Tag Archives: nrl

Footy Footy Footy!

Can you feel it?

It’s March. Autumn. There’s a nip in the air.

The sound of leather on willow is fading into obscurity and instead there’s the sound of grunting men, the smell of deep heat and the crinkle of the Daily Telegraph.

Footy season is BACK BABY!

Can you believe that it’s been 5 months since that fateful and heartbreaking day in October last year?

We’ve endured one of the most boring summers of cricket ON RECORD and now the season is finally here.

Is there any game greater than Rugby League?

I think NOT.

And it all begins with a blockbuster tomorrow night. The Dragons take on the Eels at Parramatta Stadium.

And guess whose favourite blogger will be THERE. Yes indeedy. Me, my big inflatable finger, my 2009 Grand Finalist jersey and my Blue and Gold forever son will be front and centre (as long as on the try line and 3rd row in counts) for the big clash tomorrow night.

I am soooo pumped for this season and it seems that the pressure building for the Eels this season is almost unbearable. Will they crack under the pressure (again), or will they simply blow the opposition away like they did in those last 12 games in 2009?

I am nervous, excited and positively BUSTING to see what happens when it all kicks off.

Of course there are 15 other teams that the Eels will have to shrug off before October this season and here’s Mick’s Quick Guide to the 2010 NRL Season.

Listed in the order I think they will finish.

1. Parramatta Eels Parramatta Eels

Seriously, is there any doubt that the boys from the west can’t go all the way this season? There are 2 vital pieces to the success of the Eels. Confidence and Positivity. As soon as the Eels lose either of these their heads drop and the chance of beating any team goes down the drain.

We have to play like we know how to. Throw the ball around. Run with flair. Take that chance. Chip that kick and back your ability to catch the opposition off guard. It is one of the things the Eels are famous for.

Our team is almost intact from last year except for the noticeable loss of Todd Lowrie, Kevin Kingston and Joe Galuvao. Throw in Tahu, Poore and Shackleton and you have more than made up for it. A fit Hayne, Ben Smith and Eric Grothe will also keep us confident through the thick of the season. Injuries are inevitable but we have debutant Tom Humble in the wings, as well as Krisnan Inu, Anthony Mitchell and Jonathan Wright ready to make their impact. THIS is the year my friends. It has to be.

2. Melbourne Storm Melbourne Storm

They are still the most dangerous team in the league. They prove that year after year . In fact 4 consecutive years in the grand final proves that. When you have Slater, Inglis, Cronk and Smith running at you, you need to pull out the drop drawer performance. Ironically it was the Origin ravaged Storm team in 2009 that started the Eels roll, but you can’t bet on playing them when they’re down cause they quickly get back off the mat.

I think this might be one of their last years in the top ranks of the game, but whilst Slater and Inglis are there you can never write them off. Come finals time, it’s a different ball game. I hope they make way for another team this year. I think that team will be…

3. Bulldogs Canterbury Bulldogs

The rivallry of the Eels and Bulldogs in the 80’s is back. Judging by the most amazing game of football I’ve ever seen last year in the Preliminary Final. The Bulldogs have bounced back so fast from their disastrous 2008 season that the only way they can go is up and I think this year they will see an all Sydney Grand Final against the Mighty Eels.

Kimmorley continues to impress in his twilight years and along with a solid forward pack they’re ready to pounce.

Don’t get me wrong. I hate the Bulldogs with a passion, but I think they will have a big big year.

4. South Sydney Rabbitohs

The Rabbitohs have been seemingly in a ‘re-building’ phase for a decade, but it’s about time for them to show everyone what they’ve got. I think this season will be a massive year for them to go along with their massive forward pack. They’ve recruited ex-Bronco Dave Taylor to add to Sam Burgess and the front row is ready to explode.

I still can’t get past the Rabbitohs being easy-beats. It seems that they have been for as long as I can remember, but it’d be nice to see them in front of the 8 ball for once and make the top 8 easily. I think the top 4 is a definite possibility.

