All posts by ricky

Most NRL Fans by Club

We rank the NRL sides on 2006 crowd figures:

We all love a winner and obviously when your NRL side is travelling well, generally the crowd attendances are impressive. However, for certain teams – fanatical and supportive fans turn out for better or for worse. Teams such as Brisbane, Newcastle and North Queensland have supporters that always turn out in good numbers no matter how the team is playing.

Today we rank the NRL clubs in order of 2006 crowd attendances, and also feature the capacity of each stadium:

1st: Brisbane Broncos – 31,208 av per game – Up 2.8% – Suncorp Stadium – 52,500 max
While travelling well in 2006 and eventually winning the competition – the Broncos always seem to have strong support. Yes, they are a one team town so that must help and it will be very interesting to see if the Titans have any affect on their 2007 figures.

2nd: Newcastle Knights – 21,840 av per game – Up 15.4% – Energy Aus Stadium – 26,126 max
Just when you thought Newcastle couldn’t improve on constant sell outs, they raise their crowd average by 15% in 2006. Recent upgrades to the stadium have ensured greater comfort and there is no sign of attendances dropping in the near future.

3rd: North Queensland Cowboys – 19,628 av per game – Down 4.9% – Dairy Farmers Stadium – 25,000 max
The Cowboys have had good crowds for the last few years now and their transformation into a top 8 side certainly has assisted in bringing the locals in. However, with a 4.9% dip in 2006 – and some very poor performances, is this a worrying sign for the Cowboys? I am not so sure, I feel they will always attract strong crowds due to location and facilities.

4th: Wests Tigers – 18,967 av per game – Up 0.9% – Campbelltown Sports Ground / Telstra / Leichhardt Oval
Campbelltown: 20,000 max / Telstra: 83,500 max / Leichhardt Oval: 20,000 max
A surprise here, the Tigers have continued to build on their 2005 premiership win. Strong sellout’s at both Campbelltown Sports Ground and Leichhardt Oval. Interestingly both of these stadiums have basic facilities and in the case of Leichhardt Oval, have extremely outdated seating and extremely limited infrastructure. Strong western Sydney support should see figures stay healthy for the future.

5th: Bulldogs – 18,041 av per game – Down 1.4% – Telstra Stadium – 83,500 max
The Dogs moved back to Telstra from the Showground and I am sure this helped their cause. While losing crowds slightly in 2006, their figures are still respectable and good performances will see them continue. Seem to have a large section of fickle fans – winning a must for this side.

6th: Manly Sea Eagles – 15,794 av per game – Up 3.9% – Brookvale Oval – 23,000 max
Fortress Brookvale Oval came to life in 2006, crowd figures were healthy – up nearly 4% as fans cheered on a competitive Eagles side that was to eventually make the Semi Finals. While Brooky is another older stadium, there is a relaxed atmosphere on the hill and a good time is had by most. A strong side will ensure this is a happy place for the next few years.

7th: St George Illawarra Dragons – 15,257 av per game – Up 3.1% – OKI Jubilee 20,541 / WIN Stadium 20,000
The Dragons have always had the luxury of one of the largest supporter bases. While not always showing up at the ground on match day, their fans are vast in their numbers. Another team that needs good results to attract fans, I am concerned their next few years could see a dry spell in crowd numbers. Need strong on field performances and promotions to keep their figures on the incline.

8th: Parramatta Eels – 14,587 av per game – Down 11.5% – Parramatta Stadium 20,000 max
A massive drop in crowds during 2006, which was reflective on their initial string of losses during the first half of the year. While boasting one of the better Stadiums with impressive facilities – the blue and gold army stayed away in 2006 and may continue to do so if things don’t improve. Worrying signs for the bunker formerly known as Cumberland Oval.

9th: Sydney City Roosters – 12,846 av per game – Down 25% – Aussie Stadium 42,000 max
One of the highest drop rates of 2006, the Roosters lost massive money at the turnstiles. Poor results saw the Bondi boys finish poorly for the year and the crowds stayed away like theives at a Police convention. Aussie stadium being a larger shared facility also doesn’t help the Roosters cause – the emptiness of smaller crowds is felt much more at Stadiums like Aussie and Telstra. Bad signs ahead.

10th: Cronulla Sharks – 12,488 av per game – Down 30.4% – Toyota Park 21,500 max
The third highest drop rate of the season, the Sharkies fans must have stayed at the beach while their team got spanked. Traditionally had a strong, loyal following – but this supporter base has been hurt by years of turmoil. Chris Anderson and Stuart Raper jumped on the coaching merry go round and now it’s up to Ricky Stuart to get the most from a basic squad. My thoughts tell me Northies and the local pubs around Cronulla will keep getting busier during 2007.

