The Roar
The Roar

Daniel Szabo

Roar Guru

Joined November 2012

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Big rugby league and cricket fan. Studying sports media, working for Cricket NSW/Sydney Sixers in community engagement, aspiring rugby league writer.

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Shame to see Maloney depart, but it’ll be very interesting to see how he goes at Catalans. The make up of the Catalans spine will also be very interesting with Maloney’s arrival. Their current halves are Sam Tomkins and Matty Smith – both former internationals and very good players. He’ll obviously displace one of them. I would suggest Sam Tomkins because of his versatility can shift to fullback, leaving current custodian Tony Gigot without a spot. Interesting times ahead for the Dragons – a great signing. If the likes of Blake Austin and Jackson Hastings are currently battling it out for the Man of Steele award, imagine what Jimmy Wins could do!

Official: James Maloney to leave Penrith and end career overseas

Get over myself? hahaha alright mate calm down. A difference of opinion doesn’t require personal attacks. Adam Reynolds had 2 games and was no worse than Mitchell Pearce. He’s also been great this season for the Rabbitohs (actually for years) and only ever lost his Origin spot due to injury. And he didn’t kick to Slater on the full as if it was going out of fashion – unlike Pearce

One pass has made all the difference to Mitchell Pearce's Origin legacy

I’m not bagging Pearce. I’m bagging Fittler for basically saying that Pearce was responsible for starting the movement that led to the match-winning try when in fact it was Murray. And to a lesser extent I’m bagging the media for turning this into a Pearce redemption story when in actual fact he did very little to redeem his previous 18 mediocre performances in the Blue jersey.

Pearce was solid at best on Wednesday night. He made his tackles (mostly), he didn’t kick endlessly to Munster on the full (as he has done to Slater for years) and he didn’t get overawed by the occasion. I actually think this was one of his better performances in that he didn’t overplay his hand. In years gone by he would’ve tried to be the miracle man. This time he gave early ball to Tedesco which led to the first of Teddy’s 2 tries. He had a good game, he’s a series-winner. Congratulations to him.

But the fact remains that he will never be the game-breaking halfback that NSW needs. Neither is Cleary, but the difference there is he has the potential to become that as he’s only young. And aside from Cleary, if Keary was fit Pearce would never have factored into calculations. I also would have picked Adam Reynolds over Pearce for this game.

One pass has made all the difference to Mitchell Pearce's Origin legacy

100%, I love how Fittler is like Pearce started that whole movement for the try in the press conference. Firstly it was Cameron Murray at first receiver who got the ball from Cook at dummy half and passed it to Pearce, so he started the movement, not Pearce. I don’t get why everyone gushes over this bloke. He barely did his job last night. It was Cook, Tedesco and the forwards led by Jake T and Klemmer who won us the game. Pearce was barely solid.

One pass has made all the difference to Mitchell Pearce's Origin legacy

As harsh as it is, Walker needs to go. He certainly deserved his chance, but Maloney has found some form and the concerns I had over walker going into the game (despite my simultaneous optimism due to his red-hot form) came to fruition. His ad-lib style of footy didn’t suit Origin and he couldn’t get himself into the game. Maloney was there last year (actually the last few years), and while Pearce is in great form, he’s simply unpickable for me. Add to that the fact he’s been out of Origin for several years, he has to learn how to play with this side whereas Maloney would just slot straight in with no trouble. The shorter turnaround with the game on the Sunday rather than the Wednesday is also a factor as they don’t have time to foster new combinations – it has to be Walker or Maloney with Cleary at 6.

It would also be harsh to drop either Josh Morris or Nick Cotric. Both played well, Morris scored a try, Cotric had some good carries coming out of trouble and both were solid in defence for the most part. However the fact remains that had Tom Trbojevic been fit for game one he would’ve been in the team at the expense of one of these players. Personally I’d drop Morris and have Turbo at right centre (he’s the incumbent Kangaroos right centre let’s not forget) as Cotric is very much the future while Morris is not. However I could cop Turbo on the wing too as you know JMoz will never let you down.

I agree Crichton has to go. He doesn’t offer enough impact to come off the bench, and he can’t oust Frizell or Cordner from the starting side, therefore he shouldn’t be in the team. Wade Graham is not a risk at all in my mind. I know he’s coming back from a serious injury, but they don’t need big minutes from him. He can play 20-30 and carve up in that time.

