Category Archives: NRL Editorials

Editorials on the big issues in NRL Rugby League

Eels bring Tahu back to fold

Timana Tahu rejoins Rugby League signs NRL Parramatta EelsThe return of Rugby League old boys continues, as Timana Tahu today agreed to return to the NRL with the Parramatta Eels on a 3 year deal.

Tahu left the Eels in 2007 after several successful seasons with the western Sydney NRL club. The outside back proved an irresistable link with rookies Hayne and Inu at the time – Parramatta missing the Grand Final by a single game and pushing the eventual Premiers the Melbourne Storm all the way.

An Australian Rugby League and State of Origin representative, Tahu has achieved virtually everything in League and wanted to test the waters in union. As was the case with other high profile League to Union converts; Rogers, Sailor and Tiquiri – they have all left the Rah Rah ranks.

Tahu would surely have been frustrated with the lack of game time and quality ball he saw with the NSW Warratahs and some believe the culture shock or at least culture difference between players in both codes is miles apart.

The training regime for Union players is a lot less intense and this is seeing most League players choose to go to Union at the end of their careers to simply prolong their earning potential. It seems the lure of the Wallabies has certainly dimmed somewhat also, many originally being tempted by the so-called ‘World Game’ – however, this isn’t all its cracked up to be – with crowds and game entertainment in the Rah Rah ranks dropping below par in recent times.

The signing of Tahu will certainly help the Eels, the Parramatta club had already nabbed big names Justin Poore and Shane Shackelton for 2010; and are chasing the signature of boom player Jarryd Hayne for an extended period. The signing of Tahu will no doubt help in securing Hayne – as both players worked extremely well together and by linking once more, could not only assist the club but boost each others earning potential.

Folkes wants Knights coaching gig

Steve Folkes Newcastle Knights Coaching NRL 2010Dumped Bulldogs coach Steve Folkes has appeared on the radar as an experienced, low cost solution to the Knights vacant coaching role for 2010.

Is Folkes the right man for the job?

While punted from the Bulldogs at their lowest point in 2008, lets not forget the achievements that Steve Folkes had during his time at the helm of the Belmore club.

Taking on the Bulldogs head coaching role in 1998, Folkes immediately took the Canterbury club to the NRL Grand Final. Beating out hot favourites the Parramatta Eels in a classic final, where they were down 18-2 with 10 minutes remaining. While eventually losing to the Broncos, Folkes had arrived as a coach in only his first year on the big stage.

The ultimate highlight for the veteran coach coming in 2004, when he guided the Dogs to an NRL Premiership against a much fancied Sydney Roosters outfit. The Bulldogs beating out the other lead contender, the Penrith Panthers the week before taking the ultimate prize.

Folkes is a coach that would suit the current crop of Newcastle Knights very well. A strong focus on fitness and simple yet effective gameplans, he is a coach that doesn’t tinker too much with the core elements and would seemingly be a great fit to come in and take over from the strong foundations left by Brian Smith.

This guy knows what it takes to win the big prize, and with experience comes the ‘cool hand’ needed at critical times. With the Knights squad being mostly under 23 years of age, they can expect finals appearances over the next few years barring any major injuries or crisis.

Outgoing coach Brian Smith has picked the right players both on and off the field. He has slotted in guys that know how to win matches, but can also be trusted after dark where most clubs suffer consistent problems.

It’s been said by several inside the Knights camp, that this will be a ‘plum’ job for any incoming coach. The Newcastle officials have also said they aren’t too worried about installing a rookie coach if the price is right.

This is where they need to be cautious.

Yes, Smith has done a great job and the foundations for a strong future have been laid. However, a rookie coach could be a risk factor coming into any environment no matter how good.

Folkes on the other hand, with ample experience – is ideally suited. The astute former Dogs coach would be smart enough to leave the right elements in place and simply guide the squad on a weekly basis.

The other major benefit of bringing in Folkes, is the low cost. The coach was uncermoniously dumped from the Bulldogs after a long reign and has been in the wilderness since. While he has had the chance to freshen up and get away from the game, his price tag isn’t as high as other potential candidates.

With Folkes you get the best of both worlds, ample experience at what should be the right price.

Ref Wars: NRL and V8 Supercars

V8 Supercars Perkins DSO Mezera Whincup 2009This week we introduce a new columnist to the NRL News team – Dave Moyso. This man comes with a wealth of experience in Rugby League and also V8 Supercars. Dave runs a popular bar called the ’05 Bar’ in the Hills District and interacts with thousands of fans each week.

