Adam, meet Eddie … Explain it to him, too, will ya?

Last weekend’s AFL Indigenous Round was especially notable for the build up. It was promoted everywhere as an honour and recognition of the Indigenous people of this land. You really couldn’t miss it. Even in NRL-centric NSW.

Nicky WinmarIt had, as its centrepiece, Nicky Winmar, the St Kilda Saint who famously lifted his shirt to the crowd to highlight he was as proud of his colour and heritage as the crowd was that day to vilify him for it.

The picture of Nicky’s gesture is as poignant as it gets, and I still remember the incident to this day.

Not long before that, cricket crowds boldly, and seemingly, just as proudly, held up racist slogans to visiting teams. It was a sign of the times, but also a time quickly drawing to a close, to be replaced by a more educated, tolerant approach.

Or was it?

20 years on and one of the true gems of the AFL world still has to face being labelled an ape. By a 13-year old girl, no less.

Adam GoodesSport is supposed to bring people together. But if a Brownlow Medallist, dual premiership icon, and genuine superstar to fans and the Indigenous communities with whom he works cannot be admired and respected, then it is indeed a stark reminder that we, as a society, need to work harder.

The fact that the 13-year old is a Collingwood supporter is irrelevant. To make a sweeping statement about a club’s fan base because of this incident or any other encompasses the same type of intolerance that Adam and Nicky faced, and countless others face daily when the cameras aren’t on.

And while the name Adam was called resonated immediately within his soul, this was a little different to the same epithet being used by opposition players toward him over the years.

This has to be seen in the context of the Indigenous round in which it occurred, and I’m sure the most heartbreaking and shattering part about the incident (as Adam later described it), was what it represented.

Had we not moved on at all in the space of 20 years? Were young children still being indoctrinated by parents, guardians and, dare I say it, role models, that racial intolerance was OK?

Sweeping aside the abhorrent and reprehensible comments from conservative ‘talkback newspaper editorials’ which insinuated the entire incident was fabricated by the media as if they had concocted and puppeteered the entire thing just so they could ‘bully’ a 13-year old, we now have to listen to Eddie Maguire advancing the Adam Goodes name to promote a King Kong musical.

Now, I don’t know if he is a racist or not, or just plain insensitive. Maybe it’s simply a gaffe reserved for Collingwood presidents. The president at the time of the Winmar incident said ”As long as they [Aborigines] conduct themselves like white people, well, off  the field, everyone will admire and respect them,”.

As a white man, I’m sure he, like his predecessor, sees it all as a misunderstanding and devoid of malice. But to a minority group, the attitude is an oppressive one, and a constant reminder that we are not all treated equally.

At the very least, it is a measure of how an attitude can be embedded beneath the skin from a young age.

The most disturbing elements of this whole affair are, firstly, that it would seem very little progress has been made in the way Indigenous (and other) Australians are regarded since the Nicky Winmar incident.

Secondly, that it appears to permeate our culture, from the youngsters in the suburbs who should have been taught better by now, right through the social heirarchy to the ubermenschen of our society, like our multimillionaires, who definitely should know better.

The shining light remains Adam Goodes himself, who has shown grace and class in extending the olive branch to his young tormenter, explaining why the remarks were so hurtful and, ironically, pushing the reconciliation process forward when it should really be coming from others.

What a beautiful example to set.

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The NRL Round 11 Rubdown

Get a grip, Parramatta!

Poor results are one thing, but poor performances are another. It is the latter that is beginning to cause me concern with respect to the Eels, because the ramifications are not usually appreciated until they hit you in the face. Erosions of club culture and morale are an insidious beasts and have long, underappreciated gestation periods (unlike the taco I had last night).

Right now, the new era at Parramatta is indistinguishable from the last few years. The corner Ricky’s looking for seems further away than I think even he appreciates.

Lookin' for the corner, lookin' for the corner ... this one looks good enough for now ...

Lookin’ for the corner, lookin’ for the corner … this one looks good enough for now …

What the players and management don’t seem to recognise at this point is that money, facilities and other metrics can be attractive to potential recruits, but they are subordinate to club culture and the ethos of being part of a team that has its sights on bigger, more challenging goals.

