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Dr Chop

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Joined November 2012

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Roar Guru
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Blame it on the biff

Insanity seems to have taken over at NRL HQ. It seems that Dave Smith and his band of merry do gooders have forgotten that rugby league is arguably the most physical game on the planet (certainly the most physical sport in which the objective is not to knock out your opponent).

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

Find me a NSW player with a good win percentage over the last decade. No one has a good winning percentage. That stat means very little. The fact is that he’s had more success than any NSW half in the last decade in all arenas except State of Origin. In fact, I’d say he’s been the best half in the game over the last 5 years outside of Thurston and Cronk. Now that Thurston and Cronk don’t play Origin anymore, that makes Maloney arguably the best half in the game who is eligible for Origin – an advantage that NSW hasn’t had since Andrew Johns played. They would be idiotic not to capitalize on this advantage.

Freddy, just do the normal thing and pick James Maloney

I hope you’re right!

Freddy, just do the normal thing and pick James Maloney

I think the stance taken from Souths has little to do with Carney’s off-field record. Someone in the know at Souths told me that they don’t want carney at Norths because they want their young players playing halves at Norths. If Carney plays it’ll be at the expense of one of the up-and-comers and that’s what Souths have an issue with

Carney joins North Sydney Bears

Hi Scott,
I wasn’t aware that Slater was Storm captain this week. Congrats to him. I may be mistaken, but I feel like in the past that Cronk was always captain over Slater whenever Smith was out. So if that’s the case this probably means it’s Slater’s first time as captain.

Still, in many respects I think Slater is the best man for the job. My only issue with Slater being skipper is that QLD will be looking for a new captain again this time next year if they pick Slater now. Not that that bothers me as a New South Welshman. But objectively, I don’t think it’s a wise decision.

Smith's shock retirement exposes Maroons leadership vacuum

Whether Cordner is a good choice for captain or not is not really relevant. We’re talking about QLD. As it happens I do think Cordner was the right choice for the captaincy. I have seen nothing from Woods, Klemmer, Hayne or Maloney to suggest that they didn’t respect Cordner’s captaincy. Obviously Fergo and Dugan’s behaviour illustrates that they didn’t, but I’d say that the issue has more to do with them than with Cordner as both have a history of off-field issues. They had issues under Gallen too in 2013 (I think it was that year).

I think age has to be a consideration when selecting a captain. If Slater is made captain, then QLD will be looking for a new captain again in 12 months time. If one of Scott or Inglis are made captain, then QLD will be looking for a new captain again in 12-24 months time. If any of those three are the best options for captain this year then I guess they will be made captain. I’m just saying that most sport teams around the world pick long-term leaders. QLD would be setting themselves up for a tough situation in my opinion of they choose a player over 30 with well documented injury problems (which all three of those players are). Notice again how it’s not just age that’s the consideration – it’s injury problems too. As I said above, Gallen becoming captain at 30 wasn’t a problem because he had no history of serious injuries.

Smith's shock retirement exposes Maroons leadership vacuum

I’m just a nice guy Paul. Always happy to help in times of need 🙂

Smith's shock retirement exposes Maroons leadership vacuum

New Zealanders will be celebrating for the same reason as the English and the Blues. Greater chance of winning now without Smith in the team.

Smith's shock retirement exposes Maroons leadership vacuum

You’ve misunderstood my premise perhaps. I did not say that 30 is too old to captain. Obviously with age comes experience and greater leadership. What I did say is that 30 is perhaps too old to become captain because when you pick such an old captain, one will inevitably have to pick a new captain again very soon. At no point did I entirely blame age either. It’s also injuries. In the case of GI, he’s 31 and has dodgy knees. He’s not a long-term solution. Slater is 34 with a dodgy shoulder – not a long-term solution. Paul Gallen became NSW captain at age 30, but at the time had no history of serious injuries and we wound up getting 6 seasons out of him as captain. Now it’s Cordner, who is 25 and will be skipper for many years.

“Every Qld Captain has been over 30 for the last 11yrs”

Incorrect. Cameron Smith first captained in 2008 at age 25. He ascended to the role permanently in 2012 at age 29. Darren Lockyer was captain of QLD in 2004 at age 27.

Smith's shock retirement exposes Maroons leadership vacuum

I think the only player who can force Maloney from 7 to 6 is Cleary. All the other in-form options for NSW are five-eighths. It’s a shame how it’s turned out with Josh Reynolds. I always thought he had Origin written all over him. Still, he’s NSW’s only series-winning number 6 currently playing so at least he can say that.

