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Joined June 2021









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If Brad Fittler played enough games for Penrith to qualify and then subsequently picked in the team, then I would say it would bring the teams up to be almost exactly even – too difficult to pick a winner. However, as such, Cronulla would still have just as much of a chance to win as Penrith.

The club stalwarts: Penrith and Cronulla

Yeah, with all due respect to Craig Gower, I would go with Greg Alexander at halfback over Craig Gower. Greg Alexander still made the team on the bench but I think that he should be in the starting side at halfback.

The club stalwarts: Penrith and Cronulla

I actually think that Cronulla has a slight edge here. Cronulla and Penrith are probably on the whole relatively even here – but I still think that Cronulla has a slight edge.

The club stalwarts: Penrith and Cronulla

Sometimes he could even tackle like Trevor Gillmeister – Renouf wasn’t just a superb attacking player but he could also pull off some tremendous tackles at times.

The club stalwarts: Brisbane and Melbourne

I agree that Brisbane would win in such a hypothetical game. Melbourne have some great names, but I think the Broncos have the advantage in both the forwards and the backs here.

I’m a tad bit surprised that Chris Johns made it over Justin Hodges. However I suppose Chris Johns is probably a little bit of an under-rated player. Still, I would pick Hodges – not only due to his defense and general attacking capabilities, but also his dummy-half running which was incredibly valuable.

The club stalwarts: Brisbane and Melbourne

In saying this, I think the game would be a lot closer between a standard all-time Easts v Souths game (a best all-time Easts v best all-time Souths team without any other qualifying criteria) – but Souths would probably still win that one too.

NRL club stalwarts: The foundation clubs

I think that Souths would definitely be more likely to win in this game.

NRL club stalwarts: The foundation clubs

I agree that Parramatta would probably win, but it is possibly a little bit of an exaggeration to say that Parramatta’s backline is far too strong – the Eels backline is definitely stronger, but probably not to the point of their backline being in the category of far too strong relative to Manly’s backline. When you have Graham Eadie, Bob Fulton, Jamie Lyon, Cliff Lyons, and Geoff Toovey in your backline you at least have a fighting chance of coming close to matching it with Parramatta’s backline.

Still in saying that, I think that Parramatta’s forwards probably have a better chance of matching it with Manly’s forwards than what Manly’s backline have with matching it with Parramatta’s backline.

NRL club stalwarts: Parramatta and Manly

Yeah based on a quick google search I did it appears he was part of the Cowboys Call team at one stage, but I’m not entirely sure he was the particular commentator I was thinking about – maybe but also maybe not.

Sterlo says 'freeze it there'. So where does he rank in rugby league's top 20 commentators list?

Sure – I’m pretty sure that there was someone on the Cowboys Call team at one stage whose last name is Costigan – but perhaps he may not have been the person who was sprinkling various local geographical references throughout his commentary – whoever it was it was very entertaining and gave the calling of the game a real local feel to it!

Sterlo says 'freeze it there'. So where does he rank in rugby league's top 20 commentators list?

Jason Costigan – that name sounds familiar – from the Cowboys call team?

I know there was a commentator from the Cowboys call team – not sure whether or not it was Jason Costigan – where you almost felt like you were getting a geography lesson during the game – and I say this in a good way – I loved it! He would put in all these references to various places in North Queensland (not just technically North Queensland but also Far North Queensland, the Mackay region, and various other areas in North Queensland Cowboy territory).

Not sure whether it was Jason Costigan or not but I loved these local references that this commentator used to make / possibly still makes.

Sterlo says 'freeze it there'. So where does he rank in rugby league's top 20 commentators list?

I suppose it is really a matter of taste – solid cases can be made for both Lyon and Gasnier – they each have their own style and offer different strengths to the team and their strengths, while different, are probably about the same in overall quality. However I personally would still go for Gasnier over Lyon – there is already one player in the centres who is very hard to tackle strength wise (Inglis) – may as well add a centre who is primarily feared for his breathtaking agility and footwork to complement this – in one sense it makes a more ‘balanced’ centre pairing.

The best rugby league rookies of the 2000s

This is certainly one awesome team! However, I would probably have Mark Gasnier instead of Jamie Lyon. Jamie Lyon was a very strong centre and had a greater playmaking aspect to his game, but I can’t go past the agility and general running game flair of Mark Gasnier.

Also, I think there is a strong case to put Justin Hodges on the bench – he can cover fullback, centre, and wing. If Thurston needed to be replaced during the game then Inglis or Gasnier (or Lyon in your team) could move to five-eighth – not ideal in the case of Inglis or Gasnier but it could be done. If Cronk needed to be replaced during the game then Thurston could move to halfback and then, as before, Inglis or Gasnier (or Lyon in your team) could move to five-eighth. However in saying this, Wade Graham is a fine pick on the bench and I can definitely see your logic in picking him.

