Monday 8 April 2013

NRL 2013: The 5 Duds of 2013? #Setof6 | Gould's care factor? What winning costs? Round 5 Quotes #NRLTweetPOTY Votes

5TH COMPLETE SET: Snoozey stars, ASADA's unkind timing, Care factor zero, Obstruction of justice and Quotes from Round 5.
Round 5 News and Views and @NRLTweet Player of the Year Votes

2013 NRL Premiership

By W D Nicolson - April 8, 2013

Who are the 5 Stars snoozing their way through 2013 so far?
This is a new feature on - every week we will post a Set of 6 Tackles that form a Complete Set by the end of the Round. It also features Votes from Round 5 of The @NRLTweet Player of the Year Awards. Let us know what you think @NRLTweet

ROUND 5 SET OF 6: Plenty more below... |

These 5 'Stars' need a visit from The Wiggles*
Note: This part of the article was written before Gerard Beale's knee injury.

Teams play big bucks to the best players for a reason.

Sadly for the five players on this list - their best is certainly STILL to come in 2013.

*You know the song: Wake up Jeff?
DUD OR NOT? You decide...
Matthew BOWEN - Cowboys
A quality player coming off one his best years but the trademark running game that he found again in 2012 - has been missing this season.
And now the Cowboys find themselves 2-3 instead of sitting pretty in the Top 4 like everyone thought they'd be. My flat-mate has the Cowboys missing the Top 8, let alone the Top 4 in 2013 - and unless Bowen finds his running game again - he's staying on the DUD list for a while, and the Cowboys might be as well.
Dave TAYLOR - Titans
The Titans made him a big money signing... and are playing him for 35-45 minutes a game?
Judging by what Taylor has brought to the table so far you come to two conclusions.
1. His pre-season didn't result in him taking the next step to being an 80 minute backrower he'd shown signs of becoming at Souths last year... and 2. Did South Sydney spend their money far more wisely on Ben Te'o?
Yes it's only the first month or so but from what we've seen - Taylor isn't match fit and that beard is nothing short of outstanding.
He is a weapon when fit and focused, but right now - the Titans' 3-2 record has little to do with the impact Taylor has brought in his five games thus far as a Titan.
Tony WILLIAMS - Bulldogs
Arguably the biggest dud of 2013 - with a bullet. It's not like he's missing games or time on the field - because Canterbury coach Des Hasler has clearly taken the 'the more he plays the better he has to get' approach to their biggest off-season recruit.
Problem is - Phil Gould has more to say on this below - Williams has just looked less interested with the more game time he's received.
Considering this guy has been unstoppable at his best (though we have only seen rare glimpses of this in back to back performances in the last few years) - the difference between that and his worst is astronomical. The bad news for the Bulldogs is they have started without Sam Kasiano and James Graham this season, and got diddly squat from T-Rex.
He has to repay the faith at some point... surely?
When it clicks... IF it clicks.

@NRLTweet Player of the Year - Round 5 Voting
Votes from Round 5 so far are below.

Feleti MATEO - Warriors
There is talk that Mateo is the highest paid player on the Warriors... which is a bit concerning given how he's played in the opening weeks of the season.
The Warriors will have to rebuild their faith in each other this year after losing it completely in their coach last season (and each other later in the season)... and a 1-4 start isn't the best way to go about things but it could be worse had they not dusted the Cowboys in Round 4.
Mateo is a brilliant player - almost the ultimate risk-reward edge backrower who can turn a game in an instant or make a run of mistakes that can consign a team to a backbreaking run of points of against them.
His 2013 start hasn't been all of the latter but it has only been the last two games where he's finding any real fit in Matt Elliott's attacking setup.
He wants to run to the line and off-load, he wants to turn the ball back inside on the left edge, but he hasn't found that niche in the attack that allows him to do that regularly yet. A new left centre in Dane Nielsen might have something to do with that - and the absence of James Maloney to run off his short balls at the line from anywhere on the field - but Mateo is being paid like a player who makes things happen himself.
And right now - that's not happening.
Gerard BEALE - Dragons
We've considered leaving Beale out after his potentially serious knee injury suffered against the Knights yesterday, but simply put - Beale has not been the game changer the Dragons thought he'd be in the #1 jersey when they signed him.
To make matters worse (though it might be rectified this week), they moved Brett Morris out of fullback (and even Jason Nightingale to an extent) to accommodate Beale and both wingers are considerable difference makers wearing the #1.
Beale just hasn't had the involvement rate that many thought he'd find at the Dragons, and even if his knee injury isn't a season ender (which we hoped it wasn't but is confirmed as an ACL tear) the Dragons might be better off moving him to the centres when he returns, because he hadn't been getting it done at fullback in the opening month at all.

