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Monday, 30 March 2009

Richie Benaud visits McDonald's Drive-Thru

Friday, 27 March 2009

Tipping March 27-30 2009

This is an archived story - so check the main page - www.wdnicolson.blogspot.com for the current round of tipping for NRL, AFL and Super 14. The site is also updated with opinion, news and features regularly. Quick again, time is the enemy... not unlike my tips last week. 1/6 in Super 14 and 3/8 in the NRL. With the AFL Starting last night I'm 0/1 already... going great guns. AFL - Richmond, Geelong, Essendon, St.Kilda, Collingwood, North Melbourne, Western Bulldogs & Brisbane. Roughie: Essendon over Port Adelaide is the long shot. NRL: Tigers, Titans, Raiders, Warriors, Storm, Rabbitohs, Dragons & Sea Eagles. Roughie: Tigers look great things tonight against Roosters, Raiders to score plenty on the Eels and the Storm will be too good for the Cowboys despite it being in Townsville. Super 14: Blues, Bulls, Reds, Crusaders, Sharks & Hurricanes. Roughie: Reds over Chiefs at home and I give the Stormers a big shot at the Crusaders. Will udpate my tipping record after tonight's games... it isn't great.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

NRL Round 03 Teams 2009

This is an archived story - so check the main page - www.wdnicolson.blogspot.com for the current round of tipping for NRL, AFL and Super 14. The site is also updated with opinion, news and features regularly. NRL ROUND 03 SIDES 2009 - With Team SKINNY attached. UPDATED: 5:15pm Tuesday 24 March 2009. ALL TEAMS NAMED. As they are named they'll go up here. We'll go a little more in depth with our assesments of the sides - so it'll be worth checking in for our quick takes on the selections each week. So check out the SKINNY under each lineup for the latest take on your side.
The Fixtures Round 03 2009: TIGERS v ROOSTERS @ SFS TITANS v BULLDOGS @ Skilled WARRIORS v BRONCOS @ Mt Smart EELS v RAIDERS @ Parramatta COWBOYS v STORM @ Dairy Farmers RABBITOHS v KNIGHTS @ Bluetongue DRAGONS v SHARKS @ WIN Jubilee SEA EAGLES v PANTHERS @ Brookvale
THE TEAMS ROUND 3: BRISBANE BRONCOS (NAMED 24/3) Backs: Karmichael HUNT, Antonio WINTERSTEIN, Steven MICHAELS, Israel FOLAU, Jharal YOW YEH, Darren LOCKYER (c), Peter WALLACE. Forwards: Nick KENNY, Aaron GORRELL, Joel CLINTON, Sam THAIDAY, Ben TE'O, Corey PARKER. Bench: Andrew McCULLOUGH, Lagi SETU, David TAYLOR, Alex GLENN, Josh McGUIRE+, Ashton SIMS, Michael DE VERE (Three to be omitted). Coach: Ivan HENJAK. IN: Nick KENNY, Josh McGUIRE+, Michael DE VERE. OUT: Justin Hodges (Suspended). Round 03 Vs WARRIORS on Saturday. SKINNY: Justin Hodges return to the team was brief... he's suspended for a week for a dumb fake grapple on serial offender Cameron Smith. Considering how good Hodges looked in attack playing on the right with Folau, Coach Ivan Henjak will be livid with his star centre. Yow Yeh gets another start after being the unlucky one demoted for Round 2 and the bench is an extended one again with youngster Josh McGuire still on the cusp of his NRL debut and veterans Ashton Sims and the veteran's veteran Michael De Vere a chance of playing the Warriors. Tough road trip despite the Broncos being 2-0 to start the year. BULLDOGS (NAMED 24/3) Backs: Luke PATTEN, Hazem EL MASRI, Josh MORRIS, Jamal IDRIS, Bryson GOODWIN, Ben ROBERTS, Brett KIMMORLEY. Forwards: Ben HANNANT, Michael ENNIS, Chris ARMIT, Gary WARBURTON, Andrew RYAN (c), David STAGG. Bench: Lee TE MAARI, Greg EASTWOOD, John KITE, Ben BARBA. Coach: Kevin MOORE. IN: No changes. OUT: No changes. Round 03 Vs TITANS on Friday. SKINNY: Will most likely lose their points from their win over the Panthers for fielding 14 men when they scored the match winning try but they can at least claim to be still undefeated. Lost their way during the match against the Panthers but veterans Brett Kimmorley and David Stagg were outstanding in keeping them in the match and they ran over the Panthers in the final minutes... albeit illegally. Will be licking their lips at the prospect of being 3-0 especially if Gold Coast halfback Scott Prince can't play due to a hamstring injury picked up at training. CANBERRA RAIDERS (NAMED 28/3) Backs: David MILNE, Brett KELLY, Jarrod CROKER, Joel MONAGHAN, Justin CARNEY, Terry CAMPESE, Marc HERBERT. Forwards: David SHILLINGTON, Stuart FLANAGAN, Josh MILLER, Joe PICKER, Bronson HARRISON, Alan TONGUE (c). Bench: Tom LEAROYD-LAHRS, Trevor THURLING, Glen TURNER, Nigel PLUM. Coach: David FURNER. IN: Stuart FLANAGAN, Nigel PLUM, Brett KELLY. OUT: Adrian PURTELL, Troy THOMPSON (Injured), Glen BUTTRISS (Injured). Round 03 Vs EELS on Saturday. SKINNY: Injuries to Glen Buttriss and Troy Thompson open the door for Stuart Flanagan and Tom Learoyd-Lahrs to take big roles in the Canberra setup this round as the Raiders look to bounce back from a horrible performance against the Roosters. Adrian Purtell is the big casualty of the season being dropped for a poor display and Brett Kelly will get his first chance of the year to impress. The bench now has some defensive starch in Plum and Turner to come on and young Joe Picker gets a start after curiously being a bench player in the opening two rounds. The Raiders can hardly be worse than they were last weekend as they travel to Parramatta, so expect the offence to look remarkably better on Saturday night. CRONULLA-SUTHERLAND SHARKS (NAMED 28/3) Backs: David SIMMONS, Misi TAULAPAPA, Ben POMEROY, Blake FERGUSON, Luke COVELL, Trent BARRETT, Blake GREEN. Forwards: Kade SNOWDEN, Corey HUGHES, Luke DOUGLAS, Reece WILLIAMS, Anthony TUPOU, Paul GALLEN (c). Bench: Reni MAITUA, Grant MILLINGTON, Bryan NORRIE, Tony CAINE, Mitch BROWN (One to be omitted). Coach: Ricky STUART. IN: Mitch BROWN. OUT: Misi TAULAPAPA (Suspension pending). Round 03 Vs DRAGONS on Sunday. SKINNY: A pretty ordinary attacking performance on Monday Night saw the Sharks overcome by a Knights side that finished the game with just 14 fit men. There are some encouraging signs that the Sharks can get better as Trent Barrett in particular looks set to breakout in the next week or two as he re-adjusts to the NRL game. Big Kade Snowden has been a real find for Ricky Stuart so far this season and the Reni Maitua will be better for his first run. Tony Caine offered some spark as a replacement at hooker and may be putting pressure on Corey Hughes for a start. Should need no extra motivation to get up for the Dragons on Sunday at Kogarah. GOLD COAST TITANS (NAMED 28/3) Backs: Preston CAMPBELL, Esi TONGA, Josh GRAHAM, Brett DELANEY, Chris WALKER, Mat ROGERS, Scott PRINCE (c). Forwards: Luke BAILEY, Nathan FRIEND, Michael HENDERSON, Anthony LAFFRANCHI, Mark MINICHIELLO, Ashley HARRISON. Bench: Brad MEYERS, Matthew WHITE, Luke O'DWYER, Aaron CANNINGS, William ZILLMAN (One to be omitted). Coach: John CARTWRIGHT. IN: Chris WALKER, Michael HENDERSON. OUT: Jordan ATKINS. Round 03 Vs BULLDOGS on Friday. SKINNY: Jordan Atkins is the only player dropped on performance from Round 2 and a few others can consider themselves fortunate he was the only one. Chris Walker gets his chance to ressurect his career coming in on the wing but the big question mark is hanging over the fitness of halfback Scott Prince who is said to have missed training with a hamstring tear yesterday. If Prince is out watch for Preston Campbell to move to halfback and William Zillman to play fullback - as bad as it is to lose Prince, Campbell at halfback and Zillman in the #1 is a fairly handy alternative. Michael Henderson also gets his first start of the year at Matt White's expense for the clash with the Bulldogs on Friday Night. MANLY-WARRINGAH SEA EAGLES (NAMED 28/3) Backs: Michael ROBERTSON, Michael BANI, Jamie LYON, Steven MATAI, Shane NEUMANN, Chris BAILEY, Matt ORFORD (c). Forwards: Brent KITE, Matt BALLIN, Josh PERRY, Anthony WATMOUGH, Glenn HALL, Glenn STEWART. Bench: Heath L'ESTRANGE, Jason KING, Adam CUTHBERTSON, Jared WAERA-HARGREAVES+, George ROSE (One to be omitted). Coach: Des HASLER. IN: Shane NEUMANN. OUT: Andrew SUNIULA (Injured), Shane RODNEY. Round 03 Vs PANTHERS on Monday. SKINNY: The defending premiers are 0-2 and are still hurting without the strikepower of star fullback Brett Stewart and injured wingers David and Tony Williams. It looks like Suniula has a hand injury and is out, replaced by centre Shane Neumann on the wing, while rookie union convert Jared Waera-Hargreaves may make his NRL debut from the bench at the expense of Shane Rodney. George Rose is once again the extra man on the bench for the Sea Eagles Monday Night Football tilt with the also 0-2 Panthers. MELBOURNE STORM (NAMED 28/3) Backs: Billy SLATER, Steve TURNER, Will CHAMBERS, Willie ISA, Anthony QUINN, Greg INGLIS, Cooper CRONK. Forwards: Jeff LIMA, Cameron SMITH (c), Adam BLAIR, Wairangi KOOPU, Ryan HOFFMAN, Dallas JOHNSON. Bench: Ryan HINCHCLIFFE, Kevin PROCTOR, Aiden TOLMAN, Scott ANDERSON, Sika MANU, Joseph TOMANE (Two to be omitted). Coach: Craig BELLAMY. IN: Sika MANU, Joseph TOMANE. OUT: No Changes. Round 03 Vs COWBOYS on Saturday. SKINNY: Dudded no doubt by a non-call on a clear knock on by Aaron Gorrell in the immediate leadup to a Peter Wallace try wasn't the reason they lost to the Broncos but it didn't help. Sika Manu may have recovered from a hamstring strain to force his