Wednesday 13 March 2013

NRL 2013: Dugan to Parra? 6 Things from Round 1 + #NRLTweetPOTY Votes #NRLCompleteSet

Round 1 Complete Set and @NRLTweet Player of the Year Votes

2013 NRL Premiership

By W D Nicolson - March 13, 2013

This is a new feature on - our first Complete Set for Week 1 and Votes from Round 1 of The @NRLTweet Player of the Year Awards. Let us know what you think @NRLTweet


Round 1 run and won... here's what you need to know.
(So Josh Dugan to Parramatta? Read our First Complete Set below for more.)

So the footy in Round 1 wasn't outstanding, but it was back and that's really the most important thing right? kicked off with a bumper week on the website stats front - showing that people still get something out of our Tips and Late Mail, so spread the word and share the love please.

I was fortunate enough to head down to the SFS last Thursday for the season opener and after experiencing the Rabbits-Roosters in front of a near capacity crowd, it was disappointing to see only 13k at Parra Stadium, 11k in Gosford for the Dogs-Cowboys and just below 11k at Penrith. Admittedly the Parra crowd looked bigger than 13k, but the Gosford crowd was really poor and the Penrith faithful didn't show that quality - and missed out on their team rolling the Raiders over.

That being said, Brisbane still drew over 30k for Manly (though interestingly the Sydney season opener on a Thursday night outdrew the Brisbane season opener on a Friday night), Cronulla packed in 17.5k's worth of sardines at Sharks Stadium and Melbourne attracted 16k for the Dragons at home.

All up - good first round crowd wise, bar the two Saturday games and the Sunday 2pm match.

But the main reason I bring this up is why can't we see similar crowds in Round 2?

If you sit in a packed stadium and get a game of even moderate quality - it's an experience that makes you want to return.

So get out to a game of footy this weekend, please.

Warrick D. Nicolson

Round 1 - Six points that emerged from a four day footy week.
FIRST TACKLE - Thursday Night's a Late Night for Football...
We've already talked about how good the crowd was at the SFS for the season opener, but less encouraging was the delayed start enforced by Channel 9. You can accept Friday Night Football pushing past the 8pm start time given most people don't have to work the next day, but Thursday Night Football starting at 8:15pm? Are you kidding?
Where a group of us were sitting on Thursday, there were no less than 20 or so youngsters all decked out in their Souths or Roosters gear but by the time the main game started you could see they were already fading.
I don't doubt that Thursday Night should be a Footy night but 7:30pm start has to be the absolute latest the game could start. And I haven't even mentioned the time it took to get home when you've got to work the next day...

SECOND TACKLE - First up 'efforts' a cause for concern?
Right now the coaches in Canberra, Auckland, Wollongong, Concord and maybe even Brisbane are scratching their heads after the application from their teams in Round 1 left much to be desired.
What must perplex them is the fact that all 16 teams have been spending the entire off-season preparing for one thing - Round 1. Everyone talks about starting the year quickly, getting a win on the board and making sure the confidence built during the pre-season is built upon.
But that wasn't the case for the Raiders, Warriors, Dragons, Tigers and the 2nd Half Broncos - and if they don't have a monumental attitude shift in Round 2, the players may not have to worry about their jobs, but their coaches might...

THIRD TACKLE - So can the Dragons score points?
As Phil Gould rightly said in his regular column with the SMH (isn't it great to read his analysis regularly? Great move by the SMH) the Storm just do things better than almost everyone else... but they didn't have to worry too much about the Dragons on Sunday afternoon.
Jamie Soward remains a front-runner type playmaker (that is you only notice him play well when the Dragons are already well on top) and Nathan Fien's days of playing dynamic football... well they look over. Fien was once a pretty decent halfback in the NRL but now he's a stopgap solution in the #7 and probably helps the Dragons more in the utility spot than playing 80 minutes.
If the Dragons can't score 20 points (they might still win scoring less this week against the Broncos) in the next week or two - then coach Steve Price must bite the bullet and change things up in the playmaking department. Otherwise the Dragons will wither and fade away before we reach the halfway mark of the competition...
Oh and the Dragons have a promising young halfback in the system called Josh Drinkwater, so it's not like Price doesn't have options.

For The Postman's analysis of each team for Round 2, with our NRL Dream Team and NRL Super Coach tips for players you need to consider/ignore from each side - click here.

FOURTH TACKLE - Is it good that JT stayed a Cowboy?
It's the right decision for Johnathan Thurston and for the Cowboys - it might just have saved their relevance for the next half decade. JT signed a new 4 year deal worth reportedly $1.25m a season but what other choice did North Queensland have?
If they watched JT walk to Sydney or Brisbane, then they'd have a roster featuring two gun props signed up for another few years and a 30 something Matthew Bowen and no playmaker.
Thurston gets his cash, gets to stay home and the Cowboys can make a run at a title in the next year or two.
That's good for North Queensland and great for Rugby League.

