The Roar
The Roar


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Joined March 2013









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“A good football manager”? On the contrary Nick, a football manager refusing help is an egomaniac and a poor leader. No leader knows everything, including Gus. You are not undermined because you get help from other people, especially when that person has the track record of success Gus has.

A leader’s job is to do whatever it takes to get the team to win, not be an expert on everything and heroic know it all.

Barrett's successor will need to tread warily unless Gus can clean up Bulldogs’ mess

Good comments Adam and as a Panthers fan, you are spot on. Leota and To’oh were a bit underdone and with that Eels pack that’s enough to lose. I think Cleary had a bit of an ordinary game too and didn’t offer much in attack.

As for NZ, as an organisation they make the strangest decisions. Cleary gets to the grand Final, they sack him. They hired Kearney, based on a 24% win rate at the Eels, go figure (top bloke, but his coaching record speaks for itself).

Why hire Brown? He has a premiership in Super League, but St Helens is like the Roosters, you should win something with their squad and resources. He had half the NSW team as coach of the Dragons and couldn’t get them to the big dance. At Newcastle he spent all his time blaming Bennett for leaving a mess and yet he didn’t have to contend with players not being paid and the Tinkler saga and the McKinnon accident. He was hired on the back of a 26% win rate at Newcastle!!

NZ is chock full of talent, (thanks NZ for giving us JFH) and yet they constantly struggle. The board should sack itself.

NRL Round 9 talking points: More blowouts, but fun ones

Happy days Albo. I miss those times. I live in Thailand now so don’t get to go to games. But I never miss a Panthers game, NRL Watch is my friend. The best thing is, the Friday night game is on at 4pm or 5pm, so I get to watch it live and still get a Friday night out.

The lock is key: How subtle tactical change has propelled Penrith even higher

Matth, I agree with that. Did you know it was Gus who built the Roosters pathways? When he arrived they were known as the transit lounge and were in line for the wooden spoon. Before he joined the Panthers as GM, he was at the Rooster as GM football getting their juniors to where it is now.

They had to do something, nobody plays league in their district. Drive around the Paddington area on a Saturday afternoon and you would be lucky to see any sort of sport at all, let alone league. There just aren’t that many kids in the city.

He started up the development pathways programme that took juniors from around the country and progressed them through to first grade. Next thing you know, the Roosters are starting to have their own players making the team. I know some people will say, “yeah, but he stole good juniors from other clubs” and that may be true, but you still have to develop them into first graders and that is a challenging process.

Junior superstars are not nailed on to become first graders and the statistics show they will probably be lucky to make it. I have lost count of the budding superstars that I saw in the Panther’s juniors who amounted to nothing, because, frankly, the Panther’s were rubbish at developing players for much of their history. In fact my advice to a Penrith junior a while back would be sign for the Storm, Broncos or Roosters and then you have a chance of turning into the best version of yourself. The Broncos have since lost their way on development, but they were brilliant at it for many years, supplying half the Australian side.

Ponga rejects Dolphins to re-sign at Knights until end of 2027, now the real hard work begins

I hear you, but I have a different view. I know people think Gus is an idiot, but when it comes to building teams and players, he really is an expert. When talking about Ponga and whether he is worth the money, he made the point that it depends on what happens next because even the best players need coaching and that can be the difference between getting to the next level or stagnating. It starts from the u16’s all the way to first grade where it should continue.

How many of the current clubs have put good coaching structures in place? How many clubs get their NSW cup team to train with first grade so the players can see what it takes to be the best? How many clubs promote their juniors and give them opportunities and build a succession pipeline so they can clear the path for the future stars?

I have said this before, but there is a myth that the Panthers have always had good juniors because they have the biggest junior base. It is simply not true. Before the current coaching structures were put in place ten years ago, in 2011 the Panthers spine consisted of Travis Burns, Luke Walsh, Lachlan Coote and Kevin Kingston. How can the largest junior pool in Australia produce a single spine player? How can such a pool of juniors only manage to provide half the team?