way onto the bench but the Storm's bench was a positive against the Broncos so it will be interesting to see what Coach Craig Bellamy does on gameday. The Storm have been below their best so far in 2009 and the health of Greg Inglis has a lot to do with how dangerous they are in attack - he was a relative passenger last Friday night. NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS (NAMED 28/3) Backs: Kurt GIDLEY (c), James McMANUS, Junior SAU, Adam MacDOUGALL, Akuila UATE, Ben ROGERS, Scott DUREAU. Forwards: Daniel TOLAR, Isaac DE GOIS, Ben CROSS, Chris HOUSTON, Corey PATERSON, Zeb TAIA. Bench: Matt HILDER, Keith LULIA, Richard FA'AOSO, George NDAIRA. Coach: Brian SMITH. IN: Adam MacDOUGALL, Ben ROGERS, George NDAIRA. OUT: Cameron CIRALDO (Injured), Jarrod MULLEN (Injured), Steven SIMPSON (Injured). Round 03 Vs RABBITOHS on Sunday. SKINNY: Limped out of Toyota Park with the 2 competition points but lost three players to serious injury during the game - Simpson, Mullen and Ciraldo all won't be available for multiple weeks. However a win at this stage of the year in the face of such setbacks is gold to Coach Brian Smith who has brought in Adam MacDougall, Ben Rogers and reserve hooker George Ndaira to replace the injured players for the clash with the Rabbitohs at Gosford. Scott Dureau played very well at halfback when Mullen got hurt and has to carry the organising load for the next month or two. COWBOYS (NAMED 28/3) Backs: Matt BOWEN, John WILLIAMS, Ashley GRAHAM, Ty WILLIAMS, Ben FARRAR, Travis BURNS, Johnathan THURSTON (c). Forwards: Shane TRONC, Aaron PAYNE, Antonio KAUFUSI, Carl WEBB, Ben HARRIS, Luke O'DONNELL. Bench: Grant ROVELLI, Scott BOLTON, Matthew SCOTT, Manase MANUOKAFOA, Clint AMOS, Shannon HEGARTY (Two to be omitted). Coach: Neil HENRY. IN: Shannon HEGARTY, Clint AMOS. OUT: No Changes. Round 03 Vs STORM on Saturday. SKINNY: Recovered well from a disappointing loss in Round 1 to take the Tigers to the cleaners at home 42-14. Won't have Willie Tonga for at least a month who was a late withdrawal before the Tigers clash and Ashley Graham may also miss this game after being struck down with a groin injury during that game as well. Grant Rovelli was a welcome addition to the side when he came on and may be just the ticket to expand the Cowboys attack midway through games. Carl Webb will start in the second row and it was nice to see Matthew Scott play well off the bench after a long road back from injury. Shannon Hegarty or Ben Harris will likely replace Graham should he pull out. PARRMATTA EELS (NAMED 28/3) Backs: Luke BURT, Joel REDDY, Ben SMITH, Krisnan INU, Eric GROTHE, Jarryd HAYNE, Brett FINCH. Forwards: Nathan CAYLESS (c), Matt KEATING, FuiFui MOIMOI, Nathan HINDMARSH, Joe GALUVAO, Feleti MATEO. Bench: Kris KEATING, Todd LOWRIE, Tim MANNAH, Broderick WRIGHT. Coach: Daniel ANDERSON. IN: No Changes. OUT: No Changes. Round 03 Vs RAIDERS on Saturday. SKINNY: Will take a lot of confidence from their gutsy win over the Rabbitohs and will fancy their chances with the Raiders coming to town Saturday. That being said the Rabbitohs simply refused to run the ball when they needed to and kicked instead which helped the Eels cause but a win is a win and they've got one more than the Raiders at this stage. No changes as Daniel Anderson keeps the same 17 for the game. PENRITH PANTHERS (NAMED 28/3) Backs: Lachlan COOTE, Michael GORDON, Michael JENNINGS, Brad TIGHE, Shane ELFORD, Luke LEWIS, Jarrod SAMMUT. Forwards: Frank PULETUA, Paul AITON, Petero CIVONICEVA (c), Trent WATERHOUSE, Matthew BELL, Nathan SMITH. Bench: Masada IOSEFA, Frank PRITCHARD, Tim GRANT, Adam WOOLNOUGH, Wade GRAHAM, Joseph PAULO (Two to be omitted). Coach: Matthew ELLIOTT. IN: Shane ELFORD, Wade GRAHAM, Joseph PAULO. OUT: Gavin COOPER (Suspension). Round 03 Vs SEA EAGLES on Monday. SKINNY: Desperately unlucky to get done by a 14 man Bulldogs side in the final two minutes but they still didn't make the tackle to save the game so they are 0-2 to start the year. Matt Elliott is persisting with the Jarrod Sammut at #7 experiement and it is hard to see why as he was below average again on Saturday. Elliott needs to give Wade Graham a chance but if the youngster won't pull his head in stop doing dumb things like talking to a sensationalistic newspaper to try and get out of his contract - Elliott is well within his rights to keep him in the Toyota Cup. Matthew Bell is a curious choice to replace Gavin Cooper as youngster Joseph Paulo is really something to watch if given a chance. ST.GEORGE-ILLAWARRA DRAGONS (Named 28/3) Backs: Darius BOYD, Jason NIGHTINGALE, Beau SCOTT, Matt COOPER, Wendell SAILOR, Jamie SOWARD, Ben HORNBY (c). Forwards: Jarrod SAFFY, Dean YOUNG, Michael WEYMAN, Matt PRIOR, Ben CREAGH, Jeremy SMITH. Bench: Dan HUNT, Neville COSTIGAN, Mathew HEAD, Luke PRIDDIS. Coach: Wayne BENNETT. IN: Mathew HEAD. OUT: Brett MORRIS. Round 03 Vs SHARKS on Sunday. SKINNY: Returning to Kogarah is a big deal for the Dragons and playing the Sharks is the perfect game to christen the revamped ground. Just one change from the team that defeated the Titans in Wollongong with playmaker Mathew Head onto the bench for the unlucky Brett Morris who wasn't used in that game. Head's addition is a reminder from Wayne Bennett to his halves Jamie Soward and Ben Hornby that their play has to improve to keep their spots and it can't hurt to have another game-breaker in the squad even if he's barely used - see Morris last week. SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS (NAMED 28/3) Backs: Rhys WESSER, Shaune CORRIGAN, Colin BEST, Beau CHAMPION, Fetuli TALANOA, John SUTTON, Chris SANDOW. Forwards: Luke STUART, Issac LUKE, Roy ASOTASI (c), Ben LOWE, Shannan McPHERSON, David FA'ALOGO. Bench: Craig WING, Eddy PETTYBOURNE, David KIDWELL, Jaiman LOWE. Coach: Jason TAYLOR. IN: Craig WING, Beau CHAMPION. OUT: Jamie SIMPSON, Nathan MERRITT (Suspended). Round 03 Vs KNIGHTS on Sunday. SKINNY: Came crashing back to earth as they forgot to run the ball in attack, got kick happy and were beaten by the Eels. Have lost Merritt to suspension but have Craig Wing and Beau Champion available which will make them better. Wing's addition is huge and he'll likely play lock forward when coming on and spelling Issac Luke when needed - he's a star player so it is great boost to the Rabbitohs. Corrigan somehow keeps his spot despite looking way out of his league on Friday but Ben Lowe was a factor starting in the backrow. Need to beat Knights on Sunday to get their swagger back. SYDNEY ROOSTERS (NAMED 28/3) Backs: Sam PERRETT, Sonny TUIGAMALA, Mitchell AUBUSSON, Iosia SOLIOLA, Shaun KENNY-DOWALL, Braith ANASTA, Mitchell PEARCE. Forwards: Mark O'MELEY, James AUBUSSON, Nate MYLES, Willie MASON, Craig FITZGIBBON (c), Setaimata SA. Bench: Frank-Paul NUUASUALA, Lopini PAEA, Shane SHACKLETON, Anthony CHERRINGTON, Ben JONES (One to be omitted). Coach: Brad FITTLER. IN: Sonny TUIGAMALA, Anthony CHERRINGTON. OUT: Anthony MINICHIELLO. Round 03 Vs TIGERS on Friday. SKINNY: Must be pleased with their win in Canberra but they shouldn't get too excited, their victory was a case of Canberra having a dud day in attack rather than the Roosters playing great football. Might sound harsh but the Roosters only had the kick once again as their default attacking play and the side will really miss Anthony Minichiello at fullback for the next three months. Sam Perrett is a stat machine at fullback but no game-breaker and new kid Sonny Tuigamala and Anthony Cherrington are also in the squad for the Tigers game at the SFS. WARRIORS (NAMED 28/3) Backs: Wade McKINNON, Denan KEMP, Brent TATE, Jerome ROPATI, Aidan KIRK, Joel MOON, Nathan FIEN. Forwards: Sam RAPIRA, Ian HENDERSON, Steven PRICE (c), Simon MANNERING, Jacob LILLYMAN, Micheal LUCK. Bench: Stacey JONES, Russell PACKER, Jesse ROYAL, Ukuma TA'AI. Coach: Ivan CLEARY. IN: Aidan KIRK, Micheal LUCK. OUT: Manu VATUVEI (Injured), Leeson AH MAU (Injured). Round 03 Vs BRONCOS on Saturday. SKINNY: Losing Manu Vatuvei is not good as the Warriors loved attacking down the left side so it may result in them going to the right with Tate and Kemp - who both haven't seen much ball in the opening rounds. Stacey Jones proved he's still a gun against Manly and will be a super sub again and rookie Ukuma Ta'ai made progress after losing the ball on his first two runs. Micheal Luck should also return while Aidan Kirk replaces Vatuvei. Broncos visit Saturday Night. TIGERS (NAMED 28/3) Backs: Tim MOLTZEN, Taniela TUIAKI, Dean COLLIS, Chris LAWRENCE, Beau RYAN, John MORRIS, Benji MARSHALL. Forwards: Bryce GIBBS, Robbie FARAH (c), Keith GALLOWAY, Gareth ELLIS, Chris HEIGHINGTON, Todd PAYTEN. Bench: Corey PAYNE, Rhys HANBURY, Danny GALEA, Dene HALATAU. Coach: Tim SHEENS. IN: No Changes. OUT: No Changes. Round 03 Vs ROOSTERS on Friday. SKINNY: Outgunned by the Cowboys on Saturday night but they've got a favourable matchup with the Roosters at the SFS on Friday. Tim Sheens will have his team put their loss up north behind them and despite having a bench without much quality after Dene Halatau they could still start favourites as it is a home game for the Tigers. Look for Marshall and Farah to explode around the rucks this week.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Weekend reflection... 20-23 March, 2009

