FIRE DOUSED | After returning to finals action in 2015, the St George-Illawarra Dragons struggled un...
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BELLAMY AND CO FACING A STORM
Blues coach Craig Belllamy will most certainly along with the selectors be sacked if New South Wales loses the Origin series. They might as well expedite the process by "falling on their swords" prior to going to the final game at Suncorp which will be little more than a Maroons' celebration of a record four series wins in a row..
Bellamy's poor handling of the interchange and flawed tactics and the inclusion of certain players over others with better credentials, will seal their fate. The Storm coach got the gig based on his performances at club level, but what seems to be missed by those making the appointment is Bellamy has had amazing rosters in which to work with yet has only one title to show for it.
Melbourne were diabolical in last year's grand final - a record 40-nil annihilation. Forty-nil. Forty points to zero points. The Storm were clueless in the most lopsided and dull premiership decider since for as long as I can remember - about 30 years.There were even Manly fans who rejoiced the victory but lost interest in the game such was the inevitably of the result.
That despite having a 17-man squad that was chockful of internationals and Origin players even allowing for the unavailability of hooker Cameron Smith. In my opinion, Bellamy's ability as a topline coach has been glossed over by the array of great players he has at his disposal.
Imagine if it were Brian Smith and not Craig Bellamy who was the recipient of such a crushing defeat? It would have been a case of unleash the "attack dogs" and don't come back until you have Smith's head on a platter - metaphorically of course.
Melbourne Storm have four players in the Queensland side yet guess how many internationals and Origin players will turned out for the Storm against against the Tigers this weekend? Ten.
Talk about having the cattle. Bellamy's had the pick of the herd throughout his tenure at the club.
MOORE OF THE SAME, KEVIN
Kudos to Kevin Moore for the way he has moulded the Bulldogs outfit into genuine premiership contenders. What a story! From worst to first in the space of a few months. Sure the club recruited some quality players for key positions but even the most optimistic forecast had them challenging for the Top Eight at best.
The club received a degree of criticism for appointing the son of the late great Peter "Bullfrog" Moore to replace the outgoing Steve Folkes, but boy oh boy hasn't he made his detractors "eat their words" and some. There was one well known commentator and former player who felt the club erred in not signing Wayne Bennett and whilst the Bronco legend has the Dragons sailing along at the top of the ladder, it's only an 18-point differential that separates them from the Bulldogs.
I dare say Moore's salary would be dwarfed by Bennett's so on the score of value for money the Bulldogs are way, way in front. And it must noted that Bennett has, as was the case at the Brisbane Broncos, a terrific roster to work with - one full of representative players both at international and state level.
Take at look at the names:- Internationals at the Dragons include Darius Boyd, Matt Cooper, Jason Nightingale, Chase Stanley, Ben Hornby, Jeremy Smith, Ben Creagh, Luke Priddis and Wendell Sailor. Origin players include Justin Poore, Michael Weyman and Neville Costigan. Then there's Brett Morris, Jamie Soward and Beau Scott who have made minor representative sides, that are very much in the frame for future New South Wales sides. It is arguably the most powerful roster in the NRL.
Bennett is an outstanding coach and has the Dragons playing at a very high standard, but a squad of this quality is a very nice way to start your assault on the premiership.
WOLFMAN A HOWLING SUCCESS
David "Wolfman" Williams is a real character of the game - and a terrific winger. His incredible try-saving tackle on Penrith's Lachlan Coote - after the player had escape his clutches not once but twice, brought back memories of a similar amazing tackle by former Australian rugby union captain George Gregan many moons ago. The image of a baby-faced Gregan bungling big All Black winger Jeff Wilson into touch when he looked certain score has been etched into the minds of all sports fans - not just rugby followers.
It was such a stunning effort that when there was talk of Gregan being dropped, mere mention of "that" tackle enabled him to fend off the challengers. Some critics of Gregan which include yours truly, felt the diminutive number nine was given a charmed run by the selectors given the player had a mediocre kicking and running game.
The tackle by Williams on the weekend was fabulous, but surely the claim by veteran rugby league commentator Phil Rothfield that it was what catapulted him into the New South Wales' team and nothing else, is a bit rich. Williams has been one of only a handful of Manly players whose form has been of a high standard all season.
It's no coincidence that Manly's improved position on the premiership ladder has been on the back of a string of excellent performances by the bearded winger. It's a great sight, the Wolfman in the clear with a beaming smile as he races in for a try.
You can rest assured if the Blues win, the Wolfman will have played a key role in both attack and defence. He was a surprise omission from Game I with the selectors going with Jarryd Hayne and James McManus. Hayne was great and McManus, whilst he was a worthy choice, did have an unhappy game though in his defence had limited chances to impress.
JASON NOT TAILOR-MADE FOR COACHING
If there is a coach whose "under the pump" more than Jason Taylor at South Sydney than I'd like to know who. For the quality of the roster, the Rabbitohs are the most under-performing team in the competition and the head coach should be held accountable.
The combination of curious selections and even more curious match tactics, has severely dimmed the confidence of Souths' supporters who went into the season feeling their side were genuine title contenders after solid recruitments over the off-season and the bonus of picking up star backrower Michael Crocker.
Former player and radio personality Peter Tunks has been highly critical of Taylor's coaching methods and calls from Souths' fans to his show, Talkin Sport on 2SM, suggests the ground swell of discontent is growing by the week.
Tunks says the suprise sacking of assistant coach Mark Ellison - considered part of the fabric at the Rabbitohs - was he felt an indication that Taylor was unwilling to take ownership for his team's poor performances and a style of play which the former Test prop says badly lacking in imagination.
Souths' "tragic" Darren, a regular caller to the Talkin Sport program who travels to games as far away as Townsville, has been another vocal critic of Taylor's handling of his beloved club.
With a forward talent full of internationals and a backline boasting both speed and talent, anything less than a semi-final's berth and it can be considered a failed season by the Rabbitohs leaving many questions to be asked of the club.
And the one at the top of the list should be:- "Is Jason Taylor the coach who can bring us a premiership within the next two years?
If the team misses out on the Top Eight, it won't by just Peter Tunks and Darren whose unequiviocal answer to that question will be a definitive "no'.