I’m not talking about my back, although ironically, it is from other countries. I’m talking about my 1, 6, 7 and 9.
In the modern game of Rugby League the spine (Fullback, Five-Eight, Halfback and Hooker) is one of the 2 things a team has to get spot on to win a premiership. The other is go-forward. If the forwards, combined with the back 3 for kick returns, don’t lay a platform then it is pretty hard for your spine to do anything with the ball. They are always on the back foot. If your team has unbelievable go-forward, that bends the line every time, you will have an above average team, but with a spine that can’t complement that stellar play with execution that racks points up on the board, you aren’t likely to go all the way in September/October. I’ll throw a wild card in here. Ball playing forwards can sometimes ease the burden on either unit but the tried and true formula is Go Forward + Effective Spine = Premiership. It is Einstein’s theory of Relevancy. Einstein was a big time League supporter. Big time.
So why should NRL teams be going out of their way to recruit a spine from other countries? Simple answer. Three words. State of Origin.
It is pretty obvious but we will go over it anyways.
- Origin players miss a stack of NRL matches. Most Origin players miss 3 matches although some of the byes are strategically placed to minimise this.
- Players have to back up to play on the weekend after Origin, sometimes only 2 days after the game. Some coaches like Craig Bellamy and Wayne Bennett have rested players after Origin which creates more missed games for Origin players.
- The intensity of State of Origin both in terms of the game itself and the hype leading up to the match can emotionally and physically drain the players during the whole Origin period but also for the period immediately after Origin.
- The fatigue created during the Origin period can lead to a heightened risk of injury for the players involved. I was going to say I couldn’t back this up statistically but then I found this. Thank you John Orchard and Wayne Hoskins.
- Some Origin players are also selected for Australia and participate in a full international program as well. Some play in City vs Country.
International players from other countries never have this issue to the same degree. If you had a spine of Sam Tomkins, Gareth Widdop, Shaun Johnson and Isaac Luke you could avoid all of that trouble. What about Roger Tuivasa-Scheck, Kieran Foran, Benji Marshall and Apisai Koroisau? On a side note I’m thinking the best career move for Apisai Koroisau was not moving from Souths where he was behind Isaac Luke to Penrith where he is behind James Segeyaro, an up and coming star Hooker only 2 years older. Then again when you think about it, how many teams had a real opening at Hooker at the start of the season?
The corollary of this is the impact SOO has had and will continue to have on the following teams. Melbourne will lose Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith during SOO. Bulldogs will potentially lose Josh Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson or the Roosters will lose Mitchell Pearce and James Maloney depending on which direction Laurie Daley goes.
If I ran a NRL club I would be pushing my troops towards declaring their allegiance to any country other than Australia. James Segeyaro for PNG instead of Australia and Valentine Holmes for New Zealand instead of Australia.
It might also help International Rugby League, so there’s that.
What was sweeter than Jelly Bread?
- Jake Granville. He is carving out a great argument for more playing time and a permanent starting position.
- NBA Playoffs. The Dubs in particular but a lot of other storylines to enjoy too. It is going to be epic.
- PNG Hunters back in the winners circle.
- Big DCE fan so not talking about him. Talking about all of this round 13 contract registration business for the NRL. Something needs to be done about it but having a transfer period at the end of the season is the worst idea from the bunch. I can’t see a scenario where this would work. Effectively the NRL would be giving a free shot to Rugby Union for every player in a contract year. A transfer period only works in competitions which are undisputedly the best in the World like the NBA, MLB or in sports which have very low transferability like NFL or AFL. If you want to see about 5 players a year defect to Rugby Union then by all means introduce a transfer window at the end of each season.
Bill James Award
For the statistically superior NRL human being.
William Zillman – Tries – 2, Run Metres – 260m, Try Assists – 0, Tackle Breaks – 5, Tackles – 11, Offloads – 0, Line Breaks – 1, Line Break Assists – 0, Errors – 2, Penalties Conceded – 0 and Fullback controversies at the Titans – 0.
NRL Tips Round 8
Bulldogs vs Tigers – Bulldogs (Bulldogs are progressively getting players back but are still without James Graham, Tim Lafai and the Morris twins. Should be a grinding kind of game. Tigers are a chance for the upset but not many teams better at grinding than the Bullies)
Warriors vs Titans – Warriors (Warriors have won their last 100 games against the Titans so even though the Titans have overachieved this season they won’t be able to pull this one off)
Knights vs Cowboys – Cowboys (Lots of drama for this one. Will Beau Scott reprise his role as JT Hitman? Will this result in a fight? Can the Knights stop their recent slide? Can the Cows maintain their momentum? I’m going Yes, Maybe, No and Yes)
Roosters vs Dragons – Roosters (Thought the Dragons would have faded by now (like last season) but they were brave against the Broncos for their fifth win in a row. Roosters will be too big, too fast and too steppy for the Dragons)
Storm vs Sea Eagles – Storm (Much will hinge on Slater and Cronk’s availability but the Sea Eagles have been diabolical this season. I’ve kept picking them because they always bounce back. Given I’ve tipped the Storm this time expect Manly to win)
Broncos vs Eels – Broncos (Broncs to get back on track at Lang Park. Wayne Bennett to show no emotion)
Panthers vs Sharks – Sharks (Sharks were very stodgy in the battle of Lake Remondis and they will cherry pick an oft injured Penrith this week)
Rabbitohs vs Raiders – Rabbitohs (Rabbits will pull their season back on track. Raiders will be the Raiders)
Last week – 3/8
Season so far – 33/56
NRL Fantasy Round 8
Saving my trades this week. Can’t rule out a last minute sneaky trade. If I don’t watch out I’m going to burn the lot by SOO.
