Category Archives: NRL Editorials

Editorials on the big issues in NRL Rugby League

The Real Deal: NRL Contenders

Braith Anasta Sydney Roosters 2008 Grand FinalWe are into 5 Rounds of NRL for 2008, the elder statesman of NRL News Peter Roy looks over who he thinks can realistically win the Grand Final.

While it is only early days, there are several patterns emerging that do give us an idea of who is a genuine chance of taking Rugby Leagues biggest prize.

Almost all of us are biased towards own our teams, however you would have to think at this stage that the Melbourne Storm or the Sydney Roosters are the only genuine chances to take this years prize. Think about it this way, if you had to pick a winner and put your house on them – who would you pick?

There are so many factors to consider now; obviously injuries are a key component – staying healthy vital to winning consistently. As such, warm downs and recovery sessions are now mandatory for the majority of NRL teams. Take St George Illawarra for example, well known as the most injured side in the NRL competition – regularly having millions of dollars worth of talent sitting idle on the sidelines.

Apart from these factors, many of the leading teams feature different styles of games. Take for example Ricky Stuart and his Cronulla Sharks. The Sharks don’t have a roster with many superstars, they have the likes of experienced campaigners Brett Kimmorley, Lance Thompson and Luke Covell along with some promising youngsters thrown in – but it’s their unique grinding defence based style of NRL that’s getting them over the line each week.

For the Melbourne Storm, coach Craig Bellamy places the utmost importance on the ruck. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that Melbourne focus completely on the wrestle. From chicken wings to broken wings, they pull, probe and twist to slow their enemy down.

What about the Bulldogs? Bash and barge? Yep, you guessed it. For years the Dogs charge up the middle – hard and straight. Winning the game through strong forward platforms. The hard nosed Bulldogs have regularly won on physical domination and heavy collisions.

Tim Sheens likes his team to play expansive, almost a touch football brand of Rugby League. Quick passing, light stepping and fit mobile forwards are the order of they day. They will generally frustrate and run rings around their bigger slow opponents and with all their playermakers on deck they are capable of cutting anyone to pieces.

In addition to the various styles, possession is now the absolute key to winning the game. With some many areas that referees can award penalties now, a drop of focus for a second or maybe hanging on to a ball runner for more than 100 milliseconds in a tackle could cost you and your team a penalty. If you make errors or give away penalties, more often than not the opposing team will score from that ensuing set – lack of possession will tire you our and the pressure builds usually unable to be stopped unless you get some luck coming your way. While most of us know this, the critical nature of ‘having the ball’ is now more important than ever and continues to get more valuable every year in the modern game.

Harmony in your teams front office also seems to play a part in the success of your team. With the mental factor of the players just as critical as their ability and fitness, a boardroom showdown or staff changes in the office can distract and worry the players. You even see the mental pressures on players as they travel long distances to and from away games now, a small drop in their mindset can see them get blown away on the park. Not just beaten, but if you don’t turn up on the day – the opposition could possibly put 40 points on you before you know it. Such is the closeness and intensity of todays NRL.

A few recent examples of this have been with the Dragons, Bulldogs and Cowboys. All suffering a bashing in the media and experiencing coaching changes – their NRL Results at the same time have been very inconsistent.

Ok, so get your checklist out; Healthy Players, Sound Game Plans, Study the Opponent, Office Harmony, Well Coached and you need to throw in 1 or 2 superstars to really complete the list. Not much to ask is it?

With all these elements considered, this is why *any* team can win on their day. There have even been some Cinderella Stories in recent years – just look at the Panthers in 2003, Wests Tigers in 2005 and more recently the South Sydney Rabbitohs making the Top 8 in 2007.

While anyone can have their day, the value of the superstars in your side cannot be underestimated. You absolutely must have a game breaker or two, along with their experience to get you over the line in the biggest games.

A Cameron Smith 40/20 kick will turn a game.

A Benji Marshall side step or flick pass will change things too.

Sonny Bill Williams offloading with 13 defenders trying to tackle him helps too.

If you look at this element, you instantly see why the Wests Tigers can’t win without Benji Marshall or Robbie Farah. You can understand why guys like Jonathan Thurston and Scott Prince are so critical to their teams each week. Probably the biggest example is Andrew Johns, considered one of the best – the minute he didn’t play, his side generally had no chance.