By way of introduction I’d like to get this out early, I’m unfortunately both an Eels fan and a Holden Racing Team fan, which means I’ve had little to cheer about on the sporting front so far this year.

As I sit and ponder the performance of both teams it struck me that there are a lot of similarities between Rugby League and V8Supercars. Just like NSW versus QLD the V8’s have Holden versus Ford. Like the Grand Final the V8’s have Bathurst. As supporters we are passionate about our teams and hate to see a great player or driver shift camps.

Which is why I’m guessing that there are a lot of fellow Rugby League fans that also love V8Supercars

Which brings me to the subject of this little piece and why it’s about V8’s (and not Rugby League on an otherwise Rugby League site).

You see, as a fan of both sports the thing I hate more than my team doing poorly (which given my Eels and HRT support happens regularly) is poor refereeing decisions. Just like the video ref in League, there’s a similar position in the V8’s called the Driving Standards Officer (DSO). This guy basically makes the call on dodgy incidents that occur during the race.

For anyone who watched the V8’s in Townsville last weekend you would have been witness to one of the dodgiest calls of the season when the DSO – a guy by the name of Thomas Mezera an ex V8 racer chose not to penalise Jamie Whincup – the current series leader and Triple8 Team Vodafone Ford driver for running into the back of Jack Perkins (yes Larry’s young bloke) and spinning him out of the race.

Jamie wasn’t going to make the corner as he was coming in too hot and simply ‘Hopoated’ young Jack and spun him off. Now on what planet does running another guy off and ruining his race not constitute a drive through penalty?

Even Whincup was expecting to get pinged and was waiting for the call (as were thousands of other V8 fans), but good old Thomas let him go. When questioned about his decision after the race Thomas offered a poor excuse and dismissed the issue totally.

The implications for the sport of ridiculous decisions like this is to simply take away credibility. We end up with WWE instead of car racing and unless you’ve been indulging far too much at the XXXX tent, you’d be fairly unhappy that a bloke who punts another bloke simply gets away with it.

The issue for Thomas now is that nobody in the sport understands where the limits are. He’s dug himself into a hole by not penalising Whincup and left everyone guessing as to what they can and can’t get away with.

Vague rules as we’ve seen in Rugby League simply cause confusion and frustration with fans that ultimately detracts from the entertainment value of the sport.

We end up talking about lousy ref decisions instead of the game or in this case the race.

We all as fans expect our teams, players and drivers to be professional and committed to giving us the best product they can. The sooner the administrators and officials of our favourite sports wake up and do the same thing, the sooner we as the fans will be talking about a great game or race on Monday instead of poor officialdom.

Lotsa love


Brian Smith to coach Chooks

Brian Smith Sydney RoostersCurrent Knights coach Brian Smith will leave the Newcastle club at years end to link with the Sydney Roosters as the Bondi club decide not to extend the reign of favourite son Freddy Fittler.

The choice of Smith is a smart one for the Roosters, while being maligned at times for not having a premiership to his name – there is no question that Smith is up there with the likes of Wayne Bennett and Craig Bellamy as the top tier coaches in Rugby League.

Roosters insider and respected Channel 9 commentator Phil Gould has always been a big fan of Brian Smith and would have no doubt urged the club to chase the veteran clipboard man.

Smith only had a year remaining on an extended deal at Newcastle and it’s believed his option to join the Roosters is on the back of a 3-4 year deal which gives him the security and location he has craved since parting ways with the Parramatta Eels several years ago.

Given the extended contract, Smith has plenty of time to rebuild the Chooks from the ground up – pushing out the dead wood and working with a batch of talented juniors that so far haven’t been able to take the Roosters forward.

Since Ricky Stuart left the Bondi club several years ago, it’s been a stop-start affair for the Sydney outfit. Chris Anderson struggled to get them firing and despite a massive recruitment drive; which saw former Dogs – Myles, O’Meley and Mason arrive they have never achieved true consistency.

When Fittler first appeared, he managed to get the Roosters winning games and he seemed a longer term solution. However, some suggest his close relationship with players and on-going pressure to perform have made things extremely tough on the young coach.

The Roosters are currently sitting in last place on the NRL ladder and there is no question the job in front of Smith is a big one.

The question remains however, who will take he reigns at Newcastle. Some said Andrew Johns would step up – however Knights officials have suggested it is too early for Johns and they believe he is not yet the answer.

