SEPTEMBER is here and that means Finals.
WITH the upcoming round marking the mathematical halfway point of the 2005 NRL Season, Fron The Couch runs the rule over the 15 sides and delivered the following grades on your team:
IT?S Origin Time and unless you?ve been hiding under a rock for the past 6 weeks you should be counting down the days til Origin I at Suncorp Stadium May 25th. Both teams have named very strong squads with the only significant injury absences being Andrew Johns, Mark O?Meley and Willie Mason for the Blues while Willie Tonga and Brent Tate are unavailable for the Maroons. And a host of talented players were overlooked which suggests we are in for a treat come Wednesday. In a special From the Couch we take an in-depth look at the players involved in Origin I.
ENERGYAUSTRALIA Stadium on beautiful Sunday afternoon provided the setting for FTC?s first road trip of the year as Newcastle hosted Canberra in their Round 8 clash. As a football specific stadium it has few rivals with the surface rising slightly out of the bowels of the two stands and the grassed hills at either end. The Western Stand throws a gradually increasing shadow over the field and creates a setting perfect for Sunday afternoon football.
WHEN the Sydney Roosters signed a then 20 year old Brett Finch in the winter of 2002, they were not just signing a talented halfback to play inside their star five-eighth Brad Fittler; they were investing in the future of their playmaking corps. Now into his third season as a Rooster, Finch is well and truly the present with Fittler?s retirement at the end of 2004. Last Friday night against the Bulldogs, Brett Finch showed why the Roosters brain trust made the right decision in placing their eggs in his basket.
In a game the Roosters had no right to win after 20 minutes when they were 16-0 down, the involvement of their now lone ?go-to-guy? was the decisive factor in their eventual come from behind 29-16 victory. Not only did he set up three of the Roosters five tries, but Finch was consistently touching the ball and organising his troops in and around the ruck, while his kicking game was outstanding. But words sometimes can appear biased, clich?d, overstated, unfair or they can simply underestimate a performance on the football field.
AS The Footy Show reported last Thursday Night, the Gold Coast Rugby League Bid Consortium has decided to pursue a new identity as they strive for admission into the 2007 Telstra Premiership. They have dropped the Dolphins name and logo and have begun searching for a new nickname. NSC approached the Bid Committee with the following suggestion last week:
AND when you?re not, you resemble the rabble that was the Brisbane Broncos last Saturday night in Melbourne. The clinical disposal of a Broncos side (that had similarly dispatched a quality Roosters outfit the week before) by a red hot Melbourne Storm team by a massive 50-4 score line, was so impressive that NSC has decided to look back at some recent games where one team clicked and it appeared the other didn?t know where the switch was.
THANKFULLY the NRL have already decided the future of John Hopoate by handing him a 17 week suspension for his karate chop like ?shoulder? charge on Sharks prop Keith Galloway in Round 2. Had the NRL and or Manly somehow dragged out the incident, ?Hoppagate VII? could have overshadowed the first half of the 2005 Season. Remember Danny Williams somehow managed to avoid being suspended straight away after king hitting Mark O?Neill last year, and the shadow that hung around the latter stages of the regular season failed to lift until the semi finals. Hopoate was a very good winger on his day who could share the workload of the forwards early in each set from dummy half but no matter what he brought to the game in terms of footballing skill, he let himself and his clubs down with other skills that we?d rather not see on the same field.
KICKING off ?From the Couch? (FTC) for 2005 with a swipe at the inconsistency of the NRL judiciary is not the ideal way to start the season but after Danny Nutley was suspended for two weeks for pulling out of a dangerous throw the issue must be addressed. Bagging one of the key components of the administration of Rugby League in Australia is something no one wants to do but with Nutley rubbed out over an incident that warranted only a penalty on the night something must be said. Apart from the Nutley and Keith Galloway (who should have faced suspension) case, it appears that when it comes to Round 1 every year high tackles are treated with the a stance which goes along the lines of ?given it is the first round we?ll forgive the players for not quite getting their technique right, and anyone who strays too high we?ll slap on the wrist?. And the NRL wonders why the fans lack genuine respect for the current judiciary system. Without going into a range of specific tackles that weren?t sighted (and there were quite a few) only Brett Kimmorley and Terry Hill were charged with careless high tackles. Both incidents bordered on reckless given Kimmorley jumped into his high shot on Luke Rooney, and Hill made no attempt to hit any part of Jerome Ropati?s body other than the young centre?s head. If we were in Round 13 I?m willing to suggest Kimmorley (who received on week only due to carry over points) and Hill would be facing at least two weeks on the sidelines for each tackle.
NICOLSON Sports Consultancy is excited to offer the inaugural NSC Rugby League Players Almanac for Season 2005 for FREE download on Leagueunlimited.com