All posts by Ankletapped

Are the North Queensland Cowboys genuine spoon contenders?

North Queensland Cowboys lock Jason Taumalolo

Anybody who watched the first half of the North Queensland Cowboys v Wests Tigers game is probably thinking a few things.

Either the Tigers are a top 8 threat or the Cowboys are the worst team in the competition.

The Tigers are good and can definitely make the 8 this year but I think it is far more realistic that the Cowboys are the worst team in the competition.

I had predicted the Cowboys to get the spoon when I saw the six again rule change and looked at their big and slow forward pack.

Next thing I know they come out and blow the Titans off the park and win by 30 points.

So, for the entire next week, I thought maybe they aren’t as bad as I had predicted.

North Queensland Cowboys winger Kyle Feldt

Then the next week they lose to the struggling Sharks, followed by the over-performing Warriors, before that first half blowout against the Tigers.

Now we are left wondering if the Cowboys are as bad as I had initially predicted and are they genuine spoon contenders?

Predicting the wooden spoon is arguably harder than picking the premiership winner.

This is because it can come down to for and against points and other contenders might be playing against top teams resting players, so take this prediction with a grain of salt.

Now it’s time to talk about the main reason why I think they’ll win the spoon. Let’s discuss their schedule.

There are reports that coach Paul Green is facing the axe if he can not turn their season around quickly and if I’m being honest, I think he’s all but gone.

North Queensland Cowboys prop Jordan McLean

Over the next six weeks, the Cowboys have the toughest run in the competition.

They face the Knights, Eels, Roosters, Panthers, Sea Eagles and Raiders; this is also known as 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 7th.

That is a horror run of teams and they’ll consider themselves lucky if they can scrap a single win out of those six games.

But they do have 3 easier games that they are a real chance to win.

In rounds 13, 16 and 17, they come up against the Titans, Sharks and Dragons respectively.

These are very winnable games and crucial for them to stay away from the bottom of the ladder.

But they also face the Rabbits, Knights again, Storm, Panthers again.

North Queensland Cowboys prop Josh McGuire

Then, in Round 20, they come up against the Broncos who realistically should have turned their season around by this point.

I’m not saying they are definitely winning the spoon because the Dragons, Dogs, Titans, Warriors and Sharks could all fall apart at any moment.

However, with that ridiculously tough run over the next six weeks Green’s on the chopping block and basically their entire forward pack being laterally slow big bodies, it’s a possibility.

I think the $19 odds for them to take out the spoon is as good value as you’ll find in the NRL betting markets.

North Queensland Cowboys five-eighth Scott Drinkwater

 

Ankletapped’s View: Is one ref an improvement?

NRL Referee Ashley Klein

The first round of games with one referee is complete and there is plenty to talk about.

The six again rule has seen plenty of fast flowing footy which is what Project Apollo wanted.

I thought it was pretty inconsistent between games.

The first game was like watching touch footy with the speed.The second, Roosters v Rabbits game was only slightly faster than usual.

But overall, it seems like the six again rule did exactly what it was implemented to do.

I can only see it getting better over the coming months, provided the NRL is serious about getting consistency between games.

But what I really want to discuss is are we better off with only one referee?

Personally, I’m not convinced with this decision still.

It was clear that the referees and bunker have been instructed to make decisions as quickly as possibly and this limited the scrutiny on decisions.

But it only resulted in more errors, it’s just they are being disguised and forgotten about.

For instance, we see in the Souths v Easts game in the 10th minute of the game a ball bounce seemingly off the chest of Tedesco.

This is without the ball coming in contact with his arms which is then picked up and scored under the posts.

NRL Referee Matt Cecchin

Klein, obviously instructed to make decisions without using the bunker, ruled this a knock on and the Roosters were not awarded a try.

We then see in the Knights v Panthers game, the bunker incorrectly make a call after a captain’s challenge to award a penalty to Penrith.

This is after Edrick Lee “doesn’t give the Panthers player the opportunity to regather” his knock forward.

As well as Oates being punished in the back leading to a drop out, it makes you wonder whether fast decisions should be the objective or if we should strive for correct decisions.

I understand refs have to make a decision in the moment but all three of these instances had the opportunity to go up stairs (one of which did).

The aim is to get the correct decision but due to an attempt to speed up the game, they rushed the decisions.

NRL Referee Ben Cummins talking to Manly captain Daly Cherry-Evans

All I’m saying, is Ben Cummins has been CRUCIFIED online for changing his decisions on a 6 again call in the grand final.

A call which had no option but to go upstairs for review and all of a sudden we are all happy to cop bad calls that could be reviewed?

