The Tuesday Rubdown

My body may not exactly be a wonderland, but settle in because, as John Mayer might say, this is bound to take a while …

The ASADA squirrel grip

As if the drip-feed of drug use information isn’t suggestive of an obvious problem, Roy Masters’ article this morning lays it all bare, including the possibility of a forfeited Grand Final. Serious? Much? The blowhards are still out there leaving no stone ‘untouched’ in the search for the truth and answers, reaching for mediocrity like it’s Stallone’s slippery little fingers in Cliffhanger. May I reproduce the chart from the Ch9 panel discussion a few weeks back to show how some remain impervious to facts?Chart1

Barba ran, Ba-Barba ran

Des Hasler’s assertion that Benny Barba won’t play Thursday wasn’t delivered under oath. Nor was Ricky Stuart’s claim that he’d be happy if his Eels finished within 12-18pts of the Bulldogs last Thursday. You can bet Ricky was at least expecting the result that transpired, and hoping for a better one given the weakened Bulldogs side. So I regard these types of comments as very distant relatives of the actual truth.

Similarly, Ben Barba may well not play in a couple of days even if he is travelling to Melbourne, but I’m not prepared to bet against it. After all, playing is a substantial part of his rehab, is it not? The fact that the Storm are next to unbeatable at the moment and Kasiano and Pritchard will still be out are probably a good enough reasons to hold him back for the Souths game on the 29th, who have now proven very beatable. Like their neighbourhood rivals, the Roosters, they fell over the line in Round 2.

Who’s Who in the 2013 Zoo

Speaking of Souths, I was expecting to write this version of the Rubdown by highlighting the Storm and Souths as setting a standard that set them both apart against 4 real chasers and a bottom 10. I now have only the Storm sitting up there. Their play is quite sublime

They really are the 2003-2008 version of Roger Federer. They are pretty much unbeatable because even a poor performance still has a base of good preparation and positive habits and structure. The games they lose this year will most likely be ‘Origin-related’ only.

Tries ForTries AgainstI have to pay Manly the compliment of suggesting they look like the only team right now that can test the Storm (early days, but I had them scraping into the 8!). Their stats are amazing.

While it’s only Round 2 and the stats cannot average out a blowout score like Manly/Knights or Gold Coast/Canberra, they do suggest a theme developing for top sides. They will have more information-value after about 6 Rounds.

JT an Immortal?

Continuing the tennis analogy, Just as Johnathan Thurston is being anointed ‘better than Joey’, Cooper Cronk is setting the bar higher, a bit like Nadal did to Federer. As good as he is, how can you call JT the best ever when he might not even be better than Cronk? Something to think about.

The Concussion Discussion

This is clearly going to become a weekly topic, and we have had the question of how serious the NRL are about concussion and needless head contact settled today. Billy Slater not only pole-axed Antonio Winterstein over the weekend, but did it with a now illegal shoulder charge.

The NRL have seriously taken their eye off the ball on this one, as evidenced by Sam Burgess’ 1wk suspension when he lined up Mitchell Pearce who was looking the other way (check the highlights reel of him tackling Pearce with a textbook effort in the solar plexus to see how it’s really done). The same happened in the Broncos/Dragons game with Nathan Fien taken out similarly by Corey Parker.

The effects these hits have on the brain, over and above the repeated jolts that are just a ‘price of entry’ and accepted as part of the game, are inestimable. The sooner the NRL gets this right, the less money they are going to need in the kitty when their ass is class-actioned.

Here’s a novel approach to concussion. Take them off! Works in boxing. But first things first – send a message that unnecessary head contact is not tough, and it’s not ok. I await patiently …

Obstruction and Weapons of Miscommnunication

It was always going to come to this. The obstruction rule has always been fertile ground for knuckle-headed decisions, because rarely has common sense been applied to it, and Dr has already opined on this subject. The new variation is no different.

ShephardRugby League is not only a fast-moving sport, but has an enormous amount of moving parts. A ‘rules-based’ approach where ‘contact’ is deemed prima facie evidence for obstruction is absurd enough, but last night the Rabbitohs were denied tries to Nathan Merritt and Adam Reynolds. I’m still trying to work out who was impeded.

But moving on …

The Ruck rolls on

One of Dr NRL’s first blogs was a manifesto of sorts when it came to the rules of the game, and what changes might be considered to advance the standing of the game further. They were all fairly uncontroversial, and one of them dealt with the speed of the play the ball.

Having grown sick and tired of watching every play-the-ball become like a 5-minute MMA ground wrestle (which I like, but not in rugby league), and see X-Men-like defenders appear to grow extra hands at will that were then placed all over the ball, all that was asked for was for referees to simply … apply … the rules. Not hard.

Now that it has taken how many years?, commentators are shocked, shocked! at how fast the game has become. “It’s like Super League again!” said one with a sense of revelation. Now if only they could reduce the interchanges we’d really be getting somewhere.

2 questions every team needs to ask themselves …

What would the Storm do?

What would the Sharks do?

These 2 teams are in different postcodes whit comes to talent and point scoring ability, but if every other team were to aspire to the Storm’s discipline and well-practiced good habits, and the Sharks grit and determination, they would be better off for it.



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