Here are some thoughts from the weekend of sport 20-23 March 2009.
Are Simon Mannering and Warriors leaving Manly behind?
1. The Warriors are a genuine contender for the NRL Premiership after playing below their best and still pulling off a late victory against the defending champions Manly. The 26-24 scoreline thanks to a 78th minute Jerome Ropati try and Denan Kemp conversion from wide out have the Warriors starting the season with 2 wins from 2 games and leaving the Sea Eagles winless so far in their defence. Now I realise having picked the Warriors in my 2009 NRL Season Preview to win the competition - this is good news - but they were really impressive against the Eels in Round 1 and now have shocked the title holders in the final minutes away from home (at Brookvale no less) and Stacey Jones remains Stacey Jones - superstar. 2. Will the NRL remember they've got a mandate on restricting the amount of time a goalkicker has to take his shot at goal following a try? It seems that this 'all important issue' when former Canberra fullback Clinton Schifcofske would go away and make a cappuccino before taking his shot at goal, has been forgotten as on Saturday night Hazem El Masri took a great deal of time to line up and ultimately convert his match-winning strike against the Panthers. This has to be a black and white rule. Either the player gets 90 seconds from the time the try is awarded (60 seconds if the decision goes to the Video Referee) and should he not kick the ball within that shot clock - his team still gets the net result from his conversion attempt - but the other team is immediately awarded a penalty from halfway and the game clock is reset to show exactly 90 seconds from the time the try was scored. This would mean goalkickers could still waste time by waiting til the 85th second to take their shot and then the clock would continue to wind down as he ran back on-side, but if he took 91 seconds to take the shot the clock is stopped, a penalty awarded and the team who was scored on gets a chance with the ball. The other alternative which is the cleanest and simplest way is toe simply STOP the clock when a try is scored or when a penalty kick for goal is indicated following a penalty and restarted when the ball is back in play. For conversions this would be when the ball is kicked off and in the Penalty Kick instance time would start the moment the ball is kicked from the tee. 3. If the NRL is to listen to the fans and bring in another day game - the logical restructure is the following.
FRIDAY - 2 Games @ 7:30pm - Both shown on Channel 9, one on delay. SATURDAY - 3 Games. 1 @ 4:00pm - Fox Sports and either 2 @ 7:30pm on Fox Sports or 1 @ 6:15pm and the other match @ 8:00pm. That way Fox Sports can still have 3 live games. SUNDAY - 2 Games. 1 @ 2:00pm - Fox Sports and 1 @ 3:00pm shown delay on Channel 9. MONDAY - 1 Game @ 7:00pm - Fox Sports will never relinquish the Monday Night game it is here to stay. The beauty of another afternoon game is that a 4pm start - especially in winter when organised sport is generally played earlier in the day for children - would become the family afternoon game and having two games follow at 6:15pm and 8:00pm would cater to the other demographics well. At the moment the 5:30pm game works due to it being Daylight Savings time but the moment Autumn gets longer - it will effectively be another night game. 4. The AFL Season kicks off on Thursday - did you know it was this close?
I rate Aussie Rules but don't rate the new ad.
I like the AFL but I don't watch as much of it as the NRL but the game hasn't been marketed in NSW (where I reside) to the point where I feel as if I can't miss a game involving my team. Now you can argue I'm just not passionate etc etc but I for one really enjoy the Sunday afternoon 1pm starts for the Swans at the SCG and find that on a Saturday night I just don't feel compelled to watch the AFL over the NRL. However if the Swans played the odd game on a Friday Night - live or delayed - I'd be more likely to tune in or go straight to the game if it was in Sydney - because for mine Friday Night is your marquee night to be interested in sport. The idea/agreement that the AFL has made with the Swans never to schedule them on a Friday Night to me seems stupid - because in my opinion Friday Night is THE time in the weekend schedule where exposing your product will make a difference. 5. Congratulations to the South Africans for playing some great cricket in this return series in South African and finally winning a Test! I watched quite a bit of this and the period of play when AB de Villiers went to town on the Australian backup bowlers was just great entertainment - his 4 sixes in a row of Andrew McDonald the highlight.
What I did notice was how much fun a game can be to watch when the Series is decided. Sure Australia were getting smashed in this game but the actual on-field product seemed so much more fun - well not if you're Bryce 'Never to play for Australia again' McGain - and made watching the contest when I should've been in bed much easier. By all means I don't like it when Australia gets dusted - well done to Mitchell Johnson on his maiden century - but the game just had a feel that made me enjoy it that little bit more as a spectacle. Don't get me wrong - the fact we somehow managed to win this series with a bowling attack that is way below what's required over the next 12-18 months to be a competitive force in world cricket still surprises me - but this game showed that we've got such a long way to go before we can settle on an 11 man team to re-establish ourselves as the best team in the world. We might be #1 on the rankings but we're by no means undisputed at the top.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Raiders v Roosters, NRL Round 2 2009

Today from 2pm - Live NRL Blog - Raiders v Roosters

From 2pm this afternoon (that's 45 minutes from now) this blog will be going live reporting on the action of the Canberra Raiders vs Sydney Roosters Round 2 NRL Game from Canberra. Commentary and Opinion on the game will be uploaded every couple of minutes so keep refreshing while you watch the game on FoxSports 2. Any question or comments to wdnicolson@optusnet.com.au or post on this blog.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Panthers beaten by 14 Bulldogs?