11th: Penrith Panthers – 11,573 av per game – Down 34.6% – Penrith Park 21,000 max
Ouch! The second highest drop rate of 2007, the 2003 premiers continued down the slippery side into the cellar. Big names like: Gower, Clinton, Wesser and Priddis were unable to take the Panthers to the finals. A recently refurbished oval wasn’t able to attract the locals. Surely should improve, because things can’t decline much more!

12th: Canberra Raiders – 11,523 av per game – Down 7.7% – Bruce Stadium 24,647 max
While losing crowds slightly in 2006, it’s not all bad news for the nations capital. Weather and stadium improvements meant they lost the opportunity to achieve higher crowd numbers. While performances were average in 2006, fans tended to stick by the Green machine and this is a good sign for the future.

13th: Melbourne Storm – 10,869 av per game – up 18.1% – Olympic Stadium 18,500 max
Congratulations to the Storm for recording the highest average increase of 2006. Entertaining play and long winning streaks ensured the Melbourne boys stole fans from the AFL rivals. A cosy and centrally located ground – I feel Melbourne has attracted more life fans – as typically Melbourne supporters are the most loyal in our country. Keep it up boys.

14th: South Sydney Rabbitohs – 10,612 av per game – down 13.3% – Aussie Stadium 42,000 max
The continued loss of game day fans saw Souths sign up with Telstra Stadium for 2007. I don’t know if this is the right answer, but with Redfern Oval still a no go zone – the Bunnies Administration needed to do something about shocking crowds. While the Bunnies boast the largest member base of the NRL – they can’t seem to get bums on seats. Let’s hope their massive recruitment helps in 2007.

15th: New Zealand Warriors – 8,829 av per game – down 48.4% – Mt Smart Stadium 35,000 max
Easily the biggest crowd loser of 2006, the Kiwi boys have gone from being a potential comp winner to friendless footy team in a short space of time. Strong local Rugby Union support is always tough, but if the Warriors don’t lift their game in 2007 – financial ruin may prove fatal. Let’s cross our fingers for the entertainers of yesteryear.

Inside NRL Series; Foxtel


Foxtel to Give Insight into NRL Clubs

A new series on FoxSports will give an insight to how NRL clubs operate on a daily basis and will begin in early Feburary.

The series will put you right in the training drill with the player, you will get to see how the players train including things like how backs train differently to forwards, the involvement of conditioners and phisios,
importance of video sessions , game plans and knowing the oppostions weak spots.

The show will be hosted by David Tapp (former South Sydney Head) and will show a side of Rugby League that the public rarely get to see.

With the public at times questioning the high paypackets and lifestyles of players, this is an opportunity for the players to show how hard they work for their money and the respect they have for their peers.

Beginning on Feb 6th on Fox Sports 1 at 6.30pm and will feature 2005 Premiers Wests Tigers with interviews with Coach Tim Sheens , club captain Brett Hodgson and Benji will talk from a players point of view.

NRL 2007 Bring It On

Western Reds Flashback

Rugby League ‘Flash Back’

1995 – Western Reds are born in Perth
Originally the Perth Pumas when tabled for submission in 1992, Perth’s own Rugby League team the Western Reds played their first ever game in 1995.

Featuring some big names in their squad such as: Mick Potter, Mark Geyer, Peter Sheils, Rodney Howe, Greg Fleming, Brad Mackay (Capt), Matt Rodwell and coached by Peter Mulholland.

The Reds met St George at the WACA in their first game and put on a good showing – winning 28 to 16 in front of a crowd of 25,000.

The Reds had a very respectable season in 1995, they won 8 of 11 home games – making it a graveyard for away teams at the WACA. The Reds came in 11th at season end, missing the playoffs by 1 spot – as 10 of the 20 teams formed the final series.

1996 saw the Super League War break out; and players such as Craig Innes and Brad Mackay left to join ARL aligned clubs Manly and Illawarra. The Reds were able to gain Robbie Kearns and Julian O’Neil – but tough times lay ahead.

The Reds joined the Super League Tournament in 1996; 1 of 10 teams in the competition. Poor onfields performances and dwindling crowd figures let to financial problems for the Reds and speculation was rife the team would be re-located to Melbourne.
The ill-fated Reds were eventually wound up at the completion of the 1997 season. The bulk of the playing squad was eventually signed by the Melbourne Storm; Kearns, Howe, Geyer and Bell all taking up offers from the Storm.
Sadly that was the end of Perth’s foray in the NRL; such a shame considering Perth had started to produce it’s own juniors – players such as: Shannon Hegarty, Matt Petersen and Daniel Holdsworth.