Coaching and the coaching structures make all the difference in the world. Suddenly, get to 2021 and with a well thought through structure in place the Panthers make the grand final fielding 13 players that debuted with the Panthers. The spine had a single non-Penrith junior (Api Korasaiu).

The talent pool is plenty big enough. What the clubs need is more quality coaches and development pathways in place. Incentivise clubs to develop juniors and they might invest money in it, instead of trying to buy players. Right now, it is the management of the clubs that is the problem, not the talent pool. If the Dolphins invest in development in ten years time they can as strong as any team in the NRL.

A good example of this is the Bulldogs. The Dogs invested in court cases, board elections and redundancy pay outs. They off loaded their NSW cup team to the Mounties (the Panthers did this with St Marys until Gus stopped it) for reasons unclear to anybody who is interested in seeing young players develop in the club colours. If they had focused on development, they wouldn’t have had to sign every player who needs a job and could be watching a Dogs developed spine guiding the team around the field. Instead, the fans get to watch a Panther/Rooster/St George/Tiger bits and pieces collection like they fielded against Souths. Incidentally, I am sure that will change with Gus as GM, development is his true passion. The Dogs just have to be patient.

I am not singling out the Dogs, plenty of clubs have made similar mistakes, including the Panthers. The NRL need to address this by rewarding teams that develop players. A bigger pool of players developed, means a better product and more sponsorship dollars and fans/viewers.

Ponga rejects Dolphins to re-sign at Knights until end of 2027, now the real hard work begins

When I used to go to Penrith Park in the 90’s I used to marvel at the work Brandy did off the ball. He basically directed the entire defensive set up, barking instructions constantly and moving players. You could see none of this on the screen, although I did hear Warren Ryan mention Brandy’s organisational skills on the ABC radio coverage. It was the same in attack, you miss all the scheming that he does with the narrow TV angles.

Whenever Brandy was out with injury, the first thing that suffered was the defence, not the attack. I was surprised he never became a coach because he reads and understands the game so well, but who would give up a media career to endure the sort of pressure Maguire and Barrett are under right now?

The lock is key: How subtle tactical change has propelled Penrith even higher

Nat, you are asking for players to challenge when a ref doesn’t make a decision. In other words they miss a knock on or head high tackle. The Bunker is there to pick up errors like that. Th game would descend into farce if a player can just stop the game and challenge something a ref missed but didn’t call.

Imagine a player taking a hit up in their own 20m zone and he notices the outside defending backs are offside. Can he stop dead, raise his hand and challenge the lack of offside call? The flow of the game relies on a ref’s judgement to make it watchable and not descend into a stream of penalties for minor indiscretions.

The idea is good as long as it is limited to the decisions that are made. Once you widen its application to non-decisions, the game will have so many penalties it will need to be renamed to Rugby Union.

Experts Roar: Should the NRL keep, increase or eliminate captain’s challenge rule?

This is spot on. You can’t create a penalty so the bunker can review the play leading to it. You can only challenge the penalty given. If the ref missed something, such as a knock on, before the penalty, tough.

There are many times in a game the refs miss something, let’s just acknowledge when human’s are involved nothing is perfect. The captain’s challenge will help pick up some of them and that’s enough. Leave it as is, don’t review lead up play.

Experts Roar: Should the NRL keep, increase or eliminate captain’s challenge rule?

TB you are only half right on Edward’s best role. The other role he is best at is running around in defence shouting at players getting them in position and calling out where the gaps are. You can’t see it on TV, but the Panther fans know what he does. You can hear him shouting in the stands.

The reason he can do it and still have energy to be backing up in attack, is he is the fittest player in the team. The word from those in the know in the Panthers is he tops every single stat when it comes to cardio-vascular exercise. Considering how fit the Panthers are generally speaking, I am in awe of how fit he must be to be in front of players like Cleary and Yeo, who have superb engines.

