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Thursday, 31 October 2013

#NRL 2014 Auckland Nines - Rugby League does itself a huge favour

New Group Names Please... but overall Giddy Up!
2014 Rugby League Nines in Auckland
By W D Nicolson - October 31, 2013

It's been a decade since the last World Sevens was played and now Auckland hosts the reinvented World Nines in February 2014. But what do we think of the concept long term?
Official Auckland Nines Draw here
Everyone seems to have missed the World Sevens since they were seemingly shut down for good at the end of 2004, but with maximising revenue at the forefront of all decision making these days - the powers that be at the ARLC have invested in the return of the Auckland Nines.

And rightly so. 

It'll make boatloads of cash and the fans will love it.

But will the big names take part?

Well really it doesn't matter a whole lot for the first couple of incarnations of the Tournament - because it is going to be a fantastic spectacle early on and taps into the pre-season buzz that starts to become palpable as January ends, so the February 15 kick-off at Eden Park in Auckland is just about perfect timing.

While the ARLC has had key players go on record saying they want to play in the tournament, the fact the majority of those same players are currently taking part in a World Cup tournament suggests the following official selection criteria will be used by many clubs and players to give their stars another week or two rest.

"The NRL’s 16 clubs have all guaranteed at least one top five player from each of the club’s salary cap. They will play in Auckland alongside at least 12 of each club’s top 25 salary capped players."

Of course that means that four of the top five earners at each club have a free pass to miss the Auckland Nines and while most will probably play, the fact the NRL decided to install this clause is a sign they've finally cottoned on to how selfish clubs are when it comes to protecting their playing assets. Which of course, makes total sense when your single focus as a club is a game in late September or early October - not a carnival of touch football in February.

Long term the concept needs the clubs buying in but the vast majority of players will not be short of enthusiasm for the concept as the game begins to bring back events that bring the fans and players together in a way that is hard to top outside of Origin and Finals footy.

As anyone who remembers the glory days of the World Sevens - the return of this kind of football in the pre-season is fair dinkum sensational!
But to the games themselves - 9 minute halves, 2 minute changeovers and approximately 25 total minutes to finish every game per the schedule which over two days at Eden Park has a game every quarter of an hour.

It'll be a total footy fest kids and that's a huge tick for the ARLC/NRL and Rugby League in general. 

In short - it's a winner.

But there is a slight glitch in the planning to date... as the group names offered up are either woefully understated (Yellow, Green, Blue and Red... seriously?) or indeed merely stop gaps to a better idea - as even the colours given that don't really make a lot of sense, otherwise wouldn't the Raiders would be in the Green Group, the Bulldogs in the Blue Group, Eels in the Yellow Group etc where possible? 

Mind you, they did put the Dragons in the Red Group - so there's a win there and yes, we understand the groups are 'random' but that only lends to the logic behind the following idea we've come up with here on www.wdnicolson.com

#NFL 2013: Week 9 Picks - Head to Head and with Spread | #nflpicks #nflpickem

2013 NFL PICKS - WEEK 9
- AFC and NFC Picks - Head to Head and with the Spread -
By The Postman, October 31, 2013

WEEKLY RECAP: Week 8 has come and gone and we're basically halfway home... and back in form baby! Since Week 6 we are 34-9 in Head to Head and 29-14 with the spread... HELLO 2012 FORM and welcome back! We sit 5,393rd overall... that's including the natives kids.

H2H UPSETS PICKED: There were only a handful of upsets this week anyway so to get NY Giants over Philly (that's 10 losses in a row at home for the Eagles - wow) and get embarrassed by Atlanta losing in Arizona isn't that bad. Oakland over Pittsburgh was the only other upset, while we are happy we didn't go with Dallas over Detroit... unlike Dez Bryant who is not so happy. So 1 from 2 Correct (per Pick'Em favourite/underdog listing).

H2H LESSONS LEARNED: When you go 11-2 it's hard to be critical... but we gave Pittsburgh the benefit of the doubt after they beat Baltimore... then they got outplayed for most of their loss to Oakland (final 21-18 score flattered Steelers). Atlanta stink... and Arizona do to but should've gone with the gut and picked the home team instead of my SuperBowl pick for runner's up... Got NY Giants over Philly but that's mainly because Michael Vick was on a bad leg... PS. Denver are pretty good... and Cincy reminded everyone that the Jets are pretty bad.

Our Week 9 Picks are up next...

My 2013 NFL Season Preview and SuperBowl picks are here - and every week throughout the NFL in 2013 I will be posting my picks here on www.wdnicolson.com and via @wdnicolson.

Last year in the Yahoo! Sports Pro Football Pick'em competition I managed to finish in the 98th percentile (so Top 2%) of tipsters across the world... completely surprising myself by using the rule of thumb I (for some reason) refuse to back entirely in my NRL Tipping (that is pick favourites and then pick favourites and then, and only then... pick favourites and maybe one or two gut picks - which doesn't hurt you as much with up to 16 NFL games a week v 8 NRL games).

