All posts by ricky

Wendell Sailor NRL Comeback?

Former Brisbane Bronco and Rugby Union convert Wendell Sailor is back in the news today, as speculation increases that St George Illawarra are close to signing the big winger.

With Sailor being based in Sydney now, and serving a drug suspension until May 2008 – it looked likely that Sailor would join Souths or Saints as opposed to going North to link up with the Broncos again.

Wendell Sailor will be 32 next year and the pressure will be intense on the one time game breaker to perform as all eyes will be on the ex-Rugby flank man. When Sailor left to play Rugby he was arguably the most powerful wide runner in the NRL, and previously as part of the Broncos back three – he would almost always bust the first tackle and then require an army to subdue him.

Will Wendell still have the fitness and skill to be a contender in the NRL? The Saints must think so, former Wallaby team mate Matt Rogers seems to have made the successful return to top line NRL – as with every game Rogers is improving and honing his once Kangaroo jersey earning skill.

Wendell is slightly older than Rogers, and his build has blown out slightly from the speedy wing days. Wendell claims to be training hard on his lonesome, but there really is no substitute for regimented NRL team sessions. As Wendell Sailor and Matt Rogers have claimed, the training and fitness requirements for the 15 man Rugby game fail in comparison to the high demands of weekly NRL.

Saints have hinted they will push Sailor into the forwards which makes sense, the big man able to take advantage of substitutions where possible. Injury is of concern to someone at Wendell’s age, just as Jason Smith has been nursed through the final few years of NRL maybe the same would be suitable for Sailor. He has been fairly durable in the past, and any team willing to sign him would surely build a safety net into any contract to cover for extended outages. St George should be building this into all of their players contracts, as they all seem to be watching games from the sidelines these days.

The experience and presence alone of Wendell Sailor at St George Illawarra will greatly help a team struggling for senior players, and he is someone that can implement coaches gameplans as proved in Brisbane. The negative for Wendell is that he won’t have the quality all around him as he did in his Broncos days. The forward pack and surrounding backs Wendell played alongside at the Broncos – where absolute world beaters and this had to assist his game. It’s also tough moving into the engine room of the forwards, its not glamorous work – certainly for someone with no experience there, that’s used to streaking down the sideline and scoring all the points.

There is no denying Wendell’s ability and I am sure he would be his own biggest critic, he will also be well prepared for all the media attention should he hit the NRL field again. Sailors profile will help the NRL, proving once again that Rugby League is the preferred game for players who have tried both codes.

Is Wendell taking a gamble by coming back for one more stint? I don’t think so. With everybody waiting for Wendell Sailor to fail, it will be the perfect motivation for the media loving big man – to train harder, push the boundaries and prove most pundits wrong in 2008.

NRL News, Info from Around the Grounds

The Grubber’s Rant:

Mark Geyer and the Warriors – So, according to his article in last week’s Rugby League Week, Mark Geyer believes that the Auckland Warriors (does anyone really call them New Zealand anyway?) should be excluded from the NRL.

Apparently they are not being well enough supported and the money saved from excluding them (this is seriously what he believes) would be better channeled into the grassroots of the code i.e. the country, in order to stave off attacks from the AFL.

Now I’m all for supporting league in the bush and I commend Gus Gould for trying to make this a serious issue. What I can’t understand is what kicking the Warriors out of the comp (and thereby losing one of the key points of difference that the NRL has over the AFL) would do to save junior development?

Sure, the NRL could reapply the grant given to the Warriors, but can you imagine the other 15 teams allowing that? Whats more, we’d lose a key foothold in a market that we would most likely never be able to regain. Geyer makes a number of criticisms of the Warriors, namely their poor crowd figures and lack of on-field success (citing only three finals appearances since their entry into the competition in 1995, which is in fact one more than the Cowboys).

As for the criticism of on field performance, I think the Warriors are a little hard done by. They made a grand final in 2002, and were competitive in one of their other finals campaigns (more than can be said in recent times for the likes of Cronulla, Canberra and Souths). As for their crowd figures, this is a valid criticism. Their crowds are woeful. But can you really blame their fans?

