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Sunday, 29 January 2012

10 Things I Love About Chuck... and why I'll miss it.

Chuck Unplugged: 
Another Great Show Ends
By W D Nicolson, January 28 2012

Let's be honest, Television can suck.

For all the channels there are available to us these days, there is very little that is actually any good.

Which means that each time a show that we become attached to finishes, saying goodbye just gets tougher and tough. Don't get me wrong, I know it is just a TV show but the very good ones have a way of establishing themselves as my TV show, so letting go after watching them regularly is no easy task.

I was too young to appreciate Seinfeld when it started but by the end in 1998 I was a big fan, and actually came to love the genius of the show even more via reruns. Admittedly, Seinfeld is one of the truly great shows of all time but as far as my favourites go, the action-drama-comedy series 'Chuck' is right up there.

I didn't see or even know about Chuck when it first aired in the US in 2007 and it wasn't until 2009 that I discovered the show via Foxtel's FOX8 channel over my lunch break. The first episode I saw wasn't even in the original season but it was entertaining and got me interested enough to seek out the pilot and give the show a go.

I haven't regretted it.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

NRL 2012 Season Preview and Predictions

By W D Nicolson, January 25, 2012

A brand new NRL Season dawns on March 1 in Newcastle and unless you've been endlessly entertained by watching Darren Lockyer's hilarious (but somehow right) missed conversion in his last play in Rugby League on an endless loop on YouTube - you are bursting for some Rugby League right about now.

So here's some Rugby League to get you through the end of January and ready for the trials that are just around the corner.

In 2012, the author will be posting content for some more official sites as well as on but as an Australia Day treat you get a quick look at our 2012 NRL Forecasts for all 16 Teams. NOT The Footy Show may also be back for one episode cameo with a Live Season Preview of our own in early February.

If you want the whole preview you'll need to pick yourself up a copy of the 2012 Rugby League Almanac for just $10.00 - where every team is analysed in depth and our Predicted Ladder and Premiership pick is published.

Get The 2012 Rugby League Almanac Now!

So while you go grab a copy, here is the short sharp and boldly premature 2012 Prediction for each NRL Club. If you want our Final Ladder - see the Almanac.
2011 Record: 18 Wins 6 Losses = 3rd Spot
Reached Preliminary Finals
2012 FORECAST… and boldly premature prediction.
How big a loss is Darren Lockyer? The difference between playing Finals Football and golfing in September. Just.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

NRL 2012 - NRL All Stars v Indigenous All Stars Teams Named

By W D Nicolson, January 19, 2012

The wait is nearly over Rugby League fans.

In just over two weeks the NRL All Stars will look to go back to back in the 2012 All Stars Game held at Skilled Park on the Gold Coast against the Indigenous All Stars.

This year the game will be played for the Arthur Beetson Trophy on February 4, and currently both teams have registered a win in the event, the Indigenous All Stars won 16-12 in 2010 and the NRL All Stars cruised to a 28-12 victory last year.
Johnathan Thurston has been a feature of the All Stars Game in both 2010 and 2011.
Although the game still has two years to run on its current deal with Skilled Park, has already explored the options available to the NRL in the future should the game be played elsewhere. Where would you take the game next?

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

NRL 2012 - Sonny Bill Williams back in the NRL? #Winning

By W D Nicolson, January 10, 2012

New Year's Eve 2011 may go down as the day that the Sydney Roosters put themselves back within reach of the NRL's elite, as reports surfaced that they had signed superstar code crosser Sonny Bill Williams.

The five year deal was reportedly set to start in 2013 and would make Williams one of the most highly paid players in the NRL. Something he already was when he walked out on the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in 2008 after barely one season of another five year deal he signed during 2007 to look after himself.

The new contract is allegedly worth double the base salary he was on at the Bulldogs, yet given the 26 year old has made plenty of coin the past four years playing Rugby in the south of France and for the All Blacks leading into and through the 2011 Rugby World Cup - the decision may not be financially motivated like his defection away from League appeared to be in 2008.

In fact, given what Williams has achieved during his hiatus away from Rugby League, it appears to be as much about the question Williams is likely asking himself.

Can Sonny Bill Williams dominate Rugby League once more?