So when you compare the Eels’ performance versus the Titans to an under-manned (but manly) Sharks last night, is it any wonder that players like Gareth Hock react with horror, and concoct stories to renege on contracts before the ink is even dry? Oh I know, it is being reported as ‘personal reasons’, but I didn’t come down in the last shower. And neither, it seems, did he.

Having lost Josh Papallii at the beginning of the season for, well, personal reasons, and a host of others, this latest snub must surely be giving the clubs’ management cause for in depth soul-searching. If not, it should be. It’s not like the actual future of the club is at stake or anything.

The most popular phrase of 2013 is ‘buying in’, and the Eels players are failing to do this. It has reached the point where control is lost and unintended consequences like Gareth Hock begin to emerge from left field. The results can be catastrophic. The idea is to react swiftly to these events before they get out of hand.

Don’t be like bankers, economists and governments who seem to have learned very little from the GFC. You can be better than that! And you don’t want Hoppa thinking twice as well …

Panthers – deserving of a top 8 spot

A little further along the Motorway we have an example of what can happen when a team actually does ‘buy in’ and, at the same time, take the hearts and minds of Western Sydney hostage!

Refusing to allow the non-retention of current captain Kevin Kingston to distract them, the Panthers have reacted manfully to an injury list that could have ended their season before it began.

Having pumped the Raiders early, the following four weeks of losses belied the quality of football they were actually playing. Since then, they have had a 4-1 record. The loss to the Roosters in between, while comfortable, didn’t really highlight how well they played for most of that game.

They are a ‘big side with a good work ethic, and the real evidence of their commitment is in their defence. The last five games have yielded only 58 points for their opponents, which includes the Storm. On a 3-game rolling average basis, they peaked at 34 points in round five, which has dropped consistently to a now miserly 5 points. Points scored on this rolling average basis has doubled to 31.

Think about that as a metric for improvement!

Their discipline sees them right near the top in terms of completions and possession, as well as tries scored, yielding a fairly predictable map of their performances below. In short, the more possession they have vis-a-vis the opposition, the more their points differential improves. Clearly is clearly doing something right.

Work out the possession differential and you've pretty much picked the margin too!

Work out the possession differential and you’ve pretty much picked the margin too!

I’m guessing that some of the players who turned them down recently might be wishing they hadn’t next year.

The conundrum and mystery that is the Warriors

Serenity now!

Serenity now!

First there was Lazarus, then there Lazarus with a triple bypass. The Warriors have now joined the list of unlikely comebacks, responding to a record loss and a tendency to beat themselves in the final quarter of matches with a performance that was just startling,.

It also meant that we were spared Matt Elliot committing hari kari with his tie again.

Leaving aside the fact that the teams who have been completely crushed one week have invariably responded with a win (so why didn’t I pick the Titans??!), the Warriors actually have an abundance of talent. So it’s hard to reconcile how the Warriors reached the position in which they find themselves now.

Don’t forget they have severely tested the top three sides in the competition, beaten the Cowboys, lost to the Titans by a point, and totally dominated the Raiders before losing it down the stretch.

Clearly they are more resilient at home, yet they seem destined for a bottom four placing this season.

If they can manage to repeat the weekend’s stats, which included 90% more runs than the prior week (no joke), 74% more metres, about 60% more sets and completions and halving their missed tackles, then maybe they can have more of a say in their ultimate 2013 fate.

  vs Panthers vs Knights % change
       

Runs

101

192

90

Metres

902

1565

74

Possession

38.8

54.9

41

Metres/Runs

8.9

8.2

-9

Tackles

331

328

-1

Missed Tackles

37

19

-49

Missed Tackles %

11.18

5.79

-48

Tackle Ratio (Work)

1.41

0.98

-30

Sets

24

38

58

Completions

16

26

63

Completions %

66.67

68.42

3

Offloads

7

18

157

Errors

10

11

10

Line Breaks

3

5

67

Tries

1

5

400

Half Runs

1

9

800

5/8 Runs

5

10

100

Half Kicks

4

8

100

5/8 Kicks

3

7

133

Halves Tackles

30

37

23

Are the Top & Bottom four teams in already?