He can’t do the flash stuff Paps, Turbo and Teddy do, but he is the oil in the Panthers engine that keeps the gears turning smoothly.

Less is more: Jack of all trades but do fullbacks have too much on their plate?

You can never implement a rule like that. A player will come out and take out the oppositions best player knowing they will get sent off and be replaced. You might as well paint a target on Tommy Trbojevic’s forehead and declare open season. No thank you. Play dirty and your team get punished is the right result.

'Ugly, stupid, as cheap as it gets': Barnett referred straight to judiciary after send off, Panthers roll Knights

As an ex-military man I have had great experience at being shouted at. When a drill Sergeant gets about an inch from your face and screams at you at the top of their lungs, flecks of spittle splattering onto your face (a drill Sergeant would be a mobile Covid factory), it certainly is motivating. At first, at least and then you get used to it. After a while, I found I could barely contain my laughter. I mean, a grown man ranting, temple veins throbbing, spittle flying, is kinda funny. In fact, if I am honest being shouted at didn’t motivate me at all, I just thought “f*&^ you and the horse you rode in on”, but I know for some people it really got them fired up.

Even the great Alex Ferguson, famous for a hair dryer rant that would make a grown man weep, commented on the fact that it only works for some people. Others need an arm around the shoulder and to be told they are the best player in the world.

Once the visceral impact of ranting has dissipated, it then becomes about the words themselves. Do the words inspire me? Do they teach me something about the game, or myself? What can I learn?

I hope that Madge has more in his kitbag than a shouty rant, because he is in danger of being a one hit wonder. The Carl Douglas of the NRL. Damn, I am going to be humming “Everybody was Kung Fu fighting” all day long now……

It's the hope that kills Wests Tigers fans: Where to from here for Maguire?

“Its pathetic”, you are spot on Jacko. You will be pleased to know that the Chairman of the Super Rugby Board Sir Stanley Blithering-myfartsdontstink-idot-Jones, is leading a push to amend the Boot Lacing rules. They are going to make both criss-cross and bar lacing legal inside the 20m zone on Fridays and Saturdays. They are going to keep the ladder lacing on public holidays though.

As for League, you are not quite right. Boot lacing rules were repealed back in 1896 when they discovered most league players couldn’t afford laces. Gaffer Tape laws were proposed, but were considered too complex to implement.

'It trumps league': Why don’t the media give rugby union a fair go?

“It’s pathetic”, I agree Jacko. You will be pleased to know, that the upper echelons in Super Rugby, led by the chairman Sir Blithering-myfartsdontstink-idiot-Jones, is looking to change the rules around boot lacing. They are going to simplify them so that bar-lacing and chriss-crossed lacing are both acceptable inside the 20m zone. They are expected to keep the ladder lacing rules on public holidays in place though.

As for the League Boot lacing rules, they were repealed back in 1896 when they discovered that League players couldn’t afford laces and the gaffer tape rules were too complex.

'It trumps league': Why don’t the media give rugby union a fair go?

It was a tough decision, but they still had plenty of time to win the game. It also meant that the Panthers lost their halfback for 10 minutes which certainly didn’t help their cohesion. They were pretty clunky as they reshuffled their team.

In the end it was goal kicking that was the difference. The Dragons were made to score out wide and were given difficult conversions. Put that down to the tough Panthers defence.
I think the Dragons will do well this year, they are tough and fit and the youngsters show a lot of promise.

Kikau enjoys dream night but To'o, Fisher-Harris injured as Panthers edge past Dragons

If you are going to prove your point by saying ” a great game of rugby is awesome”, you must compare it to a great game of league, like the best SOO matches. You can’t cherry pick what games you want to compare.

The problem with rugby is not the quality of the best games, it is the dreariness of the majority of the games. Whistle blowing, penalty kicking wrestlefests that leave the specator mystified as to why there is a penalty.

