the 31st player in premiership history to reach the rightly-vaunted 300 club on Saturday night. Slater did not have his finest game and the Storm were upset by the Tigers but it shouldn’t take away from the fact Slater is one of the finest fullbacks to ever play the game and one of the most unlikeliest of Rugby League heroes. Slater is a magician, a star in a foreign land, a sublime and mercurial athlete, a highly competitive leader who has been a key part of Rugby League’s greatest dynasty in a half century. Congratulations on one of Rugby League’s finest.

Obstruction Mess: The NRL has once again put baby in the corner with this absurd black and white interpretation of the obstruction rule that is not interpreted in a black and white manner nor does it prevent an obstruction. Video referees are now clearly just making up from game to game whether a ball was caught on the outside shoulder or not despite no clear evidence. Whatever the decision referred upstairs seems to mean nothing. Now coaches have decoys running 45-degree angles and clearly taking out players yet tries are awarded while Shaun Johnson can take a dive pretending to attempt to make a tackle and the Titans are denied a four-pointer. The solution is simple: employ referees who are capable of understanding a game of Rugby League and then using discretion and common sense to make a call.

Goalpost of God: The number of games this author has watched over 30 years of loving the game is too many to count but never once have I witnessed the goalpost make a match-saving tackle. That was until Friday night when a goalpost flattened Scott Bolton, who had all but scored the match-winning try. This game never ceases to amaze.

Henry the Octopus: Nobody can ruin a game of Rugby League quite like Henry Perenara. In an era of terrible officials, Perenara stands out for his over-refereeing, his ability to miss the obvious, his empty threats and his inability to understand his own failings. His performance refereeing the Rabbitohs-Panthers game ticked all the boxes for ineptitude. The quicker he is out of the rotation, the better the game will be.

Sharks Stupidity: Canberra claimed the dumb loss for the opening round of the season. Cronulla took it in round two. Their second half performance against the Dragons was one of the dumbest you will ever see. It shouldn’t surprise. The coach is an acolyte of Ricky Stuart while Josh Dugan, Matt Moylan, Aaron Gray and Valentine Holmes rarely play like intelligent footballers. In a low-scoring game at home on a short week, a 10-point lead should be more than enough. It wasn’t.

Kiwi Review Scathing: A scathing review of New Zealand’s Rugby League World Cup campaign where they were eliminated in the quarter finals and it has already claimed the head of CEO Alex Hayton and is soon to bring the axe down on coach David Kidwell. The report noted the lack of high performance expertise in the NZRL, the failure to deliver Kidwell a key report in the leadup and that Kidwell was underprepared. Kidwell will rightly be replaced but he should never have been hired in the first place. He was severely underequipped and if that wasn’t obvious on his hire, then the fact he forgot he had Jason Taumalolo on his bench in his first Test sure showed it. The fact he then ruled two senior Kiwis out of the World Cup and then saw a mutiny to Tonga should surely have sealed his fate before the Cup. Kidwell is not the sole reason for the Kiwis failing at the Cup but he owns the majority of the credit.

Shameless Promo #1: The Punters Guide is back for 2018 and punters are already cashing in with the two big bets across the opening two rounds – Wests Tigers +10.5 in Round 1 and Brisbane +4 in Round 2 – both saluting with the underdog winning off the stick. Don’t miss out on the best stats-based analysis in Rugby League. Yearly and weekly subscriptions offered. Email for details.

Shameless Promo #2: I am back on the air with a new podcast with the TAB in New Zealand called ‘The Advantage Line’, a betting focussed look at the week ahead with host Alex Coogan-Reeves, bookie Paul Maoatie and soon-to-be-on former Australian halfback Johnny Gibbs. Listen, subscribe and review at wherever you get your podcasts.

Shameless Promo #3: I’m not usually in the business of promoting individual bookmakers but a good mate of mine Andy Fahey has set up Pointsbet and they are definitely the most punter-friendly book out there. They offer both fixed odds and spread betting and will look after you if you sign up here.