As for your McInnes/Cook point. I don’t think it’s as left field as you say. The “Forward at 6” bit is and I probably wouldn’t go for that. But I’m of the belief that NSW don’t really need 4 forwards on the bench. These days pretty much every back-rower worth his salt is capable of punching out 80 minutes, while most quality middle-men (certainly the ones in contention for Origin) are capable of playing 50-60, even 65 minutes if necessary. Having 4 big-minute forwards on the bench plus 5 starting is actually bad for team balance I think. It’s frustrating for the players as they’re forced to share limited game time with equally fit players, and I feel there’s potential for them to struggle to get into the game in their limited minutes when they’re used to playing big minutes. I think it’s much better for team balance to pick 3 forwards plus Cook on the bench. As for starting hooker – I’m leaning towards McInnes (that’s probably my Dragons’ bias) but could be Koroisau (can cover halves so that’s a big advantage for him) or the incumbent Peats. Anyway, enough on that – I’m ruining my next week’s article!

Freddy’s NSW backline conundrum

Can’t say I support your “Tedesco on the wing” idea. But I like your halves. Obviously Maloney will be there. Provided that Cleary doesn’t come back and find superb form immediately, I’d have to pick Keary at 6. He looks really crisp and sharp running onto the ball out the back. He’s a great running 5/8th and will compliment Maloney very well I feel.

Freddy’s NSW backline conundrum

Interesting comment – I had considered including Jennings in this article (not in my side though) but then I saw his stats and decided not to. He’s been ok this year. But the thing about Jennings is he’s been there many times before. He’s easily NSW’s most experienced centre and I believe he would do the job. At this stage in his career he’s a very reliable player, and were there to be a few injuries to NSW’s centre stocks, he’s the sort of player (along with Josh Morris) who you could bring in to do the job as a one-off – irrespective of club form.

Freddy’s NSW backline conundrum

Yeah fair call, I really like Curtis Scott. He may be a bit young but he’s the sort of player who definitely wouldn’t let you down. He could be a bit quiet maybe, but he’s not a rocks or diamonds type player like Latrell Mitchell potentially could be. That said, I think Mitchell is vastly superior to Scott when they’re both at their best. Scott probably is more consistent though.

Freddy’s NSW backline conundrum

Fair question. The rationale for Tedesco is simple. He’s the incumbent. In his 4 games for NSW I don’t think he’s ever let the state down. He’s been one of NSW’s best players at times in his Origin career so far. And even though he’s not exactly setting the world on fire in club land, no other fullbacks are demanding to be picked. In this situation I think the only thing to do is go with the incumbent.

Freddy’s NSW backline conundrum

Yeah I think this year the kids will get a go. Now’s the time. Get em in to terrorize QLD’s old men while we still can.

1. Tedesco
2. Ferguson/Addo-Carr (Still undecided at this stage)
3. Tommy Turbo
4. Roberts
5. Mitchell/Mansour
6. Maloney
7. Cleary
8. Klemmer plus an offload or two
9. McInnes/Peats (very similar players, dead heat at this early stage)
10. Campbell-Gillard
11. Cordner (C)
12. Frizell
13. Jake Trbojevic
14. Tyrone Peachey/Damien Cook
15. de Belin
16. Vaughan
17. Graham
18. McLean

It’s a very inexperienced side. There are potentially 10 first-gamers. The backline especially is full of inexperience, which is why Ferguson and Mansour are still in my calculations. But I think now is the time to pick a side like this. In years gone by it wouldn’t have worked – it could have been disastrous. But now is the time. Do it Freddy! Let the kids at them!

Remember what they say Freddy; the kids are all right

I’m not putting their success down to luck. As I wrote, all the administrators, coaches and players have obviously worked very hard to achieve what they have. But they were it is luck that they happened to sign one of the greatest coaches of all time as an unknown, and three of the greatest players of all time as unknowns. And it has more to do with that, and their hard work, than anything that the NRL did in terms of planning and investment in GR to assist the Storm in their mission of expansion.

NRL expansion must take a bottom-up approach

Where am I factually wrong? What’s this false premise that I’ve made? Who are all these born and raised Melbournians who have made it to the NRL? It’s very easy to throw inflammatory words around with no substance.

I’m not saying it’s all luck that they’ve had success. You obviously didn’t read my article in full if you think that’s what I said. But the fact remains that in 2003 they signed a relatively unknown coach who turned out to be great. They signed three seventeen-year-olds who turned out to be great. Thanks largely to those 4 men (and others) they’ve had a lengthy and sustained period of on-field success, without which I don’t think they’d have the crowds or members that they have. And my point with Melbourne is that the NRL needs to plan better if they want to expand to new areas, rather than just plonk a team in Perth or Adelaide and hope that they happen to sign another Bellamy, Smith, Slater and Cronk. Lightning won’t strike twice.

I agree that GR has strengthened because of the Storm, but it’s taken 20 years to produce 2 NRL standard players. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that’s a very good strike rate.

NRL expansion must take a bottom-up approach

I believe the Storm are the exception rather than the rule. We’re very lucky that they’ve been successful for their entire 20 year history. I’m writing an article about it now (inspired by this one actually) about this viewpoint so I won’t go into it much, but I encourage you to read it, hopefully tomorrow it’ll be up.