The best rugby league rookies of the 2000s

I see where you are coming from to an extent Sammy and I like the Wally Lewis – Gold Coast Seagulls analogy to a little bit of a degree – at least in the sense of the point that a top superstar (or two in the case of 2002) won’t necessarily lift the whole team to great heights – however in saying this, I think you are underestimating the 2002 team even without the Smith and Thurston factor.

There is no doubt that if you were to replace Thurston and Smith with an average first grade halfback and hooker respectively then the 2000 team would be noticeably – indeed rather significantly – stronger than the 2002 team. However the 2002 team even replaced with an ‘average’ halfback and hooker is still quite a strong team. While the 2000 team should beat them (2002 with Thurston and Smith replaced by an average halfback and hooker) relatively comfortably, I don’t think that 2000 would completely dominate them. A relatively comfortable win for 2000 against a Smithless and Thurstonless 2002? Yes – however not a complete domination.

However, when you add the Smith and Thurston factor – that the 2002 team does have these two absolute top superstars in them – the 2002 and 2000 teams are pretty even – not much in overall quality separating them. Then when you add the fact that 2002 has Bellamy as their coach, then 2002 has the slight edge. At least that’s how I see it, but I do certainly understand the appeal of the 2000 team – the 2002 team would certainly need to have their best pair of boots on to defeat them.

What was the best NRL rookie class of the 2000s?

I think that if it wasn’t for the Craig Bellamy factor, it would be very difficult to pick the winner of the Grand final between the 2000 and 2002 teams.

Even with the 2002 team having both Smith and Thurston, the 2000 team is probably overall pretty much right on par with the 2002 team – at least without the coaching factor. However, when you take into account the fact that Craig Bellamy is coach of the 2002 team, then this would be enough to give the 2002 team the advantage. I do of course say this with all due respect to Trent Robinson – however there is no escaping the fact that Trent Robinson is not Craig Bellamy.

I think the game would be a close one – in fact I could imagine this game being an absolute thriller that goes right down to the wire – and there is no doubt that the team of 2000 would definitely have the potential to cause an upset. However the 2002 team, with Bellamy as their coach, just has the upper hand in which team would be most likely to win this game.

What was the best NRL rookie class of the 2000s?

Indeed a great spine and strong forwards – and the three-quarters are fairly good too. This is a team solid across the park – they arguably don’t have anyone that can be classed in the superstar category but they are a fairly good team all across the park.

Rugby league rookie cup: The class of 2009

Just looking at the team again specifically from the perspective of defense I would actually say that there defense would be significantly above sound – would definitely be a team that would get good field position – but the question indeed remains as to how much they would turn that good field position into points.

Rugby league rookie cup: The class of 2005

My gut feeling is that they probably are a team that would generally get good field position with Inglis bringing the ball back strongly (as well as other non kick return powerful runs from Inglis), other players that would likely make good metres, and Soward’s kicking game, however – apart from Inglis – they probably don’t have an incredible amount of firepower when in the oppositions danger zone – still some attacking flair, but probably not enough to pile on tries.

p.s. with the field position I have only considered their attacking qualities and obviously defense greatly effects field position too – defensively they would at the very least be sound but don’t know exactly what overall rating I would give them for defense.

Rugby league rookie cup: The class of 2005

Cameron Smith played in 8 grand finals from 2002 to 2020: 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2020 (he didn’t play in the 2008 grand final based on the little bit of research I did). That is a grand final appearance rate of 42% so yes indeed it did feel like he was playing in the grand final virtually every year. If you just take the 15 year period from his first grand final in 2006 to 2020 then his grand final appearance rate is over 50% (53%) – a phenomenal rate – so yes it did indeed seem like he was in the grand final just about all the time (not literally so of course but it did kind of seem like it!)

Also Nathan Merrit certainly gets a well earned spot on the wing – one of the most under-rated players of the last 20 years – I think he may have topped the tryscoring tally one year when the club he was playing for (Souths) were right down near the bottom of the table – maybe wooden spooners maybe not (can’t remember off the top of my head) but were certainly near the bottom of the table I think.

Rugby league rookie cup: The class of 2002

Matt Bowen’s footwork was almost unbelievable at times – he could be almost unstoppable on his best nights / days.

If only Thurston made his debut in 2001 then we could have had the Thurston – Bowen combination in this team!

p.s. not that I’m meaning to make any assumptions about who you are going to pick at halfback (or perhaps five-eighth possibly) in the 2002 rookie team but I think I have a pretty good idea!