5. Gold Coast Titans Gold Coast Titans

They have a bit of a hodge-podge team. Players from all over the place that have taken a while to gel. They also can’t seem to play without Preston Campbell, but they’ve recruited bad-boy Bird and he could make a big difference to their confidence.

I like their never say die attitude and I think they’ll have another successful season. I just can’t see them getting past week 1 or 2 of the finals though.

6. Wests Tigers Wests Tigers

They’ve bought Tuqiri and Jason Cayless. 2 excellent buys for what could be a turning point season for the Tiges. They really should have made a better fist of it last year but their run home was disappointing (to Parra’s glee!)

I am looking forward to a big season from Benji, as long as he doesn’t break his toe, lung or little finger. If Farah can actually perform week to week, it will help as well. Just look out for when they click. They could push for a top 4 spot.

7. St.George-Illawarra Dragons St. George-Illawarra Dragons

The perennial chokers of the league must feel like they are starting again. They had a massive 2009 and finished minor premiers, only to hit the Eels juggernaut in Finals Week 1. They never recovered. I think they’ve got massive potential in their team, but sometimes they just don’t seem to know how to use it. You’d think Mr. Bennett would help with that and maybe this year he’ll lead them to the top again.

I have a feeling that a depleted forward pack and injuries will plague them, and is Soward goes down, so does the team.

8. Sydney Roosters Sydney Roosters

As much as I hate to say it, I think the Roosters will sneak into the 8. It will be a tight finish with the Panthers but I reckon Todd Carney will have a massive season. He always showed so much promise in Canberra, but too many trips to ‘All Bar Nun’ and the ‘Moose’ ruined what could have been a beautiful friendship. They landed the wooden spoon last year, probably due to coaching issues (see ya Freddy0, but I think hard nose Brian Smith will drag them off the bottom this year and give them a finals appearance straight away.

9. Penrith Panthers Penrith Panthers

They always seem to under-achieve, the Panthers. I compare them to the Eels a lot. They have a lot of talent, but somehow it just doesn’t seem to work sometimes. They also ride on confidence and if they win a couple, they’ll start to look promising.

They’ve got Jennings, Kingston (from Parra), Laurie (from Tiges) and Civoniceva in their roster. Jennings is clearly a freak and should be up there with the Hayne’s and Inglis’s of the league. He can only get better this season and they will surely upset some big teams, but I think they will just miss out again.

10. Manly Sea-Eagles Manly Sea-Eagles

Seriously, who really cares about this team? This pack of highfaluting silvertails from the north shore seemed to think they just had to turn up in 2009. Then it all fell apart for them and not least for Brett Stewart. They still have the talent to make a finals tilt, but with their over-sized houses, wallets and heads I don’t think they’ll make it out of the tunnel in time.

11. Canberra Raiders Canberra Raiders

Yes, I have a soft spot for the Raiders having lived here for 20 odd years. The thing is they will never reach those lofty heights of the 80’s and 90’s when Daley, Meninga, Clyde, Walters and Stuart ruled this town. I wish they would, but can you see Tongue, Purtell, Duggin, Harrison and Herbert being household names? I don’t think so.

The other problem they have is that they just can’t win outside of Canberra. It seems to be their continual problem. Year after year they pull out big victories against quality teams in the frigid weather of Canberra, but then they head to Townsville and can’t spank the Cowboys in their backyard.

Hopefully this year will see some reversal of fortune because I would love League to be a buzz-word in this town again one day.

12. Brisbane Broncos Brisbane Broncos

The mighty all fall eventually. The Broncos have had their day and no amount of Lockyer magic will save them this year. They will drop out of finals contention and Brisbane people won’t even notice.

Mind you, I’ve said this before and then somehow they manage to claw their way back into the race. They’ve still got Folau, they’ve bought Tim Smith and Corey Parker can play, but somehow, I just think they’re not going to have enough fire power.