2018 Field Goal Update – 1: The 2018 season has been a sensational start of the penalty goal but an absolute bludger for the field goal.

Fun Fact #1: The Wests Tigers have won back-to-back games scoring one try in each. It is the first time this has happened since St George did same in the finals in 1992 (Thanks Aaron Wallace of Fox Sports!)

Fun Fact #2: Dean Pay, a defence-minded mentor, coached teams have conceded at least 26 points in five straight games.

Fun Fact #3: Billy Slater has never scored a try in a milestone game.

Fun Fact #4: Favourites have won 13 of the last 16 games officiated by Henry Perenara.

Fun Fact #5: Steve Roach called zero games in Round 2.

Betting Market of the Week: ARLC chairman Peter Beattie thinks Rugby League is:

$3.00: That sport with 15 men a team where they always kick penalty goals and can’t tackle
$2.40: The dream payday for washed up Queenslanders
$1.90: The game Buzz Rothfield runs
$1.30: Home of the Cronulla Hawks

Rumour Mill: Josh Mansour and Tyrone Peachey are not happy at Penrith with Mansour favoured to go to Canterbury next year while Peachey is looking for an immediate release to join the Titans. Lachlan Coote is looking to return to Sydney with the Tigers his most likely destination. Dylan Napa will be at Newcastle before the season is out. There are rumblings of legal action out Belmore way as George Peponis struggles to retain his grip on power by manipulating numbers on the League Club board.

Key Stat for a Player Who Should Not Be in First Grade: Aaron Gray has scored one try in his last 10 first grade games.

What I Like About … Ivan Cleary: He is the best coach in the NRL not to win a premiership. The job he has done with this ragtag Tigers team to win their opening two games against the Roosters and Storm is nothing short of remarkable. He has instilled a defensive mindset and a gritty mental edge to a team that has prized neither in the past. He is an astonishing mentor. The Panthers should regret letting him go as he is just the kind of coach they need right now.

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 2: Brisbane – North Queensland, 24 – 20. Another epic between these two teams, decided by a goalpost tackle. This matchup has won the Game of the Year three years straight and could make it four.

The Coaching Crosshairs: The rumour mill is in overdrive that Phil Gould is prepared to move on from Anthony Griffin after this season no matter the result. Gould and Griffin’s relationship is irreparably torn but most telling, Gould has lost all respect for Griffin. Speculation is rife that Gould is eyeing Des Hasler for the job. It is hard to disagree with Gould’s assessment when witnessing Griffin’s idiotic pre-match team tinkering that has seen the Panthers fall behind in each of the first two games this season.

Moronic Coaching Decision of the Week: Shane Flanagan’s decision to get into a public spat with the highly respected Gavin Cooper went some way to explaining the idiotic and ill-disciplined manner in which his team lost on Thursday night. Flanagan lashed out after Cooper claimed the Sharks deliberately attacked Matt Scott’s injured ankle. He even disrespected him with his remarks. The Sharks then came out and blew it against rivals St George Illawarra because they couldn’t hold the ball or stop giving away dumb penalties. Stupidity stems from the top.

Beard Watch: Canterbury fans will be hoping Aaron Woods’ decision to cut his hair and severely trim his beard doesn’t have a Samson like impact. The jury is still out to date.

Correspondence Corner: Jason, if Lodge’s wages were being garnished, it would be a discussion point. But they aren’t so he shouldn’t be afforded that level of trust.

Tom, the poor stats output this game produces – led by – is appalling.

Matt S, thank you for those very kind words.

Kel, bring back the Reds! Yes! And maybe you got a Raiders membership because you don’t want to be known as a Parramatta fan?

Dominic Stevenson, so much talent, so much stupidity in the capital.

Skull, they are a team that screams first-week finals fodder. That is an upgrade from my preseason thoughts too. Only three teams can win it this year and the Saints ain’t one.

Dennis B

March 19, 2018

Glad to hear someone else agrees with me re Coach Flanagan. He needs to concentrate on discipline and organised play among his players instead of saying we must address these problems

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