NICK TEDESCHI wraps up the week in rugby league in From The Couch.
PVL Saves The Day Again
Saturday loomed as a complete disaster when all three NRL games were cancelled with Queensland entering a snap lockdown. The Queensland Government acted with a heavy hand declaring no professional sport would be played for three days. There was talk that the NRL would need to leave Queensland, that the bubble had burst, that the season would be halted. By Saturday afternoon, all five games were scheduled to be played in Brisbane over the next two days. The game absolutely needs a driven leader right now. Lord knows where the NRL would be if it wasn’t for his astute leadership, political nous and financial sense.
The propaganda coming out of Fox in pursuit of its desire to deify Ricky Stuart would have made Korean Central Television blush in embarrassment, such was the utter whitewashing of history in ‘Ricky’. It was touted as an inside look at one of the most complex figures in the game but was nothing more than a romanticised propaganda reel that highlighted what a great bloke and great competitor Ricky is – both true, I’m sure – without dealing with any of the real self-imposed troubles he faced including his ending at the Roosters, his embarrassing end as Australian coach, his issues at the Sharks, his debacle of a year at the Eels or his poor record as Origin coach. It also didn’t really deal with the troubles he has faced this year. If Fox Sports just wants to be a propaganda machine, that is fine. But it cannot act like it has a 30-for-30 style documentary when it is just an overproduced fluff piece that was bordering on romcom territory.
Bellamy The Most Important Signing of All
There is no more important signing in Rugby League than Craig Bellamy. He is the greatest coach of all-time. He has built the greatest culture. He has long talked of retiring but he is going nowhere. This new crop has enthused him. He has an ability to transition to a senior football department role when he wants during his five-year deal but the smart money is on him coaching the team in 2030.
There is no doubt Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was a fine player in his day, courageous and skilful. The unabashed love being directed his way right now though is an embarrassment to Rugby League. No matter what way it is couched, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck turned his back on Rugby League to sign with rugby union, an unforgivable sin. He has also abandoned ship with the Warriors well before the end of the season. It is hard to understand why the Rugby League world feels the need to gush on him as many did with Sonny Bill Williams. It cheapens the game and all it stands for. He enjoyed an honourable Rugby League career but the way he has left has been anything but.
Fox Need To Do The Right Thing
A double on Monday night should see Fox NRL do the right thing and bring back Mr Monday Night Andy Raymond. Raymond is Monday Night Football. He is a genuine star who was completely stiff to be dumped by the channel. He needs to be brought back for one-night only.
A National Hero
Ryan Papenhuyzen became a hero to over punters everywhere when kicking a meaningless field goal to send the match over the total after fulltime.
2021 Field Goal Update – 21
Tyson Gamble kicked his first NRL field goal in a comfortable 37-18 win over North Queensland. Papenhuyzen also nailed his field goal.
Fun Fact #1
Nathan Brown is 30-82 since returning to the NRL in 2016.
Fun Fact #2
Brandon Smith is 65-15 as an NRL player – the best winning percentage of any player since 1980.
Fun Fact #3
The active player with the worst winning record is Danny Levi, who has a win rate of just over 23%.
Betting Market of the Week
Clint Gutherson will be awarded:
$501: Australian of the Year for his compassion to victims of crime
$501: Leader of the Year for his inspirational leadership
$201: Dally M Captain of the Year
$1.02: Worst thing to say to a teammate in 2021
Brandon Smith is the subject of a three-way tug-of-war with the Roosters, Bulldogs and Storm all looking to secure his services. The Roosters are favourites. Joey Manu is expected to knock back a million dollar offer from the New Zealand Warriors. Zac Lomax is reportedly on the outer with teammates and the Dragons club as the fallout from the infamous BBQ continues to rear its ugly head.
Moronic Coaching Decision of the Week
Ricky Stuart may not have a lot of resources at his disposal but playing Jordan Rapana at fullback has to be one of the worst selection decisions he could make. Fullbacks need to be calm players with vision. Rapana is a wild hot-head who throws in a complete inability to tackle into the mix. The Raiders are better off playing Caleb Aekins or trying the likes of Matt Timoko than playing Rapana at the back.
The Coaching Crosshairs
Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire will do extremely well to survive this week after one of the most embarrassing losses in club history. Needing to win to keep their final hopes flickering, the Tigers met a Warriors team missing 12 players including former Dally M Medal winner Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. The Tigers were utterly disgusting. They played without passion and without an idea. There is probably no team in the competition who understands less about the game than the Tigers. Recruitment and player development has been the purview of Maguire. Like it or not, this is Maguire’s team and they are a poorly constructed team that lacks nous, passion or commitment. The Tigers always take the easy option and it is not hard to make a case to axe Maguire, even if there are others who are more deserving.
The absolute best the Melbourne Storm looks is when they wear their purple jerseys with the yellow numbers. You don’t see many yellow numbers in the NRL these days so the Storm look a treat in them.
Kangaroo Tours are sadly a thing of the past but they should never be forgotten. The 1982 Kangaroo Tour was one of the greatest of them all. Here Rex Mossop, Noel Kelly and crew look at the opening of that famous Tour.