So when you look over the teams for 2008, the only real NRL contenders that can win the big prize at this stage look like either the Melbourne Storm and the Sydney Roosters. Both having a great blend of experienced superstars, promising young talent, smart coaching and a good religious manager in their team to say weekly prayers for safety from injury, a friendly bounce of the ball and generous referee calls.

So with Melbourne at $3.50 and the Roosters at $6 to win the NRL Grand Final – providing they stay healthy, it’s worth throwing a few dollars on each of them because at this stage – they are the only real contenders.

Will NRL become a Chest Fest?

As the NRL continues it’s clampdown on striking, recently slapping Canberra Raiders hardman Michael Weyman with a 5 week ban for punching Daniel Conn and giving Weyman a further week for his defensive elbow during a tackle – does this lead the game into dangerous territory?

Certainly stamping out foul play is important as the NRL looks to impress junior players and their parents as they decide which sport kids will play – ensuring Rugby League has a strong local breeding ground it critically important.

However, has the NRL gone too far and made the game soft?

In each game we see probably 1 tackle in 10 penalised for something illegal, in many cases the contact being very minor and the player on the receiving end generally not in any danger of injury.

While those changes are bearable, the real concern is around the outlawing of striking. Each striking charge needs to be assessed on it’s own merit. There is no doubt a ‘king-hit’ or brutal one-way attack should be totally outlawed, there is no place for this in the game. However on occasion where two players are engaged in a heated exchange, a quick spurt of striking shouldn’t see the players outed for weeks on end. The absolute real risk here is the NRL could become a carbon copy of the AFL. After totally outlawing striking, the game of Australian Rules (AFL) has the embarrassing situation where arguing players are reduced to ‘chesting’ each other in one of the funiest and most embarrassing of Australian sporting situations.

On the current path, the NRL could seriously end up in the same situation. It would be a very sad day for Rugby League and many could possibly walk away as spectators all together.

The answer is to examine each striking case on its merit. We firstly need to clear up what a ‘king-hit’ is. There is much confusion over what a ‘king-hit’ actually means, if you look it up in the dictionary you will get the following varying explanations from various dictionary brands;

a. A hit from behind

b. A hit without warning

c. A knock-out punch

Very much an Australian term, the real meaning of king-hit is to hit someone from behind. While many say a king-hit is a punch delivered when the other person is not ready, this cannot be the case – in many fights or striking situations there is always one party not ready for contact. Striking first does not constitute a king-hit.

In the case of Michael Weyman and Daniel Conn, this was certainly not a king-hit. Weyman attacked Conn once he had risen to his feet and while Conn may not have expected a full frontal attack – he was looking at Weyman directly.

Even in the Brett White case, while he did hit Ben Ross while the Sharks prop had his arms pinned – this too is not a king-hit. Certainly considered an unfair blow, as the player was unable to defend himself – but too many confuse the king-hit term.

The NRL need to tread very carefully as they get tough with strikers. Sure, keep the game clean and outlaw the king-hit. A classic case of a king-hit was when former Melbourne Storm forward Danny Williams brutally attacked Wests Tigers forward Mark O’Neill while the Tiger was looking completely in the other direction.

So go ahead and stamp the king-hitters out of the game, but please don’t send the NRL down the path of the AFL, where we see a bunch of grown men throw their chests at each other in a seriously embarrassing situation.

The Shoulder Charge, should it be banned?

NRL Rugby League Shoulder Charge

Today we introduce Ricardo Ascenso, who gives his opinion on the shoulder charge in the current NRL format. Ricardo is the newest member to the NRL News team. A promising Rugby League analyst, we look forward to adding his opinion to our team. With the Grubber there to mentor him in the ways of NRL writing, Ricardo is set for a big future in the Rugby League media.

The Shoulder Charge, should it be banned? 

There has been much debate as to whether or not the shoulder charge should be banned following several instances in the early rounds of the NRL season.

Are shoulder charges really that dangerous? Do they really pose a threat to the attacking and defensive players? Craig Wing and Braith Anasta would most likely argue yes they do following the injuries they sustained from such tackles. Wing now on the sidelines and unavailable for his struggling team for up to 2 months due to a dislocated shoulder. Braith Anasta suffering a badly broken nose after a Karmichael Hunt shoulder charge gone wrong.

 

Do we need changes? Or are we changing the game too frequently?