I don’t think the general public would be happy with a momentum shift in the dying minutes of a grand final because the ref doesn’t want to review something to get the correct outcome.

We saw in the Tigers game, the ref call a turnover before the final tackle and we are all willing to cop decisions like that?

NRL Referee Gerard Sutton

I find that very unlikely.

I would rather see the game go back to two refs.

One just hanging out behind play to help make critical calls that are in the blind spot of the main ref.

Our objective should be the least amount of time to get the most accurate decisions and at the moment, I feel like we are prioritising speed in decisions way too highly.

NRL Referee Henry Perenara

Ankletapped: Ranking the top seven NRL Commentators

Fox Sports commentator Warren Smith

Commentators are a controversial topic in the NRL and frankly, all sports across the world.

In the NRL, you have some people who love the commentary style of a vintage voice like Ray Warren.

Then, you have others who prefer the newer more generic sound of someone like Brenton Speed.

I’m here to rank the Top 7 commentators currently in the game whether they be the main callers or just analysts providing their insights.

Here’s my top 7 for 2020:

  1. Warren Smith – Honestly, this was a no brainer.
    In my eyes, Smith is leaps and bounds ahead of all the other main callers in the game and with it being the majority of the sound you hear then he had to take the #1 spot.

    I try to imagine his voice in my head and I can’t do it.

    I try to imagine a time where I have been pissed off at Warren and I can’t do that either.

    I don’t need some bloke hyping me up at home.

    I just want someone to call what is happening with a little bit of intensity and Smith does that to perfection.

    There’s certain commentators whose voice physically hurts you to hear, I don’t want to name names (RAY HADLEY) and Smith never makes me angry when watching.

    There’s arguments to be made about him not being exciting enough or not as iconic.

    Though if he commentated every game on TV, I think the ratings would be leaps and bounds ahead of where they are.

    As a Souths fan, I will never forget Warren yelling “you can take me now I have seen it all” and I’m forever grateful he was on the call for that game.

2. Cooper Cronk – I know Cooper has only really been retired for 2 rounds of Rugby League but this selection is more about what he does during the weeks.

Particularly on Fox League Live during quarantine, where he analysed the plays superbly.

He gives fans great insight while telling good stories of his career and he doesn’t think he is funnier than he is.

If you want to have a laugh, then Cooper probably isn’t for you but when he chooses to joke, it’s organic and not cringe like some commentators.

I honestly think Fox getting Cooper was one of the best decisions they have made in a long time.

3. Peter Sterling – Now I want to talk about one of the worst decisions Fox have made in a long time.

We obviously don’t know what caused Sterlo to return back to Channel 9.

Rumours speculated that it had something to do with a feud he had with Paul Kenet.

Which, if true, Fox made a horrific decision in who they kept and who they decided to let go.

Sterlo is a lot like Cronk in my eyes.

He provides good insight, he can have a laugh every so often but he just provides good quality content.

Sterlo is the only thing about Channel 9 having full coverage of Origin and the Grand Final that I appreciate.

I may cry myself to sleep tonight thinking about when I took Sterlo On The Couch for granted.

4. Matty Johns – I thought it was about time I put someone on the list who tries to really entertain the audience with comedy.

Some people really hate Matty and I can definitely see that but in my opinion he is a perfect mix of jokes and seriousness.

His podcast has provided some of the best in-depth conversations regarding League and all sports.

The episode where he interviewed former EPL player Craig Johnston was one of the more fascinating things I have listened to.

It really just highlights Matty’s ability to really entertain even without resorting to jokes.

Watch his The Session interview with Joey and you’ll see discussions that are really non-existent on television in Rugby League.

5. Andrew Voss – Most people really find Vossy to be very hit or miss, but personally it just depends on what mood I am in.

Also, I think it depends a lot on the type of game Vossy is commentating on.

When there is a lot of time to kill in the broadcast, maybe it is a Thursday night round 22 game between Cowboys and Dogs on a rainy ANZ track, then I find Andrew a bit insufferable.

But if it were a Game III of Origin then there’s not many I would prefer to make the call.

Vossy is a Rugby League icon; I just wish sometimes he would tone it down about ten percent.

6. Greg Alexander – Brandy is another bloke that isn’t gonna get too controversial and is just a likeable guy.

I don’t really remember him saying anything too iconic but I haven’t hated anything he has said and that really takes a lot.

Plus the occasional blowouts in his voice always give me a laugh.

7. Ray Warren – I really didn’t want to put Rabs on my list, there’s too many things I hate about his commentary.

I hate that he rambles on about the most basic things and gets amped over nothing.

I hate that every casual NRL viewer thinks he’s the greatest commentator that has ever lived.