The ARU has now taken to Perth; forming the Western Force and seizing on the lost League opportunity. Interestingly, while Perth houses Union and AFL teams – they do have the largest local Rugby League competition outside of NSW and Queensland.

Terry Lamb to Face Court

Baa Baa Black Sheep – Terry Lamb on assault charge

Ex-Rugby League player Terry Lamb will have to face a NSW court in April on assault charges.
Yesterday’s hero Lamb was a Belmore favourite, guiding the Bulldogs to many gritty wins and holding several records to this day at the club.
He faces a single assault charge arising from a game of Golf at Cabramatta Golf Course in October last year. It seems though that bringing the biff to the Golf Course might cost Lamb – his hearing is to be on April 23rd and Lamb has indicated he will plead ‘not guilty’.

Apparently Lamb got into the punch up on the 18th green, he is alleged to have instigated the fight and took to Club Member – Greg Davison. Lamb seems to have got the better of the Club Local, causing a fair bit of damage and requiring onlookers to jump in and stop the fight. Police were called and Davison was sent to hospital for injuries to his jaw and nose. (See Picture Below)

(Mr Greg Davison in pictures after the incident)

Coaches Review for 2007

Who Will Be The First Coach to Be ‘Boned’ in 2007?

In today’s modern game of Rugby League; the hottest seat in the house is rented by the Head Coach.
A poor run of form, fans screaming for blood, player revolts and even dubious calls by referees have seen coaches fall by the way side – these days, coaches don’t get much of a chance to perform. It’s do or die.

Today we analyse the coaches in the game; and who I believe will be the first to be ‘boned’ as Eddie Maquire calls it in 2007.

Wayne Bennett one of the longest serving coaches in the game. Well respected by his squad and management, reads the game very well and is exceptional at making smart interchanges. Was as safe as a bank 12 months ago, but even winning the premiership can’t erase the speculation of his near move to the Sydney Roosters. Safe

Craig Bellamy did his apprenticeship under Bennett and has taken truck loads of knowledge and combined that with fresh ideas and relentless dedication. A strong coach with a strong squad. Could be a long stint in Melbourne for this man. Safe

Steve Folkes a serious personality with a long heritage at the Belmore base. A strong emphasis on fitness, he works his squad very hard – some say too hard, when you look at recent and regular injury stints to Sonny Bill Williams, Willie Mason and Wille Tonga. A passionate coach who is well supported by the family at the Bulldogs. Safe

Brian Smith the dedicated former teacher who spends hours preparing game plans for his squad, is now the main man in Newcastle. After a long stint at Parramatta, a change will either make or break him, Newcastle have limited time left with Johns and if Brian Smith can’t crack the code early and bring home the trophy – it’s a sure ‘boning’. Danger

Des Hasler the Brookvale boy will never get a better chance to take the prize this year. A squad littered with stars, a big cashed up sponsor, top line support staff and regular fanatical fans at Brooky. While this sounds like a magic carpet ride, if things turn messy Des could find himself joining the queue at Centrelink. Caution

Nathan Brown over at the Dragons, I believe really has a tough year ahead. The Saints have lost several top notch ball players and continue to persist with the Gasnier experiment at five eigth to their detriment. While Brown has had support from high places – Doubst can’t protect him forever. Brown a genuine straight talker is too close to his players and lacks killer instinct I believe to keep his job in the hot seat. Danger

Neil Henry takes over at the Canberra Raiders. Well, this is probably material for the TV Show: “World’s Most Dangerous Jobs” – Henry takes the helm of an average squad with a dwindling fan base. Time at the Cowboys would have helped his experience, and he has certainly coached with the big boys at Origin level – he will need every ounce of his experience and patience to guide this side into the finals. On the other hand, big things aren’t expected of the Raiders and this can work in the coaches favour. Good luck! Caution

Michael Hagan walks into Brian Smith’s old job at the Parramatta Eels. An easy going coach who seems to extract the best from his players and has a history of knowing when to blood youngsters. Parra has lost key personel this year and Hagan will need to be eyeing younger players to take the team forward. Dennis Fitzgerald is known for standing by his coaches which will help. Fairly Safe

Graham Murray has had a decent stint with the Cowboys now. A good selection of players and have been building in confidence over the past few years. The loss of trainer Billy Johnstone will hurt the Townsville side – however Murray has taken the Cowboys from cellar dwellers to a powerhouse and really should be looked after for a while yet. Safe