Candidates being thrown up involve Peter Sharp, David Farleigh and Stephen Kearney.

State of Origin, don’t pick on skill alone

NSW State of Origin Selections 2009I’ve been saying it to NSW State of Origin selectors for years writes John Chelsea, but they wouldn’t listen. Most games of State of Origin and certainly a series, is won more on heart than actual skills.

Queensland have known it forever, they stick solid with their squad – albeit the right squad, one based on pride, passion and heart that will last the distance. Queensland Origin insider Trevor Gillmeister let the cat out of the bag earlier this week on the 2KY Big Sports Breakfast, the Axe confirming “State of Origin is rarely won on skill alone.”

Interestingly NSW have once again made a whole raft of changes to their side, some forced through injuries and others that are trying to patch up holes found out in Games 1 and 2.

If you take State of Origin Game 2 this year, there was every chance that NSW had the superior side, a team that did play better on the night in terms of skill and set plays. Yes, they did drop a lot of ball and Queensland certainly capitalised – but the deciding factor was the never say die defence that Queensland turned on for pretty match the whole second half.

The Blues sending wave after wave of attack at the Maroons line, and it was a case of the NSW side hitting the panic button when they got close and the tired, injury-busted Maroons just knowing how to shut them out. Queensland were hammered by injury in Game 2 and at times were playing on memory and heart alone, but somehow their players just kept turning up.

They hit hard, they put in that extra effort in every tackle. Jolting the ball loose, doing the little things perfectly and working for each other. The Queenslanders have the whole concept so well programmed into their culture; the players, coaching staff and even fans – they all know what to do.

Yet for NSW, it seems to be the same mistakes.

In saying that, NSW look to have a side for Game 3 that is better suited to Origin. They should have selected this side for Game 1 and stuck solid, regardless of the outcomes.

Take the hooking role for example. Robbie Farah is the most skillful hooker available for NSW, the guy is a top shelf player and will continue to be a match-winner for his club the Wests Tigers for many years to come. But in my opinion, Michael Ennis is a player that would suit State of Origin ideally.

Ennis is a solid no.9, he might not have the total flair or creativity of Farah – but he always plays like a man on a mission. Regardless of the occasion, Ennis takes to his enemy like the opponent just shot his mother. He lives and dies by the result of a football game and in Origin – this is exactly what you need.

A guy like Ennis lifts everyone around him, he’s vocal, jumping around like a junk-yard dog and will most likely be dishing it up physically and verbally to his opponents, putting guys off their game as well.

The other failure NSW made, was picking a guy like Jamie Lyon. Once again, Lyon is most certainly a talented player and gives his all for Manly. But when a guy at his age initially thumbs his nose at rep football – then thats it.

Why in the hell would NSW force a guy to play for them that doesn’t want to?

Past greats like Benny Elias who have bled for the Blues jersey should be disgusted that someone who didn’t have their heart in it, gets a call up for a run. Queensland are laughing at decisions like this by the Blues – who the hell is running the joint in NSW?

Maybe the likes of Elias, Geyer, Roach or Fenech need to be involved in the selection process to get NSW back to their best. These guys played extremely hard, wanted to win at all costs and would die for the NSW jersey.

It’s not like there was no alternative, Matt Cooper is easily the best centre in the game and has been a faultless servant for NSW over the years. Tried, tested, solid in defence and attack – no brainer selection. But again, NSW try to get too crazy in the selection room.

The other poor decision was in the engine room. While NSW did say they were picking a team to score points, you MUST have a work-a-holic player in the scrum base somewhere. Most Queenslanders admit, their most respected opponent would have been Alan Tongue, Gillmeister even admitting – if Tongue was a Queenslander he would have been one of the first men picked.

Guys like Nathan Hindmarsh or Craig Fitzgibbon aren’t fashionable, but these guys will tackle until the 80th minute. They tackle assist and cover problems, they are genuine sweepers and will always give you 110%. At least one of these guys; a Tongue, Fitzy or Hindy – needs to be in there.

Back to my point on skill; I think the NSW team chose smartly with the likes of Weyman and O’Donnell in the forwards – but these guys are genuine enforcers and needed to be given a licence to at least niggle or dominate their opponents. Yes, the biff has gone from the game – but you can certainly push the boundaries in some ways and I think these guys were too restricted in their instructions.

For O’Donnell, he plays his best football when aggressive. Sometimes the Cowboy needs to be struck heavily or cop an illegal knock before he springs to life – unfortunately this didn’t happen.

