The good news is that the NRL have not named Shayne Hayne or Ashley Klein to referee this match. The Roosters’ triumvirate of Michael Jennings, James Maloney and Mitchell Pearce will be well and truly sick of the sight of Klein who has given two terrible performances in the past two Roosters clashes and also refereed them in Origin One.
The bad news is that the NRL has named two referees to replace them.
Until cyborgs become self-aware like the fucking Terminator and the NRL can get them into pink shirts (see shitty Photoshop job below), the Roosters will continue to lose penalty counts to human error, clusterfuckery and general incompetence.
Meanwhile, the Eels are bereft of personality, style, an identity or what looks like a long-term plan except for telling 12 players they won’t have a job next year as well as trying to sign every player on the open market to more than they’re worth and getting rejected anyway.
They can look forward to the return to the NRL in 2014 of a winger who will have been out of the game for two years on a Mormon mission, a winger they signed to a cool $800,000 a season for two years. Hopefully William Hopoate can bring some extra sets of magic underwear with him because the Eels could use all the protection they can get next year.
But that magic underwear is still, sadly, a year away, and the reigning wooden-spooners are just a mess right now: like a piece of Pro Hart art, but without the prestige or any arty-type twats fawning over them:
Team for Round 13
Anthony Minichiello (C) ,Daniel Tupou, Michael Jennings, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, James Maloney, Mitchell Pearce, Luke O’Donnell, Jake Friend, Martin Kennedy, Mitchell Aubusson, Sonny Bill Williams, Boyd Cordner. Interchange: Daniel Mortimer, Frank-Paul Nu’uausala, Aidan Guerra, Lama Tasi.
The Roosters have named an unchanged line-up from the team which lost to the Storm two weeks ago, and of course have three players backing up just two days after the Blues’ 14-6 win on Wednesday. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves is still out suspended until round 16 and Sam Moa is a week or so away from returning from a knee injury.
They’re fresh off some downright shitty refereeing performances and their third loss of the season, but their three Origin players will be happy to take a break from fronting the Storm’s “big three” following their round 11 loss to Melbourne and State of Origin One.
They say the best time to play after Origin is as soon as possible, as the aches and pains don’t always set in until 72 hours later. And the Roosters have the advantage in that their oldest player backing up is just 26 years old. Regardless, it’s the first time Maloney will have to back up for a club match after the most physical contest he’s ever faced and in a game in which he made 21 tackles, and he could struggle to have the required zip needed.
But the break will have done wonders for the players that really needed to rest — Boyd Cordner and Sonny Bill Williams especially, who have battled injuries (shoulder, foot for Boyd, knee for SBW). Sonny Bill is coming off his most ineffective game as a Rooster and his knee looked to have been bothering him, but he’s had enough time off that the Roosters could have had more chicken heads injected into his knee with any luck.
Luke O’Donnell would also have benefited having been their most physical presence since JWH was suspended. He’s 32 years of age, or a year older than this writer — who can barely get out of bed without the promise of a coffee.
The Chooks have yet to lose two games in a row this season, while the Eels have lost two on the trot coming into this one.
How they’ll play
Sonny Bill Williams tore the Eels to shreds in the 50-0 slaughter earlier this season so expect much of the ball to head back out that way early. SBW has picked and chosen his spots against the also-rans of the competition, and in that game against the Eels he had three offloads, a line break assist, a try and 13 tackles — in the first half.
He finished with 19 tackles for no misses, four offloads, two tackle busts, two line break assists and a try assist, but only ran it seven times for 47 metres. His workrate has doubled recently so expect more opportunities, if that’s even possible, to come off the back of him.
In that game, the Roosters continually peppered two-game rookie Vai Toutai with bombs to great effect. Ricky Stuart has dropped him this week in favour of debutant Brayden Williame.
Daniel Tupou had a field day off the back of some superb work inside from Michael Jennings against a player who’d played two games, so one can only imagine what will transpire against this NRL virgin.
No-one said Ricky Stuart was the game’s greatest thinker. Except the Telegraph.
Good one, guys.
