PRINTCAST (Part 2 of 2): NRL Preview — The Bottom Five ft @dr_nrl, @heighway_, @ItsMitchell180 and @26Rounds

If you missed part one of the preview of the also-rans, including the predictions from Ryan, Mitch and myself, click here. You won’t be disappointed. Probably.

JARMEL: Jamie Soward, the milkman without milk and the crippled hare consolation prize. Thank you, Ryan. So apt.

But man, am I the only one who believes that the Bulldogs will be better than an also-ran? The Barba stuff really took a toll last year, and they’ll be better for the lack of distraction in my opinion. I think replacing Barba with Morris or Inu and promoting Tim Lafai should work better than most think. I rate Lafai as an attacking centre at least, even if his defence needs some work…

Plus they have Des Hasler! And his wonderful mane!

He’ll invent some fucked up reason why the world hates them and have them up for enough games to win 10 or 11 in 2014, surely. But perhaps I’m a bloody idiot.

I have Penrith higher, but not by much; the logic just isn’t there. Their halves are both non-runners, and they replaced the apparently-lazy Jenko with Idris… And they signed Brent Kite to a three year deal. I’m not sold on any of the signings — although Idris was playing exceptionally well before he snapped his ankle.

And i like the fact you have removed your personal bias — I had you as a prohibitive $1.02 favourite to have the Dragons as the spooners. Nice.

MITCHELL: The Bulldogs’ halves just don’t strike fear into me. James Graham didn’t seem to have impact last year like he did in 2012; I think most teams have worked him out.

JARMEL: I have a lot of time for Reynolds, He’s competitive like Kieran Foran but perhaps not as skilled. Trent Hodkinson: yeah – I see your point.

HEIGHWAY: Des tried his ‘us against the world’ ploy last year, but it just didn’t seem to work as well as it did at Manly. If the Dogs snare Hoffman, that will change things significantly and spur them much closer to the finals.

Idris to me seems really hot and cold, but he can be very damaging whenever he wants to be.

For me it will be all a question of whether he and Soward can be appropriately motivated by Gus/Cleary. But there seems to be too many cooks in the kitchen.

And Jake, you will be SHOCKED by my preview of The Merge.

JARMEL: I hope you are trying a “reverse jinx” on them and calling them premiers!

HEIGHWAY: No, I would never forgive myself for that. I haven’t got them up that high, but I clearly rate them higher than you and Mitch.

MITCHELL: If you have them in the Top Eight, then we are living in the Bizarro world.

HEIGHWAY: Patience, Mitchell. All shall be revealed in due time.

JARMEL: Plus Ryan doesn’t watch Seinfeld. I don’t know if he got the Bizarro World reference.

DOCTOR: Apologies for the late entry, chaps. All your feedback was excellent, even controversial in places!

For the life of me I can’t see how the bottom three elevate themselves to 13th place…

…I do see them rotating though.

Spoon: Tigers. The Tigers have been threatening the spoon for a couple of years now and, by golly, I think they’ll do it this year. Like a lot of people, I think I may have been looking at them through late 00’s-coloured glasses … hoping, more like it.

The potential was always there, the flair was always around the corner, but slowly they have lost their way, along with their thrust in attack and – dare I say it – their desire. The club wanted to get rid of Potter last year, and it looks like they’ll twist the knife they inserted in his back last year before we reach half way.

To me, it’s like watching a modern day Fijian rugby side, where I’ve given up even hoping for the mild upset they were capable of many years ago. The Tigers lack an on-field rudder, and Brooks will have to produce a Dally M-like performance to get them into the third division, let alone the eight.

15th: Dragons. Steve Price will be shown the door before we reach Origin. This is unfortunate because he seems like a nice guy, but he’s under enormous pressure, the players aren’t responding to him, and the further we move into this season, the more distant the Wayne Bennett days become.

They seem to have forgotten everything they learned which, let’s face it, was mostly a stoic commitment to defence. A lot of responsibility is being thrust on Widdop’s shoulders, but I happen to think he’s overrated, very much in the Adam Blair mould, and made to look better at the Storm by the Big Three and the coach.

So I think we’re in broad agreement here. I might’ve had them with the spoon had I not remembered 50 per cent of their games were decided by six points or less last year – the highest in the NRL, though they only won 33% of them.

14th: Eels. Here’s the surprise, the Eels to jump to 14th! Of course, this is still an appalling result, but I am hopeful that Brad Arthur will lead a significant change in their resolve. They were competitive at times last year, and their attack ‘should’ be more potent now that Chris Sandow isn’t carrying a small farm animal under his jersey and Corey Norman is on deck. We’ll see.

13th: Broncos. I’ll call the Broncos into 13th place or, in my emotionally intelligent voice, the best of the fourth division. They have too many internal problems with seeming player unrest led by “Third Man In” in Thaiday after losing the captaincy.