NSW also failed to use their utility men ideally. Gidley and Wing are the ultimate impact players. Kurt Gidley should have been used from the bench and the fullback spot should have been given to Wade McKinnon.

Some will be critical of my decision to use McKinnon, but again think about what he offers.

When you look at Gidley, he is the best and most skillful fullback available to NSW. Coming in close behind is maybe Luke Patten, a trusted, skillful fullback who can do a job. However, with McKinnon you get some very unique elements. He is experienced, strong under the highball and offers some great counter attack – but he is an aggressive, extremely passionate player that is well suited to Origin.

By the time the 2010 series rolls around, NSW selectors need to consider this vital ingredient. They rarely listen to anyone, but they need to listen to this.

“Don’t pick the NSW State of Origin team on skill alone.”

First requirement is heart, then passion, then aggression and then maybe consider the skill level.

Origin is and has always been a different game to regular NRL or even International Rugby League. We have seen some amazing moments of skill, sure. However think about the most talked about, photographed or documented incidents from Origin. You’ll be talking; heroic wins, massive controversy and big biffs – right?

Beetson clash with Cronin, Lewis Beer Can Storm, Lewis vs Geyer, Tallis on Hodgson, Mad Dog vs Sailor just to name a very small few.

Maybe NSW folk need to sign a petition to get rid of the existing selectors or to at least send some mail their way – so they understand what Origin is all about.

Look forward to your comments below;

Seriously Nate, come on mate!

Nate Myles Shits Craps Dumps in Public when DrunkWe’ve generally tried to give footy players the benefit of the doubt in the past, as many of the incidents to hit the headlines recently were things that have happened to many employees from virtually all walks of life.

Getting a little drunk, doing something a bit silly and most of the time not hurting or offending others.

This time Nate Myles hasn’t just crossed the line, he has smashed the line to pieces and left his club hanging by a thread.

Already fighting to avoid the wooden spoon, fresh from the Jake Friend saga and before that even coach Brad Fittler was drunk, dazed and confused looking for his hotel room. But putting aside the poor predicament at the club, how could Myles not only get so drunk and lose control – but it was a Junior Rugby League Fundraiser event with only a handful of teammates there.

Ok, there is absolutely no excuse for what happened (Myles getting blind drunk, strolling around the hotel naked and eventually taking a dump on the hotel foyer floor). But whats so concerning is that Myles and possibly the other Roosters were drinking so heavily at a low key event. There was no celebrating a huge victory, they weren’t new mates trying to get to know each other under the old ‘bonding session’ rule – this was a Junior League event where a few NRL players were helping out.

Totally unacceptable.

Myles has hammered his club and judging by the comments received to NRL News this morning, he has turned plenty of youngsters off the game – as parents will simply not have their kids associating with peers like this.

So soccer, AFL and other sports will be rubbing their hands together.

We’ve said here in the past, if NRL players want to have a big night and get a bit rowdy, they are best served to take a quick flight to Melbourne to get away from the public eye. In many cases, the players are targeted by the public and the minor instances are blown out of proportion -  however, in this latest Myles case – there is simply no answer.

If someone (let alone a high profile sportsman) is going to get so drunk, out of control and take a dump in public – there can be no room for them in the game. Heck, just ask Julian O’Neil who once upon a time “Shat in Schlossy’s Shoe!”

Souths swirl into media spotlight

South Sydney NRL 2009Ask anyone at the South Sydney Rabbitohs club what one of the main goals in 2009 would be (apart from winning the NRL competition) it would have been to stay out of the media spotlight.

More so than other clubs, Souths tend to feel the wrath of the media when things go astray or there aren’t too many other stories leading the sports news.

As the Bunnies continued to wobble through 2009 with only patchy form, they were helped by the constant scandals of 2009. From the several weeks of headlines from the Cronulla Sharks club as it went to the brink, then the Denis Fitzgerald affair over at Parra and countless individual stories from the likes of Jake Friend, Willie Mason, Brett Finch and many more.

All this news kept Souths’ poor form off the back pages.

For it’s well known, that the Bunnies have a great playing roster this year backed by an army of coaches, personal trainers, assistants and world class facilities. The Rabbits even had the luxury of picking up Michael Crocker this season, adding to their already star studded forward pack. Their scrum is virtually a who’s who of international football from here and across the tasman.

They have try scoring power in the form of Colin Best, Nathan Merritt and a swag of youngsters already proving themselves. Craig Wing is nearing career best form, but seems slightly unhappy at Redfern though. While Rhys Wesser has been on ice for several weeks, the loss of the big name fullback can’t be used as an excuse – as Souths simply have so much depth now.