Time for the NRL to expand and grow the game

Expansion needs to be done from the bottom up. I’m not sure what the right location/s are. I think QLD needs another team somewhere, be that Brisbane 2, Rockhampton, Cairns, Sunshine Coast, South Eastern Corridor? I’m not sure. Perth is an option. NZ 2 is an option. But anyone suggesting PNG, Pacific Islands or Adelaide is kidding themselves. Adelaide doesn’t have the following, PNG and PIs would be great in theory, but there are major logistical issues here such as travel, and attracting top Aussie/Kiwi players to go live in what are in many ways, third world countries. It’s just not going to happen. Having said that, I’m all for PNG in the QLD Cup, and Fiji will hopefully follow suit by joining the NSW Cup. Hopefully in the coming years Samoa and Tonga can join them. These countries having teams in reserve grade is really important as it will strengthen the overall player pool by giving local guys there a direct pathway to the NRL.

With Perth, I’ve noticed that they’ve got a team in the Jersey Flegg (U21s). This is exactly what I mean by expansion from the bottom up. PNG and Fiji should look to do the same, while Perth should look to get a team in the NSW Cup too in future. In fact, any team looking to enter the NRL should first be made to join one of the state leagues in both an U21s and all-age capacity as this will give a platform to local players and strengthen the overall depth of rugby league.

Time for the NRL to expand and grow the game

Look that’s a fair point. But to me it’s just a difference in selection philosophy. I guess you’re probably thinking about a bloke like Tyrone Peachey. Fair enough, he covers every position except front row. But let’s say instead of one of the backs getting injured, Cameron McInnes gets injured in the first minute. Would you rather have Peachey play for 79 minutes or Damien Cook? I’d prefer Cook, he’s a specialist hooker.

Bottom line is that injuries are unpredictable. I’m not a fan of picking blokes as pure injury cover – i.e. you don’t intend to use them or only intend to give them a few minutes of game time unless there’s an injury. My philosophy is that you should pick your best 17 and then cross the injury bridge if and when you get to it. And that’s not to say Peachey couldn’t play a genuine role in the best 17 as a back-up hooker to rip the game open when the forwards are tired. But I think Cook is better at that and that’s why I’d pick him.

Unfortunately for NSW, QLD have the luxury of having genuine injury cover within their best 17. As I wrote last week (https://www.theroar.com.au/2018/03/15/queenslands-origin-halves-dilemma/) I believe QLD’s best halves are Munster at 6 and Morgan at 7, with Hunt on the bench. Munster and Morgan can both play in the backs and Hunt provides a genuine halves and hooker option. They’re lucky. We don’t have that in what I believe is out best 17.

The reason for my philosophy of picking your best 17 is because you just never know with injuries. You could pick your side to have all this injury cover, then you get two backline injuries and you’re stuffed anyway. What happens if both McInnes and a back go down injured? You have to play a back rower in the centres then anyway. To me it’s just not worth picking pure injury cover. Plus, if Dugan isn’t picked then the NSW backline’s chances of getting through the game unscathed increase exponentially.

Why Damien Cook must play hooker for NSW in 2018

I think McInnes should start and Cook should come off the bench. McInnes is a tackling machine. He was the leading tackler in the NRL last year by a very long way and he had something like 98-99% tackle effectiveness – i.e. he doesn’t miss tackles. His service from dummy half is good – not great but I think it’s good enough. He’s young, his passing will improve. And he actually has a good running game too. We just don’t see it very much I believe because he’s required to play 80 minutes every week, so he saves his energy for tackling rather than running. Also, the way the Dragons’ game-plan is, McInnes’s running is not a focal point of their attack, but when he runs he generally makes very good meters – this means he is good at picking his spots. Also, if Cook is on the bench McInnes won’t play the full game which means he can exert more energy running the ball.

Cook is so well suited to coming off the bench in Origin. To me he’s not proven as an 80-minute hooker. He’s had that role twice in his career for two losses. But as an impact hooker he’s arguably the best in the game. He will thrive playing against tired forwards at the back end of each half. To me, McInnes starting and Cook off the bench is a match made in heaven, and Freddy would be mad not to go for it.

Why Damien Cook must play hooker for NSW in 2018

Ye I noticed that too. Really poor to sets in a row to get that wrong, even if it was meant to be a square up. Even poorer considering the whole ‘seven-tackle’ debacle that arguably cost the Cowboys their season a few years ago in the semi final against Cronulla. And I can’t believe it’s been completely covered up too!

Bennett takes shot at media after victory

nah channel 9 were right i went back over and watched it. 9 Started the count on tackle zero like they should have and they didn’t lose count. Ben Cummins must have started the count on tackle 1 by mistake.

Bennett takes shot at media after victory