Think we're being harsh or left anyone out?
Please comment below or reply on Twitter.

The rest of the Round 5 Set of Six is below - right here on, with the Changeover coming out on Tuesday.

Round 5 - Six points that emerged from a four day footy week.
A tip of the hat to the SMH's 'Set of 6' and Andy Wilson's 'Set of 6' for the name, as Complete Set just doesn't roll off the tongue quite as well, and we'll call it flattery that you've already used it.
FIRST TACKLE - Care factor zero?
Phil Gould has been a frustrated individual of late - both on the Channel 9 telecast and the columns he writes for the Sydney Morning Herald.
There'd been a bit here and there about how certain players looked like they had all the physical attributes to be dominant, yet weren't. After sitting through another performance by one of the players listed above in our 'Five Duds of 2013', he'd had enough and wrote the following opening to his latest column.
Let me make this point right from the start. The vast majority of today's professional rugby league players are talented, hard-working, passionate individuals who strive every day to become better at what they do.
He then progressed to explain in a vast amount of detail the challenges that essentially coaches have with the modern day athlete... not the modern day footballer. It's well worth reading the whole thing, but fix yourself a tea or coffee first because he leaves nothing out.

SECOND TACKLE - Winning at all costs, does come at a cost...
As explained by Brad Walter in Monday's SMH - the ASADA investigation into the Cronulla Sharks (and other players/teams etc) could result in individual players being stood down at any time as opposed to an 'all at once' approach if ASADA finds players guilty of using illegal means to gain an advantage.
From Walter:
"However, some clubs may have to endure the prospect of losing players on a gradual basis as they are stood down after being issued with infraction notices by the NRL."
So what does that mean for the Sharks or any other player allegedly involved?
Well it means they could do time at the time they least want to - during the football season.
And before clubs, players or fans start blowing up at the 'timing' of all this - consider that every party allegedly involved in this situation didn't do what they allegedly did to be better out of footy season...
Do the crime - do the time, and it should be when it hurts the most.
Sadly it's not always the player at fault here and I hope no one is proven guilty, but when a club/player/code embraces the winning at all costs attitude - it will end up coming at a cost.

THIRD TACKLE - Imitation is the highest form of flattery.
When I made the decision to call this a 'Complete Set' and form a 'Set of 6' I knew of the following (which is found in small text above this column every week):
A tip of the hat to the SMH's 'Set of 6' and Andy Wilson's 'Set of 6' for the name, as Complete Set just doesn't roll off the tongue quite as well, and we'll call it flattery that you've already used it.
And a quick look around the net finds the Complete Set on Fox Sports, Repeat Set on Sportal and who knows what other forms are elsewhere.
But really the above is just an excuse to post the following photo of Steve Mascord (@therealsteavis) that was attached to his fine edition of the SMH's Set of 6 in Monday's paper.
If you know Steve and you've seen him lately... you'll know that the above picture might be a year or two old. For a more detailed look at his stock photo and his clarification on its age - click here.

For The Postman's analysis of each game for Round 5, with our NRL Dream Team and NRL Super Coach tips for players you need to consider/ignore - click here.