Breaking news out of Penrith with vision shown on Fox Sports indicating that in the set of six that the Bulldogs scored their match-winning try to Ben Roberts, the Bulldogs look to have been fielding 14 men on the field at that time. Now Rugby League is a 13 on 13 contest.. sometimes those numbers can go lower but never higher and when Roberts - the man who scored the heartbreaking try for Panthers fans - came onto the field it looks like the Dogs have 14 players on the field. Now if this is proven to be fact the Dogs will have to lose the points but if you're Penrith coach Matt Elliott and his players - surely the fact that extra man made the match-winning difference for their opposition - should they not receive the 2 points? With only 13 men you can argue quite emphatically that the Bulldogs can't create the mass numbers on the left - where Roberts scored - and Penrith have thus been denied victory by a breaking of the rules that directly impacted the game. This is a huge decision looming for the NRL - they can't afford to get it wrong - Penrith don't deserve another mistake.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Tipping: NRL Round 2 & Super 14 Round 6

This is an archived story - so check the main page - www.wdnicolson.blogspot.com for the current round of tipping for NRL, AFL and Super 14. The site is also updated with opinion, news and features regularly. Last Week Recap: Tipped 6/8 in the first round of the NRL - got done by the Dogs and Tigers and managed 5/6 in the Super 14 with the Reds upsetting the Sharks my only miss. NRL Round 2: Rabbitohs, Storm, Dragons, Panthers, Cowboys, Raiders, Warriors, Sharks. Upset Chance: Storm over Broncos, Warriors over Eels and Panthers over Bulldogs (take your pick - well the first two, not so sure about the third but Penrith are at home). Super 14 Round 6: Hurricanes, Highlanders, Blues, Waratahs, Force, Brumbies. Upset Chance: Crusaders over Waratahs (just can't tip it though), Blues over Chiefs (equal favourites) and Force over Sharks (if the Reds can, the Force can esp at home). Good luck with your tips - AFL Starts next Thursday.

Manny Ramirez: The Cricketer

Interesting article here at Yahoo! Sports about baseballer Manny Ramirez taking part in a promotional day for cricket telecasts in the USA. Australian One Day player Shaun Marsh was there to show the LA Dodgers slugger one or two things that would help him hit a ball that as the writer put it 'one hopped' before it reached Ramirez - who was decked out in pads and using a 'paddle'.
Fairly entertaining read here - and I still find it funny that Americans still don't get it.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

2009 NCAA Basketball March Madness Bracket

Big Basketball fan or not, when March rolls around each year one can't help but be interested in the NCAA Basketball Tournament which sees 64 teams face off in search of just one winner. Here is my bracket for the 2009 Tourney - can you beat my picks? I've got Pittsburgh winning the whole thing, edging Memphis in the Title Game in Detroit.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