 

What the NRL needs to consider is that the shoulder charge is one of the most important parts of the game. Every player has attempted at least one shoulder charge whether it’s the fullback or a prop and they will tell you themselves that its just part of the game.

 

If the NRL takes away the shoulder charge, you’re destroying the attacking flair of players such as Sonny Bill Williams, Willie Mason, Josh Perry, Brett White and all the other robust forwards who go in for a good shot. Take it away and there won’t be any big tackles during the game, we lose a big spectacle – most fans enjoying the clash of the shoulder charge and the positive effects it has on their team.

 

A heavy hit from someone like Sonny Bill Williams can change a game. Knocking the ball loose, boosting his teams morale – it has a huge bearing on the game and that’s what the fans love.

 

Shoulder charges must remain part of Rugby League. We are already seeing less exciting NRL games due to the wrestle and slower ruck play, the unpredictable shoulder charge leads to mistakes and that generally leads to tries – the whole game benefits. Just look at how many tries are scored from a change of possession, be it a penalty or error in 2008.

This leaves David Gallop and the NRL with an important decision to make. Does he outlaw the use of any shoulder charge when there is more than one player involved in the tackle? Or does he let the game flow as it should.

Many past players and current commentators including Phil Gould, Peter Sterling, Matthew Johns etc, all believe that the shoulder charge in all instances is perfectly legal and that it is what makes the game great. Former Penrith coach John Lang believes the shoulder charge should be banned because he says ‘it provides more trouble then its worth.

“I don’t think it’s the cure-all, but you gain some things and you lose nothing,” Lang said. “It’s not going to be the be-all and end-all. It’s not going to stop every controversial incident, but it stops a few. We lose the shoulder charge out of the game. So what?”

Lang went on to say “I don’t think it takes any talent to shoulder charge.” You’re getting something that’s not good out of the game. They don’t have it in rugby union and I don’t think it suffers because they don’t have a shoulder charge.”

West Tigers Captain Brett Hodgson is the first prominent player to advocate banning the controversial tackling technique.

“To be honest I think they should outlaw the shoulder charge,” Hodgson said. “The majority of injuries these days happen in incidents where people are going in trying to hurt people with the shoulder.”Also for kids, thinking about playing the game later on, if mothers see such incidents they’re not going to want their little boys to play it.”

Mr. Gallop must also consider the consequences of taking away such a crucial element of the game. Without the shoulder charge, there are no bone crunching tackles and no heavy contact.

 

The NRL is unique in that it’s one of the few sports that change its rules very regularly, it’s a positive thing – the game of Rugby League is always being improved and refined. Sometimes they can get things wrong  as is the case with the ruck wrestle at the moment, let’s just hope they don’t make the same mistake with the shoulder charge.

 

Wests Tigers: The Missing Ingredient

Robbie Farah Wests Tigers 2008 NRLThe Wests Tigers burst out of the blocks this year writes John Chelsea, but have they got what is takes to be a consistent force in the 2008 NRL and finally crack the semi-final Top 8 series for the first time since they won the competition in 2005?

If you spoke about them last week, anyone would tell you the Wests Tigers are going to be a force in this years NRL. Knocking off St George and the Cowboys in Townsville, many had thought the Tigers minus Benji Marshall could still be a serious threat and had a perfectly balanced squad.

Fast forward to now. Injuries to key men Robbie Farah, Dean Collis, Taniela Tuiaki and Brett Hodgson have thrown a spanner in the works. While Hodgson isn’t missing any game time, the little fullback has copped such a battering in recent weeks that he could be forgiven for thinking he was cast in the movie ‘Face-Off’.

Farah is no doubt a key player for the Wests Tigers, his metres and creativity from dummy half are well noted. Many speak of him in NSW Origin calculations, but injury has been a demon for Farah and threatens to hamper his and the teams rise in 2008. What makes things worse is that the injury is back related, a part of the body that doesn’t generally heal too fast and it’s an area where you can’t take any risks.

The Tigers have a good balance in their squad, they have some extremely talented young guns coming through the likes of Dean Collis, Beau Ryan, Tim Moltzen and Chris Lawrence and then you have the proven performances of Dene Halatau, Liam Fulton, Todd Payten and Bronson Harrison. Without Benji Marshall in the side, Robbie Farah has quickly become the X-Factor for the Wests Tigers side – quickly rising in the NRL ranks to be regarded as a genuine star, Farah was not only helping the Tigers win games with his skill – his new stature was giving them the belief and that star power they needed to be mentally ready for games.