But everything boiled over this week. After the loss to Newcastle, the media hunters were out in force looking for something to stab the Bunnies while they were down. And they found it in the form of a an old school chook raffle in the Eastern Suburbs. Souths doing their best to raise funds to boost their bottom line in the shopping centres of Maroubra and East Gardens.

Not really a big deal right?

Well, something, anything the media could get their hands on was enough. One thing leads to another, old powerbroker George Piggins is immediately on the offensive. It’s so ironic, that Souths’ original saviour is now only heard from when things are going bad.

When the Bunnies are flying high, you never hear from George – he has claimed he rarely watches the team nowdays.

But if they hit a snag, or things turn tough – you can bet George will be on the front foot, throwing mud at the Bunnies. It seems to be a case of sour grapes, which is such a shame. There is no question, Piggins once did so much for Souths – he brought them back from the brink.

However, there comes a time when you need to say “Ok, I was out-voted for control of Souths” – time to move on.

It doesn’t help anybody, except maybe the media when the likes of Piggins come out and fire broadsides at the South Sydney Club. Ok, so a chook raffle might not be so glamorous, but every cent counts for NRL clubs and certainly in times of economic downturn, it becomes even more important.

Yes, Souths should be doing better on the ladder given their squad and top shelf coaching from Taylor, Lang and Tallis – however, the judgement can only really be made once the final Top 8 is decided for 2009 and that doesn’t look like being confirmed until the final Round of Rugby League given how close things are.

So George, please, relax. Sit back, support your team when the chips are down and if you really must berate them in the public eye, wait until they actually fail before writing them off totally.

Wests Tigers; the end of an era?

Wests Tigers Rebuilding Phase NRL 2009The Wests Tigers have basically been a protected species since they won the NRL Premiership in 2005, their young squad guided by the veteran clipboard man Tim Sheens and his assistant Royce Simmons to take the top prize in the game.

But what has happened since has been a constant frustration for the legion of dedicated fans.

There is no question the Tigers have some players that can absolutely cut their opposition to shreds on their day. They also can turn on electric attacking Rugby League on their day and impress even the most traditional of fans with their fast, unique and skillful play.

But consistency has escaped them for the last 4 years. They have failed to make the NRL finals since their impressive premiership in 2005 and they have seemingly had plenty of ‘bad hair’ days of late, not just losing, but losing in a frustratingly poor fashion – certainly considering the talent they have.

They’ve re-signed stars Farah and Marshall, but whats next?

The question no one wants to ask, what about the coach? Should there be pressure on Tim Sheens?

The veteran coach has done it all and some say deserves an open cheque, but time is flying by and 2005 is light years away now.

At the very least, the Tigers need a partial clean-out of the playing ranks. The likes of Bryce Gibbs and Dene Halatau have been good servants to their club, but are a yard shorter in terms of pace and are just not stepping-up like they once did.

There was a battle for the fullback ranks after Brett Hodgson left, it ended badly with McDonnell walking away from the club and Moltzen having mixed success in the custodian role.

Workhorse Johnny Morris has been such a reliable entity for the club, but the utility value is lost when Morris is a virtual full time stop-gap five-eighth and the club can’t afford to wait any longer – they must develop Chris Lawrence for that role right now.

The other boom rookie, Dean Collis showed so much promise for the club. The Campbelltown junior bursting into the centre ranks and looking like the next Origin star, but the young outside back has struggled to be a regular force through injury and inconsistency.

New buy Gareth Ellis has been a shining light, as has the reliable Chris Highnington. But the Tigers simply need more.

For starters their goal kicking needs sorting out. Benji Marshall is simply not kicking at a high enough percentage and it’s costing the Tigers games.

It certainly looks like time for some changes. The Tigers must bite the bullet and yes, friendships will strain and egos will be burst. The club needs to follow the lead of the Bulldogs and start afresh and buy the core group that can again take them to at least the finals and a possible second premiership.

This might mean culling some administrators and assessing what Sheens and his team have planned for the next few years. Something former CEO Scott Longmuir was looking at asking, but the former boss is now long gone after asking the hard questions.

Sponsors will start asking questions soon and before you know it, the Tigers could find themselves on the fast-train to Sharkies town – a club that knows all about hitting rock bottom.

