Tuesday 30 November 2010

Where does Braith Anasta really want to play? | NRL Scraps Sydney Home Finals for Cash

Where does Braith Anasta really want to play?
November 30, 2010
Late in the 2010 Regular Season the Sydney Roosters were making a run at the NRL Playoffs. 

They were playing arguably the best attacking Rugby League in the competition and a lot of it had to do with the decision by their Coach Brian Smith to shift Todd Carney from fullback to five-eighth to partner Mitchell Pearce in the halves and in turn move skipper Braith Anasta from five-eighth to the backrow.

The move spurred Carney on to pick up a host of major Player of the Year Awards and saw Anasta in arguably the form of his career playing at lock forward.

As a result the Roosters would go on to finish 6th on the ladder and run a playoff gauntlet past the Tigers, Panthers & Titans all the way to the Grand Final where they were defeated by the St.George-Illawarra Dragons 32-8. 

But there was one story that 'emerged' during September that surrounded the future of Anasta with the Sydney Roosters. Anasta was contracted until the end of the following season but the whispers that the North Queensland Cowboys had tabled an offer to Anasta for 2011 got so loud that on Channel Nine's The Footy Show - Anasta was asked point blank whether or not he had any intention of leaving the Roosters and going to the Cowboys.

Anasta denied the story outright and seemingly that was that.

The Roosters went on to the Grand Final and although outplayed on the day - Anasta and his troops looked to have a bright future together. And given the skipper had pledged his future to the club - everything seemed great.

But now we get a story from the Townsville Bulletin that says the Cowboys are still very interested in the 28 year old Anasta.

Hang on a minute.

The information to hand now alleges Braith isn't happy playing at lock forward... no matter how well his team goes with him not playing of his favourite Number Six jersey.

(Now it must be noted that according to a trusted source of mine (not the papers) Anasta's manager is adamant this is a story that has been rehashed and is old news... not necessarily a pork pie though.)

This isn't the first time Anasta has allegedly blown up at his club for playing him out of position. When Brad Fittler toyed with the idea of moving Anasta to the backrow while he was still coach of the Roosters in 2009 - Anasta refused yet somehow agreed to play fullback instead... Fittler lost his job soon after.

Now there's no evidence that can categorically say that Anasta himself wants out of the Roosters but rather alarmingly, the North Queensland CEO Peter Jourdain has admitted to the media that his club was approached by Anasta's manager Greg Willett about a move north.

One however could speculate that if your manager is searching for interest in your services... you might have had something to do with his actions.


Now players and clubs are notorious for denying any story right up until the time they break the news themselves but this series of events suggests that perhaps Braith Anasta's love affair with the Number Six jersey is so passionate that he's willing to leave a club brimming with talent and momentum heading into 2011 - for a club that if not for Melbourne's unscrupulous dealings being discovered, would have won the Wooden Spoon last year with just 5 wins from 24 starts.

Now the Cowboys have plenty of talent of their own but given Anasta is the CAPTAIN of the Sydney Roosters and he gets to play with Mitchell Pearce and Todd Carney in the most potent scrumbase combination in the game... doesn't it just boggle the mind that he might want out simply because he can't play in the Number Six he wants out?

Making this even murkier is the statement from Sydney CEO Steve Noyce in the SMH today that "Braith is under contract to the Roosters for 2011 and he will be playing for our club. I don't know what his manager or Peter Jordain has said but we won't be giving permission for any club to talk to him about playing anywhere else in 2011."

Mind you if Anasta does get out of his deal going to Townsville to play alongside Johnathan Thurston wouldn't exactly be a huge downside but what makes this so strange is that Anasta finally started to show some of the signs that he was indeed Brad Fittler's heir as the dominant figure at the Roosters and now he wants out?

Then again it could all be about money rather than what position Braith Anasta really wants to play...

all together now... Allegedly.

In early December Anasta once again publicly denied he wanted out of the Roosters but that doesn't mean he's happy playing lock...
In other news... 


The National Rugby League have today moved to stop all the harrassment they receive come playoff time from the News Limited Press by forcing through a mandate that leaves every Sydney club without the option of playing an earned semi final at Home.

Unless of course they play all their home games at ANZ Stadium or the SFS that is.

As of 2011 - the South Sydney Rabbitohs, Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs & Sydney Roosters will still get 'home ground advantage' in Week One of the Finals if they finish in the Top 4. But the Penrith Panthers, Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks, Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, Parramatta Eels, St.George-Illawarra Dragons & Wests Tigers will not get to play at their traditional grounds and will have to 'host' their 'Home' finals at one of the two venues. 

While money raised from a bigger gate is the driving force behind this decision, the big advantage teams from outside of Sydney now receive by having a genuine Home Ground advantage in Week One cannot be understated. In fact it is ironic that with this change one of David Gallop's pro-McIntyre System arguments just went up in smoke - that is 'under our system a team gets to play for a Home Semi Final'.

Now only seven out of Sydney teams play for a genuine home ground advantage in Week One.

Last time I checked 7 from 16 isn't a majority.

Yes if you add the Bulldogs, Rabbitohs & Roosters to the tally you get 10 from 16 but they'll be sharing those 'home' games with other Sydney teams at their 'home' grounds come September as well.

Of course Money has had the final say here and fairness only becomes a factor when the money involved flows in the same direction.

Hardly seems like a unanimous decision does it?

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this decision is that it has been made BEFORE the Independent Commission has come into play.

Does that mean that this could be overturned as soon as the new body is in charge?

We'll wait and see... and we've been waiting quite a while too.

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