Before the 2006 season even kicked off they had already been docked 4 points (the exact margin they missed the finals by) and are regularly the victim of unfavorable scheduling in the interests of Australian Pay-TV. On top of that, they are probably the most soul-destroying side in the NRL.

They routinely lose matches in the dying stages, seemingly have no structure and only just broke a 6 game losing streak. OK, so the club has been through a rough trot in the last few seasons, but if that alone made you a candidate for extinction then we might start to look at Geyer’s Panthers a little more closely too.

Rugby League is cyclical (in fact the cycles seem to be getting shorter and shorter under the salary cap) and I don’t think that the Warriors are too far away from tasting some success. Where will Geyer be then? What’s his next rant? Banning all redheads from the NRL?

Origin III Do we have to play this game? I mean, who really cares other than a bunch of people who still can’t come to grips with daylight saving? I’d like to scrap Game III where the series is already decided, or let’s have the NSW selectors go wild and pick a bunch of up and coming kids. Kind of like the dead rubber in reverse singles at the Davis Cup. The experience would do the youngsters good and might improve the depth of playing stocks for NSW in future years. Also, we wouldn’t have to suffer through another Bye round without the real stars of the NRL.

Rooster Anthony Tupou named as the alleged biter from the Sydney City / Penrith match, the NRL review committee naming Tupou in it’s report. While Panther Nathan Smith alleged he was bitten during the match, whats the point if you won’t name the culprit? Simple case of don’t cry if you aren’t ready to name and shame. Biting and eye gouging are low acts, if someone tries it on during a game – name them! It’s the only the way to stop it happening in the future. Maybe the NRL should bring in a rule to state if an allegation is made on match day, and the accuser won’t name names – then a penalty against the accuser is given? This will stop the rot pretty quickly.

David Faiumu signs to extend with the North Queensland Cowboys, his deciding factor – he feels the Cowboys are on the verge of a premiership. I’m sure David must have signed the contract 3 weeks ago – because the last 2 weeks have shown the soft underbelly of the Cowboys. Their reliance on a few key players is dangerous for any club. JT is obviously their main man, but O’Donnell is sorely missed and Carl Webb is taking time to find top gear since his injury. They are also feeling the effects of Paul Bowmans absence in defence.

Ben Hornby and Jason Ryles get extended deals with St George Illawarra. Ben Hornby, an absolute star – worth every cent. He is durable, creative and versatile – unlike some Saints teammates, Hornby is rarely injured. Jason Ryles on the other hand has had a shocker over the last few years, plenty of injuries, limited quality when on the park. I hope Doubst and Brown know what they are doing. Seriously, Ryles rarely plays half a season of games and when he does play he usually leaves the field early due to problems anyway!

Craig Wing has been snared by the South Sydney Rabbitohs for a long, long 4 years. Souths are reported to be flirting with Salary Cap danger – but Souths have tapped Joe on the shoulder and asked him to step aside for 2008. Galuvao is apparently on $300,000 per season and his leaving would allow Souths to breathe easy.

Bulldogs are still in the news today, finally some positives – with troubled star Ben Roberts ringing club fans to apologize for his wayward behavior and that of his teammates. Maybe Malcom Noad should keep supporters phone numbers on speed dial – they are sure to need them again soon.

Wendell Sailor in talks with St George Illawarra Dragons regarding a comeback next year. More on this in a full NRL News article.

Todays Sponsors:
Sonny Bill Williams Information

NRL Round 14 Power Rankings

* NRL Round 15 Full Team Lineups – Click Here *

NRL News presents ‘The Grubber Report’. This week the Grubber braved the rain around the grounds, to bring us his expert insight into how your team is travelling. Melbourne and Manly remain comfortably atop the NRL Power Rankings ladder, however the big movers are the Brisbane Broncos as they accounted for the hapless Dogs.

1. Melbourne Storm: Surely their capture of back to back minor premierships is now a mere formality. Will be sweating on Cronk’s injury however to ensure that momentum is not lost in the coming weeks. Power score: 9/10, Number of times Ryan Hoffman is likely to kick again this year: Once, maybe twice (if he gets caught with the ball on the fifth).

2. Manly Sea Eagles: Got the job done in the wet against Souths and showed great commitment to back up from the bye and Origin. Still suffering from injuries and face a real test against desperate Bulldogs on Friday night at the Fortress. Power score: 8/10, Number of times ground announcer Grant Goldman said “Beeeaaaver” on Friday night: 917.