Get The 2012 Rugby League Almanac Now!
Like him or not, should Sonny Bill return with the Roosters in 2013, everything's turning out great for him.
The Roosters are certainly banking on him changing codes again for the challenge as much as the coin, because to potentially add the game's best forward to their squad in 2013, they are overlooking the presence of a lot of good players on their backrow depth chart.

Skipper and five-eighth Braith Anasta will move to the backrow (or to England) either this season or next with the arrival of Daniel Mortimer for 2012 and James Maloney in 2013, alongside the now healthy second rower Mitchell Aubusson, who was one of the breakout players in the game two years ago. They look set to take two of the three starting backrow spots for the foreseeable future. The club also unearthed a talented youngster in Boyd Cordner at the back end of 2011, and with the likes of Lama Tasi, Aiden Guerra, Frank-Paul Nu'uausala, Anthony Cherrington and Tom Symonds already on the books - the backrow is loaded before Williams even arrives.

But IF Williams arrives, he is a game changer for the Roosters and their standing in the NRL.

Although the Roosters made the 2010 Grand Final through a combination of skill, hard work and luck, they were never really considered a unit that had all the tools to maintain their position as an elite team for the next few years. And while their 11th place finish in 2011 wasn't a catastrophic fall, it was still a significant drop out of the top echelon of teams. And it signified that the next few years might be a real learning curve for a team that has begun a youth movement and cut loose a number of key pieces from the 2010 Grand Final team.

But if you add Williams to the remaining core group under Head Coach Brian Smith, the Roosters could be very good in a short space of time.

Because simply put, Sonny Bill Williams is THAT good.

He may have only played 73 NRL games from 2004-2008 but his combination of size, skill, speed and power made him an almost irresistible force on the Rugby League field. And it appeared only injury could contain his potential during his time in the code.

Daily Telegraph Graphic from 2008
Significantly, his hiatus from the game has actually benefited him long term. Instead of pounding his body week in week out from 2009-2011 in the NRL, he has actually been able to look after his body with his stints with Toulon and then with the Crusaders in the Super Rugby competition, which did not require the same week in week out intensity of the NRL. He will play for the Chiefs in the 2012 Super Rugby competition and probably the All Blacks in the international arena but a full season will still only see him play an equivalent NRL season - but within a less condensed schedule.

So while there are a number of fans who will never forgive Williams for walking out on the Bulldogs (and the code), it has actually been a great benefit to him individually to not be able to return to the NRL until his Canterbury contract expires at the end of 2012.

He will be 27 when (or if) his contract with the Sydney Roosters begins in 2013 and he will have only around 160-170 top class games of football under his belt and has spaced those games over nine seasons in two codes.

Which means that Sonny Bill Williams should be fresh during his prime years as a Rugby League player - which is a terrifying thought if you are an opposition player, and a something to very much look forward to if you are a fan. Another plus for Williams is that he will once again become a face of Rugby League, either through the media or endorsement deals, as the past will be forgotten based on the promise of the present.

And all that adds up to one conclusion, which regardless what you think of him means...

Sonny Bill is #WINNING.

Will you welcome Sonny Bill Williams back to the NRL with open arms or boo the life out of him? 

Comment below.

2012 Rugby League Almanac Available Now.
While you're here on the site - please consider grabbing a copy of the 2012 Rugby League Almanac - a 49 page season guide for just $10.00 that will give you the most in depth analysis of the 2012 NRL Season on the market. This is just pure Rugby League - you won't be disappointed. Read more below for what else is inside the downloadable document.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

NRL 2012 - Where Should Future NRL All Stars Games Be Held?

By W D Nicolson, January 5, 2012

On February 4, the third annual NRL All Stars match will be held at Skilled Park on the Gold Coast, this time the Indigenous All Stars will take on the NRL All Stars for a trophy named in honour of the late great Arthur Beetson, which means that the venue for the match has remained the same for all three contests since 2010.

Even before the first game was played in 2010, Gold Coast Titans CEO and part of the NRL All Stars game concept brains-trust Michael Searle admitted that the venue may not hold exclusive rights to the contest for long.

"The success of the event may have outgrown our stadium which is disappointing, but you have to look at the broader view," Searle told AAP in February 2010.