Thats the unwritten rule of guys like Farah and Marshall. For all their skills, they also provide benefits to their team from the confidence they give their teammates. Young guys like Chris Lawrence and Beau Ryan see a Benji Marshall or Robbie Farah running out with them and suddenly they think they are playing with the harlem globetrotters. It can have adverse effects too, some players feeling that a Farah or a Marshall might be worth 10 more points in a game and suddenly you have teammates resting on their laurels watching the big stars do it alone.

For the Tigers to take the next step in 2008 and regain their finals position this year, they badly need the X-Factor of a Benji Marshall or Robbie Farah on a weekly basis. While they absolutely have the talent and ability without these two big stars, its more a case of belief and mental strength that the side gains when either of these two big names are around. When Wests won the premiership back in 2005, they had several big names to call on. The likes of Scott Prince, Pat Richards and even John Skandalis to some extent – big game players who had experience and confidence in bucket-loads. To be honest, I think the Wests Tigers have even more talent at their disposal now, they just need the X-Factor that the mere presence of a big star brings on a weekly basis.

Paul Gallen: The dirtiest NRL player?

Paul Gallen, Cronulla Sharks. Is he the dirtiest player in the NRL? Have your say.There aren’t too many dirty players in the modern NRL game. Certainly nothing like 20 or 30 years ago where you had the odd thug or two running around looking to kill someone on a weekly basis.

A dirty player these days is considering so on a different basis. Unable to get away with stiff arms, spear tackles or fighting – the dirty men have to be a bit more covert to get away with their unruly tactics.

Paul Gallen with his performance against the Gold Coast Titans on the weekend has probably come as close as possible to being the dirtiest player in the NRL. After the head clash between Paul Gallen and Anthony Laffranchi – the attempt by Gallen to scratch at the wound and cause more grief to Laffranchi is a pretty sad effort. What would it achieve? Ok, so Laffranchi had to leave the field again for a few minutes as blood poured out and the Sharks may have enjoyed a minor rest from a solid Titans forward.

Was it worth it? Absolutely not. Already skating on thin ice, it immediately portrayed Gallen as a poor sport and showed everyone how low he would stoop to get one up on his opponent. Do players not realise that there are over 20 different camera angles at NRL games and 99.9% of the action is captured? You’d have to be David Copperfield to get away with foul play these days – forget it!

To make things worse, Gallen was also captured performing a ‘squirrel grib’ on a Titans player. Resenting a tackle, Gallen rises to his feet and reaches at the crotch of the Gold Coast player. Bringing back memories of ‘John Hoppoate’ and the infamous ‘Gold Finger’ epsiode where he poked opposing players bums – this Gallen brain snap is unforgivable and doesn’t just make him look stupid, but embarresses everyone in the NRL.

What must the AFL and Rugby Union codes be thinking? Squirrel Grips went out years ago, there is no room for them in our game.

When you think of dirty players in the NRL in recent times a few names spring to mind, the likes of Shayne Dunley, Brad Morrin, John Hopoate, Steve Matai and on a lighter scale Justin Smith from the Cowboys.

These guys would throw elbows into tackles, swing stiff arms, bite their opponents and generally do anything they could during the ruck wrestle to get one up.

Apart from Hopoate and his outrageous actions, Paul Gallen’s latest brain explosions rate pretty highly on the dirty scale. If you cast your mind back to last season, Gallen also raised eyebrows when he ‘faked’ injury after a high shot and was caught out by TV cameras winking at his opponents after a penalty was given.

No one likes to admit who the dirty players are, but at the current rate Paul Gallen is climbing the charts with a bullet.

Who do you think is the dirtiest NRL player? Comment below or send an email to NRLfeedback@gmail.com

Sonny Bill: I’ve lost respect for Mason

Sonny Bill Williams Footy Show Interview 2008 NRLIn a three-part interview on the NRL Footy Show this past few weeks, Sonny Bill Williams has spoken candidly with Phil Gould and shown a side to himself not yet seen in public. The usually shy SBW spoke extremely well and highlighted his desire to move ‘out of his comfort zone’ and become more vocal on Rugby League issues; willing to spend more time in the media and in front of the cameras.