Looking at the progression of For & Against points, along with the NRL ladder, is it safe to conclude our top and bottom four teams have been decided?

The top four looks about right for this stage of the season, and the Rabbitohs and Roosters losing on the weekend and narrowing the gap between them smells right too.Top 8

The Rabbitohs have beaten two of the top four teams, as have the Storm. Their positions at the top are well earned and make sense. The 3rd-placed Roosters have beaten just one of the top four teams, while Manly have not beaten any of them. Even so, they are more than worthy sitting in 4th, and it is nigh on impossible seeing any other team breaking into this group.

The Knights have had a good draw and have been inconsistent enough to conclude that 5th is as high as they will go this year, and are unlikely to even stay there given injuries, Origin and playing the better teams will stall their progress significantly. The Titans are similar.

 The bottom four seems highly likely to include the Tigers, Eels and Warriors. The 4th spot in this uninspiring group seems likely to go to the Dragons or Bulldogs. As good as they were last year, the Bulldogs’ draw (as noted previously) gets very difficult again in a couple of weeks, and is far more challenging than that of the Dragons.

Watch that cliff!

Watch that cliff!

State of Origin

There will be more to say on this subject as the manic countdown to SOO1 continues, and I really don’t have much to complain about with respect to NSW selections with the exception of the Nathan Merritt no-show.

The point to make about this year’s series is that the signs for NSW are far, far better than in years past. With two home games and a young, yet strangely experienced side, they have the thrust to change the SOO dynamic for the next few years.

NSW is in the enviable position of being able to choose from a long list of players in red hot form, particularly in the halves and outside backs (soon to be joined by John Sutton as far as the whisoers go).

When was the last time we were this spoiled for choice?

Secondly, the Queenslanders have mimicked the Blues’ selection choices by picking what they feel is a more mobile team containing only two props.

Responding to NSW? What gives? This is unusual for Queensland, and hints (to me, at least) that they are more concerned about handing the title back south than they have been in many years. If it weren’t for some awful refereeing last year (which is sure to be repeated this year if form is a guide), then we’d be defending the trophy this year with two home games.

David Smith on drugs, er, talking about drugs …

 

David Smith working the phones frantically ahead of the announcement

David Smith working the phones frantically ahead of the announcement

Sitting peacefully atop the NRL management pyramid, connected to his apprentice, Padawan learner CEOs with a mixture of dotted and solid reporting lines, the ‘real’ CEO David Smith today unveiled a step-up in the war on Persians.

No, not the Iranian variety. Just good old-fashioned performance enhancing drugs … which is a good thing.

Gone are the days of unexplained steroid-induced acne outbreaks that would totally give you up faster than a petty street urchin on Starsky & Hutch. No, today’s versions are of the far more sophisticated, nudge-nudge-wink-wink variety, and harder to detect than a sense of humour on Darius Boyd.

The NRL has been driven to this decision by the barrel of laughs that is the ASADA investigation, so you can perhaps call it both reactive and proactive at the same time, depending on which side of the marketing and commentariat divide you sit.

In the NRL, an anti-doping probe could have an infinite amount of permutations, but the thrust of the latest announcement, which is actually related to drugs, includes:

          Introducing ABPs, or Athlete Biological Passports – these are designed to record the changes in your blood over time, and detect the past use of performance-enhancers. They are not intended as paternity tests for young players, as far as I can tell. It will also assist in the ingress and egress of players into and out of the Shire, as well as honorary membership and instant entry to Northies.

          Increased testing for cologne, in which case, it occurs to me, Robbie Farah and Beau Ryan are in serious trouble. Or maybe it’s simply testing for peptides and sending the results to Cologne. Either way, it spells trouble for peptide-users and wearers of excessive cologne.

Pep talks at half-time will now also be supervised.

          Sending test samples for human growth hormone to London, because, like cologne and peptides, sending them anywhere other than somewhere in Australia seems like a good idea. It’s also the business plan Ford seems to be adopting. Clearly, we Aussies are more likely to drop all the vials of claret like Maxwell Smart on a roid rage, and therefore cannot be trusted.