I hate that he mixes up names of players that aren’t close e.g. that time he ruined a great Benji highlight by calling him Chris Heighington the entire time.

But I can’t deny how iconic Rabs is in the game so I had to include him on the list somewhere.

Breakdown – Fox is slaying Channel 9 for the best commentators.

Even if there are a few within their ranks that are completely insufferable.

Channel 9 is marketing towards the oldies and casual fans that don’t really know the difference between the voices.

Hopefully Peter V’landys makes a decision that is universally agreed upon and in the next broadcast deal, we see both 9 and Fox airing all three origins and the GF live.

Follow the writer @ankletapped on Twitter.

Former NRL player now Fox Sports Analyst Cooper Cronk

Current NRL players most likely to message teammates in retirement selling Chakra realignment vitamins

Former NRL player Adam MacDougall and his brand The Man Shake

We’ve seen a host of successful companies started by NRL/ Former NRL players over the past decade.

Brands like The Man Shake, YKTR and Bloke In A Bar are just some of the businesses that have gone mainstream.

It has shown us that guys like Adam McDougall, Denan Kemp and Corey Norman/ Isaac John/James Segeyaro can really innovate and start successful entities.

But we already know of those businesses, I want to talk about what players might look at these guys and think “I can do what they are doing with my knowledge of Chakra Realignment Vitamins”.

Here is my Top 5 most likely current players to become voodoo magic salesmen:

5. Suliasi Vunivalu – Word on the street is once you purchase vitamins off Suli, he will personally come to your house and knee them into your mouth.

Probably one of the most annoying blokes on the footy field and I can only guess he will be one of the most annoying off.

He seems like the kind of bloke to send you an unprovoked message on your birthday wishing you to have a great day and then segway that into a pitch about his ‘new revolutionary medicine’.

There’s plenty of blokes that I hate more than Suli in the current Storm team but with his high percentage of brain explosion, it was too hard to leave him off this list.

Melbourne Storm winger Suliasi Vunivalu

4. Kodi Nikorima – I don’t really have anything negative to say about Kodi’s personality like I do Suli’s.

The problems I have with Kodi come more with the fact he is a glorified bench utility that somehow keeps getting selected for the Kiwis.

It’s more of a vibe but I can just picture Kodi doing some Brad Fittler type relaxation sessions before realigning his chakras.

New Zealand Warriors half Kodi Nikorima

3. Adam Blair – Wow, Warriors back to back, bet you never thought you would hear that.

I think it’s safe to assume that most blokes that get invested in any of these health and wellness schemes have a bossy misso that wears the pants in the relationship and pressures them to use their connections to ‘help people’.

Now, I can’t say for certain that is the case in the Blair household but I have copped abuse from Adam’s partner for commenting negatively online so I can confirm she won’t be backing down anytime soon.

New Zealand Warriors veteran forward Adam Blair

2. Darius Boyd – If pyramid schemes in retirement were contagious respiratory infections, the Broncos 2015 squad would be the Ruby Princess.

I don’t want to continue to thrash Boyd when he cops it left, right and centre but I couldn’t leave him off this list.

We all remember that brief stint Darius spent as a vegan because he watched a documentary on the benefits.

It seems Darius is willing to try anything suggested to him to get better results and I could see him taking this same mentality into retirement.

If I’m being completely honest, I could see him getting positive placebo effects from magic vitamins.

Boyd seems like a nice enough bloke that he would try and share them with the world for $59.99.

Brisbane Broncos utility back Darius Boyd

Honourable Mentions 

Dylan Walker – Not the brightest bulb in the game and he appears to be an anti-vaxxer so he would seem to fit perfectly into this list.

I just felt he was more of a boxing gym owner or Paul Carter vitamin sales kind of bloke.

Ryan Matterson – We already know Matto is a Kevin Durant level snake so he would definitely not look out of place on this list.

I get the impression Matto will have burnt all his bridges in the NRL by the time he retires anyway so don’t know who he would be able to message.

Danny Levi – Nice bloke just gives off a chakra vibe.


1. Bryce Cartwright – Look this shouldn’t shock anyone after Bryce recently had a ‘bad reaction to the flu shot’ and appears to be falling further down the vaccinations cause Autism rabbit-hole.

The likelihood of Bryce sliding into the DMs of former classmates at Patrician Brothers’ College trying to realign their chakras or selling gift certificates to his wife’s Kinesiology business is significantly higher than him making a big defensive play in a Titans game.

I tried not to make an entire list of anti-vaxxers despite the fact there is a clear connection between anti-vax and chakra beliefs.

But I just couldn’t leave Bryce off this list.


Gold Coast Titans back-rower Bryce Cartwright

Follow @ankletapped on Twitter for some more comedic takes.