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
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.
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.