Week 9 begins with Cincinnati visiting Miami on Friday Morning Australian time but again only 13 games in total this week with more teams on Bye weeks.
=====WEEK 9 PICKS===== 

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

#RLWC2013 Analysis: Australia v New Zealand Cup Final - Do we lock it in Eddie?

Australia v New Zealand Final? Lock it in Eddie

2013 Rugby League World Cup

By W D Nicolson - October 30, 2013

Australia will improve but New Zealand get the perfect preparation to go back to back. England are done.
Preview and Predictions for the 2013 Tournament | TV Guide for Live 7Mate coverage of every game on Australian Television | 

Straight up - I don't want to type the next few sentences... but based on what we saw in the opening round of World Cup matches (with the USA v Cook Islands to go) - it'll be Australia v New Zealand in the World Cup Final in a few weeks.

Of course that's what we all expected coming into the tournament but the Kangaroos and Kiwis brushed aside their biggest challengers with differing methods in the openers.

Australia were well and truly outplayed for the opening 25 minutes against England to trail 10-0... then were ahead by halftime by 8 points. When Brett Morris scored a Kleenex tissue softness calibre try right after the break - the English were toast.



Yes England came back and made the score respectable by fulltime but anyone who watched the 28-20 result could plainly see that Australia lifted when they had to, were in control the entire second half and have a vast amount of improvement left in them. The Kangaroos are one incredibly talented and mentally tough footy team (years of Origin dominance by QLD is actually somewhat of a bonus when the core of the Australian side is mainly Maroon) with so many of their stars in the prime of their careers.

England on the other hand threw their best few punches early and still got well beaten in the end. Plus their discipline in the second half with Australia somewhat within reach cost them any chance of giving the Aussies a late flurry of punches. They don't have the attacking talent in the halves it appears and that's a killer kids.

So scratch out England from being able to beat Australia... but can they beat the Kiwis?

It seems unlikely but stranger things have happened... didn't everyone think the same thing about the Kiwis in 2008 against Australia in the Final?

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

#RLWC2013 Comment: Why the Group schedule needs tinkering for next World Cup

Group A and B schedule needs revising...

2013 Rugby League World Cup

By W D Nicolson - October 29, 2013

Starting with Australia v England 'blockbuster' proves to have its drawbacks...
Preview and Predictions for the 2013 Tournament | TV GUIDE for Live 7Mate coverage of every game on Australian Television | GROUP TABLES for 2013 Rugby League World Cup 

Here's the question: Should the teams in the Group A and B not called Australia, New Zealand or England (and in this tournament Samoa as potentially the fourth strongest team) have played each other in the final group match rather than the first one?

Sure Australia's 28-20 win over England in the opener was a good game of footy and I totally understand why it was the first game of the tournament but the quality of the game might have been even better had this matchup been delayed for the reasons below.

Friday, 25 October 2013

#RLWC2013 Rugby League World Cup Predictions for 2013 Tournament

World Cup Predictions

2013 Rugby League World Cup

By W D Nicolson - October 25, 2013


Photoshop isn't on this computer!
Yes it'll be one of Australia, New Zealand or England for the title - but there's plenty to look for in this World Cup.
2013 Rugby League World Cup Schedule
FULL LIST of 2013 Rugby League World Cup Squads
GROUP TABLES for 2013 Rugby League World Cup
TV GUIDE for Live 7Mate coverage of every game on Australian Television

GROUP A: Australia, England, Fiji, Ireland - Top 3 finishers qualify for Quarter Finals
AUSTRALIA - Group A v England 26/10, v Fiji 2/11, v Ireland 9/11
CAN THEY WIN IT? Yes... this is the best team in the World - but are not reigning World Cup champs.
This is a fantastic collection of superstars - the majority of which are in their prime and may not play in another World Cup again. Add to this the fact that most of them were part of the Kangaroos that got beaten in 2008 and there's so much driving the core of this team to win it's not funny. Losing another World Cup is not an option for this unit.
WHO TO WATCH FOR: Andrew Fifita well and truly earned his bench spot while Michael Jennings missed out on the opener in a curious call that saw Brent Tate get the nod at right centre. Fifita is a gun and as long as Sheens gives him plenty of game time - he is the ace Australia can play from their bench to match the power on the benches of England and New Zealand. Jennings should be in the starting lineup and if he gets the call for the big games later in the tournament - he might produce the big play when everyone expects Inglis or Slater to. And there's a few others you might already know about...
@NRLTweet's PREDICTION: They'll get the World Cup back if Inglis, Thurston, Smith and Slater stay fit. While Australia have plenty of quality in the squad to back them up - those four will determine how they meet the threat of the Kiwis in the World Cup Final. World Cup Champions defeating New Zealand.