3. Brisbane Broncos: Origin stars showed great class to outmuscle and out skill the Bulldogs. Will be dangerous if they can put some form together prior to getting over the Origin hump. Power score: 7.5/10, Odds of Broncos somehow (again) defying the salary cap and managing to keep Seventycentsalitre 2-1.

4. Parramatta Eels: Did enough to beat St George-Illawarra, but poor execution cost them several scoring opportunities. Seem to be warming up to another dominating effort however Tim Smith needs to challenge the line if they are to be a premiership threat. Power score: 7.5/10, Brain explosions by Nathan Hindmarsh last Sunday: 15.

5. Wests Tigers: Couldn’t control the ball when it counted on Sunday and accordingly went down to gallant Gold Coast side. Missing Hodgson and will eagerly await his return. Power score: 7.5/10, Odds of Wests Tigers management experimenting with any more Russian players: 100-1.

6. Gold Coast Titans: Scored probably the greatest victory in the history of the franchise with nail-biting win against feeder side the Wests Tigers. Will be at short odds this weekend with return of Preston Campbell. Power score: 7/10, Odds of Richie Mathers returning to the NRL: 50-1.

7. New Zealand Warriors: Finally got it together to beat Cronulla. Still have issues with finishing on the 5th tackle and will be keen to make it two wins in a row. Power score: 7/10, Odds that Mt Smart Stadium crowd will exceed 12,000 in rare Friday night clash: 10-1.

8. Canterbury Bulldogs: Suffering on-field issues as a consequence of off-field drama. Need to bounce back against Manly this Friday (and are well capable of doing so) in order to save their season. Power score 6.5/10, Odds of Manly officials improving “this way to Men’s bathroom” signage in dressing rooms before Friday’s clash: 2-1.

9. Cronulla Sharks: Kimmorley and Dykes struggled to find options in error riddled display against Warriors. Face a test this weekend against resolute Souths defence. Power score: 6.5/10, Number of Sharks fans who travelled to UK on working holiday/”gap” year and brought back English Premier League soccer songs and chants, thereby influencing far-weather Cronulla fan base: 3.

10. Newcastle Knights: May have overcome off-field issues with 80 minute performance against Raiders. Will be concerned with injury to Josh Perry that may leave him grounded in Pasha Bulkar fashion. Power score: 6.5/10, Odds that Danny Buderus will represent anything (other than maybe the Country Origin) side after this season: 100-1.

11. North Queensland Cowboys: Smashed for the second week in a row and fans will be asking if another slide is on the way. Would be expected to bounce back this weekend with Graham Murray back at the helm. Power score: 6/10, Odds that another “sexual misconduct” rumour will start if the Cowboys drop another game: 8-1.

12. Sydney City Roosters: Showed great commitment and patience to snatch last minute victory from the Panthers. Pearce well and truly avenged his sister’s groping at hands of leery Gower. Power score: 6/10, Number of weeks before Ricky Stuart writes an article explaining that Nate Myles is now the new Adrian Morley: 2.

13. Canberra Raiders: Finally turned up ready to play two weeks in a row but lacked poise when required against Newcastle. Back at home this weekend and have a great opportunity put some points on the board against the woefully out of form Cowboys. Power score: 6/10, Odds of Canberra ever luring another representative player to the Nation’s capital: 100-1.

14. South Sydney Rabbitohs: Wasted multiple opportunities on the edges against Manly and never really looked like scoring in the second half. Will take heart from their defensive effort though given sustained Sea Eagles attack. Power score: 5.5/10, Odds that Dean Widders will be encouraged to kick at the end of a set after Friday’s effort: 1000-1.

15. St George-Illawarra Dragons: Put themselves in a position to win against Parramatta but ultimately their halves in Soward and Williams showed themselves unable to deliver the decisive play. Will try yet another halves combination with Williams Penrith bound. Power score: 5/10, Odds that Richie Williams will be sought out by the media for comment before matching up against Dragons: 2-1.

