NICK TEDESCHI wraps up the week in rugby league in From The Couch.

Gus The Saviour

In what can only be described as an extraordinary coup by a club that has become known for complete and utter mediocrity in recent years, Phil Gould will soon become Head of Football at Canterbury. A signature of his magnitude was needed as the club stumbled and bumbled along without a plan or a coach with an idea. Once the most ruthless club in the game, the Bulldogs have been a sad imitation of their reputation in recent years.

There is no question Phil Gould is a polarising character. There is also a fair argument to be made that he has lost some touch with the modern game considering some of his ridiculous comments of late. What there is no doubt about though is that he has a great footballing mind, he knows how to build a flowing torrent of talent and he is a complete prick in the best possible sense. 

Penrith are back to where they are now primarily because of Gould. The most important thing he did at Penrith was ensure the talented junior nursery would identify the best players, nurture them and turn them into first graders. That started with clearing out veterans but also focused on actually developing junior talent. This was abandoned at Canterbury under Des Hasler and has never really got going again.

While he has some ludicrous ideas, he is also the kind of figure Trent Barrett needs. He will offer insight and wisdom, sure, but Gould will also call Barrett out when he has a dumb idea and teach him how to harden up. He will guide Barrett away from trying to build a Supercoach team and actually try to pair up an identity for the team with the talent he has and the talent he is pursuing. 

Gould will also offer a hard edge that has been missing at Canterbury for a long time. The Bulldogs have too often missed out on players or been bullied around or finished down the bottom of the table. They try to be nice in an effort to hide that they are clueless. Gus gives them a clue and will give them a plan. 

Phil Gould may not be the salvation for Canterbury but he is the first bit of hope the club has seen in a long time. 

The World Cup Must Go On

It was incredibly pleasing to see organisers of the Rugby League World Cup push on despite the NRL doing its absolute best to undermine the competition by threatening to not send an Australian team and/or prevent NRL players from participating. The NRL’s approach to international Rugby League is utterly shameful. Australia may be the biggest team in the international game but their absence would not hurt the World Cup one iota, opening up the competition to a host of potential winners. The World Cup is one of Rugby League’s great showpieces. The NRL has done nothing but work against the international game in recent years including abandoning an attempt to rejuvenate the Kangaroo Tour, playing a limited international schedule and doing little to support the growth of the Pacific Nations. The World Cup must go ahead. If the Kangaroos don’t send a team or send a weakened version, so be it, it will be Australia who look like morons and the NRL who will look like bullies.

Saints Claim Elusive Trophy

St Helens have claimed their first Challenge Cup in 13 years with a 26-12 win over Castleford. The Saints overcame a 12-6 halftime deficit to win with James Roby the only player from the winning side remaining from the team that won in 2008. Challenge Cup Final day at Wembley truly is one of the great events in Rugby League.

Cowboys Must Keep Hammer at Fullback

There aren’t too many more overrated players in the NRL right now than Valentine Holmes. Holmes leads the NRL in handling errors, 10 ahead of second-place, as he continues to try to prove he is a fullback. He is a winger. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow played fullback against the Roosters and despite a heavy loss, he was outstanding. He was lively, instinctive and constantly looking for the ball. The Hammer might be Todd Payten’s best chance of keeping his job.

“Nature Boy” Lachlan Lewis

Ric Flair is the greatest professional wrestler of all-time and I’m sure he won’t mind his moniker being given to Lachlan Lewis after his obscene takedown of Cody Walker well after the halftime siren had gone. It was disappointing he didn’t whip the figure four leglock on him. Perhaps next time.

2022 Field Goal Update – 18

Sadly there were more eight-point tries this weekend than field goals.

Fun Fact #1

Just two teams since 2008 are blindly profitable when betting them in head-to-head betting – Melbourne +6% and Penrith +4%.

Fun Fact #2

Melbourne and St George Illawarra are the biggest unders teams since 2008, going under at 60%. The biggest over teams over that span are Canberra and North Queensland, who go over at a clip of 54%.

Fun Fact #3

Only one Sydney team has won the wooden spoon in the last six seasons.

Betting Market of the Week

Adam O’Brien’s next excuse for a Knights loss after blaming this week on a disrupted week being in camp despite 13 teams being disrupted and none more than the Melbourne Storm, who were arguably more hard done by than any team.

$3.00: The dog ate the game plan
$2.70: The Henny Penny gave the team food poisoning
$2.50: Carole Baskin threatened them
$401.00: We are a poorly coached, poorly constructed team

Rumour Mill

There is plenty of speculation doing the rounds that there was a lot more to the Jai Arrow story than is being reported. Joey Leilua has likely played his last game at the Wests Tigers. Anthony Milford appears set to join South Sydney in 2022. Tevita Pangai Jnr looks set to join Canterbury.

Moronic Coaching Decision of the Week

It was nothing but sheer arrogance and hubris that cost New South Wales a clean sweep over Queensland. The selections of Mitchell Moses and Jack Wighton over South Sydney pairing Adam Reynolds and Cody Walker was absurd. The Blues had built their success this year on a Top 4 club combination. They could have done the same in game three but Fittler chose to plump for his old Lebanon No.7 and a dreadfully out-of-form six from a team outside the Top 8. It was completely unnecessary. Fittler spoke a big game about wanting to sweep but clearly had little focus himself making such an absurd selection call.

The Coaching Crosshairs

Those familiar with the NFL and the inside-the-ropes show Hard Knocks are likely familiar with the coaching curse that has emanated from the show. Across the last six seasons, three coaches have been fired the season after the program aired while another was gone the following season. This does not bode well for Michael Maguire with ‘Tales From Tiger Town’’ set to air this week.

Jersey Watch

The NRL may have relocated to Queensland in a hurry but how we ended up with both the Storm and the Knights in their predominantly white jerseys is bewildering. White is not the predominant colour of either side. Surely each team travelled with more than one set of jerseys. The game as impossible for the colour blind.

Watch It

This week we go back 50 years to 1971 and the interstate clash between Queensland and New South Wales at Lang Park. NSW won 30-2 with referee Keith Holman sending off four players. There was no consultation either, the former international just firing the players to the dressing room and leaving the Maroons with just 10 players. The highlight was Queensland’s three-man scrum. Watch it here.