NRL Round 02 Teams 2009

This is an archived story - so check the main page - www.wdnicolson.blogspot.com for the current round of tipping for NRL, AFL and Super 14. The site is also updated with opinion, news and features regularly.
NRL ROUND 02 SIDES 2009 - With Team SKINNY attached. UPDATED: 5:25pm Tuesday 17 March 2009. ALL TEAMS NAMED: Sea Eagles, Panthers, Cowboys, Titans, Storm, Rabbitohs, Broncos, Raiders, Tigers, Warriors, Knights, Eels, Roosters, Bulldogs, Sharks, Dragons. As they are named they'll go up here. We'll go a little more in depth with our assesments of the sides than the Super 14 - so it'll be worth checking in for our quick takes on the selections each week. So check out the SKINNY under each lineup for the latest take on your side. The Fixtures Round 02 2009: RABBITOHS v EELS @ ANZ BRONCOS v STORM @ Suncorp DRAGONS v TITANS @ WIN PANTHERS v BULLDOGS @ CUA COWBOYS v TIGERS @ Dairy Farmers RAIDERS v ROOSTERS @ Canberra SEA EAGLES v WARRIORS @ Brookvale SHARKS v KNIGHTS @ Toyota THE TEAMS: SEA EAGLES (NAMED 17/3) Backs: Michael ROBERTSON, Michael BANI, Jamie LYON, Steven MATAI, Andrew SUNIULA, Chris BAILEY, Matt ORFORD (c). Forwards: Brent KITE, Matt BALLIN, Josh PERRY, Anthony WATMOUGH, Glenn HALL, Glenn STEWART. Bench: Heath L'ESTRANGE, Jason KING, Adam CUTHBERTSON, Shane RODNEY, George ROSE (One to be omitted). Coach: Des HASLER. IN: Josh PERRY. OUT: None. Round 02 Vs WARRIORS on Sunday. SKINNY: Who would've thought a fortnight ago that the defending premiers could start the season 0-2 but with an ordinary performance against the Dogs leaving them defeated in Round 1, the Sea Eagles come up against one of the more impressive teams from the opening week in the Warriors. It looks like Josh Perry will lineup for the Sea Eagles who need to do a heck of a lot of improving this week to give the Warriors a decent contest at Brookie. PANTHERS (NAMED 17/3) Backs: Lachlan COOTE, Michael GORDON, Michael JENNINGS, Brad TIGHE, Shane ELFORD, Luke LEWIS, Jarrod SAMMUT. Forwards: Tim GRANT, Paul AITON, Petero CIVONICEVA (c), Trent WATERHOUSE, Gavin COOPER, Nathan SMITH. Bench: Frank PRITCHARD, Adam WOOLNOUGH, Frank PULETUA, Masada IOSEFA, Matthew BELL, Wade GRAHAM (Two to be omitted). Coach: Matthew ELLIOTT IN: Frank PRITCHARD, Wade GRAHAM. OUT: None. Round 02 Vs BULLDOGS on Saturday. SKINNY: We woke to a newspaper report that 18 year old Wade Graham wanted to leave the club for the Storm and then a few hours later he was named once again on the first grade bench. Quality reporting as always by the Daily Telegraph. If Frank Pritchard plays then despite the Dogs impressive opening round win, the Panthers may start slight favourites being at home. But they are still carrying up to half a dozen players that would struggle to make almost every other top 17 each week and that makes the jobs of their top players even tougher to keep the Panthers competitive. COWBOYS (NAMED 17/3) Backs: Matt BOWEN, Ty WILLIAMS, Ashley GRAHAM, Willie TONGA, Ben FARRAR, Travis BURNS, Johnathan THURSTON (c). Forwards: Shane TRONC, Aaron PAYNE, Antonio KAUFUSI, Scott BOLTON, Ben HARRIS, Luke O'DONNELL. Bench: Clint AMOS, Carl WEBB, Matthew SCOTT, James TAMOU+, Grant ROVELLI, John WILLIAMS (Two to be omitted). Coach: Neil HENRY. IN: Ashley GRAHAM, Grant ROVELLI, John WILLIAMS. OUT: Shannon HEGARTY, Manase MANUOKAFOA (Suspension). Round 02 Vs TIGERS on Saturday. SKINNY: I was tempted all week to pick the Cowboys in their clash with the Broncos but fortunately for my tipping - I went the safe home team option and Brisbane managed to hold on for the win. The Cowboys were impressive in patches but they were impressive in patches (albeit far less often) in 2008 so don't read too much into their start. Thurston and Bowen playing together is once again a treat and it looks like Graham will play this week subbing in for Hegarty, with Tronc to start for Webb. TITANS (NAMED 17/3) Backs: Preston CAMPBELL, Esi TONGA, Josh GRAHAM, Brett DELANEY, Jordan ATKINS, Mat ROGERS, Scott PRINCE (c). Forwards: Luke BAILEY, Nathan FRIEND, Matt WHITE, Anthony LAFFRANCHI, Mark MINICHIELLO, Ashley HARRISON. Bench: Aaron CANNINGS, Brad MEYERS, Luke O'DWYER, William ZILLMAN, Michael HENDERSON (One to be omitted). Coach: John CARTWRIGHT. IN: No Changes. OUT: No Changes. Round 02 Vs DRAGONS on Saturday. SKINNY: John Cartwright has kept the same 17 for the trip to Wollongong on Saturday night, believing that the comeback the Titans put together is more reflective of the team he had than the one that was 14-0 in the first half to the Knights. William Zillman made an immediate impression when he finally got on the field late in the second half with a long range try and will keep incumbent #1 Preston Campbell under pressure all year until Zillman goes to fullback and Campbell to the wing. STORM (NAMED 17/3) Backs: Billy SLATER, Steve TURNER, Will CHAMBERS, Willie ISA, Anthony QUINN, Greg INGLIS, Cooper CRONK. Forwards: Jeff LIMA, Cameron SMITH (c), Adam BLAIR, Kevin PROCTOR, Ryan HOFFMAN, Dallas JOHNSON. Bench: Ryan HINCHCLIFFE, Aiden TOLMAN, Scott ANDERSON, Wairangi KOOPU, Matt CROSS, James MALONEY+ (Two to be omitted). Coach: Craig BELLAMY. IN: Matt CROSS, James MALONEY+. OUT: No Changes. Round 02 Vs BRONCOS on Friday. SKINNY: Greg Inglis has been named despite knee and shoulder concerns and is expected to play against the Broncos on Friday. Sika Manu hasn't been listed so will miss another week with a hamstring strain, while Brett White is also still out with turf toe. Matt Cross and James Maloney have joined a 6 man bench, while Kevin Proctor has held onto his starting spot ahead of Aiden Tolman and Wairangi Koopu. RABBITOHS (NAMED 17/3) Backs: Rhys WESSER, Nathan MERRITT, Colin BEST, Shaune CORRIGAN, Fetuli TALANOA, John SUTTON, Chris SANDOW. Forwards: Luke STUART, Issac LUKE, Roy ASOTASI (c), David KIDWELL, Shannan McPHERSON, David FA'ALOGO. Bench: Ben LOWE, Eddy PETTYBOURNE, Jaiman LOWE, Jamie SIMPSON, Craig WING (One to be omitted). Coach: Jason TAYLOR. Round 02 Vs EELS on Friday. SKINNY: No official changes for the Rabbitohs who slayed the Chooks in a 52-12 drubbing on Sunday. Although Craig Wing appears to be available, Coach Jason Taylor has stuck with his 17 winners but it would not be a shock to see Wing included on the bench at the expense of Jamie Simpson. Rookie centre Shaune Corrigan holds his spot as does explosive bench player Eddy Pettybourne. BRONCOS (NAMED 17/3) Backs: Karmichael HUNT, Antonio WINTERSTEIN, Steven MICHAELS, Israel FOLAU, Jharal YOW YEH, Darren LOCKYER (c), Peter WALLACE. Forwards: Nick KENNY, Aaron GORRELL, Joel CLINTON, Sam THAIDAY, Ben TE'O, Corey PARKER. Bench: Andrew McCULLOUGH, Lagi SETU, David TAYLOR, Alex GLENN, Ashton SIMS, Josh McGUIRE+ (Two to be omitted). Coach: Ivan HENJAK. Round 02 Vs STORM on Friday. SKINNY: Nick Kenny seems to have a hamstring strain and that's why he played just 23 minutes on Friday but he has refused to rule himself out (as a physio he may have the qualifications to) so the Broncos will field much the same lineup with Ashton Sims and rookie Josh McGuire rounding out a 6 man bench. Rookie wingers Yow Yeh and Winterstein and rookie reserve Alex Glenn also retain their places after excellent debuts in the one point win over the Cowboys. RAIDERS (NAMED 17/3) Backs: David MILNE, Phillip GRAHAM, Adrian PURTELL, Joel MONAGHAN, Justin CARNEY, Terry CAMPESE, Marc HERBERT. Forwards: David SHILLINGTON, Glen BUTTRISS, Josh MILLER, Glen TURNER, Bronson HARRISON, Alan TONGUE (c). Bench: Stuart FLANAGAN, Trevor THURLING, Joe PICKER, Nigel PLUM, Brett KELLY, Troy THOMPSON (Two to be omitted). Coach: David FURNER. IN: Nigel PLUM, Brett KELLY. OUT: None. Round 02 Vs ROOSTERS on Sunday. SKINNY: Raiders fans will still be livid that the second try by Taniela Tuiaki wasn't referred to the video referee when it was pretty clear he had hit the ground and had the arm of Carney around his calf... normally that deems him tackled but the two referees (yes both of them missed it then somehow awarded the try without review) said play on and Tuiaki showed some great strength to break another tackle or five and score the go-ahead try. It was the defining point of the game and the Raiders have decided it wasn't the players fault for the loss entirely and they've kept the same 17 with a few additions to the bench. TIGERS (NAMED 17/3) Backs: Tim MOLTZEN, Taniela TUIAKI, Dean COLLIS, Chris LAWRENCE, Beau RYAN, John MORRIS, Benji MARSHALL. Forwards: Bryce GIBBS, Robbie FARAH (c), Keith GALLOWAY, Gareth ELLIS, Chris HEIGHINGTON, Todd PAYTEN. Bench: Daine LAURIE, Dene HALATAU, Danny GALEA, Corey PAYNE, Ricky TRIMARCHI, Rhys HANBURY (Two to be Omitted). Coach: Tim SHEENS. IN: Danny GALEA, Corey PAYNE. OUT: None. Round 02 Vs COWBOYS on Saturday. SKINNY: Sheens has shuffled his bench cards a little following their win over the Raiders, bringing Danny Galea and Corey Payne into the 17 ahead of Trimarchi and Hanbury. Todd Payten keeps his starting spot - now officially named at lock with Farah also starting again, with Halatau shifting to the bench. Face a tough road trip to the tropical heat of North Queensland on Saturday night, but how good was Englishman Gareth Ellis in his NRL debut! WARRIORS (NAMED 17/3) Backs: Wade McKINNON, Denan KEMP, Brent TATE, Jerome ROPATI, Joel MOON, Nathan FIEN. Forwards: Sam RAPIRA, Ian HENDERSON, Steven PRICE (c), Simon MANNERING, Ben MATULINO, Micheal LUCK. Bench: Lance HOHAIA, Russell PACKER, Jesse ROYAL, Ukuma TA'AI+. Coach: Ivan CLEARY. IN: Stacey JONES, Jesse ROYAL, Ukuma Ta'ai+. OUT: Lance HOHAIA (Injured), Ben MATULINO (Injured), Leeson AH MAU. Round 02 Vs SEA EAGLES on Sunday. SKINNY: Losing bench dynamo Lance Hohaia will be a blow given he scored two tries either side of halftime against the Eels before being hurt. Also second rower Ben Matulino will miss time with a twisted ankle and Leeson Ah Mau has been dropped, allowing Stacey Jones, Jesse Royal and another rookie Ukuma Ta'ai to lineup from the bench. Jacob Lillyman will start for Matulino. The Warriors toyed with the Eels in the first half last week and will be a massive challenge for the Sea Eagles at Brookvale on Sunday. KNIGHTS (NAMED 17/3) Backs: Kurt GIDLEY (c), James McMANUS, Junior SAU, Adam MacDOUGALL, Akuila UATE, Ben ROGERS, Jarrod MULLEN. Forwards: Daniel TOLAR, Isaac DE GOIS, Ben CROSS, Steven SIMPSON, Corey PATERSON, Zeb TAIA. Bench: Matt HILDER, Chris HOUSTON, Richard FA'AOSO, Cameron CIRALDO. Coach: Brian SMITH. IN: Mark Taufua. OUT: Daniel Tolar (Injured). Round 02 Vs SHARKS on Monday. SKINNY: Despite blowing a 14-0 lead in the first half to the Titans, Coach Brian Smith has kept the faith and all players from that game bar the injured Daniel Tolar will visit the Sharks on Monday Night Football. Mark Taufua comes into the starting lineup for Tolar in the only change. The Knights showed some good signs in Round 1 but came up short against an opposition with just that little bit of extra class in their lineup. EELS (NAMED 17/3) Backs: Luke BURT, Joel REDDY, Ben SMITH, Krisnan INU, Eric GROTHE, Jarryd HAYNE, Brett FINCH. Forwards: Nathan CAYLESS (c), Matt KEATING, FuiFui MOIMOI, Nathan HINDMARSH, Weller HAURAKI, Feleti MATEO. Bench: Kris KEATING, Joe GALUVAO, Tim MANNAH, Broderick WRIGHT, Josh CORDOBA (One to be omitted). Coach: Daniel ANDERSON. IN: Broderick WRIGHT. OUT: None. Round 02 Vs RABBITOHS on Friday. SKINNY: No surprise changes after the Warriors handled the Eels on Saturday outside of Josh Cordoba losing his starting spot and joins an extended bench with youngster Broderick Wright making just his 2nd NRL appearance. MoiMoi will start as well. Anderson is keeping the Hayne-Finch-Mateo unit together for another tilt this Friday against the Rabbitohs. ROOSTERS (NAMED 17/3) Backs: Anthony MINICHIELLO, Sam PERRETT, Mitchell AUBUSSON, Iosia SOLIOLA, Shaun KENNY-DOWALL, Braith ANASTA, Mitchell PEARCE. Forwards: Mark O'MELEY, James AUBUSSON, Nate MYLES, Lopini PAEA, Craig FITZGIBBON (c), Setaimata SA. Bench: Frank-Paul NUUASUALA, Shane SHACKLETON, Martin KENNEDY, Jake FRIEND, Willie MASON (One to be omitted). Coach: Brad FITTLER. IN: Willie MASON. OUT: None. Round 02 Vs RAIDERS on Sunday. SKINNY: Fittler has stuck with the same 17 from the shellacking they got from the Rabbitohs for the trip to Canberra on Sunday. Oh and Willie Mason is in the squad on an extended bench. Even if Mason plays the Roosters have to wake up in a big way to match it with a Raiders team that will be smarting from their second half fade at Campbelltown. Pressure mounts on Brad Fittler already as the Roosters didn't look up to it Sunday. BULLDOGS (NAMED 9/3) Backs: Luke PATTEN, Hazem EL MASRI, Josh MORRIS, Jamal IDRIS, Bryson GOODWIN, Ben ROBERTS, Brett KIMMORLEY. Forwards: Ben HANNANT, Michael ENNIS, Michael HODGSON, Gary WARBURTON, Andrew RYAN (c), David STAGG. Bench: Lee TE MAARI, Chris ARMIT, John KITE, Ben BARBA. Coach: Kevin MOORE. IN: No changes. OUT: No changes. Round 02 Vs PANTHERS on Saturday. SKINNY: Well well well wasn't that awesome from the Doggies on Saturday night, knocking off the defending premiers to the tune of 34-12 and not looking anything like the wooden spooners of 2008. Mind you the team is vastly different but still the performance was superb. Brett Kimmorley, Michael Ennis and Luke Patten promise to be a very formidable combination in attack and adding valuable defenders like David Stagg and Ben Hannant to the mix should not be underestimated. This was good, if Ben Barba, Bryce Goodwin, Jamal Idris and John Kite continue to excel - they could get better and the Panthers might be touched up as well. SHARKS (NAMED 17/3) Backs: David SIMMONS, Misi TAULAPAPA, Ben POMEROY, Blake FERGUSON, Luke COVELL, Trent BARRETT, Brett SEYMOUR. Forwards: Kade SNOWDEN, Corey HUGHES, Luke DOUGLAS, Reece WILLIAMS, Anthony TUPOU, Paul GALLEN (c). Bench: Bryan NORRIE, Jack AFAMASAGA, Blake GREEN, Mitch BROWN, Jacob SELMES, Grant MILLINGTON (Two to be omitted). Coach: Ricky STUART.
IN: David SIMMONS, Jacob SELMES, Jack AFAMASAGA. OUT: Brett KEARNEY (Injured), Ben ROSS (Injured). Round 02 Vs KNIGHTS on Monday. SKINNY: With Brett Kearney and Ben Ross out long term (Ross possibly has played his last ever game of football with a neck injury) Coach Ricky Stuart recalls David Simmons at fullback and will put Jack Afamasaga on the bench to cover Ross. Mitch Brown also makes the 17, with Jacob Selmes listed on an extended bench. DRAGONS (Named 17/3) Backs: Darius BOYD, Jason NIGHTINGALE, Beau SCOTT, Matt COOPER, Wendell SAILOR, Jamie SOWARD, Ben HORNBY (c). Forwards: Jarrod SAFFY, Dean YOUNG, Michael WEYMAN, Matt PRIOR, Ben CREAGH, Jeremy SMITH. Bench: Dan HUNT, Neville COSTIGAN, Luke PRIDDIS, Brett MORRIS. Coach: Wayne BENNETT. IN: Brett MORRIS, Neville COSTIGAN. OUT: Chase STANLEY, Justin POORE (Injured). Round 02 Vs TITANS on Saturday. SKINNY: The changes have started as Wayne Bennett finds what he is looking for in the team's best 17. Chase Stanley has been dropped after just one match in the centres with Beau Scott moving wider from the second row and Brett Morris makes an appearance on the bench. Neville Costigan is also on the bench as Bennett hands Matt Prior a start in the #11. The Titans visit WIN Stadium in Wollongong this Saturday night. Still to be Named: None - all named.