          Eliminating all referees immediately ( I could have made that up, but they are highly unlikely to pass an anti-doping test, I’m sure you’d agree)

          Restricting the influence of those within the game that believe golden point is a good idea, that scrums really are the time-clock’s problem, or that Dave Taylor really needed his charge doengraded.

The new measures have been cheered by most organisations with an ‘R’, including the NRL, NRL Clubs, RLPA, RSL and RSPCA, not to mention A(R)SADA who have RSVP’d their approval.

In other breaking NRL news, Nick Weeks has been appointed NRL General Manager of Integrity and General Counsel and Winner of Longest Title in the NRL, and Mr Julian O’Neill has been appointed Head of Atrocities.

R & A drops anchor on the long putter

The Dr hit a screamer into the 1st last week. Unfortunately, it rolled far enough into the zone of discomfort to almost guarantee a par putt of 3-4 feet.

Now, most pros nail these, which is one very important reason why they are good enough to mix it with the best. For the amateurs like myself who abhor practice the way nature abhors a vacuum, there are approximately 450 thoughts going through my head at this point.

Do I have my hands closer to my body? Or a little further away with the putter completely flat on the ground? Where’s my right elbow? Should I press forward with my hands Mickelson-style before moving the putter back? How’s my grip pressure? Gee, isn’t the view great … And so on …

But as I tapped in for a 5, I never once regretted having a traditional putter. It didn’t cross my mind.

But would using a belly or long putter have made a difference?

I don’t know, and Golf’s R & A Rules Committee admits it doesn’t know either, despite deciding to implement a ban on the practice beginning in January 2016 (Rule 14-1b).

 

Man, imagine if I could use a REAL anchor!

Man, imagine if I could use a REAL anchor!

Prior to players having the audacity to win major tournaments with the ‘long stick’ (four of the last six), it was never really an issue. It was merely tolerated as a crutch for some of the older players to cure their yips, and it would never really catch on.

But if it actually kept players competitive, whether by being technically superior, or by merely providing confidence, then why wouldn’t it catch on? If they didn’t like it, then ban it early in the same way the PGA Tour banned Sam Snead’s front-on putting.

The R & A’s lack of foresight on this matter, even as they watched children learn the game for years with no knowledge of a traditional putter, parallels other major sporting bodies’ shortcomings. So it’s a small comfort to see that the NRL is not the only organisation that cannot see the woods from the tees!

They have completely missed the boat on this. By watching players develop into touring pros who use the long putter, and who had no reason to expect they would not be allowed to use it, they have implicitly sanctioned its use amongst a generation of professionals. It’s little wonder now that Ernie Els brings up the question of law suits for threatening livelihoods.

As Carol King said, “it’s too late, baby”. We now face the prospect of two tours either side of the Atlantic playing by different rules.

If the R & A cannot, and will not, provide evidence that the putter makes a golfer any more or less successful on the greens, then the basis of their ban doesn’t stand scrutiny, even if, like me, you prefer the traditional stroke because it requires a free stroke.

Even Sam Snead’s front-on version used both hands on the club!

At this point, they may as well ban the high fade, or the low draw.

As Adam Scott says, they have zero evidence.

But they do have an awful amount of evidence about what ball and club technology are doing. Why don’t they do something about that? Or is it really ok to swing a 9.5 degree Volkswagen Golf off the tee?

I’ve learned to accept long putters and, implicitly, so had the R & A, so they will have a fight on their hands.  Even the US PGA Tour has lined up against it.

I like to putt with my right elbow tucked into my side. Is that anchoring? Do I need to change my stroke?

I know I need to practice, but that’s another story.

The Tuesday NRL Rubdown – Round 10

Meeting the Send-Off bar

As Mr Magoo might have opined, “Oh NRL, you’ve done it again”!, before skipping clean off the rollercoaster.

Having watched increasingly dangerous tackles that reached Defcon 5 threaten to leave Greg Inglis in a wheelchair (as opposed to his rightful place on the throne of rugby league), the NRL referees then decided that Jared Waerea-Hargreaves’ equivalent of Defcon 3 was the right time to begin the early shower routine. Awesome stuff.