I’d certainly like to see Finucane in the team, but I couldn’t drop either Murray or Haas so unfortunately he has to miss out. Given McLean’s injury the middle rotation is a bit of a worry – we’re a bit thin and Finucane could help in that respect. But fortunately RCG found some form on the weekend and he should be a direct replacement for Klemmer. Frizell will have to play some front row probably, as will Jake Trbojevic. And for the love of God Jake Turbo needs more game time! We look so much better with him on the field.

Turning emotional outbursts into calm, rational selections for the NSW Blues

If Cook goes down it’ll be McInnes for sure. He’s been the Dragons’ best this year and actually has more running meters this year than Cook. NSW wouldn’t lose much by having McInnes in the side.

Mitchell Pearce deserves his shot at Origin redemption

I’m pretty sure Snake didn’t want to be picked in 2011. I believe that was his first year back from a serious injury and I seem to remember it was reported that he called Ricky Stuart and asked him not to pick him. That’s why they picked Mini in the first place – he hadn’t played Origin for years and Dugan was injured. And 2013 Hayne was near his peak. I love Snake but he’s not better than Hayne.

Mitchell Pearce deserves his shot at Origin redemption

Snake missed lots of Origin because of injuries and the major off-field scandal which amounted to nothing. He was unavailable for several seasons, and was usually picked when fit.

Mitchell Pearce deserves his shot at Origin redemption

1. Tedesco
2. Addo-Carr
3. Mitchell
4. Croker
5. Ferguson
6. Walker
7. Keary
8. Klemmer
9. Cook
10. Vaughan
11. Cordner (C)
12. Frizell
13. Trbojevic
14. Murray
15. McLean
16. Haas
17. Crichton

Walker and Keary NEED to be the halves. It’s criminal to ignore players in that good form.

VOTE: Pick your NSW Blues team for Origin 1

Moses has never played Origin, and with the form of Walker, Keary and Reynolds i seriously doubt he’ll be picked this year, nor should he be quite frankly.

Mitchell Pearce deserves his shot at Origin redemption

I believe Pearce’s shock recalls to the side in 2015 and 2017 were justified. Despite his history of Origin failure, at those times he was the best we had. The difference in 2019 is that Keary, Reynolds and especially Cody Walker are all playing better than Pearce. Don’t forget, Pearce’s first 6 weeks of 2019 were quite poor. Admittedly his last month has been great, but Reynolds and Walker have been playing brilliantly all year, while Keary has been doing incredible stuff since midway through last season.

And to be honest, you say it would be a crime not to select Keary. You’re absolutely right, but it would be equally criminal not to select Cody Walker given the form he’s in, plus his combination with Damien Cook. I would have Keary at 7, Walker at 6 and Reynolds in the squad (and Pearce at home watching on TV).

And on Maloney and Cleary for a sec: Maloney played in plenty of losing series too. The difference is he was at worst quiet in a loss, while he was often a shining light in losing teams. Pearce in 18 starts has not had a good Origin outing. When we lost he was often diabolical, missing tackles or making errors at crucial times. On the rare occasions we won it was because of superhuman efforts from Paul Gallen, or off the back of 70 tackles from Robbie Farah, or some Jarryd Hayne Brilliance. In those games Pearce was quiet at best. Which brings me to Cleary. No doubt he was solid and unspectacluar in 2018. Did his job, nothing else. Yet in a 6-7/10 series for him personally, he outplayed all of Pearce’s Origins combined. Despite the poor form of Cleary and Maloney, the job they did last year as compared with Pearce’s Origin career should put them ahead of him too. To me, Pearce is number 6 in the pecking order.

Mitchell Pearce deserves his shot at Origin redemption

And as for Latrell, he has rocks in his head if he goes to another club. If you want money, leave the Roosters. If you want premierships, rep honours and to be considered one of the greats then he should never leave the Chooks.

Take the money and run, Latrell

“the Bondi club is largely made up of one-club players and blokes who came to the Eastern Suburbs either with no reputation or one that was in tatters due to off-field issues.”

“Trent Robinson has built this side the same way Craig Bellamy builds his: with a handful of stars and a supporting cast of blokes who give their all”

Ummm…… Not really. Tedesco, Cronk and Crichton all signed on big money. The only one club players are Cordner, Friend, Tupou and Aubusson. And even then, in this day and age one does not become a one-club player until one finishes his career. You never know when a club might shaft you off for a younger player.