Friday, 13 March 2009

NRL & SUPER 14 TIPS March 13-16 2009

This is an archived story - so check the main page - www.wdnicolson.blogspot.com for the current round of tipping for NRL, AFL and Super 14. The site is also updated with opinion, news and features regularly. NRL & SUPER 14 TIPS for March 13-16 2009 Quick upload no video - but here are the tips. NRL: Storm, Broncos, Warriors, Sharks, Sea Eagles, Titans, Rabbitohs, Raiders. Upset Time - Rabbitohs over Roosters. SUPER 14: Blues, Crusaders, Brumbies, Chiefs, Sharks, Stormers. Upset Time: Brumbies over Waratahs. Have a great weekend in front of the motza of footy!

Thursday, 12 March 2009

2009 NRL SEASON PREVIEW

Sadly the NRL decided that the 'lack of video content' in my NRL Season Previews was infringing on the NRL Partnership deal and had the preview videos deleted from Youtube. For the record - no video footage was used and I have uploaded the video here to the site directly - but the Final Ladder inside is for results from the Finals - so if a team is ranked 4th they may have finished 8th in the regular season but advanced to the penultimate weekend of the Finals before being beaten.) So to re-iterate - The team I pick to win the competition - may not win the minor premiership - but they are my tip to win the premiership. With that sorted: Check out the video: video The former YouTube video is now down, apologies. Individual preview videos may be uploaded soon - they were on YouTube - same deal though. The NSC 2009 NRL SEASON PREVIEW INDIVIDUAL CLUB PREVIEWS TO FOLLOW HERE AND ON YOUTUBE CHANNEL - NSCVideos. video