Make sense? Not really. But wait, let’s move onto round 10 …

Just a week later and the Titans weren’t playing the ball, or even the man – they were playing the head, 70s-style as Broncos coach Anthony Griffin noted. Most people would say it was only the Broncos, so what’s the fuss?

The point is that Greg Bird was only sin-binned for an identical tackle as JWH’s, Jamal Idris had Jack Reid seeing stars after a swinging arm to the head, and Dave Taylor  surely had the Dirty Harry speech in mind with a flying stiff arm on Peter Wallace that “could blow your head clean off”. Both of the latter instances involved a considerable run-up, meaning perfect vision and ample time to pull out.

So we’ve basically gone back up to Defcon 4 with these tackles without a send off. The mind boggles.

The grading for Taylor was actually “higher” than JWH, as was Krisnan Inu’s (which we will get to), and yet they remained on the field. It’s a farce.

Just to show everyone there are no hard feelings, Taylor has lightened the mood and answered Dirty Harry’s question of “Do you feel lucky?” with a resounding “Yes!” By challenging the grading, he has confirmed what we all suspected – he has a future in stand-up, does our Dave. I know I’d do pay-per-view to watch the hearing live.

Notwithstanding the fact that it was far worse than the tackle of the Roosters’ patsy, he should get an extra week for assuming he will be selected for the Maroons! The hide!

Enter the Scorpion

 

Inu always has his WWE tag team background to fall back on if NRL doesn't work out ...

Inu always has his WWE tag team background to fall back on if NRL doesn’t work out …

Krisnan Inu is fast earning the title of the NRL’s “enfant terrible”. He has now racked up seven weeks of suspension out of a possible eight appearances.

Not bad for two appalling tackles that could very easily have been career-ending.

Leg pulls have become a new and unwelcome feature of the 2013 season, and I’m just waiting for someone’s groin to snap. The referees are clearly too spineless to do anything about it, or too gormless to notice it. But I have, and I don’t like what I see.

But I didn’t see the Inu version coming … He’s clearly been learning his BJJ moves with a very effective use of leverage on a susceptible joint. Plenty of time for that on the mat, not on the field.

The Time Wasting Crackdown – please …

The stupid-ometer is clicking over at a thousand miles an hour at NRL HQ.

How the NRL can narrowly identify scrums and drop-outs as the antidote to time-wasting is beyond Dr NRL Ph.D. Not only have they ensured nothing actually gets better until round 15 (when they have said they will begin penalising slow coaches, and not before), but they have hit upon the wrong fix – again – by identifying the wrong problem – again.

There is too much time chewed up by the clock with the ball out of play as it is. This is not just a baby step, it’s a complete misdiagnosis.

Penalties for delaying play are already in the referees’ tool-kit (the word “tool” is not a coincidence). Once again, it is a failure to actually enforce the existing rules.

As noted in blogs past, the right approach is to either

a)      Penalise (as per the rules); or

b)      Blow time off (which I recommend unless the “breather” is too long)

And by the way, time off should extend to:

a)      When the ball goes out of bounds either via the sideline or dead in-goal and until play restarts

b)      When ta try is scored, restarting upon kick-off.

How much time was wasted in the Panther/Warriors match, for instance?

Disregarding the last minute try to the Warriors, the Panthers’ 11 tries would have soaked up well over 20 minutes of “gap time” between try and kick-off.

Add to that the instances where the ball was knocked-on or kicked out before restarting with a scrum (nine of those) or taps from penalties after the ball was kicked out to gain ground (14 of those puppies) and you’re looking at serious time.

Another way of looking at that game is that the Panthers scored well over a point-a-minute in actual playing time. Extraordinary.

The Gen-Warriors

Inevitably, the sword of Damocles hangs over Matt Elliot, the poor patsy encouraged to join the Warriors to replace another underperforming coach.

Unfortunately for Elliot, the Gen-Y Warriors, comfortable with nice pay packets, notoriety amongst the fans and a sense of entitlement that would knock a narcissist’s head “clean off”, Dave Taylor-style (or is that Dirty harry?), really wanted Tony Iro to coach them this year. So Elliot was up against it from the day he got off the plane.