13. North Queensland Cowboys North Queensland Cowboys

Another year and what could be the last chance for the Cowboys to hold onto Thurston. He may be a tool but he’s still a top footy player and the Cowgirls have been riding on his plaits for  a few years now. They still have some decent players to give them hope though, with Sam Rapira looking the goods, as well as veteran Luke O’Donnell and Willie Tonga. Oh, and I guess we can’t forget the other Willie who has flipped the bird to Sydney and gone up North.

If Willie remembers how to play, Thurston stays off the drink and Ty Williams scores some tries they might have a chance, but somehow I reckon. No.

14. Newcastle Knights Newcastle Knights

Things just go from bad to worse for those keniggets. (Thank you Monty Python). First they lose the greatest player of all time (Joey Johns), then they lose a couple of coaches and then 2 players get done on drugs charges. All the while they just can’t seem to get any consistency on the paddock.

Oh, and let’s not forget that Gidley injured himself in the All-stars game and will miss 4-6 weeks from the start of the season! I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re looking at the wooden spoon early in the season, but I expect things to pick up as the season warms up.

If coming 14th means they pick up very much. I only expect they’ll win a handful of games.

15. New Zealand Warriors New Zealand Warriors

Those players across the ditch never give up trying and you have to admire them for that. 2002 seems like such a long time ago for this team that is so desperate to win they’re willing to part with millions of dollars to get $onny Bill Williams back into League (please no). The bonus with a team like the Warriors is that they have a whole country of talent to pull from and they really should be able to find some great up and coming talent. Apparently there’s a guy called Kevin Locke that plays on the wing and he is toted to be the next big thing.

We shall see.

I don’t expect them to have much of a season though. Maybe you should be looking in your backyard for talent, rather than over in French Rugby.

16. The Sharks Cronulla Sharks

It still puts a smile on my face to picture Ricky Stuart coaching such a shocker of a team as the Sharks. Maybe if the coach just shut up for long enough the team might be able to concentrate on playing, but as usual Stuart is too busy writing columns and complaining about everything to do with Rugby League.

The team itself has recruited wildly in the off season. Not that you would notice. None of them are particularly noticeable signings. Luke Douglas? Paul Aiton?

Sure, they have picked up a couple of younger players from my beloved Eels (Kelly, Gardner and Wright), but it will take a few years for these guys to make an impact in the top grade.

I actually want the Sharks to go better, for their players and their fans, but whilst Stuart is at the helm, they can languish with the spoon for as long as possible.

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There we go.

THE definitive guide to the season.

Let’s not refer to this post in October though. No point looking to the past…

Enjoy!

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NRL Grand Final 2009 – From Ecstasy to Despair

What a weekend it was.

For just the second time in 23 years, the Eels made the Grand Final and I was there again. Just like I was in 2001 when we roared into the Grand Final as red-hot favourites.

This time we had scraped into the finals and pounded the top 3 sides to make the Grand Final, riding on a wing, prayer and history. We could have been the first team to win it from 8th spot.

Last week was amazing. We beat our arch-rivals, the Bulldogs, in front of 75,000 people. The crowd was deafening and it was the best Rugby League match I had ever been to. My son told me it had been the best day of his life. Nothing warms the heart more!

But this was the big one. The one that counts. We had reached the prelimiary final 5 times since 1986, but only made the Grand Final twice. We needed to make it count.

So, Dougall, Yellster, Ed and I took the nervous train trip to Homebush to drink, cheer and hopefully be merry.

We downed 4 at the Brewery before the game. I had never seen so many Parra jerseys in one place. It was a sea of blue and gold and the feeling of anxiety and excitement was palpable. I felt good and I felt confident. I had bets on for a 13+ victory. Perhaps ambitious, but that’s how I felt.

We stepped into the Stadium and saw the swarmof people around us. We had nice seats behind the goal posts but with a great view.

parraseats

It was a game of 2 halves. The first, we had nothing to cheer about. Melbourne scored twice through some uncharacteristically weak defence. We didn’t have that spark. Hayne was very quiet. The crowd was nervous at half-time. I hardly even remember it.

