NRL Round 11 Rubdown meets Pre-Origin Lube-up

The Broncos and the Urban Sombrero … er, Salary Cap

SombreroI’m pretty late to this, so of course I’ll lead with it at short notice in my flippant, yet serious, yet flippant way!

I’m stunned that teams can get this so wrong. It is a simple spreadsheet entry. It’s also easily recordable on a napkin. The only conclusion I can possibly arrive at is that it is an intentional and cynical breach.

The ability to be underhanded when it comes to 3rd party payments is almost infinite, but the fact is that clubs cannot guarantee them, and therefore they should be made public (what sponsor doesn’t want publicity?). I covered it in the Round 5 Rubdown in the context of the Bulldogs offering Andrew Fifita a contract that was heavily overweight with 3rd party payments. The rules say (underlines mine):

Unlimited – Players can earn unlimited amounts from corporate sponsors who are not associated with the club and who do not use the game’s intellectual property (no club logos, jerseys or emblems) provided these are pre-approved. These agreements may not be negotiated by the club as an incentive for a player to sign a contract, nor can they be guaranteed by the club.

Sounds fairly straight forward to me, and I’m still scratching my head as to why the Bulldogs have not been investigated for this.

As one journalist told me, clubs can deliver on 3rd party payments, but it is a grey area. It’s not grey to me – if a club pays the money, it’s a salary cap event.

Looking forward to a few more investigative stories on this topic in coming days.

Monday Night … Foot …Ball ….

Sorry … nodded off there …

Even in a truncated abomination of a week, Round 11 of the NRL had more than enough soap opera and controversy. It also further highlighted the flawed logic in weakening the NRL in the middle of the season, simultaneously reducing the quality of matches that are actually played. So not only do we get less football, we get less for our money in each game. Enough people are onto this now to refrain from flogging a dead horse – again – and besides, it’s been said here before anyway.

But as an example of what NRL fans are being asked to endure, the Sharks vs Rabbitohs scored an 11 on a scale of 1-10 on the Soporific Scale on Monday night. The only thing saving it was that the soccer international was even worse, and not by a small margin. Some of the footwork by the Socceroos in front of goal would have had the Spaniards thinking the match was Australia’s Funniest Home Videos, not to mention making me feel better about my insipid dribbling. Not being able to beat a second string South Africa at home was a fairly pedestrian effort, but at least they scored a solitary point, which can’t be said of the gummy Sharks.

I’m sure I heard an audible sigh of relief from Laurie Daley, however, suddenly feeling more relaxed about not giving the Bunnies halves a chance at Origin. His halves selections of Hodkinson (no ‘g’ people) and Josh Reynolds will have to deal with a more even forward battle in State of Origin that will test their creativity and resolve, but are likely to surprise many people on Wednesday night.

The Rabbitohs halves against the Sharks, on the other hand, didn’t execute well or provide the type of direction and spark required of an Origin pairing. Offered the chance of taking apart a depleted Sharks outfit (the media definition of those who lose, despite the victors also being ‘depleted’), the Rabbitohs halves looked like they’d have trouble organising a Ronnie Coote in a brothel.

Reynolds made the solitary run, rendering him almost useless in attack other than as a pure distributor (which the opposition likes – a lot). The NRL average for Half Back Runs is 4.8 per match, and Adam Reynolds’ average is 4 (the last 6 weeks being 3), so the hand isn’t exactly being thrust skyward for Origin duty. And ole Johnny Sutton, despite being well above the NRL average for 5/8 Runs, which I love to see, is off the pace too.

Quite frankly, the game was embarrassingly poor, and almost like watching a reserve grade side play Amco Cup many years ago. This is what planning around State of Origin is delivering us.

State of Concussion

Andrew Webster wrote an interesting article overnight about the respective trainers for NSW and Queensland being under a different type of pressure to the players – the pressure to announce concussion, even if it harms their team’s chances.

Love yer work, Ronnie!

Love yer work, Ronnie!

As Andrew rightly notes, 15 minutes can decide a series, let alone a game, so there is the temptation for the cougar, Ronnie Palmer (NSW) and his Queensland counterpart (Troy Thompson) to look the other way tomorrow night if a key player cops a knock. That’s not to say they will, but the latter has been implicated in the use of smelling salts last year. Then again, go back 5 years, and you’d probably struggle to name a trainer who hadn’t used them.