Even if Elliot didn’t set the world alight in previous incarnations at the Panthers and Roosters, Iro delivered very little when he took over last year. Or, should I say, the players delivered very little.

The point is this: when a club starts to allow the players to dictate club policy and who coaches them, and implicitly refuse to play when they feel affronted, a club’s culture is denuded to the point of invisibility.

This is not the way to build a successful, harmonious team culture.

Look at the clubs who are “buying in”, and who respect the position of coach and their place within a team unit. They’re at the top of the ladder …

Extra Time – Get rid of it

What? No penalties in extra time? What a surprise. The travelling field-goal-athon moves on to another city.

At the pace the penalties were meted out, we would have expected two penalties exactly on Monday night during golden point (probably to Melbourne). Alas …

The broader point to make about golden point is what’s the point?

I realise I’ve written about this before, but the idea that we need to generate a winner and a loser was dealt a devastating blow by actually not producing either.

All the players succeeded in doing was open themselves up to further injury and reduce preparation time for next week’s games.

If the real idea is to generate a winner, do something equally as obtuse  as golden point by playing until midnight if that’s what it takes … or by making it a drop-goal shootout, moving back from the 20-metre line by 10-metres at a time.   

Let’s just get rid of it.

The Adam Blair Project

How can you tell if a marquee player isn’t living up to potential, What if they aren’t really marquee at all, but an honest trundler, the Ewen Chatfield of rugby league?

But what are commentators, fans and critics actually expecting of Adam Blair? To be Richard Hadlee?

A previous article outlined the idea of “recency bias” having a disproportionate effect on our decision-making. It really does describe human behaviour, as proven by many psychology studies and experiments.

With Adam Blair, I think we’re dealing with something more akin to “franchise bias”. That is, regarding a player as being more talented than they really are, simply because they have been a member of a winning team.

This happens in business all the time, and banking is awesome at it. By failing to recognise where the business’ franchise value (or team’s success) ends and individual ability begins and “adds value” that is special and identifiable, many a poor hire has been made. In many cases, franchise value is an individual’s life support system!

Consider that the Storm’s “spine players were at their peak when Blair was playing in that team, and they triple-handedly won games and premierships for their team (along with some other very famous and capable players, to be sure).

Many players could have played the grunt roles effectively in that team, but have failed to impress elsewhere. Jason Ryles springs to mind of a player who has come into the team and benefited from a solid team structure when most thought he was finished. Adam Blair is the reverse.

So lay off Adam. It’s not his fault he was over-rated.

Spot the Origin trend

Have you noticed what’s happening with the NSW team this year? I have, and I’m loving it!

NSW has not experienced the pleasure of choice in recent years the way the Queenslanders have, and this is a key ingredient to what I think will become a successful series and snap the stranglehold the Queenslanders have had on the silverware.

The fact that there are so many players competing realistically for a place in the team makes the recent story about Paul Gallen playing prop again absurd and preposterous. NSW have far bigger players to fill those roles, and who just happen to be playing exceptional football, and playing with heart. Willie Mason and Andrew Fifita spring to mind, on top of James Tamou and Tim Grant. The fact that this is just the beginning is a seriously important development.

And when do you remember NSW having the riches at half back and five-eighth to choose from? Yes, it has been a while. Memo Daley who is having sleepless nights about his five-eighth: the answer lay in whether you want a playmaker running straight and asking the defence serious questions. They’re hard to counteract. I’m sure you’ll make the right choice.

This level of real competition will deliver the Origin series back to NSW this year, I have no doubt.

As for the Queenslanders, not only have their spine players aged, so has the squad. They still retain the most damaging player in the game in Greg Inglis, but is it enough?

Nup. Not this time.

The Dr NRL Referees’ Rules Primer

 

The poor old referees are copping such a bagging lately that I thought it best to intercede on their behalf.

Which way did that wabbit go ... ?

Which way did that wabbit go … ?