Ivan Cleary from the NZ Warriors seems to be heading in the right direction. A clean out of old stagers at the club has instilled a sense of urgency among the sometimes carefree Kiwis. Cleary served under a solid regime at the Roosters and with time should build the Warriors into a consistent unit. Needs to hurry the process up, but should be safe this year. Safe

Tim Sheens out in the Wild West is the man that took the Tigers all the way in 2005. A proven performer for many years, who only has a small blemish on his CV with time spent at the Cowboys. Sheens has picked the right players in the right positions and I feel a strong junior base will ensure he and the club are together for some time yet. Safe

Matthew Elliott takes up the post at the foot of the mountains. A bit of a mystery man to most, he was seemly able to extract good things from an average Raiders squad in past years. His seemly relaxed nature puts players and officials at ease and he has an ability to stay out of the media spotlight with is a handy trait. He has a decent squad to work with and well picked support staff in Adamson and Georgalis. Needs to perform. Caution

Ricky Stuart who was dumped hard by the Roosters in 2006, faces a mammoth task over in the Shark pit. The perennial bridesmaids Cronulla are screaming out for a strong leader to take them to victory. Ricky only has at best a basic squad to work with and faces a severly reduced fanbase at their home ground after a few years of bad form. Stuart will need to perform nothing short of a miracle to get this team going, and he needs to do it faster than Darren Albert can re-nig on a contract. Danger

Chris Anderson aka Mr Cranky steps back into the breach after a few years in the wilderness. An astute, no nonsense coach who expects only the best from his players. His presense alone makes players stand up and take note. However in some cases this can make players feel un-easy and nerves can creep into his squad. Known for stamping his style on all aspects of the coaching operation, his stint at the Roosters will be an all or nothing affair. Watch for friction between Roosters Mafia: Politis, Gould and Co – who will feel the heat of the Anderson style. He has decent players to work with, and I feel with Anderson in control they will either be superstars or ghetto dwellers. Caution

Jason Taylor is the new kid on the block, and after setting the world on fire last year with Parramatta – secured the most talked about role in the NRL – head coach of the South Sydney Rabbitohs. Taylor a hands on and thoughtful teacher – has a massive arsenal at his disposal, an influx of top line players, administration with truckloads of cash and a training and facilities base on the vast improve. While the world wants to see Souths perform and fast, don’t expect Taylor to be dumped early if poor results appear. Souths will want to stay out of the headlines this year and surely they can’t handle ANOTHER coaching change. We watch with interest. Fairly Safe

John Cartwright will be in control of the newest NRL franchise the Gold Coast Titans. A quiet man, who was previously right hand man for Stuart at the Roosters will face a tough task in bringing together a new batch of players in short time. Cartwright seems to have a good temprement, which players should respond to. A decent squad at his disposal, strong support staff in Billy Johnstone and Scott Sattler and of course smart management who have secured top name sponsors and media spotlight. I think Cartwright will do well in the role of head coach, his apprenticeship at the Roosters seemed successful and the timing looks right. Fairly Safe.

So, who will go first? The GodFather thinks: NATHAN BROWN will be the first coach to be sacked. As other coaches in danger are first year coaches at their new clubs, it would take a disaster for them to be sacked early.

Your teams chances in 2007

What are your teams chances in 2007?

Newcastle Knights – 1st

The biggest advantage Newcastle will have over other teams is the added prepration of Brian Smith.

Smith is one of the most well prepared coaches in the NRL; his attention to detail and creation of a game plan for every opponent is well known. This will suit Newcastle, who in the past have had a licence to thrill – which has at times both helped and hurt them.

Manly Sea Eagles – 2nd

This is a bolter of a selection here; however the Eagles have been on the improve for a few seasons now. Losing Ben Kennedy will hurt them sure, but the addition of Jamie Lyon will add solid attacking and defending skills and each of the squad are more acustomed to the Matt Orford style of play. Big things expected here.

Melbourne Storm – 3rd

You can always count on Melbourne to be in the mix. Since their birth in 1998, they have always been competitive. Well managed, well coached and a great mixed squad of youth and experience. They have lost a few players; most notably David Kidwell and Scott Hill – but the likes of Inglis and Slater make this Storm side capable of beating any other NRL side.

Brisbane Broncos – 4th

The boys from Red Hill will find it a little tougher in 2007. While taking the honours in 2006, the loss of Webcke, the pressure of backing up a premiership will be too much. While Wayne Bennett will go down as one of the great coaches; realistically he has had plenty of talent to pick from in Brisbane and really he himself and the team need a fresh change.

Wests Tigers – 5th

Another bolter selection here; the Tigers will either be untouchable or downright shocking. They have flair around the park, Benji is heavier and stronger and the addition of John Morris will be a great asset for this team. I feel they are ready to repeat the feats of 2005; injuries will be a key factor for this team.