Here’s the thing that the article doesn’t conclude, but I think needs to be discussed …

If the incidence of concussion is so great in the super-charged arena of State of Origin (which it is given the way bodies are thrust into action, and I’m not sure Dallas Johnson ever finished a game on the right side of right way up), and given the fact that no longer will concussed players be tolerated on the field, does it not make sense to have an extended bench for such matches? No increase in interchanges mind you, just an increase in the available players to cover the possibility of concussion depleting a team of player numbers, and to reduce the temptation for trainers as noted above.

We all saw what appalling refereeing did to the 2nd Origin match last year, and effectively handing the game to the Queenslanders after 25 minutes. The last thing we want to see is a team lose half to all of its bench due to concussion. The teams have 19 men – use them.

What’s with Klemmer and feet?

I wouldn’t be surprised if David Klemmer has a foot fetish. They seem to follow him and hunt him down, and while I’d prefer mine in a lacy high-heel, all evidence points to the fact that David likes the hairy variety covered in studded leather. That didn’t come out right …

David Klemmer 'on the burst'

David Klemmer ‘on the burst’

If it’s not planting a kiss on Billy Slater’s boots, he’s now trying to make Frank Paul Nuisala do the same with his. His ungainly and inexplicable barge into the Roosters’ line on Friday night was worthy of at least a week on the sideline. There are some things that just aren’t done in rugby league. Given that squirrel grips have made an almighty comeback, you’d be correct in asking exactly what is not allowed! Eye gouging is one. Kicks to the face are another.

Earlier on, Klemmer had sparked a melee by hitting Jared Warea-Hargreaves in the chops with the type of tackle that had JWH suspended last year. The game was tough and engrossing, even if lacking a bit of panache (dare I say ‘depleted again?), and the physicality added to the drama. At the same time, the NRL can’t be sending people off and not charging others for the same offence.

For Roosters fans, though, they should be thanking David Klemmer for waking up the JWH beast. Up until his manhood was challenged by Klemmer, he had the appearance so far in 2014 of having just fallen out of bed. This could be a turning point.

The Kasiano Bodyslam

It’s all seems a bit anti-Bulldogs, doesn’t it? It’s unintentional, I assure you.

I’ve mentioned the Cumberland throw, or use of the leg in tackles before. It’s a type of tackle I’ve detested for a long time because of the possibility of serious injury. You won’t see it often, like the McKinnon injury, but when it happens, well, you get the picture.

The very same JWH who was clobbered by Klemmer on Friday was finished off by Kasiano when his head hit the ground as fast as I can remember any other when thrown over the supporting fulcrum of Kasiano’s leg. I’m sure he didn’t mean for injury to occur, but I don’t like the leg being used as a fulcrum in a tackle, even with a single defender. It accelerates the ball carrier with centrifugal force toward the ground. But using it with two or more defenders is a recipe for disaster. Remember what a fulcrum actually is – a way of increasing force by using a support. Does there need to be a broken leg for the NRL to outlaw a completely unnecessary tackle?

Cut Price D-D-Dragons

I had to laugh at this article which led with the header The News Came Quickly for Dragons Coach Steve Price

Which part of the end came quickly?

This has been a saga from Round 1 2013. And even though Price’s contract was extended to cover 2014 on Anzac Day that year, it was clear that it was only buying time for a 2015 coach to be found. That’s what the club’s option on his services for 2015 is all about. It’s an option that was undervalued, as it is in Rugby League all the time.

In the financial world, you pay to buy an option because it has value – in this case, a put option (right to sell) on Steve Price. Was Steve Price paid for granting that option? Doubt he even thought to ask. All of us have put options on our houses – that’s what the insurance premium is – it’s not free!

Anyway, the heat was on from Round 1 again, and only early victories kept him in the job this long. Powerful forces were aligned against him from Day 1, which must be an awful environment in which to work. So must an environment of incompetent recruitment. Does the Dragons management just sit in corners counting chromosomes and staring at walls or something? Whatever management does, it doesn’t seem to have a forward-looking element at all, and then they have the hide to blame their unsupported coach, a man who supported so many players through the years, only to have them turn their back on him (I wrote that prior to the reported chatter on The Back Page, which I can’t wait to watch a bit later).