With so much action on the field and so many rules to remember (like which direction a ball needs to travel in order to constitute a knock-on), the referees have lost sight of many of the basics.

I am here to help.

This will not be an outline of the rules I think would make significantly more sense than the ones we currently have. It will merely serve as a little memory jog for our whistle-blowing pinkos (who may be forced to wear ‘Liberal Blue’ from September onwards …).

Here are a few to get started, taken from – RUGBY LEAGUE LAWS OF THE GAME

SECTION 8 – THE KICK OFF AND DROP-OUT

7. Any other player shall be penalised if he:–

(b) runs in front of one of his own team who is kicking off or dropping out.

… Notwithstanding the fact that the actual offside at the kickoff rule took until the 3rd page of this section to be mentioned, it is the very first play of the game. Please make sure that if Newcastle has 10 kickoffs this week, they are behind the kicker for one of them.

SECTION 9 – TOUCH AND TOUCH IN-GOAL

1. The ball is in touch when it or a player in contact with it touches the touch line or the ground beyond the touch line or any object on or outside the touch line except when a player, tackled in the field of play, steps into touch as he regains his feet in which case he shall play-the-ball in the field of play.

… so when a Broncos player puts his hand outside the sideline as he gets up to place the ball, please remember not to penalise the Parramatta team next time. You may also like to call the touch judge a muppet for putting his flag up as you allow play to proceed without interruption.

SECTION 10 – KNOCK-ON AND FORWARD PASS

1. A player shall be penalised if he deliberately knocks on or passes forward.

… Note to self: stop giving Shaun Johnson tries when he taps the ball 3 metres forward over a defender’s head.

SECTION 11 – THE TACKLE AND PLAY-THE-BALL

10. The play-the-ball shall operate as follows.

(a) The tackled player shall be immediately released and shall not be touched until the ball is in play.
(b) The tackled player shall without delay regain his feet where he was tackled, lift the ball clear of the ground, face his opponent’s goal line and place the ball on the ground in front of his foremost foot.

… I shall not … blow a penalty against the marker when the player who plays the ball walks forward past him while in the act of playing the ball.

SECTION 15 – PLAYER’S MISCONDUCT

1. A player is guilty of misconduct if he:

(b) when effecting or attempting to effect a tackle makes contact with the head or neck of an opponent intentionally, recklessly or carelessly.

(d) uses any dangerous throw when effecting a tackle.

(f) uses offensive or obscene language.

(g) disputes a decision of the Referee or Touch Judge.

(i) behaves in any way contrary to the true spirit of the game.

(k) uses a shoulder charge on an opponent

Let me clarify Johnathan ... does f... f... f...ing f... you f...ing f....er mean you don't agree with the decision?

Let me clarify Johnathan … does f… f… f…ing f… you f…ing f….er mean you don’t agree with the decision?

… these examples are a subset of the longer list, but they are constantly overlooked. So next time Johnathan Thurston sets a new world record for f-bombs sprayed in your general direction (marquee as he may be), Jamie Lyon reprises his beloved high school debating days with you (marquee as he may be), or Billy Slater lays on yet another shoulder charge (marquee as he may be), then you will know what to do.

Please be mindful of consistency on point (b), mmm’kay?

Oh, and good luck with the ‘behaving in any way contrary to the true spirit of the game’ thingee.

ps. A dangerous throw probably does include driving the ball carrier’s head into the ground in like, you know, a spear-type motion, kind of thing. Maybe look out for that …

SECTION 16 – DUTIES OF REFEREE AND TOUCH JUDGES

6. In the event of misconduct by a player, the Referee shall, at his discretion, caution, temporarily suspend for ten minutes, or dismiss the offender.

Every breath you take, every move you make, every step you take, I'll be watchin' you ...

Every breath you take, every move you make, every step you take, I’ll be watchin’ you …

… and the awesome news you weren’t expecting, or had likely forgotten – again – you can actually sin bin a player for misconduct that includes any of the above (plus the rest).

How about that?

Forewarned is forearmed.

So refs … Off you go into the Round 10 sunset and make me proud!

