The NRL Round 12 Rubdown and origin Lube-up

Warriors piss it in

Russell Packer braved the torrential downpour ... from the waist down

Russell Packer braved the torrential downpour … from the waist down

And thank goodness they did, too. The alternative doesn’t bear thinking about. The (full strength) Warriors were in last place to be sure, but failing to beat what was almost a second grade Broncos team would reignite the debate about level playing fields and first and second divisions.

And the latter in particular is a boneheaded debate we can do without. It was safely avoided last night after the Warriors failed to defeat themselves, and instead, pummelled the opposition as we know they can.

Given the circumstances, I had thought they might win comfortably, even away from home. But I will admit to my resolve being tested as they failed to convert early tries and gave away schoolboy penalties.

Let’s not forget that the Warriors have given all the top teams a serious test so far (as outlined in last week’s Rubdown) , and Manly next week will round out what I expect to be another tight game in Auckland. Their draw has been relatively unkind, in other words.

Their Warriors stats for possession (58%), completions (82%), metres gained (1645), metres per run (10.5) and missed tackles (<5%) were far and away their best all year, and bettered last week’s amazing transformation.

And based on their share of possession, the points difference yielded a fairly predictable result as you can see in the chart.

The Warriors' possession difference vs points difference align very well

The Warriors’ possession difference vs points difference align very well

Last night’s drubbing also emphasised that even a bottom-placed team can threaten top-placed teams when there is an absences of key personnel.

The talent pool isn’t quite as lopsided as many claim, it would seem.

If this competition has proved anything, it is that if a team is mentally prepared they can do a lot of damage. The physical aspect is no longer a factor given relatively equal size and fitness, as well as three & four man tackles. If size was a real issue, the Tigers would never have beaten the Cowboys last week.

Eliminating the wrestle

Brad Walter reports that only coaches can eliminate the wrestle in the game. That’s not correct. It is purely a simply a task for the NRL, not coaches.

We currently have the absurd situation whereby coaches ‘coach’ things like the wrestle (and the article ably quotes Wayne Bennett to this effect ) because other teams do. It’s a vicious circle that requires a circuit breaker, a role coaches are loathe to take.  Why? Because they are busy operating within a professional framework that measures success by ‘wins’, and where those wins increase their chances of keeping their day job. There is no place for a moral stand in such an environment, though they can try to influence the NRL with their own version of ‘moral suasion’.

Dominant!!

Dominant!!

Unfortunately, the NRL is deaf to those entreaties. It consistently fails to appreciate the damage these issues can create for the game, content to sit back, take a cut and watch the game drift. We can only hope Todd Greenberg makes a significant mark for the 2014 season.

Failure to enforce existing rules and to incorporate new ones to discourage contact with high probability of injury keeps the game in stasis, and ill-equipped to respond to threats from other codes in a timely manner.

I prefer proactivity and flexibility to ruin and decay. But that’s just me.

In this vein, referees need to stop ANY forceful contact from the ‘cannonball’ style tackles. Holding the feet is fine, diving in with force from the side while two players hold up the ball carrier is not.

Who says we can't do schoolyard pranks as adults. I might even try it this afternoon!

Who says we can’t do schoolyard pranks as adults. I might even try it this afternoon!

Personally, I like the Rabbitohs more humanitarian version of this tackle, the ‘bench tackle’. This is a variation of the schoolyard prank of kneeling behind someone, while another kid pushes them back over you. It’s an awful amount of fun, and it doesn’t break a defenceless player’s legs in half. Kudos to Madge and the boys, who will be in line for the NRL/Nobel Peace Prize!

The face of the NRL

There is a theory going around that being the face of the NRL is a curse, and that to be honoured with it is to invite misfortune of unimaginable proportions (self inflicted or not).

Perhaps it’s better to be the ‘unofficial face’ of the NRL like Sam Burgess.