FIFTH AND LAST - How tough a decision do Canberra face?
After playing some very average footy on Sunday against the Panthers, Canberra fans had about 24 hours to wallow in self pity before a bigger story broke via Jon Tuxworth at the Canberra Times.
Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson (the latter actually played well against Penrith) foolishly decided to celebrate the loss with a beverage or three on the roof of Ferguson's apartment and then Dugan posted a picture of him giving the bird to someone while holding a Vodka Cruiser... while injured.
Well in Canberra the drinking isn't a no-no... if you are 100% fit, and Dugan was far from that.
He was a question mark going into Round 1, then picked up rib damage... and to thank coach David Furner for playing him underdone - he broke a clear team rule and then posted proof of how much respect he had for the rule.
While there's no question that boys will be boys and all that - the issue here isn't whether or not Dugan is a goose - it's what Canberra do from here?
They can slap him on the wrist and stand him down for a few weeks until he misses footy again, or finally 'draw a line in the sand' and sack him and free the club from his absurdly high salary.
But is that what Dugan actually wants?
Dugan isn't a complete idiot - his manager would know how he is feeling and although he's contracted to the Raiders (I believe until the end of 2014) he'd have already put out feelers to other clubs if Dugan wanted out.
And if you do the math - what club could and would want Josh Dugan?
Hello Parramatta and Ricky Stuart.
Remember Stuart hand-picked Dugan as his NSW fullback ahead of Jarryd Hayne recently, wants Hayne in the #6 at some point and almost as importantly - can't give away 500k contracts at the moment.
So is it a reach to say Dugan is an Eel by 2014?
Nope, the issue is whether or not Canberra want to let that happen - knowing the 22 year old has a lot of very good footy ahead of him.

CHANGEOVER - What to make of the Cronulla situation?
For our last point let's just take stock of what we think we know about the Cronulla situation that has dominated the news since Friday. Essentially all of the front office and parts of the coaching staff are gone - the Chairman Damien Irvine just stepped down this morning - and the players are under investigation by ASADA.
That's not exactly positive news - yet the Cronulla faithful turned out in force (and flannels) on Sunday Night and got the Sharks across the line against the Titans.
But what's next?
Well... no one really knows. The Government was happy to declare that drug cheats would be found out and punished a month or so ago, yet here we are reading revealing Roy Masters articles in the SMH that suggest that perhaps nothing can happen to the players (IF they are on/were on anything) for a long time... because of 'process'.
I am completely pro cleaning up the game, but is anyone naive enough to think that the code will be cleaned out entirely?
The last thing I want to see is one club take the fall for a problem that could be league/code wide... so if something is done - it needs to be done across the board, otherwise it's just another painful example of Governmental grandstanding... oh and there's an election later this year if you didn't know.

Do you have a view on any of this Complete Set from Round 1? Please comment below or reply on Twitter.
@NRLTweet Player of the Year Award
Round 1 Votes

As regular readers of and followers of @NRLTweet know - we run The @NRLTweet Player of the Year Awards each season (starting in 2010) and they return once again for 2013 with another group of excellent Rugby League judges.

You can follow the Votes live after each game via this Hashtag #NRLTweetPOTY

One of the reasons we set this up is the Dally M Award lacks the kind of objectivity that a true player of the year award really should have, and while we aren't claiming our system is perfect - it is judged on what happens on the field with reputations and bias left by the wayside.

This is how the votes went in Round 1.

@NRLTweet Player of the Year - Round 1 Voting

SYD 10-28 SOU
8 - S Burgess, 4 - G Inglis, 1 - J Sutton N Merritt.
Voters | W Nicolson @NRLTweet and M Tsialis @mtsialis
BRI 14-22 MAN
5 - S Matai, 4 - D Cherry-Evans, 2 - J Hodges B Kite, 1 - K Foran.
Voters | M Vickers @mecurialmattyv and B Hoese @gunnermcdagget
PAR 40-10 WAR
8 - C Sandow, 3 - R Maitua, 2 - J Hayne, 1 - T Mannah.
Voters | G Delaney @gregdelaney1984 and M Spillane @devonhead
CBY 12-24 NQL
8 - J Thurston, 2 - M Scott J Morris, 1 - D Low A Graham.
Voters | M Duncan @mrpeninsula and B Hoese @gunnermcdagget
PEN 32-10 CAN
6 - J Segeyaro, 4 - L Coote, 2 - N Smith J Mansour.
Voters | A McMurray @adrmcm and M Duncan @mrpeninsula
MEL 30-10 STI
8 - C Cronk, 3 - R Hoffman, 2 - C Smith, 1 - B Slater.
Voters | M Spillane @devonhead and M Trodden @trods2906
CRO 12-10 GLD
8- P Gallen, 4 - T Carney, 2 - A Sezer.
Voters | J Davies @dragonpunk12 and G Delaney @gregdelaney1984
NEW 42-10 WTG 
6 - A Uate D Gagai, 1 - D Boyd W Mason.
Voters | N Wilbow @parramatters and W Nicolson @nrltweet

Round 1 Leaderboard:
8 - C Cronk, C Sandow, S Burgess, J Thurston, P Gallen
6 - J Segeyaro, A Uate, D Gagai
5 - S Matai
4 - D Cherry-Evans, G Inglis, T Carney

You can follow the Votes live after each game via this Hashtag #NRLTweetPOTY

Share your thoughts on the footy so far by commenting below or replying on Twitter.

The NRL Injury List is updated regularly during each week of the season, making it an invaluable Fantasy and Tipping Tool alongside our Weekly NRL Previews once again.

Remember if you want game-specific Late Mail every week, then check out our Round Previews Every Wednesday and they are updated with all the very latest Late Mail on Friday.

If we are missing any players on this list - please comment below, reply on Twitter or email this address.
Who will take Ben Barba's mantle as champion in the 2013 @NRLTweet Player of the Year Awards?

The Prestigious Award returns for a 4th season in 2013.

Remember you can track all the votes each week after each match in 2013 via the Twitter hashtag #nrltweetpoty