Monday, 9 March 2009

NRL Round 01 Teams 2009

This is an archived story - so check the main page - www.wdnicolson.blogspot.com for the current round of tipping for NRL, AFL and Super 14. The site is also updated with opinion, news and features regularly. NRL ROUND 01 SIDES 2009 - With Team SKINNY attached. UPDATED: 4:15pm Tuesday 10 March 2009. ALL TEAMS NAMED: Sea Eagles, Panthers, Cowboys, Titans, Storm, Rabbitohs, Broncos, Raiders, Tigers, Warriors, Knights, Eels, Roosters, Bulldogs, Sharks, Dragons. As they are named they'll go up here. We'll go a little more in depth with our assesments of the sides than the Super 14 - so it'll be worth checking in for our quick takes on the selections each week. So check out the SKINNY under each lineup for the latest take on your side.
The Fixtures Round 01 2009: STORM v DRAGONS @ Olympic BRONCOS v COWBOYS @ Suncorp WARRIORS v EELS @ Mt Smart SHARKS v PANTHERS @ Toyota BULLDOGS v SEA EAGLES @ ANZ TITANS v KNIGHTS @ Skilled ROOSTERS v RABBITOHS @ SFS TIGERS v RAIDERS @ Campbelltown THE TEAMS:
SEA EAGLES (NAMED 10/3) Backs: Brett STEWART, Michael ROBERTSON, Jamie LYON, Steven MATAI, Andrew SUNIULA+, Chris BAILEY, Matt ORFORD (c). Forwards: Brent KITE, Matt BALLIN, Josh PERRY, Anthony WATMOUGH, Glenn HALL, Glenn STEWART. Bench: Heath L'ESTRANGE, Jason KING, Adam CUTHBERTSON, Shane RODNEY, Shane NEUMANN (One to be omitted). Coach: Des HASLER. Round 01 Vs BULLDOGS on Saturday. SKINNY: The defending premiers have had a horror week leading into the first game and to compound the pain of dealing with the Brett Stewart/Watmough situations - they won't have David Williams, Tony Williams or Steven Menzies in the lineup. Okay Menzies has gone to England but new winger Andrew Suniula is an absolutely nobody at this stage and had to be at best the club's 5th best winger. But wingers don't win you games so let's not dwell on it. Watmough and Stewart will play and that's all Manly fans need to know to be confident they have the Bulldogs number in Round 1. PANTHERS (NAMED 10/3) Backs: Lachlan COOTE, Michael GORDON, Michael JENNINGS, Brad TIGHE, Shane ELFORD, Luke LEWIS, Jarrod SAMMUT. Forwards: Tim GRANT, Paul AITON, Petero CIVONICEVA (c), Trent WATERHOUSE, Gavin COOPER, Nathan SMITH. Bench: Frank PRITCHARD, Adam WOOLNOUGH, Frank PULETUA, Masada IOSEFA, Matthew BELL, Wade GRAHAM (Two to be omitted). Coach: Matthew ELLIOTT Round 01 Vs SHARKS on Saturday. SKINNY: For some reason Matthew Elliott abandons the Wade Graham-Jarrod Sammut halves combination after the trials and goes back to Luke Lewis at five-eighth. Lewis was a real find at halfback last year in a lost season but why play him at lock all pre-season only to go back to him in the halves in Round 1 and leave Graham on an extended bench? It is perplexing. Still the pack looks relatively competitive with Civoniceva and Waterhouse starting and Pritchard on the bench, but the likes of Grant, Cooper, Smith, Woolnough and the hooker tandem of Aiton and Iosefa must step up for the Panthers to start the year well. COWBOYS (NAMED 10/3) Backs: Matt BOWEN, Ty WILLIAMS, Ashley GRAHAM, Willie TONGA, Ben FARRAR, Travis BURNS, Johnathan THURSTON (c). Forwards: Carl WEBB, Aaron PAYNE, Antonio KAUFUSI, Manase MANUOKAFOA, Ben HARRIS, Luke O'DONNELL. Bench: Clint AMOS, Matthew SCOTT, Shane TRONC, Scott BOLTON, James TAMOU+ (One to be omitted). Coach: Neil HENRY. Round 01 Vs BRONCOS on Friday. SKINNY: The man in the #1 jersey instantly fills Cowboys fans everywhere with confidence that the 2009 season will not reflect the atrocious 2008 the team delivered without Bowen at fullback. Thurston couldn't stand up and take the team above mediocrity so it'll be up to Bowen to inject some much needed self belief into the squad that leaked points like dodgy guttering. If the revamped forward pack (which has their leader Luke O'Donnell healthy once again) can remember how to defend on their line - this Cowboys team has every chance of being a side that can win the title, let alone make the Top 8. TITANS (NAMED 10/3) Backs: Preston CAMPBELL, Esi TONGA, Josh GRAHAM, Brett DELANEY, Jordan ATKINS, Mat ROGERS, Scott PRINCE (c). Forwards: Luke BAILEY, Nathan FRIEND, Matt WHITE, Anthony LAFFRANCHI, Mark MINICHIELLO, Ashley HARRISON. Bench: Aaron CANNINGS, Brad MEYERS, Luke O'DWYER, William ZILLMAN, Michael HENDERSON (One to be omitted). Coach: John CARTWRIGHT. Round 01 Vs KNIGHTS on Sunday. SKINNY: Nearly full strength as I'm not convinced that three-quarter line is the best that the Titans have to offer in 2009. Campbell straight in at fullback which must make William Zillman question why the Titans brought him to the Gold Coast... it wasn't to be the utility on the bench... wait that's Luke O'Dwyer's job, so Zillman may not even play if 18th man Michael Henderson pushes in front of him on game day. Still the Big Three of Prince, Bailey and Laffranchi start the year fit... if they finish the year fit the Titans will probably be in the bottom half of the Top 8 such is their quality and influence on the team. Good to see Matt White get a starting spot after some impressive performances for the Knights at the end of 2008. The Knights visit on Sunday. STORM (NAMED 10/3) Backs: Billy SLATER, Steve TURNER, Will CHAMBERS, Willie ISA+, Anthony QUINN, Greg INGLIS, Cooper CRONK. Forwards: Jeff LIMA, Cameron SMITH (c), Adam BLAIR, Sika MANU, Ryan HOFFMAN, Dallas JOHNSON. Bench: Ryan HINCHCLIFFE, Kevin PROCTOR, Aiden TOLMAN, Brett WHITE. Coach: Craig BELLAMY. Round 01 Vs DRAGONS on Friday. SKINNY: The three-time defending Minor Premiers (doesn't have the same ring to it since they only converted one of those titles into a Premiership) return with a roster still full of top end talent but without the depth they've had in recent seasons. The new kids on the block (NKOTB) include Willie Isa at centre, Kevin (we dub thee 'The Proctologist') Proctor and Aiden Tolman who all seem to be given the first crack at establishing themselves in the team long term. The top end talent of Slater, Smith, Inglis, Cronk and Hoffman still have this team as viable premiership contenders but the cupboard is a little barer than it has been for a long time. Storm play the Dragons on Friday Night at Olympic.
RABBITOHS (NAMED 10/3) Backs: Rhys WESSER, Nathan MERRITT, Fetuli TALANOA, Colin BEST, Shaune CORRIGAN+, John SUTTON, Chris SANDOW. Forwards: Luke STUART, Issac LUKE, Roy ASOTASI (c), David KIDWELL, Shannan McPHERSON, David FA'ALOGO. Bench: Ben LOWE, Eddy PETTYBOURNE, Jaiman LOWE, Garret CROSSMAN, Jamie SIMPSON (One to be omitted). Coach: Jason TAYLOR. Round 01 Vs ROOSTERS on Sunday. SKINNY: Craig Wing isn't healthy apparently so Taylor gets another week to figure out where to play their marquee signing of 2008. Wing needs to play and he needs more than a role off the bench so looking at the Round 1 lineup perhaps centre is the place he'll ply his trade until Beau Champion returns... then maybe to lock? Still it's a better question to face than no Wing at all so the side Taylor picked for the clash with the Roosters has some questionable guys like McPherson, the Lowes and Pettybourne but all four might step up to the challenge this season - especially Pettybourne who is a wrecking ball. Debutant Shaune Corrigan gets a run which is a nice reward for repaying Taylor's faith in the trials. BRONCOS (NAMED 10/3) Backs: Karmichael HUNT, Antonio WINTERSTEIN+, Alex GLENN+, Israel FOLAU, Jharal YOW YEH+, Darren LOCKYER (c), Peter WALLACE. Forwards: Nick KENNY, Aaron GORRELL, Joel CLINTON, Sam THAIDAY, Ben TE'O, Corey PARKER. Bench: Andrew McCULLOUGH, Lagi SETU, David TAYLOR, Steven MICHAELS, Ashton SIMS, Aaron SWEENEY+, Josh McGUIRE+ (Two to be omitted). Coach: Ivan HENJAK+. Round 01 Vs COWBOYS on Friday. SKINNY: Time for the next generation of coaching at the Broncos - well sort of. Ivan Henjak has gone extremely young out wide with Winterstein, Glenn and Greg Matthews' love child Jharal Yow Yeh making their debuts. Lockyer should be fit to start the year which will make a big difference to the team (even though they smashed the Panthers with him in Round 1 last year - he wasn't fit). New faces at hooker - Gorrell and McCullough - and in the backrow where new buys Te'o and Setu look set to play important roles in the attack of the team from the forwards. A lot rides on the shoulders of starting props Kenny and Clinton for this team's strike weapons to be a factor regularly. Cowboys on Friday night to start