JWH came to the club as a NZ test front rower from Manly in 2010. Brett Morris has played 20 tests and Origins. Ryan Hall – England’s greatest ever test winger playing reserve grade. Luke Keary came to the club as a premiership winner with Souths. Who in their top 17 came to the club with their reputation in tatters?

Face it – the entire top 17 are test and/or Origin players. Except Jake Friend who is the Stuart McGill to Cameron Smith’s Shane Warne, and Vic Radley who will be an Origin player before the year is over. To compare Robinson to Bellamy is an insult to Bellamy. Unless you’re talking about the way Bellamy assembled his side from 2006-2010. I see plenty of similarities to that.

Take the money and run, Latrell

“Creates little for his outside men” this is an absolute myth. he had 9 try-assists last year which is pretty good considering it’s his first full year in first-grade and Hunt and Widdop were doing the bulk of the ball-playing. And Widdop a test fullback is also a myth. He carved up PNG from fullback. He would have carved them up in the front-row too – doesn’t make him a front-rower. His games at fullback against quality opposition (Tonga and Australia) were solid but not amazing. But everyone remembers what he did against the PNG reserve-graders and thinks he’s a test fullback. Dufty is actually significantly better than Widdop under the high ball. And he made a try-saving tackle on James Tedesco. Which fullback had flawless defence at the age of 23 in just his 2nd full year in first grade? Give him time. He’ll come good.

Matt Dufty's a fullback and Gareth Widdop isn't - an Anzac Day story

such a great attribute to have. I can’t wait to see Petaia’s career unfold!

Top ten rugby players I would love to see in the NRL

Yeah you might be right about 7s, especially from a financial point of view. I agree that 7s is more instinctive than 15s. What league scouts and coaches might be concerned about from a 7s point of view is fitness. Don’t get me wrong, 7s players are no doubt extraordinarily fit. But is their type of fitness conducive to sustaining an 80 minute performance? Perhaps not for many players. Still, there are plenty of players going round on the world 7s circuit. Some will be more adaptable to league’s type of fitness (the exact balance between the endurance side and the short bursts side), and will be able to change given the right amount of training (like Radradra). Certainly worth a look.

Top ten rugby players I would love to see in the NRL

It seems crazy to me that we haven’t had more Saffas try their hand at league. More definitely needs to be done to get some here.

Top ten rugby players I would love to see in the NRL

Fair call but this is only part one of the list. I can reveal that part two does contain one Australian player – and I’d be surprised if it’s who you expect!

Top ten rugby players I would love to see in the NRL

The fact that Widdop, Burgess and Hodgson play in Australia is not a reflection on the lack of depth here – it’s a reflection on the financial situation of both competitions. The NRL has way more money than the RFL in England does, the NRL salary cap is about 3 times that of the Super League. The best players should be coming here. Just because England produces a couple of genuinely world class players, doesn’t mean Australia’s depth is lacking – if it were the Super League wouldn’t be flooded with Aussies. Look at halves for example. Of the English lot there are maybe 3 or 4 halves who would come to the NRL and do well – Widdop, George Williams and maybe Matty Smith and Johnny Lomax. Look at all the classy Aussie halves running round in the NRL. There’s Adam Reynolds, Cooper Cronk, Luke Keary, Ben Hunt, James Maloney, Nathan Cleary – i’ve covered 4 clubs and I’ve already made my point. There is way more depth here than in England. There is also more money and that’s why the best English players will and should play here.

Rugby league expansion back on the agenda in both hemispheres

I don’t subscribe to the lack of talent argument either. There are talent goldmines all over the Pacific that have barely been tapped into. Fiji is a dead set outside-back factory. There are English imports, even some quality French players who would cut it in the NRL (Theo Fages is a gun and rumour has it he wants to try his hand in the NRL). Plus just think outside the box a bit. I’ve never understood why NRL clubs don’t send scouts to South Africa where there are thousands of quality rugby players. A second New Zealand side would surely sway many Kiwis who may not cut it in Super Rugby towards the NRL. And why not have a go at some college footballers who don’t make NFL in America? The standard there is ridiculously high, there are plenty of high quality athletes who won’t ever make the NFL. The “no talent” argument is rubbish. There may be not enough talent in NSW and QLD, I’ll grand that. But there is an entire world’s worth of rugby players, plus league players from other countries. Bring them here and have a vision of the NRL as the world’s best rugby comp (of either code).