Commentator: “The ref has blown a penalty, you played a lot of tests for Australia, can you explain why Rupert Hyde-white-smyth-jones-poncey-woncey-blytherington?”

Expert ex-player: “He came in for the ball while having his boot-laces criss-crossed at the breakdown. They need to be bar laced if you want to compete in the 20 metre zone. The rule is quite clear. Bar lacing is the only acceptable method in the 20m zone on Friday night games. On Saturday games chriss-crossed lacing is ok, although not on public holidays when ladder lacing is the only acceptable method”.

Commentator: “Thanks for clearing up that penalty Chris. I thought chriss-crossed was Ok if you had dark hair. Oh well, just shows what I know. Oh look, they are packing down for a scrum……..”

'It trumps league': Why don’t the media give rugby union a fair go?

“Lots of players are looking leaner this year”, except Mitchell. Is it me, or did he look quite overweight? Fullback is the most physically demanding position. It would be hard playing there when you are overweight. Is it some sort of protector around his middle, or does he just have a gut?

Bellamy's 500th turns into classic as Melbourne squeak by in golden point thriller after stunning Souths turnaround

Good synopsis and quick too!

Discipline and strategy nailed Manly into Saab’s corner and they never really managed to get out of it. Having said that, credit to the Panther’s for their high energy defence. Manly were smashed by the Panther’s defence relentlessly and after 20 minutes their legs were gone. As boxers say “when the body goes the head follows” and that defence just pummelled their body until they couldn’t think straight.

” He’s the passer Jake Trbojevic thinks he is when he closes his eyes in bed at night.”
That quote made me laugh out loud. Yeo looks like he has improved and gone up another level. He started life as a centre and was “meh”, mainly because of his lack of speed. His attributes of toughness and consistency were always there, but we had no glimpses of the ball playing skills he is showing now. Every year he has improved his skills and now he reads the game really well too. When he combines with Crichton and Murray they will give Qld plenty to think about in SOO. What a backrow!

It’s a long season, but a promising start for the Panthers.

Why Manly will batter a lot of teams but lose to good ones: Sea Eagles vs Panthers Talking Points

“next level hard”. Legend has it that when he was coach of the Knights he and Mark Sergeant didn’t see eye to eye. Mark is 30 years younger than Mal, and was in peak physical condition and not a small man. Mal offered him “outside” and said “don’t let fear hold you back”. Mark declined the offer. Sounds like it was a good decision!!

British Lions who've roared in Aussie grand finals

The Evil Empire?? Have you ever been to Penrith? It is a working class suburb on the fringes of Sydney. It is full of fibros and old red brick cheapies from the 70’s. The surrounding areas like St Marys and Mt Druitt are poor, underprivileged areas. Melbourne is an entire city of millions with vast wealth and resources in comparison. The Storm was funded by News Ltd, a wealthy multinational corporation. The Panthers was started with spit, sawdust, meat raffles and blokes like Merv Cartwright. Yes, it has a big leagues club now, but it started with nothing. The leagues club raises money for the team, which spends a fortune in the local area to help develop sports in the Penrith district.

I know Luai can be a pratt, but how can you make such a ridiculous statement? Empire!! I wish I had know when I sold my 3 bedroom LJ Hooker house there. Maybe I should have trebled the price as a reflection of its status, as it was it gave me enough for a deposit on a house in the city.

The silent killer that looks set to claim Penrith's season

Err, I think faking injury is also against the rules and at the very least is cheating.

Gamesmanship, grace, humility and did the Eels get hosed? Talking points from NRL finals Week 2

How are you measuring “better in 2021”? Cleary has the same try assists in fewer games (16 vs 19) and more line break assists in fewer games. Hughes has a better running game with more line breaks and tackle breaks.

Hughes has a better running game but when you add in the impact of Cleary’s tactical kicking I just can’t see how Hughes gets the spot.