The second was better. We lifted. Guru scored. Fui scored and we were happy.

Parra Try

All I could do was hope…maybe, we can come back…one last time.

It wasn’t to be. An uncontested bomb, a bullshit refereeing decision (fuck you Tony Archer), and a field goal later, and the Eels went down, 23-16. Melbourne win their 3rd premiership of the decade.

I was gutted to have lost again. It’s hard to lose a Grand Final after weeks of build-up. I can only imagine what it must feel like for the players.

nathan_hindmarsh_grandfinal

But next year is a new decade, and a new chance for the Eels to start their domination. Tahu’s back. Poore and Shackleton are in. We will hopefully keep the core of the team. There’s no reason we can’t get there again.

I just wish I didn’t have to wait 12 months to do it again.

parrasad


Origin 1. The Comeback Begins.

I have been pretty damn quiet on this blog lately.

Admittedly, the urge to blog has been surpassed by Twittering, playing silly Facebook games or playing with LaLa and the kids.

But, when State of Origin time comes around, it’s time to wake the sleeping giant.

The team for Origin I was named tonight, and for the first time in a while, I am really excited by the team.

Ever since I was in the USA for the 2006 series, I have felt like I’ve missed the blooding of new players and haven’t had my finger on the pulse of the future of the game. Finally, this season, I feel like I have seen enough and read enough to be more interested and able to comment on the players that have been picked.

Besides, I am going up to Sydney for Game 2 which will be my first EVER Origin game.

So here goes…

  1. Kurt Gidley (c) –  He’s taken over from former teammate and Blues captain, ‘Bedsy’ Buderus, and he’s been a consistant performed for the Knights for years. For a while he’d seemed like the shining light in a lame team, but now that the Knights are actually performing, it’s good to see him still get this gig.
  2. Jarryd Hayne – I am undeniable biased, but I am so glad that Haynesy has nabbed a winger spot. He has been playing out of his skin the last few weeks at Fullback for the Eels and he has proved his freakiness with some fantastic efforts in past Origins. He will definitely not disappoint on the big stage.
  3. Jamie Lyon – As an Eels fan, I am predisposed to hating Jamie Lyon and what he did to our team when he walked out on us all those years ago. His determination to avoid representative football has alsmost not helped him in winning fans other than those from Manly. But it’s unanimous, he is the best centre in the world, and has been ever since those days of running around for the Eels. Let’s just hope he gives it his all against the Maroons.
  4. Michael Jennings – Admittedly, I haven’t watched many Panthers games this year, but all you need to have seen is the highlight reels to know that Michael Jennings is worthy of this spot. He could be the excitement machine that the Blues need to get us over the line. He’s strong, fast and skillful and I can’t wait to see what he can do against the all-star cane toad backline
  5. James McManus – Surprised? I am. He is one plyaer that seems to have come out of nowhere to snag a wing spot, but the selectors have definitely gone for form over reputation this year. Gone are the Matt Kings and Luke Rooneys, it’s time for a new generation in wingers.
  6. Terry Campese – This was one of the highly contested positions, but I think Campese was a shoo-in. Even if the Raiders have been pretty ordinary in the last couple of months, he’s a specialist 5/8 and has shown glimpses of the skill that he has (especially with that banana kick half volley on the weekend). Mullen was a possibility, but I’m glad the selectors have looked forward and given a chance to a player that could be in the Blue jumper for a long time to come
  7. Peter Wallace – Look. I am not a huge fan of Wallace. I thought he was too young and inexperienced for Origin last year and I still think the same. Problem is, what other halfbacks do the Blues have to chose from? I’d go as far as to say that Brett Finch or Kimmorley should be halfback instead of Wallace, but it seems that the selectors are making every effort to look to the future. He does get the job done well for the Broncos though and maybe he can provide the Blues with some inner secrets to his Bronco teammates. If he does, he’s worth his weight in gold.
  8. Brent Kite – I feel that Kite is here by default. He has a proven track record in representative matches, and even if he doesn’t set the world on fire week to week, he’s done enough to keep his place. I am not a massive fan, but if this Queanbeyan boy has a big game he’s very hard to stop. I just hope he decides to have an ‘on’ game next Wednesday.
  9. Robbie Farah – As much as I hate to admit it to my Tiger’s supporting mate, Farah is easily the best hooker in the game. He has been for years, even when Buderus was hooker and captain of the Blues. Finally Farah gets a chance to show us his stuff at State level and he’ll probably make it on the boat to England at the end of the year as well. Looking forward to seeing his lethal darts from dummy half and bullet passes when we cross for many tries in this series
  10. Luke Bailey – Like Kite, Bailey was a certainty for the other Front Row position. Even if we have a relatively inexperienced team around them, it’s nice to know that the front rowers are experienced and reliable. I have always liked Bailey and he is very solid up front with the bonus of some ball playing skills.
  11. Ben Creagh – It’s taken a while for me to accept that Hindmarsh is no longer a representative player. I thought that he should have been picked for last years series, but now I understand that he has to make way for the new breed of back rower. Ben Creagh is definitely a player that shows what 2nd rowers should be doing nowadays. Running hard, offloading and tackling well out wide. He’s a class act.
  12. Luke O’Donnell – O’Donnell is one of those players that I have liked for ages but has never seemed to reach his full potential. His name doesn’t seem to go away though and even at 28 he’s got what it takes at this level. This might be his last chance to prove himself and he’s not guaranteed to be in the Kangaroo tour later this year. Mind you, he’s also not guaranteed to be in Game 2. A lot at stake for him.
  13. Paul Gallen – Gallen gets the Lock spot, because, really, who else is there? I think he’s a total tool of a person, but he’s a strong and gutsy player who probably deserves to be there even if he is playing in a club team that have looked more likely to win the spoon than win anything else this season. He’ll play his heart out for his state and that’s the main thing