The Fluctuating Fortunes of Jared and Josh

JWH

No, Jared, listen carefully. Travolta gets his arm at this angle, and you wiggle the hips like so. No shimmy, ok. That's later.

No, Jared, listen carefully. Travolta gets his arm at this angle, and you wiggle the hips like so. No shimmy, ok. That’s later.

There are quite a few different views on the Jared Waerea-Hargreaves dismissal on Monday night.

I have a pretty dim view of head contact generally, but given what we have seen this year already, the incident clearly did not warrant a send-off (though it certainly deserved to be on report with a subsequent suspension).

Consider the fact that we have had ugly spear tackles without send-off, including a double by the same man on the same ball runner, no less than the holy grail of rugby league himself, Greg Inglis.

In that particular game we also saw a wild swinging arm that sent the biggest player on the field into orbit. The ludicrous excuse was that the initial contact was the ball, before slipping up into the head (make your mind up if that’s a fairly reliable way of hitting somebody in the melon or not – try it, it’s easy!).

And what can we make of players punching each other in the head, such as in the Eels-Broncos match? If a fist to the head doesn’t constitute ‘head contact’, then what does, exactly?

Referee inconsistency, lack of knowledge of the most basic rules and general ineptitude have featured enough on this blog without diving into that pink cesspit again, but what happened on Monday was always going to happen.

Harking back to the April 2 Rubdown:

“Referees don’t understand the Send Off and Sin Bin rules (or the offside at the kick-off rule for that matter). Not a lot more needs to be said, other than predicting that some poor sod is going to get marched in upcoming weeks for something far less than what Krisnan Inu did to Greg Inglis.”

Et voila! Off goes JWH, even despite the suggestion of initial contact on the shoulder before slipping up ‘Matai-style’ and a subsequent grading of 1!

Dean Ritchie quoted Steve Roach on this very subject in today’s Telegraph:

“Five weeks for that?” Roach roared. “Inglis has been dropped on his head three times (by Richie Fa’aoso, twice, and Krisnan Inu) and nothing happened. It was like they had to send someone off. Waerea-Hargreaves is paying for something the refs didn’t do earlier this year.”

The NRL and referees need to be a little (read: a lot) clearer about their decisions.

If they decide to randomly choose a week to get tough on head contact (a decision I applaud as a hard and fast rule, and which the NRL have already got wrong in relation to the shoulder charge), then make sure everybody knows.  It is patently absurd to dismiss a player for a lesser offence than which has occurred on multiple occasions this year.

Josh Dragon

Despite having a Twitter ban, Dugan appreciated wearing the red 2-finger salute, meaning he didn't have to do it.

Despite having a Twitter ban, Dugan appreciated wearing the red 2-finger salute, meaning he didn’t have to do it.

It was but a couple of days after the quote above that it became fairly obvious Josh Dugan was about to become Josh Dragon. Well he has finally signed now and is about to play this weekend.

But should he?

Recall that he was dismissed for consistent and flagrant breaches of club policy, to the point of (seemingly) engineering his way out by giving the Raiders no choice but to remove him. This is not the selfless work of a role model to younger players, kids and fans, or of one deserving the riches of his contract.

But that’s not why I think he should be made to sit the year out.

The point is that the Raiders were compelled to veer off course in order to remove a toxic element within the club, which is clearly sub-optimal from a business point of view and generally avoided.

The club had gone through their player retention policy (of which Dugan was part), made their choices about the year’s roster, and signed off on the salary cap at the same time.

And that’s the important point. The Raiders have been dudded, while the Dragons have benefited by securing a very talented footballer playing for next year’s contract.

Anyone listening to the very public conversation relating to the NSW Origin team, and the complex set of permutations surrounding it, knows that putting a team together isn’t merely an act of putting 17 players on a paddock.

In the NSW example it extends (like every year it seems) to who will fill in for an injured player, are they on the correct side of the field, are they a goal kicker, and if not, then maybe we have to select someone else … but they play better with so-and-so … and so on, ad nauseum.

The Raiders have clearly lost out in this regard. But at the same time, they have benefited from that indefinable, yet binding quality of team harmony.

Maybe it was all worth it?

Still, Josh shouldn’t be playing.