The major bombshell dropped in the interview related to Willie Mason. When asked about his relationship with former team-mates Mason, Braith Anasta, Roy Asotasi, Mark O’Meley, Nate Myles and Brent Sherwin – who all left the Bulldogs in recent years. SBW singled out Mason and voiced his disappointment at big Willie’s departure, “I’ve lost some respect for Mase.” SBW said. Williams angry that Mason had previously convinced him to stay at the Bulldogs and to disregard the offers of up to double the salary elsewhere and remain ‘loyal’. In the end it was all for nothing, SBW watching on – as Mason packed his bags for the Roosters. It sets the scene for an explosive clash between the Bulldogs and Roosters in the weeks ahead.

Sonny Bill also touched on the recent Bulldogs management turmoil and how it affects the players. SBW explained how the headlines and uncertainty makes things uneasy even at playing level; “Some players can disregard all that, but for me I like to know the club is performing well at all levels” Williams said. SBW did point out that he felt the club was now united and certainly heading in the right direction, something Bulldogs fans will be happy to hear.

Discussed in depth was the Polynesian influence on the NRL and Rugby League in the current era. Sonny Bill Williams is the child of a Polynesian Father and White European Mother and SBW feels that the Polynesian group of players is at times being exploited – being signed to cheaper deals and not having a voice, their personality being a humble, quiet one and making them easy pushovers by club management. It’s this particular issue that has prompted Sonny to come out of his shell and move more into the media spotlight, giving himself and fellow Polynesians a greater voice in the community. Coming out of this topic, was the fact that Sonny Bill Williams and other Polynesians are unable to represent at State of Origin level. While representing NSW and Queensland at under 19’s – the jump to first grade and subsequent Kiwi representation at international level, means no Origin honours for the likes of SBW and co.

View the interviews below, in three parts – simply click the play icon on each video to view. (Email readers, you may need to visit the NRLNews.com site to view these videos)

Phil Gould and SBW Interview – Part 1 of 3[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3DL9ybCwv_c]

Phil Gould and SBW Interview – Part 2 of 3

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXkx7SLTsw8]

Phil Gould and SBW Interview – Part 3 of 3

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1X0Lt1e9Kg]

Heat expected in Tigers kitchen

Luke ODonnell Wishbone InjuryJust like the fans, the media can get a little bit excited at the chance of some fireworks in an NRL match writes John Chelsea.

Similar to the build up prior to the Souths v Roosters game last week, the Wests Tigers v Cowboys game in Round 2 is set to reach even greater heights. While the biff didn’t eventuate in Souths/Roosters game, the physical collisions and of course that prowler tackle by Riley Brown on Craig Wing demonstrated that these sides still held bad blood between them.

The clash this week between the Wests Tigers and North Queensland Cowboys is set to get hotter, as for the first time since being injured – hard-man Luke O’Donnell comes face to face with his attackers from last season; Liam Fulton and Bronson Harrison. The Wests Tigers pair ‘wishboning’ O’Donnell last season and ending his season instantly. The damage so bad, doctors feared for Luke O’Donnell’s immediate future in terms of mobility – the hamstring actually torn from the bone in the sickening clash.

The possibility of retribution is so real, that Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheens made a unique plea yesterday to the media to stop beating up the incident “As it does play on the players minds” said Sheens and the coverage could potentially cause the situation to be even more explosive.

The players involved have said little to the media, especially Fulton – usually chatty and jovial, he has certainly gone into his shell – not wanting to antagonize the beast anymore. You see the reason this could get ugly is because the man in question; Luke O’Donnell is quite possibly the only real hardman left in Rugby League.

Yes, we have our fair share of hard hitters or tough guys; but few are like O’Donnell. Seemingly a throw back to the forgotten era of Rugby League, O’Donnell will have no hesitation in physically lashing out should the situation arise. Unlike many of the players in the NRL today, O’Donnell doesn’t do the ‘push and shove’ thing – he hits first and asks questions later.

Only 12 months ago after a heated clash with Danny Nutley at the Roosters, O’Donnell went after Danny Nutley so hard that the new Rooster didn’t know what hit him and Nutley is no bunny – such is the fierce, ticking time bomb nature of Luke O’Donnell.

Adding spice to the incident is the fact that O’Donnell and Liam Fulton went to the same high school together and previously played together at the Wests Tigers before Luke packed his bags for the North Queensland Cowboys. Throw in a few other ex-Wests Tigers players up north such as Ray Cashmere and you have the ingredients for one hell of a clash.