Interchange

  1. Craig Wing – Mr. Utility is there to cover up for the injuries that WILL happen. It’s inevitable. Farah, Wallace or Campese could slip on the Etihad Stadium surface and Craig Wing will be there to mop up. He does it well though, even if he will never be the force that he could have been.
  2. Justin Poore – This debutant will be playing his first Origin, but most definitely not his last. He’s been playing out of his skin for the Dragons this season, and there’s every chance he’ll be moving to the Eels or Sharks in the near future. I would like to see him make an impact in this game, but it’ll be tough when you’re running towards Civoniceva.
  3. Glenn Stewart/Luke Lewis (18th man) – Stewart probably won’t play because he is facing a  ‘dangerous throw’ charge from the weekend, so let’s assume that Luke Lewis replcaes him on the bench. I would much rather this anyway because I think Lewis is a freaking champion and deserves to be in the squad. For all I care Stewart can go and hang out with his brother on the sideline for the rest of his life..
  4. Michael Weyman – The other big prop from the Dragons has been setting the world on fire with his powerful running this season. After barely striking a match at the Raiders he’s made a big turn around to get into the Origin team. He’s got a spot that not so long ago Willie (who?) Mason would have held, so he’s gonna wanna go better than him. But hey, that’s not too hard.

So there we have it. My thoughts on the Origin team.

Face it. We HAVE to win this year, otherwise the nasty toads from up north win 4 series in a row. We can’t allow that.

Don’t talk to me on Wednesday week if we lose the first game. I desperately want us to wrap up the series when I see them for Game II in Sydney.


State of Origin III – Blues forget how to score.

Tripe. Yet again.

Hey at least the Blues scored 1 try. Pity they forgot how to pass the ball.

Have you ever heard of OFF LOADS, or maybe SPREADING THE BALL, how about SCORING A FREAKING TRY.

Not happy.

Willie Mason – Fuck off and never play Origin again. You talk big. You play shit.

Brett White – Instead of pointing to someone else to tackle Thurston, why didn’t you give it a go?

Anthony Quinn – Well you sure made up for scoring 2 tries in Origin I didn’t you? Scores are level now. Now go away.