However, the ledger is somewhat squared against the smallest pack in the NRL, with both first-choice props for the Roosters out this week. If weather permits, look for the Roosters to spread it out right to SBW or out left to a deep Jennings to avoid a potential clash in the middle, in which Parra might actually have a slight upper hand in the back-row size-wise.
Mitch Aubusson is in superb form as well, so the left-side attack should get plenty of ball early from the BBQ who will have options in-and-outside him against Ken Sio and the erratic-but-physical Jacob Loko.
Team for Round 13
Jarryd Hayne (C), Ken Sio, Ryan Morgan, Jacob Loko, Brayden Williame, Joseph Paulo, Chris Sandow, Tim Mannah, Matt Keating, Fuifui Moimoi, Reni Maitua (C), Matthew Ryan, Peni Terepo. Interchange: (From) Jake Mullaney, Darcy Lussick, Mitchell Allgood, Pat O’Hanlon, Ken Edwards.
The Eels have made some big changes to their squad with five-eighth Luke Kelly, winger Vai Toutai and benchmen Junior Paulo and Ben Smith either dropped or injured. Ricky Stuart has named backup fullback Jake Mullaney, rookie winger Brayden Williame, and forwards Pat O’Hanlon and Ken Edwards this week, with Peni Terepo starting at lock and Joseph Paulo moving to five-eighth.
The club also made noise by announcing that 12 players from the current roster should look elsewhere in 2014 if they want to play first grade, including co-captain Reni Maitua — which shoukd be great for morale.
The Eels have only Jarryd Hayne backing up from Wednesday, while high-priced offseason recruit Darcy Lussick also has been named following a two-match suspension for his involvement in a brawl against Brisbane.
The move by Stuart of naming Paulo at five-eighth suggests they are looking to win with offloads. Kelly is a steady player who won’t win you games, while Paulo has the physical presence to start second-phase play on the left-side. It’s just too bad his outside men kinda suck.
Ken Edwards is expected to drop off the interchange bench, while the selection of fullback Mullaney in the 14 jersey is an interesting one. In theory, they could move Paulo back to the forwards and Hayne into five-eighth during the game, which could be a ploy to spark a tired attack.
Parra are coming off a 38 point shellacking at the hands of the Gold Coast Titans in Round 11 and a 20-point loss to the Dragons a round earlier. But they’ll be keen to make amends for a 50-0 massacre at the hands of the Roosters earlier this season.
How they’ll play
Chris Sandow has largely been ineffective since the first few rounds, but will always make this writer nervous thanks to the performances he put in as a Bunny. He has the ability to break the line and his kicking game is very good on its day. With Luke Kelly dropped, he’ll be expected to shoulder the load of the kicking unless Hayne is moved to five-eighth either at the start of the game or during it.
With that extra responsibility, he’ll look to take the line on a lot more as Paulo’s man skill is his offload, not setting up and distributing. Minichiello will need to be on his game if Sandow’s kicking game is, as he can force that repeat set better than the Roosters’ halves have proven they can.
The addition of Paulo means also the Eels will look to win with second phase play, which the Dragons put to good use in the last 20 minutes of the ANZAC Day Clash when they scored two tries through keeping the ball alive and constant movement.
This writer does not know much about the rookie Williame, except that he came from the Storm and is a natural centre. He is 6’2″ (189cm), so it might be a ploy to take advantage of the shorter Roger-Tuivasa-Sheck, who gives away four inches and who has been outleapt on a number of occasions this year. Expect kicks to come that way and plenty of ball, as the Roosters leaked two easy, early tries down that edge against the Storm.
This should be a big win for the Roosters. Both teams are coming off the bye, but the Roosters have superstars that didn’t play Origin while the Eels really only have Hayne, who is backing up from Wednesday (and was unbelievable for NSW mind you), and intermittent and inconsistent performances from Sandow. Parra’s players could also be distracted after effectively half the team was told they don’t have a job next year.
The Roosters just have far too much skill across the park, and while the Roosters are down two props against Fui Fui and Tim Mannah, the Roosters have the advantage nearly everywhere else across the field.
Man of the Match should be Sonny Bill, as he was the last time these two teams played. The Eels have no-one his size to wrap up potential offloads or to stop him from charging at a hole.