It should be a blockbuster no matter who you support, sit back and enjoy the game from your living room and thank the lord that you are not Liam Fulton. A man about to enter hells kitchen and try his darnest to get out alive.

Hey Denis, hows Melbourne going?

Current NRL champions and Rugby League front runners the Melbourne Storm have left suburban Sydney teams in their wake as they registered higher crowds than several of the Sydney and regional games. The Wests Tigers, Dragons, Knights, Raiders, Manly and Cronulla all played their Round 1 2008 NRL games in front of lower crowds.

Every time Melbourne reach another NRL milestone, it means more people are laughing at Parramatta CEO Denis Fitzgerald who has been trying to de-rail the Storm for years – yet only succeeding at making himself look continually foolish. Fitzgerald is rarely taken seriously these days as his comments and actions defy words, but surely his comments about Melbourne not being deserving of an NRL licence must keep him awake at night.

Not only have Melbourne successfully grabbed another NRL Premiership, they continue to make massive advances off the Rugby League field. It’s widely known how successful their coaching and management staffs are; their knowledge and ability sought out the world around – with UK sporting outfits chasing Craig Bellamy while in the UK for the World Club Challenge.

The Storm also set the standard off the Rugby League field. They are always first to keep NRL News up to date with not only press releases; but in depth club reporting and news, along with complete access to the players for interviews – they truly leave the other clubs well behind.

Melbourne Storm CEO Brian Waldron has naturally delighted at the strong crowd of 20,084 at Monday night’s Round 1 NRL clash against the New Zealand Warriors. Icing the cake for the Warriors first season win.

Olympic Park, Storm’s usual home ground, has a capacity of 17,500 and would have been too small to cater for those wishing to attend.

“We’re very pleased with the attendance at the game on Monday and it just goes to show more and more Victorians are taking an interest in rugby league,” said Waldron.

“In very hot conditions, the Storm fans turned up in excellent numbers, and we couldn’t be happier. Had we played the game at Olympic Park we would have had a sell out! ”

Monday night’s crowd is the third largest of any home game during the regular season in the club’s history, with only the Storm’s very first game at Olympic Park (20,522 v North Sydney, Round 4, 1998) and the Round 1 clash of 2000 (23,000 v Dragons at the MCG) topping that figure.

In terms of Round 1 crowds, the numbers at Telstra Dome clearly outstripped those at traditional rugby league fixtures including the Sharks v Sea Eagles, Knights v Raiders, and Wests Tigers v Dragons games. Of all Monday night fixtures played since the introduction of Monday night football, Melbourne’s crowd against the Warriors sits sixth on the list.

ROUND 1, 2008 CROWDS

AR

RD

HOME

AWAY

VENUE

RESULT

CROWD

SCHEDULE

2008

1

Rabbitohs

Roosters

ANZ Stadium

Roosters d Rabbitohs 34-20

29,386

Friday

2008

1

Titans

Cowboys

Skilled Park

Titans d Cowboys 36-18

26,974

Friday

2008

1

Eels

Bulldogs

ANZ Stadium

Eels d Bulldogs 28-20

25,065

Saturday

2008

1

Manly

Cronulla

Brookvale Oval

Sharks d Sea Eagles 16-10

15,424

Saturday

2008

1

Knights

Raiders

EnergyAustralia

Knights d Raiders 30-14

17,233

Saturday

2008

1

Broncos

Panthers

Suncorp Stadium

Broncos d Panthers 48-12

31,250

Sunday

2008

1

Wests Tigers

Dragons

SFS

Tigers d Dragons 24-16

18,211

Sunday

2008

1

Storm

Warriors

Telstra Dome

Storm d Warriors 32-18

20,084

Monday

 

 

 

 

 

Total

183,627

 

 

 

 

 

 

Average

22,953

 

 