at home. RAIDERS (NAMED 10/3) Backs: David MILNE, Phillip GRAHAM, Adrian PURTELL, Joel MONAGHAN, Justin CARNEY, Terry CAMPESE, Marc HERBERT. Forwards: David SHILLINGTON, Glen BUTTRISS, Josh MILLER, Glen TURNER, Bronson HARRISON, Alan TONGUE (c). Bench: Stuart FLANAGAN, Trevor THURLING, Joe PICKER, Nigel PLUM, Brett KELLY (One to be omitted). Coach: David FURNER+. Round 01 Vs TIGERS on Monday. SKINNY: David Furner was dealt a number of key injuries at prop in the last trial but has managed to name another solid forward pack for the Tigers clash. The backline is boosted by the return of Graham from long term injury but have lost Colin Best to the Bunnies - so they lose nothing in terms of speed. New buy Stuart Flanagan couldn't dislodge incumbent hooker Buttriss but to start the season a tag team may be a good ploy to get Flanagan into the offence. But the fortunes of the team rest on Terry Campese staying in the form he showed in the second half of last year. TIGERS (NAMED 10/3) Backs: Tim MOLTZEN, Taniela TUIAKI, Dean COLLIS, Chris LAWRENCE, Beau RYAN, John MORRIS, Benji MARSHALL. Forwards: Bryce GIBBS, Robbie FARAH (c), Keith GALLOWAY, Gareth ELLIS, Chris HEIGHINGTON, Dene HALATAU. Bench: Rhys HANBURY, Rocky TRIMARCHI, Todd PAYTEN, Daine LAURIE. Coach: Tim SHEENS. Round 01 Vs RAIDERS on Monday. SKINNY: Sheens has rolled the dice in two key positions with Marshall moving to halfback permanently and youngster Moltzen given the #1 job after Brett Hodgson's departure. Rhys Hanbury an outside back/five-eighth has secured the bench utility spot which probably means John Morris would move into a roving lock or hooker role if Hanbury came on. The pack has a fine starting six and Todd Payten is better than a benchy alongside the exciting Daine Laurie. Marshall's ability to run the team outside Farah will obviously be crucial but the addition of Englishman Gareth Ellis should not be underestimated - he is a quality forward. Open Monday night with the Raiders. WARRIORS (NAMED 10/3) Backs: Wade McKINNON, Denan KEMP, Brent TATE, Jerome ROPATI, Joel MOON, Nathan FIEN. Forwards: Sam RAPIRA, Ian HENDERSON, Steven PRICE (c), Simon MANNERING, Ben MATULINO, Micheal LUCK. Bench: Lance HOHAIA, Russell PACKER, Jacob LILLYMAN, Leeson AH MAU+. Coach: Ivan CLEARY. Round 01 Vs EELS on Saturday. SKINNY: Ivan Cleary had some decisions to make with so many signings in the off-season to compete in the halves and he had to find a replacement for the retired Ruben Wiki up front. His Round 1 answers are Joel Moon partnering Nathan Fiend in the halves and Russell Packer and Leeson Ah Mau to fill the hole Wiki leaves at prop. Both Packer and Ah Mau dominated Toyota Cup last year so Cleary clearly has reason to believe they might be up to the job. The collection of outside backs is as good as any in the league with a fit McKinnon and the addition of Denan Kemp who was probably the top pure winger in the game in 2008. Eels come to visit Saturday. KNIGHTS (NAMED 10/3) Backs: Kurt GIDLEY (c), James McMANUS, Junior SAU, Adam MacDOUGALL, Akuila UATE, Ben ROGERS, Jarrod MULLEN. Forwards: Daniel TOLAR, Isaac DE GOIS, Ben CROSS, Steven SIMPSON, Corey PATERSON, Zeb TAIA. Bench: Matt HILDER, Chris HOUSTON, Richard FA'AOSO, Cameron CIRALDO. Coach: Brian SMITH. Round 01 Vs TITANS on Sunday. SKINNY: The ingredients Brian Smith was putting together in 2008 has been mixed again for Round 1 with only Wes Naiqama and Danny Wicks possibly missing from a full-strength 17. Not sold on Rogers at 5/8 but the best half in the club is Jarrod Mullen so the right man is in the #7. The pack has a strong go-forward look to it and the bench is littered with backrowers. They will give the Titans a shake at Skilled. EELS (NAMED 9/3) Backs: Luke BURT, Joel REDDY, Ben SMITH, Krisnan INU, Eric GROTHE, Jarryd HAYNE, Brett FINCH. Forwards: Nathan CAYLESS (c), Matt KEATING, Josh CORDOBA, Nathan HINDMARSH, Weller HAURAKI, Feleti MATEO. Bench: Kris KEATING, Todd LOWRIE, Tim MANNAH+, FuiFui MOIMOI, Taulima TAUTAI, Joe GALUVAO (Two to be omitted). Coach: Daniel ANDERSON. Round 01 Vs WARRIORS on Saturday. SKINNY: Well Eric Grothe is back and is joined on the wing by Joel Reddy as the team seems to have moved on from the Taulima Tautai experiment. Ben Smith is also back so there is quite a 2007 look to the backline. Brett Finch will run the show obviously now Hayne is in at 5/8 but expect Mateo to do most of the secondary ball playing. The pack - which looks the Eels big weakness this season - has question marks especially with the yet-to-be-tested-in-key-roles (YTBTIK from here on) Hauraki, Cordoba and debutant Mannah in the side. Young Matt Keating also has a big role to play at hooker with Riddell having moved on for good. Tough ask away to the Warriors first up. ROOSTERS (NAMED 9/3) Backs: Anthony MINICHIELLO, Sam PERRETT, Mitchell AUBUSSON, Iosia SOLIOLA, Shaun KENNY-DOWALL, Braith ANASTA, Mitchell PEARCE. Forwards: Mark O'MELEY, James AUBUSSON, Nate MYLES, Lopini PAEA, Craig FITZGIBBON (c), Setaimata SA. Bench: Frank-Paul NUUASUALA, Shane SHACKLETON, Sisa WAQA, Jake FRIEND, Martin KENNEDY (One to be omitted). Coach: Brad FITTLER. Round 01 Vs RABBITOHS on Sunday.
SKINNY: Similar lineup to last season's vanquished finals side... in other words no Willie Mason. An awful lot of responsibility rests on Fitzgibbon, O'Meley and Myles up front and if they falter the Chooks backline won't see enough good field position to worry the Bunnies in this one. Setaimata Sa at lock and Anasta at 5/8 makes total sense but the performance of Minichiello is the biggest key to beating the Rabbitohs for the Roosters. BULLDOGS (NAMED 9/3) Backs: Luke PATTEN, Hazem EL MASRI, Josh MORRIS, Jamal IDRIS, Bryson GOODWIN, Ben ROBERTS, Brett KIMMORLEY. Forwards: Ben HANNANT, Michael ENNIS, Michael HODGSON, Gary WARBURTON, Andrew RYAN (c), David STAGG. Bench: Lee TE MAARI, Chris ARMIT, John KITE, Ben BARBA. Coach: Kevin MOORE. Round 01 Vs SEA EAGLES on Saturday. SKINNY: The big shock is the omission of Matt Utai for young Bryson Goodwin. New coach Kevin Moore has clearly gone with the theory long held by critics that the Dogs didn't have enough speed on the flanks and only El Masri has survived the cull. Josh Morris and a healthy Luke Patten are the strike-weapons for the Dogs playmakers Kimmorley and Ennis who need an average looking forward pack to make inroads for them to create opportunities. Ben Barba on the bench is a smart choice as the Dogs need him in the lineup as much as possible in 2009. SHARKS (NAMED 9/3) Backs: Brett KEARNEY, Misi TAULAPAPA, Ben POMEROY, Blake FERGUSON, Luke COVELL, Trent BARRETT, Brett SEYMOUR. Forwards: Kade SNOWDEN, Corey HUGHES, Luke DOUGLAS, Reece WILLIAMS, Anthony TUPOU, Paul GALLEN (c). Bench: Ben ROSS, Bryan NORRIE, Grant MILLINGTON, Blake GREEN, David SIMMONS, Reni MAITUA (two to be omitted). Coach: Ricky STUART. Round 01 Vs PANTHERS on Saturday. SKINNY: Who the heck is Blake Ferguson? Apparently Ricky Stuart knows who and what he offers so he comes into the lineup for David Simmons as the bolter of Round 1 across the league. Brett Seymour also makes his return a month earlier than expected from a knee-reconstruction so if he's fit - Barrett gets his long term partner from Round 1 in the halves. Reni Maitua also might play - just days after being ruled out for 3 months. Also nice to see Kade Snowden get a starting spot after working hard in the off-season on his fitness. DRAGONS (Named 9/3) Backs: Darius BOYD, Jason NIGHTINGALE, Chase STANLEY, Matt COOPER, Wendell SAILOR, Jamie SOWARD, Ben HORNBY (c). Forwards: Justin POORE, Dean YOUNG, Michael WEYMAN, Beau SCOTT, Ben CREAGH, Jeremy SMITH. Bench: Dan HUNT, Matt PRIOR, Luke PRIDDIS, Jarrod SAFFY. Coach: Wayne BENNETT. Round 01 Vs STORM on Friday. SKINNY: The first team named had a few surprises. Brett Morris couldn't even get a start on the bench let alone the run on side and could face a long stint in reggies, as Chase Stanley seems to be Bennett's choice to fill the 'open' slot in the three-quarter line. Darius Boyd gets the fullback spot and Ben Hornby is skipper and halfback. The forwards now feature two new starters in Weyman and Jeremy Smith and Luke Priddis will backup Dean Young at hooker. All in all the side looks okay on paper - but there was no room for Neville Costigan or Mathew Head -but I just can't see them being a premiership threat in 2009 even with Bennett at the helm. Still to be Named: None - all named.