The Dragons need a good dose of discipline!

The Dragons need a good dose of discipline!

I’m pretty unimpressed with the idea of player power amassing behind a coach (unless he’s a right so-and-so), particularly when they are paid to play. If you look at the structure of rugby league matches, it is fairly difficult to discern one game plan from another. There are player targets and instructions around aggression in certain matches to be sure, but completing sets, playing for territory with a good kicking game, all the way through dummy half settlers and identical block plays are observable in all teams. Where Steve Price has failed is not so much in his tactical nous, but in his ability to motivate the team, a subject dabbled in previously with respect to Matt Elliot.

Given the impediments he has faced, it’s hard to know whether he’s a good coach or not. What a disgrace.

Interesting Stats for Round 11

The Knights a nd Wayne Bennett’s future (or folly) will have to wait given the time and length of this Rubdown already, so let’s just finish with a few tidbits:

  • Missed tackles – What a week for defence! 6 of the 10 teams playing Round 11 congregated in the 3.1% to 5.2% range for Missed Tackle Percentage. That’s abnormally low, and the Raiders missed only 7.6% into the bargain. The Bulldogs (9.1%) and the Titans and Cowboys (just over 10%) rounded out a pretty solid defensive week.
  • The Warriors’ Missed Tackle % of only 3.6% was by far their best performance, contrasting with a prior average of 8.2%
  • The Warriors’ Possession was up almost 10 percentage points on their average to 57.2%
  • How much did the Cowboys miss their origin stars? Well, they recorded their lowest Metres reading all season of 1127m (well down on a prior average of 1417m). They’ve only had a metres deficit twice this season, and been flogged both times. The Cowboys’ 3 prior matches were all victories averaging a positive Net Metres of 357m. Round 11 was negative 494m, and a 1188m turnaround from last week indicates they struggle more than most without Origin players available.
  • The Tigers finally recorded a match where their Metres were roughly shared. It only took 11 rounds, but the result was within what you’d expect from them.Tigers Scatter
  • How influential are the Titans halves, Kelly and Sezer? You’d expect the answer to be ‘quite a lot’ given their running stats. Their game is built around it. Half Runs

Their absence has been a massive disruption, and their tumble out of the Top 8 is no surprise (it was less than 2 weeks ago where I pointed out they were within 2 weeks of dipping out of the Top 8).They have given up Metres in 3 consecutive games now (at an average rate of 429m), and predictably lost the points battle as well (by an average 15 points).

Half Back runs have plummeted from an average 11.3 per match to 2 in the last 2 weeks. And 5/8 Runs have dropped from an average 6.5 to 1.5 in that time. See what I mean?

  • The Raiders followed 2 weeks of giving up 54 points to the opposition by then recording 2 consecutive weeks of 54% possession! But they only won one of those games. They’ll 54% and more on Saturday against the Roosters.
  • Thanks to the Bye, it was the first week in the last 5 that the Knights’ For & Against hasn’t deteriorated!
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2 thoughts on “NRL Round 11 Rubdown meets Pre-Origin Lube-up

    • Where smelling salts are used to revive a player from concussion, it would seem to contravene the rules as stated here – http://www.nrl.com/About/ReferenceCentre/ManagementofConcussioninRugbyLeague/tabid/10798/Default.aspx.

      The link states:

      “Any player who is suspected of having a concussion must be removed from the game and be assessed by the first aider (sports trainer)

      A player who has suffered a concussion must not be allowed to return to play in the same game. The assessor should not be swayed by the opinion of the player, coaching staff or anyone else suggesting premature return to play.”

      Further, players are not allowed back into competition following a concussion unless cleared by a doctor.

      So, smelling salts are out in this sense. And this is also the case in the NFL (as per your link). It’s all about player welfare and recognises the long term effects of concussions, secondary concussions, and repeated concussions.

      Now, I don’t see anything there that stops players using them pre-match, any more than I don’t see a prohibition on using the caffeine gel hits and ‘like’ substances that are also popular.

      Rgds,

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