Source: Courier-Mail.

Coach Griffin seems so different to when he was first appointed, and might struggle to keep his position too. Parker will work manfully as he always does, but to me, Hodges isn’t up to his half of the job of leading the team. He is unsuited and unskilled in the role, and I don’t have high hopes even for the matches he actually plays. It will be hard for him to play the role of the wise old man.

As much as I don’t rate Ricky Stuart as a coach of anything else than a team of superstars that can win despite him (Roosters 2002), he is a stickler for defence. Conveniently leaving aside the fact that it didn’t work all that well at Parramatta (d’oh!), the Raiders’ roster is good enough, and they have enough strike power to threaten the eight.

So my 12th position is not them (though I’m not confident!), but rather, a left-fielder…

12th: Knights. Yes, the Wayne Bennett-coached Knights! Losing Mullen is devastating, and Gidley is sure to fall over the cat and rupture something too. They’re older, still have some off-field issues, and they over-achieved last year.

MITCHELL: The Knights are in a tricky place now and they definitely overachieved last year…

Hmm… I’ll need more thought on them now.

DOCTOR: It just occurred to me that if the Knights do make the bottom 5 along with Saints and the Broncos …

What will Ben Ikin say about THAT!

JARMEL: The Mullen injury is as big a spanner as it gets. I can’t see bottom five, but 11th or 10th seems about right. Bennett has a habit of getting a team to over-achieve, and they still have more talent out wide than any of the teams below them.

But if they do fall significantly, does Bennett face the axe from Tinkler??

MITCHELL: Bennett is signed for two more years. I may be a hopeless romantic, but I always saw Wayne heading back to Broncos as a coaching director or something with Lockyer being the coach… and if

DOC: I think the only coach who really deserves having all his current and former clubs in the bottom 5 is Ricky.

HEIGHWAY: How long is Mullen out for? I still think they have enough talent across the park, along with the Bennett factor to compensate for his loss. They should be able to avoid the bottom five.

DOCTOR: They’re long odds to finish that low, but I thought I’d better at least make it interesting!

JARMEL: He’s out for four months.  It’s really going to be tough for them. He controls everything for them in general play; I’m a big wrap for Mullen. I actually thought he was playing well enough towards the end of last year to put himself in the frame for Origin in 2014.

Source: News.

Is it too late for me to change my mind on the Knights?

Ahh, fuck it. Ill trust my instinct and say they’ll avoid the bottom five. Bennett is too good a coach. He’ll probably move Darius Boyd up to five eight and Dane Gagai or James McManus to fullback or some weird unpredictable move, and come off as a genius.

MITCHELL: Gidley will be five-eighth, which of course means he’ll be five-eighth for NSW too.


It may have been because the players had more space in the Nines, but I thought Mullen looked quicker and fitter too.

JARMEL: His kicking game in my opinion took a massive leap forward in 2013, and his passing is sublime. I love his game overall.

But Gidley at five eighth? Jeeeeeeeeesus. When he gets injured though, in round one, Boyd will move there ala what Benny did with Lockyer, only Boyd is a significantly bigger dickhead.

MITCH: Mullen played that one origin game seven years ago! Seven!

Mark my words: the hastag #gidleyruins will make its triumphant return in 2014.

DOCTOR: Mullen is awesome. The only thing that stopped him being the NSW five-eighth last year in my opinion was his lack of running.

He and Carney hardly broke into a trot last year, the two of them at the bottom of the NRL ladder for five-eighth runs … and having two halves that aren’t known runners would be a massive mistake for Origin. It’s a shame because he’s actually a dangerous runner – or was.

JARMEL: This is why we love you Doc, the stats king. And it’s good to see the facts confirm what we all feel. His running game can be fantastic, but he just doesn’t use it enough.

He’ll use it less now. Bloody sad.

DOCTOR: Yeah, it is. I don’t think he can excel as a five-eighth from here, unfortunately. The Knights should now use him at half back, closer to the ruck/scrum where he can play his current organising/kicking game, and alongside a running five-eighth for variety.

Or do they leave Roberts at half and scout another five-eighth? Or can Roberts handle the pressure of five-eighth? Hmmm…

JARMEL:  I just don’t like him at halfback; he thrives with the extra space and thinking time. But he hasn’t been running it much anyway, so maybe they just stick with him at five-eighth… I guess we’ll find out in four months.

Jake Jarmel

Mitch 180

Ryan Heighway




























One response to “PRINTCAST (Part 2 of 2): NRL Preview — The Bottom Five ft @dr_nrl, @heighway_, @ItsMitchell180 and @26Rounds

  1. Pingback: NRL Preview: Hangin’ round the 8 ft @dr_nrl, @ItsMitchell180, @heighway_ and @26Rounds | 26 Rounds·

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