Rugby league rookie cup: The class of 2001

I actually think the team of 1993 would just edge out the team of 1992. The forwards and bench of 1992 are overall a touch better than that of 1993, but not by all that much. And, in addition, Wendell Sailor is in a sense like an extra forward for 1993 – an absolutely blockbusting winger – indeed probably the second most blockbusting winger Australia has seen, just behind Eric Grothe (Senior).

I think the halves of 1993 will be just a little too strong and be the difference. Although I never actively noticed it, I have heard it said that Andrew Johns was excellent at managing the situation where his own forwards were on the back foot. If this is true, then even if 1992’s forwards dominate, that might still not be enough to get 1992 over the line. Also, Anthony Mundine would be dangerous anywhere on the park. 1992 would not be safe from the attacking masterclass of Mundine even if their (1992’s) forwards were dominating.

Also, Steven Menzies would be a constant threat – especially given the potential for the frequent quality ball he could get from Johns and Mundine.

I do agree that the forwards of 1992 are very formidable – especially Tallis – and there would be no let up from the quality bench they have, but I just don’t think that it would be quite enough to topple 1993 – I think 1993 just have a slight advantage.

What was the best NRL rookie class of the 1990s?

It is interesting: there have now been 40 series played so far (1982 – 2021) – the first two years (1980 and 1981) were stand alone games even though they were embedded in a series with the first two games of such series being under the traditional interstate format. Out of these 40 series, 6 clean sweeps occurred during the first 20 years (1982 – 2001). These were: 1986 NSW, 1988 QLD, 1989 QLD, 1995 QLD, 1996 NSW, 2000 NSW. On the other hand, only one clean sweep has occurred during the last 20 years (2002 – 2021) which was QLD in 2010.

The by 10 year breakdown is:

1982 – 1991: 3 clean sweeps (QLD 2, NSW 1)

1992 – 2001: 3 clean sweeps (NSW 2, QLD 1)

2002 – 2011: 1 clean sweep (QLD 1)

2012 – 2021: No clean sweeps

Also, there have been 11 times that NSW have won the first two games (1985, 1986, 1990, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2014, 2018, 2021) while there has only been three times out of this where they have gone on to win the third game and hence take out a clean sweep (1986, 1996, 2000).

On the other hand, there have been 8 times when QLD have won the first two games (1984, 1988, 1989, 1995, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2016). Of these, they have gone on to win the third game and hence take out a clean sweep 4 times (1988, 1989, 1995, 2010).

Origin is hard, a sweep is harder: seven talking points for State of Origin 2021

Yeah I see the point – although what I wrote about the Canberra spine was me just bringing up an unrelated tangential point – I just brought it up when thinking about the excellent season Mullins had in 1994.

However I certainly do take the point in regards to my mentions of Mullins himself and Renouf.

The best combined side of rugby league try-scorers

Needless to say when I say at the end “in the competition all at once” I mean the best in the competition for a given individual year all at once. Just thought I should clarify just in case anyone accidentally infers that I mean the best in the competition over an arbitrary period of time and where all just happen to be in a given team one year even if one or more of those players weren’t the best in their position for that particular year.

The best combined side of rugby league try-scorers

While Andrew Ettinghausen and Josh Morris certainly deserve their spots in the centres, one player who is unlucky not to make the team is Steve Renouf. Also Brett Mullins certainly wouldn’t be out of place in the side but understandably there are just a few too many players ahead of him to include in the fullback + three quarters backline.

Brett Mullins was one of the most dangerous attacking players in the history of the game at his peak. There was a three game period in 1994 where he scored 11 tries, including back to back quadruples! What a performance! Back to back quadruples followed by or preceded by (can’t remember which one) a tripple.

Steve Renouf was arguably the most dangerous attacking player outside the halves positions during the 90’s and indeed a very notable tryscorer. He scored a quadruple of tries on five different occasions.

Also, not to go off on a tangent, but speaking of Brett Mullins and thinking about the absolutely outstanding season he had in 1994 prompted me to think about Canberra’s brilliant fullback – halves – hooker combination (the spine) and that in 1994 Canberra had the best player that year for each of these positions – not of course to take anything away from Mullins brilliant individual achievements that year – I’m not implying that it is just all because he had the best in the competition of surrounding playmakers. Just saying it is an interesting thing to note:

Best fullback in 1994 was Mullins, best five-eighth was Laurie Daley, best halfback was Ricky Stuart (although Langer was close, I think it can be safely said that Stuart was better than Langer that year) and best hooker was Steve Walters. One could make a case that that was repeated in 1995 as well, although a fair case could be made that Langer (and perhaps also Andrew Johns) were better than Stuart in 1995. So the question arises, has there been any other year where a club has had the best fullback, five-eighth, halfback, and hooker in the competition all at once?

The best combined side of rugby league try-scorers