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The Rovere Report
WORST DECISION BY A COACH: Winner Ricky Stuart from the Sharks for electing to flick Brett Kimmorley and Isaac De Gois despite both having stellar seasons for the club, and replacing them with Trent Barrett and Corey Hughes. Well-credentialed as the latter pair was, it proved to be a terrible deal for the Sharks with Kimmorley (Bulldogs) and De Gois (Knights) starring for their new clubs. Special mention goes to outgoing Rooster coach Brad Fittler for his bizarre selection of Braith Anasta at fullback which failed spectacularly.
WORST DECISION BY A MATCH OFFICIAL: The most keenly contested category but the winner was video referee Steven Clark for his outrageous ruling which denied a legitimate try to Jamal Idris which should have clinched the match for Bulldogs against the Dragons. Clark was dropped for his howler which ultimately cost the Bulldogs the minor premiership. Runner-up was Bill Harrigan in declaring Jarryd Hayne had stepped on the sideline in Origin I despite the lack of evidence.
WORST DECISION BY A PLAYER: Winner Warriors halfback Stacey Jones for his chip into the in-goal area after the halftime hooter which lead to a length-of-the-field try by the Bulldogs. Special mention to David Williams for putting a kick through on tackle zero with the match in the balance in Game II of State of Origin. It capped off a miserable debut for the Wolfman.
WORST LOOK BY A PLAYER: Ben Creagh's push and run in State of Origin Game III. The Dragons backrower would have lost a lot of respect in shoving a player to the ground than retreating at pace to avoid any retaliation. If you're the transgressor, you have to be prepared to stand your ground, not place your teammates in jeopardy with your actions.
WORST PERFORMANCE IN EACH POSITION
FULLBACK: Braith Anasta (Roosters). Appeared clueless when it came to positional play in both attack and defence.
WINGER: Matt Utai (Bulldogs). The chunky, vertically-challenged winger rarely played first grade and rarely wore headgear. They day he did both he had a shocker. Spilling high balls, dropping balls and missing tackles.
CENTRE: Steve Michaels (Broncos). Set a near record for missed tackles in the game against the Canberra Raiders where his team was flogged. It was the last time we would see Michaels in the seventeen let alone run-on side.
FIVE-EIGHTH: Ben Rogers (Knights). Not only had a poor match against the Raiders in Canberra but copped a suspension which potentially could see him take no part in the final series. Even if Newcastle progress far enough for Rogers to be eligible for selection, he has opened the door for Scott Dureau.
HALF: Brett Seymour (Sharks). Picked up the award for his misdemeanours off the field which eventually led to his sacking. The repeat offender who publicly apologised for his behaviour only to transgress not long after, gets one final chance to succeed as an NRL player when he turns out for the Warriors in 2010.
LOCK: Corey Parker (Broncos). Has had a strong season but like most of his teammates, turned in a low grade performance against the Raiders. This was a game that will definitely not be part of any highlight's package when he retires.
SECOND ROW: Manase Manafukoa (Cowboys). Had to be regarded as a second rower in order for a teammate to take out the prop award. Looked a player with enormous potential when playing at Souths but has been a bitter disappointment at his new club. There was not one bad performance, it was a season of ordinary efforts.
PROP: Antonio Kaufusi (Cowboys). Has there ever been a greater fall from grace? A marquee signing from the Storm, the ex-Kangaroo foward struggled all year to get a start on the bench let alone make the run-on side, this despite the Cowboys being major under-performers. Some tipsters had North Queensland winning the premiership yet they even lost their aura of invincibility at home with several poor defeats. For Kaufusi it was the accumulative effect of low standard performances that won him his award.
HOOKER: Robbie Farah (Tigers). Even by his own admission the brilliant number nine produced one of the worst games of his career in State of Origin Game II. For a player who sets such high standards, it was a shocking display which saw him get the hook during the game and subsequently replaced by Michael Ennis for Game III. It seems unfair to give the award to a player who in terms of the season, was among the best in the NRL. This was a one-off performance that I doubt you will ever see again from a player who will come into strong contention for the Australian squad for the end-of-the-year Four Nations tournament.