16. Penrith Penrith: Struggled again to mount pressure and are probably the easy beats of the NRL at the midpoint of the season. Must improve handling and offensive execution if they are to avoid the spoon. Power score: 4/10, Odds of Panthers dropping the name “Penrith” and replacing it with “The ill-disciplined”: 230.

Yours in League,
The Grubber

Sonny Bill Williams Urinates in Cronulla

Bulldogs and Kiwi International forward Sonny Bill Williams is again in the spotlight, after being caught by Police urinating in public after attending a night club in Cronulla.

Fresh from the Toilet incident with Candice Falzon, where Sonny Bill Williams photos and pictures spread around the world – this latest incident is sure to hurt Williams and Bulldogs who are already under fire for poor performances and constant media headlines.

Williams was allegedly at Cronulla nightclub ‘Fusion’ during the evening on Saturday night and after being hassled by club goers at various stages of the night – he decided to leave the venue and move on.

Sadly, the alcohol affected Williams relieved himself in public view – with the ‘wee’ catching the attention of local Police who took Williams into custody and fined him $650.

Sonny Bill is reported to be devastated by the latest incident, and has spoken to club officials at the Bulldogs about staying off the alcohol until such time as he can handle himself appropriately.

From the the Sonny Bill Williams and Candice Falzon photos and pictures affair, to Ben Roberts and Willie Tonga curfew ignorance, then Sonny Bill Williams going the ‘wee’ by urinating in public at Cronulla and now Ben Roberts getting arrested for drink driving – The Bulldogs clearly have massive issues, and these need to be dealt with pretty quickly for the clubs 2007 and futures sake.

Malcom Noad needs to sanction his stars or risk his own job – the former News guru being brought in to clean things up and take a hard stance.

In the NRL scheme of things it only gets harder, the Bulldogs have a seriously tough task this week – heading to Brookvale to take on the competition leading Sea Eagles. The Dogs usually lift for big matches, but Manly and Brooky is a massive ask for an out of sorts Bulldogs.

It’s only a matter of time until we see those ‘Dogs of War’ headlines again – lets just hope their aren’t anymore casualties of war as the Bulldogs carnival rolls on.

Monday Night Review

New Dawn for Newcastle
Knights 22 def Canberra 18

The new era for Newcastle was unleashed last night by Brian Smith, as young stars Luke Walsh and Jarrod Mullen paired up at the scrumbase – lifting Newcastle to an impressive win over inconsistent Canberra.

As predicted the Canberra Raiders, were their usual inconsistent self – failing to deliver the goods away from the cold of Canberra.The Raiders look to have the skill, depth and coaching to achieve a top 8 berth in 2007, however it must be a mental block preventing them from winning away from the ACT.

Alan Tounge again showed his value, involved in everything and scoring the first try (which was amazingly disallowed by video Referee Steve ‘Terminator’ Clark). The unfashionable Tounge is the driving force behind the young Raiders and is the glue keeping the green machine together. Young fullback Zillmann had a poor game tonight, the young fullback has plenty of potential but again his positional play was under question. He plays very deep, and invites chip kicks from opposition sides. Sure, he has speed to burn – but it caught him on when Tighe ran around him to score and seal the game. Big forward Scott Logan needs to throw the shoulder charge out his game, aggression is good – but the big bopper tends to let aggression get in the way of smart play – and it’s going to cost the Raiders big time soon.

The Knights fought well to overcome their own demons, and they obviously have had a lot of baggage this year to get past. With some familiar faces back in the team, and the new scrumbase pairing on show – all things look good for Newcastle in the future. The fact that Luke Walsh and Jarrod Mullen have spent plenty of time together in the junior grades is such a bonus and will speed up the introductory period nicely for the Knights. The option of two play makers, one left and one right foot kicking game makes things difficult for opposition teams and the sublime 40/20 from Mullen last night is a sniff of things t come.

The Knights forwards were impressive, with Steve Simpson very physical and aggressive – giving confidence to youngsters such as Patterson and Bailey. The back 3 for Newcastle were also in the zone, gaining big metres and threatening at every opportunity. The Penrith bound Brad Tighe will be a loss for the Knights, the athletic and speedy centre looking the goods last night and through the year.

