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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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

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