Bulldogs – 6th

While boasting the likes of Sonny Bill, Big Willy and Co. The Bulldogs always seem to be in the mix every year. 2007 will be no different, while making the final 8 – they might however struggle come finals time. The lack of a ‘pure’ homeground, constant injuries to key players and a lack of dicipline will hurt the mob from Belmore.

Gold Coast Titans – 7th

No, not just because I have $500 big ones on these guys to make the final 8 – I really feel they have the squad, the management and the potential fanbase to make the big time. Sure, there is a lot of ‘if’s and but’s’ – but they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. I feel these boys will play in a style similar to the winning Wests Tigers team of 2005.

South Sydney Rabbitohs – 8th

And finally, the Bunnies will round of the final 8 for 2007. The injection of funds from Russell Crowe and Peter Homles Acourt will project the boys from Redfern into the finals mix. A strong squad, with the new players sure to add the ‘winning’ attitude – if this side wins a few on the trot, look out.

Remaining Teams:

Parra – My team will find it difficult, many losses, few gains. Few Forwards and Soft Halves.

St Geo Illa – Big losses here, no direction under Brown – worrying times.

Nth Qld – Lost Billy Johnstone, morale is a concern. Hit and miss.

Warriors – Well coached, but poor squad and poor crowds. Need a halfback.

Penrith – Matt Elliott will help, but never recovered from lost players after 2003.

Canberra – No name coach and squad, no crowd support. Real worry here.

Cronulla – Sad times in Shire, limited outside backs, young squad and unforgiving coach.

Sydney Roosters – No cohesion in squad, several lost players and coach that creates tension.

Gold Coast Titans Review

An Introduction to the Gold Coast Titans

Today we have a look at the new kid on the block in 2007; the The ‘Jetstar’ Gold Coast Titans.

The new side will play their home games out of Carrara Oval on the Gold Coast and have done well to recruit high profile NRL players such as: Luke Bailey, Anthony Laffranchi, Brad Myers, Scott Prince, Preston Campbell, Matt Rogers and will be coached by John Cartwright.

From the looks of their management and infrastucture; the Titans should realistically be a force in their first year. Smart planning and recruitment by Searle and a strong suburban base to build a large fan following. I have personally put $500 down; on the Titans making the final 8 in 2007.

The Titans will kick off against St George Illawarra at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday March 18th at 3pm.
We wish the Titans all the best; a strong showing early will ensure a strong fan base for life.
What are your thoughts on the Titans and how will they go in 2007?

TEAM REVIEW: Penrith Panthers

Today we have a quick look at the Penrith Panthers for Season 2007.

Matthew Elliott is head coach for this season and roster for first grade reads as follows:Paul Aiton, Matt Bell, Joel Clinton, Matt Cross, Geoff Daniela, Brett Firman, Michael Gordon, Craig Gower, Michael Jennings, Luke Lewis, Mark Meredith, Peewee Moke, Bryan Norrie, Mark O’Halloran, Luke Priddis, Frank Pritchard, Frank Puletua, Tony Puletua, Shane Rodney, Luke Rooney, Peter Wallace, Trent Waterhouse, Rhys Wesser, Brendan Worth, Nick Youngquest.

Matt Elliott saw the opportunity at the Panthers; and said it was “Too Good To Miss” – With a glowing roster of talent and the recent history of strong results made it an easy choice for the former Canberra head coach.

Penrith wasn’t extremely active in the player market for this year; partly due to the fact that there wasn’t a whole lot of atrractive talent on the market – but also due to the fact that they have a strong existing player base and “small adjustments” accordingly to Elliott can bring Penrith into contention for the trophy this year.In assessing the depth of player talent; Elliott feels players from on the fringe of first grade include: Michael Jennings, Junior Moors and some future first graders in years to come include Tim Grant and Geoff Daniella from SG Ball.

Certainly depth is no problem out at the foot of the mountains.Elliott also makes mention of the strong coaching team around him at Penrith; staff that include – Wayne Collins, Matt Adamson and Steve Georgallis.Training for the Panthers resumes on the 6th of November – good luck for 2007.

Prediction for 2007: The ultimate test for the Panthers will be the coach; Elliott showed strong signs he is a top coach by getting a bunch of no names into the top 8 at Canberra. Can he take a decent side such as Penrith to the top? Time will tell.We feel that in 2007; they will fall just short of the top 8. Possibly with a year under his belt; 2008 might be a year they have a tilt at the top prize.

Be sure and get your Panthers Supporter Gear, Memorabilia and Game Tickets for 2007!