'Loads of points, and tough stuff in the middle': My 2021 All-NRL side

Good article Tony. With a backrow of Yeo, Murray and Crichton that is some serious tackling power and plenty of footy skill as well. NSW would love to see those three run around in next year’s SOO.

I’m a Panther’s fan and if Capewell got a jersey I would say he should buy a lottery ticket. He has been quite average for several weeks this year. Liam Martin has been a better player this season. I think Jake T would be a better option, although admittedly he couldn’t play centre but Yeo, DCE and Murray can cover that at a pinch.

Who I'd pick for the Kangaroos if they were playing right now

I understand your criticism of Cleary, but the Panther’s finished with exactly the same points as the Storm. The minor premiership was decided on for and against. They also had seven players out through Origin, not six. I think Bellamy is coach of the year, but Cleary is pretty damn close.

NRL Round 25 talking points: Resting to be tested and Cecchin gets late respect

So referee’s make errors and that means the NRL administration is rubbish and should be scrapped? A bit of an overreaction, it ain’t perfect but I think the NRL administration is better than it has ever been.

I share your disdain about the trainers, they should be banned, full stop. There is no need for a water runner in a game that lasts 40 minutes a half. If a player is injured, they can only come on the field if they have permission from a touch judge or ref. They must not leave the player’s side and must come off immediately. Why are they allowed to be behind the defensive line issuing instructions? If they do that they should get sent off along with the team’s captain. It is cheating, pure and simple. Imagine Manchester United having Brian Kidd running behind the United defence shouting instructions to their left back, or Klopp in midfield clutching a water bottle and shouting at his Liverpool players to cover the gaps. It’s farcical.

I agree they haven’t got the treatment of offences right yet. The inconsistent decision are reflective of the fact that the rules rely on people’s judgement all the time. Henry didn’t think the tackle was that bad, others think it terrible. You should note that there are other people who agree with what Henry did, just emphasising that everybody has a different view.

One of the best ways to remove the judgement is to tighten up the rules so no judgement is required. If you tackle somebody and they need to leave the field as a result of foul play, you are off, no ifs, no buts. Mitchell would have been off without anybody needing to start on fanciful discussions of intent.

Earlier this season Yeo was carried off the field after Flegler hit him high and he only got ten in the bin. He should be off. No ifs, no buts.

It actually doesn’t matter if somebody has intent. It is irrelevant. The outcome is somebody is hurt as a result of foul play. End of discussion. Your cheekbone is just as broken whether the player meant it, or they were reckless or careless. The circumstances are irrelevant. The fact a player has stepped or slipped has no bearing on the outcome, a fractured cheek bone. If the tackling player couldn’t adjust in time, the tackle by definition is careless.

In the heat of the game is not the place to consider Intent, and mitigating circumstances. The judiciary is the place to sort out the suspension based on their review. They can look at whether a player fell, or whatever other mitigating circumstances may be relevant. I would remove intent from all discussion about sentences. Focus on outcomes and whether something happened that made the tackle worse. A player stepped, slipped, was pushed by another player and so on.

Intent is impossible to prove, is invariably denied and excessively objected to by various third parties with quotes from old ladies the player helped across the road, “he is a lovely lad” and statements from their coach (unbiased of course). It is all ridiculous theatre that is not helpful and irrelevant in helping player safety.

Obviously, Latrell didn’t want to see his friend having a metal plate inserted in his face, but the tackle was so ridiculously careless he should buy several lottery tickets for only getting six weeks.

Why the focus on Latrell misses the real issue in a failing system

What a great concept and thanks for the article, I enjoyed it. That said, it would be a cold day in hell before Gower gets to play halfback ahead of Brandy in my team. Brandy was a much better halfback than Gower, who I would put at hooker in this team. Sadly, Royce wouldn’t make the cut.

Incidentally, Brandy captained the 91 side not Royce. He was at the end of his career and struggling for form. Mind you, he saved his best until last with two tries in the GF!

The club stalwarts: Penrith and Cronulla