Robbie Farah (Tigers), Paul Gallen (Sharks), George Burgess (Rabbitohs), Shaun Fensom (Raiders), Corey Parker (Broncos), Tohu Harris (Storm), Daly Cherry-Evans (Sea Eagles), Thomas Leuluai (Warriors), Jack Bird (Sharks), Iosia Soliola (Raiders), Tuimoala Lolohea (Warriors), Euan Aitken (Dragons) and Lachlan Coote (Cowboys)
Kierran Moseley (Titans), Martin Taupau (Tigers), Solomone Kata (Warriors) and Mitchell Aubusson (Roosters)
Balance of the squad
Rory O’Brien (Dragons), Sam Lisone (Warriors), Chris Grevsmuhl (Rabbitohs), Brendan Santi (Tigers), Kane Elgey (Titans), Mitch Moses (Tigers), Eto Nabuli (Dragons) and Edrick Lee (Raiders)
Round 7 Score
BTW it would help if Paul Gallen and Shaun Fensom started playing again. Just saying.
6,864 of 105,380
EPL Tips Match Day 34
Southampton vs Tottenham – Southampton 2-1 (Important battle with European implications. Southampton to leap Tottenham into 6th)
Burnley vs Leicester – Draw 1-1 (This will be a dour defensive struggle if Burnley has anything to say about it with everything at stake for both teams)
Crystal Palace vs Hull – Crystal Palace 2-0 (Palace will be looking to bounce back after their poor showing against the Baggies and may still end up top half for the first time ever)
Newcastle vs Swansea – Newcastle 2-1 (Things are getting very dire Tyneside. It seemed unthinkable in February that Newcastle was a relegation risk with 35 points in the bag but their form is ice cold with 6 losses on the trot. I don’t think Palace winning 4 games in the corresponding period has helped the mood any. This game will be close)
QPR vs West Ham – QPR 3-2 (The Hammers don’t have heaps to play for which will make this game interesting. Expect a few goals)
Stoke vs Sunderland – Stoke 2-0 (Sunderland are plummeting towards relegation with Leicester in the mood to jump the Black Cats and Hull into safety which makes this game of even greater importance but Stoke have too much quality to drop this fixture at home)
West Brom vs Liverpool – Liverpool 2-1 (Baggies probably still not safe at this stage and Liverpool with plenty still to play for)
Man City vs Aston Villa – Man City 3-1 (Villa will be buoyed by their superb FA Cup performance and Benteke is on fire but this will be a mountain too far)
Everton vs Man U – Man U 2-1 (Keep waiting for the Man U campaign to implode but if anything they are finishing their campaign stronger than their start. Everton have been better of late but won’t get the points this week)
Arsenal vs Chelsea – Arsenal 2-1 (Rare chance for Arsenal to eat into Chelsea’s lead. Must win if they are to have any chance of pulling them back. Given they have won 8 in a row they have taken over from Liverpool as hottest team in the EPL. Wouldn’t be surprised if Chelsea eked out a defensive draw though)
Hull vs Liverpool – Liverpool 2-0 (Last chance saloon for Hull now. No easy points on offer either)
Leicester vs Chelsea – Chelsea 2-1 (Leicester will be happy with anything from this game but I don’t think Chelsea will let them have it)
I’ve adopted the scoring system utilised by Mark Lawrenson on the BBC (a correct result (picking a win, draw or defeat) is worth ONE point and picking an exact score THREE points) and even though he wouldn’t know me from Adam we are going head to head all season long. It’s on like Donkey Kong (unless I get a letter from his lawyer or Donkey Kong’s lawyer and then I’m tipping against myself again).
Last week – Me – 5 (5 from 7 with no perfect scores) and Lawro – 5 (3 from 7 with 1 perfect score)
Season so far – Me – 242 and Lawro – 228 (Lawro randomly includes the odd FA Cup or League Cup fixture which is why his score is different on the BBC site)
Fantasy Premier League Match Day 34
Transfer of the week
Nothing doing this week. I’m hoping David Silva recovers from his knock.
My team this week
De Gea (Man U), Clyne (Southampton), Ivanovic (Chelsea), Terry (Chelsea), Sanchez (Arsenal), Eriksen (Spurs), Downing (West Ham), Hazard (Chelsea), Silva (Man City), Kane (Spurs) and Austin (QPR) with Hamer (Leicester), Vardy (Leicester), Bruce (Hull) and McShane (Hull) on the bench.
112,130 from 3,491,004
Stay tuned for the next exciting episode on Friday, 1 May 2015 titled ‘2015 NRL First Trimester Report Part 1 – Helter Skelter’