Rugby league expansion back on the agenda in both hemispheres

I’m not sure about Reynolds starting but he should definitely be given big minutes off the bench. I don’t think he should start ahead of any of the current spine – Benji and Brooks are a really good combination and I don’t think Reynolds is a better hooker than Farah. If he starts I’d have him at lock tbh.

Ranking each club's spine for 2019

Definitely my biggest issue is with the dummy halves. Smith and cook are both better than Hodgson imo. I also think Jake Friend is highly overrated and Cameron McInnes is easily the second best hooker in NSW. Definitely better than Farah, Brailey and Koroisau. Finally you have Nathan Peats – played Origin as recently as 2017 – below Mahoney, Egan and Granville. Sorry but that’s absurd.

Ranking each club's spine for 2019

Everyone points to Mitchell Moses’s world cup performance in a team where Freddy Fittler happened to be the coach (I’m not saying you did that, but many people do and I wouldn’t be surprised if that performance is part of the reason you picked him). He did nothing against Australia or England. He carved up France – a team full of reserve-graders + Theo Fages. Just because he chip-and-chased a bunch of semi-professional Frenchmen, in a team coached by the current Origin coach, doesn’t mean he’s up to State of Origin. But for him to get picked at all – let alone at the expense of someone of James Maloney’s caliber – would be absolutely disgraceful. It’s not that Moses isn’t on Maloney’s level. It’s that he’s not even on the level below Maloney.

Freddy, just do the normal thing and pick James Maloney

Steve,

I love the idea of crossover games between NSW and QLD Cups. I believe a lot more needs to be done to sell second tier rugby league. It’s a great start having NSW Cup and/or QLD Cup (depending on your state) on 9 once a week. But more needs to be done to encourage people to attend live.

I myself went to North Sydney Oval on Sunday for the first time. The Sunday before that I was at ANZ for Souths vs St George Illawarra. Guess which one had a better atmosphere. People get turned off going to the footy because of costs, travel, parking, food etc. But entry into North Sydney Oval was $10 for adults and a gold coin donation for kids! Sausage sizzle at $5 a pop (still pretty expensive for a sausage sizzle, but compared to first grade football food it’s very cheap). And these kind of games happen at suburban grounds, meaning it’s not actually a big ask for local fans to get out to these games (in a travel sense). More needs to be done to lift the profile of these competitions because I believe that many footy fans are left unsatisfied by the NRL, and these reserve grade games at suburban grounds would benefit hugely financially from greater attendances.

I believe that we as fans are force-fed NRL, and we don’t question it enough. We don’t look for alternatives because we’re constantly told “it’s the best” and that’s not untrue in a sense. The players are bigger in first grade. Skill levels are higher. Collisions are more brutal. But NSW Cup is not a low skill level. The collisions are big. The players are big. And most importantly, the games are not over-refereed. In this day and age of the Greenberg Crackdown, I think that NSW Cup and QLD Cup should market themselves as a real point of difference to what the NRL has become. Less wrestle. Less penalties. Less stoppages for BS reasons (video referee, players taking 5 years to get off the field when sin-binned etc.) Free-flowing footy. Like it should be.

What do you think of the idea of merging the two competitions into two tiers with promotion and relegation. Do you think that would create more interest? There is the novelty factor of seeing teams play against each other that never do. Plus the promotion-relegation factor would keep things interesting at both ends of the table.

Keen to know your thoughts 🙂

Todd Carney's signing could be more significant than you think

You can say what you like about the NSW halves in games 2 and 3 last year. It is 100% BOTH their faults that they didn’t target JT’s clearly injured shoulder in Game 2. And 100% they both went missing in Game 3. But firstly, you shouldn’t make this about Pearce. He’s injured. He’s not playing Origin this year. With regards to Maloney, for all his faults (especially in Game 3 last year), do you think it solves the NSW halves issue to pick someone like Moses or Brooks etc who are clearly not on the same level as Maloney? Do we cast aside clearly our best option just because he was outplayed by players clearly better than him who are no longer there?

Maloney has shown a lot more in his 9 Origins than Pearce has in his 18. Sure he was poor in Game 3 last year. I thought he was good in Game 2 – much better than Pearce. Pearce controlled Thurston’s side – it’s much more Pearce’s fault than Maloney’s that Thurston’s injury wasn’t targeted. Maloney has regularly been one of NSW’s best in losing sides. I cannot say that I’ve ever thought that about Pearce – in Origin he’s been at best indifferent, at worst diabolical.

Freddy, just do the normal thing and pick James Maloney