Now with the game established as a viable official season opener and a ratings winner on Channel 9, there is scope to seek out new locations for the All Stars Game once the current agreement to play at Skilled Park ends after the 2013 fixture.

While the Gold Coast is just about perfect in terms of mixing climate with leisure for the teams in the week leading up to the game and with the capacity of Skilled Park a solid 27,000, there is no doubt that other cities in Australia and New Zealand could successfully host one-off games in the future.

And that future begins in 2014.

Newcastle's redeveloped AusGrid Stadium looms as the clear favourite to host the 2014 All Stars Game due to its excellent stadium facility, surrounding beaches and the city's passion for the game of Rugby League. The impact a host of star players in the region for a week doing clinics and the like would be gigantic for the game in the city - one that has a football ground around every corner.

In fact given the success of the 2011 October Test when Australia played New Zealand in front of 32,890 fans, AusGrid and Newcastle have put their hands up in a big way for the 2014 fixture.

But where else is viable post-2013 to host the NRL All Stars Game?

Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
The Home of Rugby League according to any Queenslander (and in a lot of ways they are not wrong) holds over 50,000 fans and will no doubt host an All Stars Game in the future but its proximity to the Gold Coast probably puts a game there in the 2016-20 range.

Dairy Farmers Stadium, Townsville
The tropical heat could be a negative but the game is played at night and really there isn't much of a difference in temp in Brisbane or Townsville at night anyway (that statement is not based on any research whatsoever) which means that the city will get an All Stars game sooner rather than later. Given Johnathan Thurston will turn 30 in 2013, Dairy Farmers Stadium may be the ideal choice for the first or second game played away from the Gold Coast, in order to give the star halfback a chance to play the game in front of his home fans.
Could North Queensland's Johnathan Thurston play an All-Stars game at home before he retires?
WIN Stadium, Wollongong
Has undergone a big redevelopment of its own (albeit not a completely successful one as the new grandstand remains a question mark due to wind damage) and is a sensational place to watch football literally on the beach-front. If a game is going to be played near Sydney in the near future - Wollongong will get the nod (but probably after Newcastle).

Eden Park, Auckland
Will have likely hosted three season opening games for the Warriors by the time the 2014 game becomes available and the stadium is an impressive sight after being redeveloped for the 2011 Rugby World Cup. If the game gets moved away from Australia (albeit unlikely in the short term due to the actual concept) then Eden Park is the outstanding choice and the New Zealand public would embrace it fully.

AAMI Park, Melbourne
Fantastic venue but the negative factor is the questionable support that the game may receive in February. That's not to say there are not passionate Rugby League fans in Melbourne but the attraction of an All Stars Game v a State of Origin game is quite different in a non-Rugby League market like Melbourne. On the flip side, an influx of star players could have a lasting impact on the junior development of the game in Victoria. Long term chance.

Canberra Stadium, Canberra
While many may think that Canberra should not be in the equation for this game - they obviously fail to realise how important the game of Rugby League is to the surrounding regional area. And given the in-roads that AFL is making in the region, the arrival of an NRL All Stars game would be a huge boost to a region that has spent the last 15 or so years waiting for Rugby League to become the big ticket in town again in the wake of the Raiders falling out of the elite bracket of teams in the game.

Any Sydney Venue - likely the Sydney Football Stadium or ANZ Stadium
The SFS was long the perfect venue for the now ignored Sevens tournament and is a great ground to watch Rugby League from. The biggest downside is the fact Sydney is the centre of Rugby League as it is during the season and the game may not hold the same standing had it been played elsewhere. But the upside is the SFS could pull 40,000 with the right marketing and if it was played at ANZ - it could crack 50,000.

WACA Ground, Perth or Adelaide Oval, Adelaide
The game needs to keep the frontiers of Rugby League in mind if it ever wants to take the game back to the West and the All Stars game could be the kick-start any new (or relocating) franchise needs around 2017-2020. But if the game has no plans to place a team West (we've been a fan of a team based in Perth and Adelaide coming into the competition in the future with 8 games in Perth and 4 games in Adelaide home split the ideal structure) then the chances of an All Stars game being played at either venue are slim.

Note: Even if the game leaves the Gold Coast in 2014, the game is still likely to be played there (or in Brisbane) every few years thereafter.

