#NRL180: Only 1 choice for Blues 9; a roaming country squad; and round 6 takeaways by @ItsMitchell180

by @ItsMitchell180

New South Wales just can’t take a trick.

First, captain Paul Gallen suffered a long term injury that could have him sidelined until the first game, and now vice captain Robbie Farah dislocated his elbow which will require six weeks on the sidelines.

[Who are they going to get to kick on the first tackle with 40 seconds left now??? — JJ]

But we always have to look on the bright side of life, wherever you can find it. And that bright side is in the form of a ready-made replacement for Farah who, I feel, is an automatic selection.

Nathan Peats.

Source: SMH.

He’s formed a great partnership with likely Blues fullback Hayne, as well as Corey Norman and Chris Sandow, and he has led from the front for the Eels. He knows the right time to run, he completes his tackles but most importantly, he’s given the Eels’ pack direction — something they have lacked for years.

We tried Michael Ennis a few years ago but he just isn’t up to scratch. My feelings on Kurt Gidley are well documented, but to avoid litigation for Jake and the 26 Rounds crew i’ll put it politely: I don’t think he should be considered for a starting position ever again.

So the choice is pretty clear.

I don’t want to use the cliche that “he is an Origin-type of player” because the same thing has been said of others and they have failed spectacularly. But Peats does have something to his game that suits the arena (toughness for one), and if nothing else he is the second-best in-form NSW hooker — and form has to count for something.

Putting country rugby league all over the map, in a good way

Pleasing everyone in rugby league is probably an impossible task but if there is one area the fans agree on its that we must support the country areas. Dave Smith called Queensland the heartland of Rugby League, but really, you could argue it is the rural areas that create the pulse of the game, and many of its future stars.

In the anticipated NRL draw release, many comments were made about the lack of matches scheduled for country NSW, and during the pre-season the NRL copped a lot of criticism at the number of trial games played in metropolitan Sydney and Brisbane.

This year’s pre season, as I have previously stressed, was a bit of a dogs breakfast all-round, what with the addition of the Auckland Nines and teams playing matches back in Australia at the same time with half-squads going up against against other half-squads in trials (but credit is due for those clubs who did take games to regional areas).

Games for premiership points in regional towns wouldn’t be possible due to a lack of facilities for Channel 9 and Fox (you know, the folks who run the game), but there is a way around this — a way to provide country areas with regular quality rugby league.

Through the NSW Cup.

The idea that the NSW Cup should have a Country team has been around for a few years, but my idea is to make it a country side that represents “country” i.e. a team based at one location, but playing games at different towns throughout the season.

A Harlem Globetrotters of the NSW Cup, if you will.

Potentially they could play 12 home games between six and 12 venues — Tweed Heads, Lismore, Coffs Harbour, Tamworth, Orange, Mudgee, Wagga Wagga, Broken Hill, and Albury, just to cite a few examples.

Logistics would have to be sorted out, such as where the team is officially based, if they were linked to an NRL club, etc.

But I do like the idea of the Country team full of country players which would provide another pathway for players into the big time. I can’t help but think that it opens the possibility of having a country-based player representing NSW Country in the annual City v Country fixture, with City also choosing a player from the NSW Cup.

The people of the country deserve more quality footy, and getting more NRL matches just doesn’t seem feasible. But a true Country team with local players could bring the best of both worlds.

Round 6 takeaways

Panthers v Rabbitohs

Ordinary conditions made for an ordinary game.

Titans v Broncos

I still don’t know how Titans are first, nor how they won this game. Luck is certainly on their side.

Raiders v Knights

Thankfully not many locals turned up to see a terrible Canberra team. Mullen makes the Knights a different proposition.

Eels v Roosters

Roosters are still in a slump, while the Eels’ improvement has been phenomenal. The Eels board, or the former former board, must be wondering why they hired Stuart in 2012 when they had Arthur already.

Tigers v Cowboys

Half of the Tigers spine is injured which is a concern, along with the people of Campbelltown not bothering to turn up. But the bigger #crisis is up in Townsville. Thurston has hit a slump and consequently the Cowboys were terrible.

Warriors v Bulldogs

The Eden Park curse or hoodoo or whatever continues. The Warriors actually looked good, but the Dogs were better in the end.

Sea Eagles v Sharks

Peter Sharp delivered the best response in a press conference since Geoff Toovey’s “There’s got to be an investigation”:
Journo: Any injures out of today?
Sharp: No, unfortunately.

Storm v Dragons

Greatest finish of all time? I love the timekeepers and the ground siren guy!

 

Check out more of Mitch’s musings here.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s