Ryan Hoffman – You can take lessons from one Nathan Hindmarsh. He will teach you how to run, tackle and be a decent guy in the process. Your spot should have been his.

The good guys?

Kurt Gidley – You stood up and showed how good a player you were. Throwing yourself at Civoneciva was awesome and you made some top passes and runs.

Danny Buderus – Sad for you to go out like this, but you had a great final game and an awesome Origin career.

Craig Fitzgibbon – Tried your heart out for an old bugger. At least you showed heart that most other players seem to forget.

Mitchell Pearce – Not bad for a first go. Your kicks weren’t the best, but you didn’t fuck up, so I guess I can’t bag you.

No-one else really did shit. Cooper? 1 try, but other than that? Nothing.

Hayne? Tried hard when you got the ball, but that was only about 4 times.

Anasta? Your step’s only going to get you so far and tonight all that got you was crunched.

And YES I’m passionate. State of Origin stirs that passion. It excites me, it makes me feel pumped up. It brings out the raw inner competitive spirit in me.

Girls will just never understand.

Sometimes….as a guy you just need to let these feelings out, win or lose.

There is NO such a thing as JUST A GAME in Origin.

Ladies. Never EVER say that to a guy.

Seriously.


State of Origin II. The One Where the Blues Were SHITHOUSE.

30- 0.

What a steaming pile of shit.

Seriously. Whilst QLD ran roughshod over NSW, the Blues were atrocious, disgraceful, shithouse, fucked up beyond belief. It was woeful.

We could do nothing better than run one out. Anytime we looked like half…no..make that a quarter of a chance, we’d lose the ball. Penalties against us at stupid times.

Turns out we were lucky that QLD picked such a crap team in the first game.

Now NSW have to make changes.

Greg Bird? Not a Five-Eighth. Has to go to Lock for Gallen or be dropped from the team.

Steve Turner? Useless. At least Jarryd Hayne will be back for Game III.

Mason? Couldn’t hold the ball. Sure, he can fire up Queenslanders, but he didn’t back it up.

Wallace? Did nothing. His kicks were ineffectual and offered nothing in attack.

Cooper? You have to go mate. Jamie Lyon should come in.

Overall it was a pitiful display from The Blues. Queensland deserved to win because they actually DID SOMETHING. NSW could give nothing. Not a line break to be seen.

Thurston had a good game, Falou and Inglis actually did something tonight, and Hunt was much better NOT at Five Eighth. I thought they’d be screwed wthout Lockyer. Turns out he isn’t the only decent Queensland player I guess..

..

.

But anyway, I’m still fuming. What a piece of crap.

BRING ON GAME 3 and the Olympic Stadium where QLD have yet to work out how to win. Wish I was going to be there….


Mate Against Mate

Only one thing will make today better.

The Blues to win by 20!

The best footy of the year. BRING IT ON!


NRL 2008 – Round 6 Tips

Righty-o. I’m getting better!

I nabbed 6 from 8 last week, and if it wasn’t for my obsession for tipping my beloved Eels every week, I could have gone better.

I now stand at 24 tipped from 40 games. Just follow me. I know what I’m doing.

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The Titans upset my Eels last week, therefore I think they can do it again against the Broncos

The Eels will HAVE to bounce back soon and this will be the week against the old foe, Manly

The Dragons are slowly climbing back to form and they should climb over the lacklustre Bulldogs

I like the Warriors against the Cowboys. I think they sneak this one home.

The Sharks are looking classy this season and should deal with the Panthers easily

Unfortunately the Roosters look like they are back to being a strong team. The Knights will feel their punishment this week

It’s the Heritage Round. 100 years of history between Souths and Wests. I think the Rabbitohs will bring it home for their first win this season.

No contest. The Storm will kill the Raiders. It’s not cold enough here yet.

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Thus concludes the winners for this round.

Celebrate 100 years of Rugby League by watching a few games and downing some grog.

It’s what I am doing tonight 🙂

GO THE EELS!