Who can miss the big fella from ‘oop north’ on every possible rugby league show known to man. Apart from the odd crusher tackle, he is an excellent role model for kids, gives his time obligingly, and has a sense of the greater good of the game.

More unofficial faces of the NRL please.

Grade 1 contacts and send offs

Being a bear of very little brain, I’m still struggling to understand why JWH was sent off. This is a comment on referees and their interpretation of the rules, not on head contact, by the way.

I don’t get that identical tackles have occurred with regularity since then, the most recent being a Grade 2 verdict on the Dragons’ Leeson Ah Mau. From memory, JWH’s tackle was only a Grade 1, and Greg Bird followed up JWH’s the very next week. Identical, yet a sin bin was deemed sufficient.

Dave Taylor’s late tackle on Peter Wallace was worse, and it is an offence to humanity and common sense that it was downgraded!

What I’m really struggling with is the point of sending a player off at all.

Is it to send a message that a particular type of tackle is deemed dangerous enough to warrant a dismissal, and that any repeats will receive the same treatment?

Well that’s patently not happening. So what was the point? Why haven’t referees followed up?

To give another example, how can a player attack a defenceless try scorer late, and with knees, and not have at least a week’s rest?

State of Origin 2013

I have to admit to having no butterflies prior to this year’s Origin series.

And judging by the behaviour of the NSW team in camp, nor do they.

A previous post highlighted how events were shaping up differently this year, such as the NSW team finally being spoiled for choice, and Queensland responding to NSW selections rather than ignoring them. There is so much competition for places now it’s scary.

The relaxed nature of the team and the (relatively) more serious countenance of the Queenslanders remind me of favourites such as Parramatta in the 2001 Grand Final, or the Roosters in the 2003 Grand Final. They were so wound up as overwhelming favourites that their heads were spinning. And we know what happened next …

Ain't life grand, Mal?

Ain’t life grand, Mal?

The selection of Laurie Daley as coach, and his approach, also reminded me from the get-go of the Swan-Roos connection in the early-2000s. Knowing the kind of guy Paul Roos was (and is) made it quite evident back then that the Swans were on the verge of something great. These types of individuals don’t come around very often.

I get the same feeling from Laurie Daley.

And not to delve too far into player match-ups (because it has been done to death), I’m quietly excited about the NSW halves. Pearce can finally bring it with ole mate Maloney next to him, and it will be a joy to watch a straight running 5/8 who asks questions of the defence on a consistent basis.

Don’t be surprised if the NSW team wins, and wins well tomorrow night.

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5 thoughts on “The NRL Round 12 Rubdown and origin Lube-up

  1. Props to the Nikolai volkoff pic. As a stats man you are predicting Pearce will fire up from your heart right? I hope I am proven wrong but he is an abomination of a half back.

    Your point about the relaxed lead up to origin by Daley is quite astute and let’s see how it works

    • That’s very funny …. I’ll give him one more chance. I have been known to yell “Peeeeaaaarrrrccccce!!” at the TV on occasion, followed by a few other things. We’ll see how much of this year’s form is SBW-related tomorrow night.

      If he just remembers the following when passing, then he might be ok: “Waist high and in front of the ball runner … not high and behind.”

      I don’t want to see an episode of “Laces OUT” play out in years to come …

      Reynolds has already proven he is ready, in my opinion. That’s what I like about the choice this year. Awesome!

      If Laurie was any more relaxed his heart would stop beating. I almost ran over Hoffman and Merrin the other day too, and they thought it was very funny. I may have missed the brake if it was Darius …

      • Ha, I knew what you meant … trying to work out the other guy … dressed like Hulk, but not big enough.

        Mr Wonderful Paul Orndorff perchance? It can’t be Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, can it?!

  2. 100% it’s Hulk. Famous match with the Sheik where he won it from memory. 84ish. He got bigger from that point. But as Daniel Anderson and his cronies say, angles can be deceiving.

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