Future Schedule for the NRL All Stars Game?
2012 - Gold Coast
2013 - Gold Coast
2014 - Newcastle
2015 - Townsville
2016 - Wollongong
2017 - Gold Coast
2018 - Canberra
2019 - Auckland
2020 - Perth
2021 - Brisbane

Wherever the game is played it needs to retain an element of freshness to survive and moving the game to a new market every year post-2013 should satisfy that requirement.

But no matter where it ends up being played, the original brains-trust deserves to be given a pat on the back for adopting a successful concept from overseas and making the NRL see that value of it - on and off the field. Tickets are still available for the 2012 clash on February 4, so click the picture link below and get along to the game if you can or simply vote for your favourite NRL All Stars.

Where do you think future NRL All Stars Games should be played and why? 

Comment below.

2012 Rugby League Almanac Available Now.
While you're here on the site - please consider grabbing a copy of the 2012 Rugby League Almanac - a 49 page season guide for just $10.00 that will give you the most in depth analysis of the 2012 NRL Season on the market. This is just pure Rugby League - you won't be disappointed. Read more below for what else is inside the downloadable document.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

It's Official: Cameron Smith Is The NRL's Best Player Entering 2012

By W D Nicolson, January 4, 2012
To coincide with the release of the brand new 2012 NSC Rugby League Almanac (available to purchase for just $10 here) can reveal that Melbourne Storm hooker Cameron Smith has been crowned the #1 Player in the Game entering the 2012 NRL Season.

While picking a definitive 'Best Player' in the game is tough at any point in time, the Christmas-New Year's Period is traditionally the least active time of the year for Rugby League and thus injury and player movement news is at a bare minimum. This means that coming up with our exhaustive NRL Top 200 List was as fair a process as possible and every player began their campaign to be the #1 player on the same footing.
In 2012, Australian, Queensland and Melbourne star Cameron Smith is the man we chose as the Best Player in Rugby League.
The ranking criteria was simple.

Entering the 2012 NRL Season - which player would we pick 1st Overall in a Draft of all available players under contract in the NRL if we were trying to construct a team to win the 2012 Premiership?

So while potential is a factor, the ability to contribute this year is a bigger one. Some players have been injured during the off-season already (Parramatta's Jacob Loko will not play in 2012 due to a knee injury and Simon Dwyer of the Wests Tigers will miss the entire season with a shoulder problem as well) and were not considered, and the same applies to Will Hopoate who has declared he will take up to two years on Mormon Mission and will not return to the NRL for 2012.

We acknowledge that our rankings will stir up debate but that’s the point. What fun is there in compiling a list of the Top 200 players in the NRL without opinion coming into the equation?

Below is Smith's scouting report and a breakdown of the representation each NRL team has in the NRL Top 200 in 2012.

So Cameron Smith is our choice as the Number One player in the game entering 2012, but who is Number Two, Number Three, or even Number Two Hundred? And what are their Scouting Reports?

To find out where your favourite player or indeed where your choice as the top player in the game was ranked - grab a copy of the Rugby League Almanac today.

For just $10.00 AUD the 49 Page Rugby League Guide will give you the most in depth analysis of the 2012 NRL Season on the market.

Released Friday December 23, 2011.

The 2012 NSC Rugby League Almanac is just $10.00 (AUD) and is a veritable NRLPalooza.

The 4th Edition includes:
  • 49 Printable A4 Pages of NRL Information - either in full A4 or Booklet Form.
  • The long anticipated NRL Top 200 - Who would we pick 1st to win the comp in 2012?
  • The NSC Honour Roll gets 15 new inductees as we recognise the Best in Rugby League since 1989.
  • 2012 Season Preview - Team Synopsis, Expanded Team Depth Charts, Power Rankings, Top 5 Players, Top 3 Rookies, Best Lineup, Transaction Grading, Season Draw and Bold Prediction: Contender or Pretender?
  • 2011 Club Review - incorporating full 2011 NRL Tweet Player of the Year Votes, Full Results and Awards.
  • Best Photos of 2011 - the Screen Shots you shouldn't forget in a hurry.
  • And what's in store from www.wdnicolson.comThe NRL Tweet and maybe NOT The Footy Show in 2012.

Number of Almanacs
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