FOURTH TACKLE - Quotable Quotes from Round 5
  • "We are not preparing well enough because there is too much stuff going on off the field .. these players are distracted and you can understand why," Shane Flanagan isn't happy with the drawn out ASADA process and basically admitted Cronulla are fortunate to have 2 wins this season.
  • "We wanted a celebration of Johnny's life. When the clubs asked if we'd be happy for the game [to be named in his honour] we said so long as it was clear it was a celebration. When the crowd was to applause, rather than the traditional minute's silence to acknowledge him, it was really special. The clubs gave us what we requested," Danny Mannah - brother of Johnny Mannah who passed away in January after a battle with cancer. The Eels and Sharks played for the Johnny Mannah Cup on Saturday.
  • "The other kick against the Tigers was easier, I could probably show you the blade of grass if you want. Even if that kick didn't happen a couple of years ago I still would have been nervous but it was good to get one back, I guess I owed them one," Jarrod Croker speaks after kicking the Raiders to a 24-22 victory over the Roosters on Sunday night. He converted a relatively easy shot in the 78th minute to win the game... and he's referring to missing this kick in the 2010 semi finals.
  • "We asked a lot of questions today. We didn't look like we'd given up [though], and I think that was just as vital as anything for us," Matthew Elliott probably would've preferred his team to find some answers and hold on to beat the Bunnies but he's spot on about their attitude finally being at an acceptable level five weeks into the season.
FIFTH AND LAST - Bye bye common sense...
The Obstruction Revolution lasted about 3 and a half weeks... and now after watching a few of the tries given during this past weekend featuring the re-proliferation of Block Decoys - it is sad to report that the game will suffer for the rest of the year and despite what you are hearing - NO, common sense has not prevailed. Not by any measure.
Ricky Stuart was quoted mid-week as believing that "The obstruction rule will be fixed before Parramatta is."
By fixed, he meant fixed for coaches who rely on Block Decoys to create space for playmakers on the outside of defences.
And the game is suffering already... the official line (paraphrased below) on interpreting whether or not a block decoy is illegal or not comes down to the Video Referee weighing up the following:
'Has the defender (who is run into or runs into a block decoy) been denied the chance to make a defensive impact on the play?'
Before that part of the formula is even considered there should be a rule amendment put in that clearly states:
If the blocking decoy makes contact with a defensive player IN FRONT of the line of the ball before/or as it is passed then there is an immediate option to deem this a penalty to the defending team, regardless of the resulting play.
The reason this needs to be brought in is not to stop coaches using the decoy runner, rather stopping the BLOCKING decoy runner who hits the line of defence before the ball passes them.
That's the real issue within this blocking decoy ploy by coaches.
They know (because it is done against them when they are defending) that it is incredibly hard for the edge defenders to adjust their defensive position when a blocking decoy is running into or through their position on the field - particularly to adjust to moving laterally once the blocking decoy has entered their personal space.
Basically coaches used the decoy to confuse the defenders eyes for years, then the cluey ones decided to try and confuse the defenders physically... and the referees just let it go.
A few years later, here we are with coaches now pulling the strings of the referees directly - as opposed to just pulling the wool over their eyes.
And the result is an obstruction rule that quite frankly stinks.
(There is that much more that can be written on this... so much more.)

CHANGEOVER - Rookie releases first album...
Monday Night Football saw the Tigers push the Storm all the way but the big news was the debut of Storm forward Kenny Bromwich.
Or Kenny B as he is know.

Warrick D. Nicolson
@NRLTweet Player of the Year Award
Round 5 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 were handed out for Round 5.

@NRLTweet Player of the Year - Round 5 Voting
CBY 6-20 MAN
6 - J Taufua, 4 - J Lyon, 3 - B Stewart, 1 - B Kite.
Voters | W Nicolson and A McMurray |
GLD 12-32 BRI
8 - A McCullough, 2 - J Hoffman C Norman, 1 - C Parker B Hannant
Voters| M Vickers and B Jones |
PAR 13-6 CRO
5 - T Mannah, 4 - L Kelly, 2 - R Morgan, 1 - R Maitua M Gordon.
Voters | J Davies and M Duncan |
NQL 30-0 PEN
8 - J Thurston, 4 - J Tamou, 1 - K Linnett M Bowen.
Voters | M Trodden and M Spillane |
WAR 22-24 SOU
4 - A Reynolds S Burgess, 3 - K Hurrell G Burgess.
Voters | A McMurray and M Trodden |
STI 19-16 NEW
8 - T Merrin, 2 - N Fien J Soward, 1 - T Frizell D Boyd.
Voters | M Tsialis and B Hoese |
CAN 24-22 SYD
5 - D Shillington, 4 - Sam Williams, 2 - SB Williams J Croker.
Voters | G Delaney and B Jones |
MEL 26-12 WTG
6 - B Slater A Woods, 1 - C Smith R Farah.
Voters | Warrick Nicolson @nrltweet Nigel Wilbow @parramatters |

Round 5 Leaderboard:
23 - B Slater
22 - C Cronk
18 - J Thurston
17 - A Reynolds
16 - S Johnson
15 - T Merrin

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