The Knights started nervously, and Gidley’s hands didn’t help things – but as the game wore on the confidence grew. Looking to the future, I think this scrumbase combination of Luke Walsh and Jarrod Mullen has the opportunity to rival that of Sterling and Kenny or Mortimer and Lamb. Sure, big calls there – but with their skill levels and understanding of each other, the sky is the limit for the Knights.

Next week the Knights must travel away to face the in form but injury battered Gold Coast Titans and the Raiders must be excited to face the hapless Cowgirls, I mean Cowboys – down in the ACT to get things back on track for the green machine.

NRL Ladder Points Table Round 14

After round 14, the NRL points table ladder in 2007 looks like this. A congested ladder, apart from Melbourne Storm and Manly clearing out – everyone else is within striking distance of each other. Estimations this year, that 26 points may be enough to secure a top 8 finals berth in the NRL. Interesting to note the byes available. The Storm, Eels, Cowboys and Sharks all owed 2 points.

Club PTS
1 Storm 14 24
2 Sea Eagles 13 24
3 Eels 14 16
4 Wests Tigers 13 16
5 Titans 13 16
6 Cowboys 14 16
7 Knights 13 16
8 Sharks 14 14
9 Raiders 13 14
10 Broncos 13 12
11 Rabbitohs 13 12
12 Warriors 13 12
13 Bulldogs 13 12
14 Roosters 13 12
15 Panthers 13 10
16 Dragons 13 10

NRL News This Week

What’s coming up this week on NRL News;

* Latest NRL Tables after Round 14 Finishes
* We discuss the Monday Night Football Match between Canberra and Newcastle
* The now famous ‘Grubber Report’ reviewing NRL Round 14
* We look at the NRL Top 8 and make some predictions for NRL season end 2007
* Penrith Panthers – we discuss why things are woeful in the west in 2007.

NRL Round 14 Sunday Summary

Eels beat Dragons in an ugly one
Eels 20 def Dragons 12

The Eels accounted for the Dragons today at Parramatta Stadium after enduring a dour affair where both sides looked like Jim Beam Cup outfits battling for victory at a suburban park.

The Eels poor record in day games looked set to continue with limited possession early and a severe lack of focus during the first 3/4 of the match. Entering half time at 2-0 it was certainly a low scoring affair – and when the Dragons scored midway through the second half it looked like it might be enough to take the match.

However, a late surge from the Eels on the back of spirit from some tough Mark Riddell charges and an impressive match from young forward Josh Cordoba – enabled the home side to skip away from the Dragons by a safe buffer.

Its hard to say a lot of nice things about either side, with both guilty of bombing certain tries and taking poor options at crucial stages. The kicking game from both halves was average and the frustration nearly boiled over – with players coming together for several melees.

The Dragons can take heart in the fact that Jason Ryles completed a full game without injury and any major errors – hopefully the big forward can gain back the confidence that previously made him one of the best forwards in the country. Richie Rich played well again for the Dragons, and complemented Soward well – the combination looks to have a future if the forwards can lay better platforms.

The Eels looked to be carrying some minor injuries with Brett Finch and Eric Grothe hobbling at times and just doing enough to get by, the Eels also lost workhorse Daniel Wagon prior to kickoff with the veteran having a bad case of the flu. The Eels do miss the roving utility as he plays a good sweeping role in defence and is very settled in attack – allowing the Eels to get the most out of their set plays.

The Eels now move back into the top 4 and have 16 points with a bye still in hand. The Dragons remain alone on the foot of the ladder – with only 10 points for the year.

Titans tough it out, to pip Tigers
Gold Coast Titans 16 def Wests Tigers 14

The Wests Tigers were upset over at Campbelltown Stadium with the Gold Coast Titans just doing enough to take the points in a topsy turvey affair.

Ironically it was the return of Scott Prince and Anthony Laffranchi to Tiger town that caused the upset win. Prince was at his scheming best, and when he put on his trademark show and go 5 times across field to setup a Titans try – it was an old Tiger move that came back to burn them. Laffranchi was a workhorse up front, getting through a tonne of tackles and giving the Tigers forwards headaches all day.

The Tigers were looking good in the first period but seemed to go flat in the latter half of the game. Matt Rogers did his bit, with a double swag of tries to the visitors and in the end, the 16 point haul was just enough.