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL CROWDS

ATE

RD

HOME

AWAY

VENUE

CROWD

19/03/2007

1

Roosters

Rabbitohs

Aussie Stadium

24,127

26/03/2007

2

Titans

Sharks

Carrara Stadium

17,946

2/04/2007

3

Raiders

Knights

Canberra Stadium

13,109

9/04/2007

4

Sharks

Dragons

Toyota Park

19,137

16/04/2007

5

Raiders

Roosters

Canberra Stadium

15,862

23/04/2007

6

Cowboys

Rabbitohs

Dairy Farmers Stadium

17,678

30/04/2007

7

Knights

Sharks

Energy Australia Stadium

15,453

7/05/2007

8

Titans

Cowboys

Carrara Stadium

17,806

14/05/2007

9

Storm

Bulldogs

Olympic Park

14,066

21/05/2007

10

Sea Eagles

Broncos

Brookvale Oval

13,493

28/05/2007

11

Eels

Warriors

Parramatta Stadium

11,160

4/06/2007

12

Wests Tigers

Eels

Telstra Stadium

22,245

11/06/2007

13

Dragons

Sharks

OKI Jubilee Stadium

12,455

18/06/2007

14

Knights

Raiders

EnergyAustralia Stadium

11,349

25/06/2007

15

Broncos

Wests Tigers

Suncorp Stadium

29,364

2/07/2007

16

Bulldogs

Roosters

Telstra Stadium

20,722

9/07/2007

17

Eels

Knights

Parramatta Stadium

10,363

16/07/2007

18

Storm

Knights

Olympic Park

10,223

23/07/2007

19

Broncos

Eels

Suncorp Stadium

25,762

30/07/2007

20

Wests Tigers

Cowboys

Leichhardt Oval

17,101

6/08/2007

21

Sharks

Storm

Toyota Park

7,831

13/08/2007

22

Panthers

Cowboys

CUA Stadium

7,618

20/08/2007

23

Rabbitohs

Sea Eagles

Telstra Stadium

12,087

27/08/2007

24

Dragons

Eels

Oki Jubilee Stadium

13,488

17/01/2008

1

Storm

Warriors

Telstra Dome

20,084

 

 

 

 

Total

400,529

 

 

 

 

Average

16,021

So Mr Denis Fitzgerald, hows the Melbourne Storm going now? Or should they still be kicked out of the NRL?  If you forgot what you said about the Melbourne Storm a few years ago, click here for the full report.

Expect more Penrith Pain

Matt Elliott Penrith Panthers NRL 2008The Penrith Panthers came away not only with a loss on Sunday, but a heavy smacking that will really test the mental state of their new-look side for the 2008 NRL season

After a forgettable 2007, the pressure was always going to on Matt Elliott from the get-go and while this is only Round 1 and there is plenty more football to come – surely no one expected such a dramatic loss and capitulation from the Penrith team. Making what they thought were the hard decisions and refusing to resign certain players; it seems they may have cast off the wrong players and held on to some of the cancer that caused the rot last year.

You didn’t have to be an NRL Rugby League expert last year to see what the main problem with Penrith was. Quite simply, their discipline was so poor that they created enormous pressure for themselves before their opponents even got a chance to get at them. As the losing continued, the pressure built and the problems started appearing everywhere else soon after. There were long term players at war with the coach, players tapped on the shoulder and asked to leave that refused to go and everything in-between – it certainly wasn’t a happy home.

Have Penrith made enough changes? Have they made the right changes?

Craig Gower, gone. Peter Wallace, gone. Joel Clinton, gone. Brett Firman, gone. Nick Youngquest, gone.

It’s hard to argue the purchase of Petero Civoniceva, a true workhorse and someone that would naturally give his all for any NRL club that he played for; but was this player as the major signing going to be enough to get the Penrith team going in the right direction?

After the Round 1 debacle against the Broncos, it looks like Petero might need to start taking his forwards for private lessons in his backyard after the big, bulky Panthers men looked like large stationary witches hats – the Broncos running rings around them all day. After a long pre-season, maybe the build and preparation of the forward pack has come too far to be changed quickly, but certainly something needs to happen. The likes of Frank Pritchard and Tony Puletua looked big and menacing, but were cannon fodder to the smaller more mobile Brisbane forwards that were well suited to the new interchange system in the NRL for 2008.

Trying to pull all the forwards together and give his team forward direction is hooker Luke Priddis. The experienced Priddis is battling his own demons, trying to foot it with the new breed of hooker – younger, faster and possessing a big bag of tricks. The interchange rule for 2008 looks to be another problem Priddis will have to deal with. Priddis have achieved plenty in the game, but I think his age and creativity level is probably hurting the Panthers. Matt Elliott did drop Priddis at one stage last year; both personalities clashed understandably after such a selection bombshell – but it seems that maybe Elliott was right and should have stuck to his guns.