Video Referee Beyond Repair

Video Referee in NRL dire straightsThe problems with the NRL video referee have literally gone beyond repair after yet another embarrassing error in tonights Monday Night Football game between the Gold Coast Titans and St George Illawarra Dragons.

After weeks of errors in the video box from Steve Clark, Bill Harrigan, Chris Ward and now Paul Simpkins it has got to the point where people are walking away from the game.

The latest mind boggling decision has come after Titan Chris Walker has deliberately tapped the ball over an opposition player to score a try for his side.

It’s an interesting one, because the video referee has had to decide on 3 similar scenarios this year.

The Tigers had a try disallowed for identical circumstances as did Jarryd Hayne for the Eels when he tapped the ball over a player, yet Jamie Lyon was given a green light when he did it for the Sea Eagles and now Chris Walker received the same treatment.

Pressure on the video officials was evident soon after the Walker error-try, as Meyers touched down for a clear and simple try, Simpkins in the video box looked at 6 replays and eventually spun up – try, benefit of doubt.

Things need to be kept simple, everybody on earth saw this was a try after 1 single replay. End of story.

Putting the inconsistency aside, why can the video official not see what is there in front of him?

Once again, commentators and spectators immediately knew the outcome of the situation after 1, maybe 2 replays.

The pressure has obviously destroyed their ability in the video box.

The problem is now extensively widespread and it’s hard for most fans to understand how anyone can misread a video replay. While referees on the field will make errors from time to time – video officials have a slow motion replay to view multiple times and simply cannot be making simple errors week in week out.

This problem is now extensive, this is a serious blight on the game and if the NRL does not act soon – people will continue to walk away, it’s simply not acceptable.

NRL Talk: Around the Grounds

NRL Around the Grounds 2009It’s been a busy few days in the NRL, with cellar dwellers the Cronulla Sharks and Parramatta Eels killing much fancied opponents in the Warriors and Knights to record valuable wins during the mid-season.

The movement on the NRL Ladder sees the Wests Tigers slide further into the hole and the Roosters parked at the bottom of the table, with no signs of the pressure easing on Freddy’s men. They toiled harder against Manly this weekend, but it wasn’t enough to get any of the monkeys off their backs.

Off the field there has been plenty happening too, with the smear campaign aimed at Cronulla boss Tony Zappia finally having success and forcing the upcoming administrator out of the club. There has most certainly been someone behind the scenes in the Rugby League world gunning for Zappia and the Sharks, this push got media legs then died off – but someone kept pushing and finally Zappia was shot down.

Other off-field news has centered around the swine flu outbreak, Queensland State of Origin prop Ben Hannant testing positive to the flu with other players under quarantine orders. Some doomsayers even suggested the NRL Monday Night Footy match between the Titans and Dragons could be called off tonight for fear of a greater outbreak.

Former Dragons and Raiders utility David Howell gave an interesting insight into players attitudes towards the NRL and UK Super League, with Howell saying the continual push from younger players coming through forces the existing squad to remain ‘risk-free’ in terms of their playing style otherwise they may lose their first grade spots. Howell, only 25, suggested playing the UK Super League allows him to hone his game and play a much more expansive style. The talented outside back also hinted at a return to the NRL ranks in the next few years with the ultimate goal of achieving rep jerseys.

Workhorse backrower Nathan Hindmarsh has been under pressure in recent seasons for being unable to bust the line in attack like he did so effortlessly in his prime, however he received praise not only from new Eels coach Daniel Anderson but also his former mentor Brian Smith who both agree that Hindmarsh remains the best defender in the league, with his ‘sweeper’ role proving valuable to the Eels when the chips are down.

Over at the Sharks the push for new respectable faces continues with the Cronulla-Shires’ former favourite son ANDREW Ettingshausen getting a gig as a coach for the outside backs. There is no questioning the ability of ET as a player, but it remains to be seen his ability to add-value from a coaching perspective. This move is more likely about improving the public relations of the club and producing a whole new image.

Former Sharks power-broker Peter Gow has also bounced back onto the scene to help try and save the embattled NRL club.

The fascination of the public with NRL players private lives has continued after Brisbane Broncos and former Penrith Panthers forward Joel Clinton was stood down for simply inviting a female friend back to his hotel room. As the situation becomes almost laughable, it seems players won’t be allowed to talk to females in the future it is getting so ridiculous. Come on, let these poor players have a personal life. The Broncos have threatened to use the situation to rip-up Clintons contract, obviously keen to take the chance to cut through the expensive $275,000 a year they pay the front rower.