The Tigers attacked hard in the final 10 to close the 6 point gap, scoring a try through brutal winger – Taniela Tuiaki. Tuiaki is an awesome sight in full stride, Matt Rogers must have had nightmares as the big, strong winger charged at him to score in the final 10 minutes. There was no way anyone could have stopped the big unit from 10 metres out.

The Tigers then threw in Shannon O’Donnell to take the kick at goal, opting not to use sharp shooter Dean Collis. Collis had missed some earlier shots, but previously his 100% record showed he had the credentials to make the kick. The move proved to be the wrong one, with O’Donnell missing from the sideline – leaving the Tigers 2 points adrift.

It was the one that got away for Wests, they remain on 16 points and the Titans now move to the same amount. The NRL Points Ladder table now hosting a few teams on 16, Eels, Cowboys, Tigers, Titans. The winner of tomorrow nights match Canberra or Newcastle will also join the brigade on 16.

Roosters kill Panthers in last 30 seconds

A plucky Sydney Roosters side tonight ‘got out of jail’ – with Mitchell Pearce scoring a try in the final 30 seconds of the match to steal the win.

Pearce stripped Gower one on one and raced away to score a try that will surely tear the heart out of Matt Elliott and his Panthers.

In a match that didn’t really reach any great heights, it seemed Penrith would walk away safe winners after some controversy early on. Sadly we saw some ‘milking’ of penalities and Paul Aiton faking injury to get possession. The NRL must intervene now to prevent more of this.

The Roosters winning 24-20.

In North Queensland, the Melbourne Storm blew through the tropics and crushed all hope – with the Storm putting on a clinic, wiping the floor 58-12 with the hapless Cowboys. Graham Murray, still reeling from the NSW Origin loss must now try and rebuild confidence and keep the Cowboys season on the rails.

The Storm were brilliant across the park, with most players looking dangerous with every touch. The only blemish being a selfish charge from Israel Folaou which probably prevented more points. Folaou choosing not to pass to open support players in the hope he could score himself. The Storm rested Dallas Johnson and Brett White but were still formidable, new recruit Clint Newton having a strong game and scoring his first try for his new club.

Braith Anasta Origin Pressure

John Chelsea

NSW State of Origin five eight Braith Anasta continues to feel the media pressure along with former super star Jamie Lyon as the fallout from State of Origin 2 continues.

Anasta has been trashed publically by former Origin hooker Ben Ellias. Ellias claims that Anasta did not ‘put in’ during his game time for the NSW Blues. The media in Sydney went into frenzy after Ellias made the statement ‘Anasta and Lyon should hand back their paycheques for Origin 2.’

I think in this instance Braith Anasta has been hard done by. Regardless of performance, the committment of Braith Anasta simply cannot be questioned. Love him or hate him, the guy played his guts out and soldiered on with a broken hand for a good part of the match.

After Origin, there is always plenty of emotion. The NSW representatives were beaten by smarter, more skilfull opposition. The 26 players on the field at all times gave every ounce of their ability – but frankly from some that skill level wasn’t good enough to dominate.

The Anasta complaints from Ellias are ill-directed, Benny should be questioning coach Graham Murray as to why Anasta wasn’t told to leave the field once the hand was broken. While valliant of Braith to soldier on, an injury such as this – is just enough to give the opposition a slight edge. With Greg Bird sitting idly on the sideline, he should have been injected immediately after half time to give thrust and mongrel to a tiring backdrop.

There were a lot of coaching substitutions that were questionable during NSW Origin campaign in game 1 and game 2. When looking to next year and a possible new coach, who is there on offer that really has the nous?

Tim Sheens? Exceptional player management and rotation, but probably not the personality for Origin passion.

Brian Smith? Tactical Expert. His school teacher style may put doubt into Origin players.

Ricky Stuart? Perfectionst. Players respect Ricky, but would they die for him?

The only real choice is Phil Gould.

Gould is the only one who can combine the skill of correct selection, rotation and injection of pride and passion that NSW so dearly crave. Gould and his war stories are well known. It is said Gould can spin a yarn before a game, or at half time and have players eating up his every word. Gould lives and breathes NSW and Origin – his passion cannot be questioned.

Phil, we need you baby. Sign up and lead us back to victory.