The Panthers not only have problems in the forwards. Their other major concern remains in the halves; after the departure of Craig Gower – the new combination of Joe Williams and Jarrod Sammut was thrown together. Natrually you need a forward pack going forward before the halves can be expected to weave any serious magic, but their are question marks over the mix of Williams and Sammut. This could be another area of pain for Elliott and Panthers supporters.

What else could possible go wrong?

Well, should injuries hit the Panthers in the weeks ahead – then things could get even more dire. Already facing an uphill battle after only a single Round of Rugby League – should they lose a Reece Wesser or Luke Rooney they could really feel some damaging results.

So if you’re a Panthers supporter; start pre-paring for not only a long season – but one that could be littered with pain, agony and plenty of in-fighting and sackings should things get worse. Oh well, at least Matt Elliott and the Penrith Panthers get an easier shot at redeeming themselves this week as in Round 2, they face the Raiders in Penrith which gives them a good a chance as any to get some NRL competition points.

No pressue guys.

What has the NRL world come to?

NRL Rugby League in 200820 years ago Rugby League players would have been proud of a late night biffo after 2 dozen schooners at the local pub and while many locals watching would have known who various players were, the private lives of most players rarely if ever reach the front page of newspapers or were talked about on TV.

My how things have changed.

To hear the news this week that Parramatta Eels centre Kris Inu celebrated his 21st birthday with a few cups of soft drink and the odd cordial – it certainly made me think. At first, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Rugby League players were meant to be tough, rough souls that live on alcohol and breathe fire. What is the story with a few of the boys eating fairy bread and sucking back red cordial?

Yes, times have really changed.

While there is nothing illegal about NRL players heading out for a drink on occasion, these days it seems the public spotlight and speed of media reporting mean that if players so much as sneeze on a member of the public, it goes front or backpage in NSW and Queensland.

However, the image portrayed by Kris Inu this week while still in the minority amongst League players – it does demonstrate how far the game of Rugby League has really come in the past few decades. As crowds continue to return to the game after the Super League war, many females are now also starting to take a keen interest in the game too – as the ‘thuggery’ of the past seems to have been successfully weeded out.

The movie ‘The Final Winter’ for those that have seen it, is a perfect example of what the game of Rugby League was like in the 1980s. While well followed and having it’s own unique appeal, it was a game where braun came first and skill came second. Male dominated and lacking a wider TV audience, it had some potential – but certainly needed some remoulding. Some guys that possessed amazing talent probably couldn’t make the top grade for fear of being bashed out of the game or restricted from plying their trade on a weekly basis as the hard heads moved in to thwart them.

Fast forward to today.

On the field, players have full protection of officials. Video referees and cameras in every corner ensure a sly punch, a stiff arm or dirty tactics are quickly pulled up and the offender will generally find himself costing his team the game and himself a spot in the top grade the following week. Discipline is key in the modern game.

While off the field there are still some negative headlines around player drinking and behaviour – a lot of this is due to the rising profile and stature of the players. Victims in some cases of their own success and the increasing popularity and reach of the NRL game – they regularly are spied on and dobbed into reporters for relatively minor indiscretions.

In the centenary year of Rugby League, we really should appreciate how far the game has come. Guys like Kris Inu, Israel Folau and Will Chambers are not only the future of the game but represent a skillful, highly entertaining brand of player that possibly would not have made first grade sides of 30 years ago. As the thugs have been weeded out, the true players have been able to display their talent with the protection of the officials and the winners are the fans. Yes, there is an element in all of us that likes a bit of biff and there are still a few blokes that crave the old ‘cattle dog’ call – made famous by Tommy in his NSW Origin coaching days when the fight was on.

So as the doom sayers shout about shootings in Kings Cross, the infiltration of AFL in some states and anything else they can find to whinge about. Think positive. Just think about Kris Inu and his cordial brigade and what the game has become in the modern era:

* Highly Televised, every game now on Television – the days of 1 or 2 TV games are long gone.

* Increased skill levels due to thugs being weeded out – sorry Les Boyd, we don’t miss you.

* The most even competition ever, the envy of many sports due to salary capping

* Expansion back on the horizon, success of the Titans proves this.

So settle back and if you’re a guy cracking a Beer or girl sipping a Bacardi Breezer before you watch a game – just take solace in the fact that Kris Inu and his cordial brigade have the game and it’s future in the best shape ever.

NRL Rugby League for 2008 is only days away. Bring it on.