ENGLAND - Group A v Australia 26/10, v Ireland 2/11, v Fiji 9/11
CAN THEY WIN IT? Well... maybe.
They aren't as good as Australia or New Zealand but they may be good enough on the day to beat one of the two during the tournament - but both, no I don't think so, unless they play New Zealand in the Final - then maybe. Have a number of game breakers (see below) but not picking James Graham for the opening game however... what is up with that?
WHO TO WATCH FOR: Sam Tomkins - he's the only one everyone will be watching whether you are barracking for England or their opponents - if England do anything beyond the Semi Finals - it'll be due to the fullback. Kevin Sinfield won the Golden Boot last year and everyone in the Northern Hemisphere laughed at the criticism (which mind you came from dubious and ill-informed Australian 'sources') - so he's got this tournament to prove he's a true gun at the international level when his nation needs him to be.
@NRLTweet's PREDICTION: They will try to play it up the middle... and rely on Tomkins and Sinfield to make things happen when in good field position. Basically that means you have to play mistake free footy to beat their two biggest challengers during the pointy end of the tourney. But hey - beat Australia in the opener and confidence may do wonders for this team. Losing Semi Finalists to New Zealand.

FIJI - Group A v Ireland 28/10, v Australia 2/11, v England 9/11
CAN THEY WIN IT? Kerekere, mo ni vola... No.
WHO TO WATCH FOR: Tariq Sims, Akuila Uate and Petero Civoniceva... if these three lead their respective units (backrow, backs and front row) then Fiji are going to be more than a little competitive. John Sutton withdrawing is a massive loss though... leaving a gigantic hole in their playmaking corps.
@NRLTweet's PREDICTION: They should be exciting to watch and if the forward pack matches up well with Samoa in the Quarter Finals - they could make the final four. But that forward pack has a heck of a lot of work to do given their likely QF opponents (Samoa, France or PNG) will bring the pain up front and Fiji don't have John Sutton to use the ball... Losing Quarter Finalists to Samoa.

IRELAND - Group A v Fiji 28/10, v England 2/11, v Australia 9/11
CAN THEY WIN IT? Mian leat...
WHO TO WATCH FOR: Pat Richards has carved up the Super League for years... so for the majority of NRL fans who don't watch SL - get ready for a taste of Richards on a free pass to play all over the field for the Irish.
@NRLTweet's PREDICTION: Sure they could beat Fiji (and thus qualify for the Quarters) but they need Richards to have a gigantic opener - and the Fijians have just a few too many quality players you'd think. Will be a team you want to see do well but Fiji might have more of a hope in the Quarters than the Irish. Will finish last in Group A.

GROUP B: New Zealand, France, PNG, Samoa - Top 3 finishers qualify for Quarter Finals
NEW ZEALAND - Group B v Samoa 27/10, v France 1/11, v Papua New Guinea 8/11
CAN THEY WIN IT? Yes.
They are the defending champions after all - when they took advantage of Australian errors in the 2008 Final to run away with the title. And this time they've got SBW in the lineup... hello World Cup Final if their key players stay on the field.
WHO TO WATCH FOR: SBW - this will be his only World Cup of the Rugby League variety so take it all in... he won the Roosters the comp with 27 minutes of mastery so he certainly could do the same for the Kiwis here. Kieran Foran is a genius and with no Benji Marshall - this will be his team to run alongside Shaun Johnson - superb combination of tenacity and talent that.
@NRLTweet's PREDICTION: They are as good as Australia... if they play to their absolute best and Australia are just slightly off their game. With SBW they will enter any game with England or Australia knowing they can win, as opposed to most ANZAC Tests where they think they can win... and often don't. No lack of ability here but their forward pack must be 'on' and give Australia's skill players little to no room or field position to hurt them. Runners Up in World Cup Final to Australia.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

#NFL 2013: Week 8 Picks - Head to Head and with Spread | #nflpicks #nflpickem

2013 NFL PICKS - WEEK 8
- AFC and NFC Picks - Head to Head and with the Spread -
By The Postman, October 24, 2013

WEEKLY RECAP: Week 7 was a strong week with an 11-4 in Head to Head and the same record with the spread (to finally get back to over .500) - that my friends is half decent! If we can go a minimum of 10-6 in H2H and 8-8 with the spread - I'm going to declare we're back to last year's sensational tipping form!

H2H UPSETS PICKED: We got the Bengals over the Lions in Detroit and Dallas over Philly away from home but the Ravens lost again... away to Pittsburgh. The other upsets that happened that we didn't pick - Buffalo, NY Jets and Indianapolis over Miami, New England and Denver - who finally lost. So 2 from 3 Correct (per Pick'Em favourite/underdog listing).

H2H LESSONS LEARNED: Are we giving the Ravens too much SuperBowl Champion respect? Seems to be so after they have limped to 3-4 nearing the halfway mark? Right now you can't pick against Kansas City in a non-Superbowl contender matchup, and the rest of the contenders (who are still relatively healthy) - you just have to pick every week. PS. Josh Freeman is atrocious Minnesota - what are you doing???

Our Week 8 Picks are up next...

My 2013 NFL Season Preview and SuperBowl picks are here - and every week throughout the NFL in 2013 I will be posting my picks here on www.wdnicolson.com and via @wdnicolson.

Last year in the Yahoo! Sports Pro Football Pick'em competition I managed to finish in the 98th percentile (so Top 2%) of tipsters across the world... completely surprising myself by using the rule of thumb I (for some reason) refuse to back entirely in my NRL Tipping (that is pick favourites and then pick favourites and then, and only then... pick favourites and maybe one or two gut picks - which doesn't hurt you as much with up to 16 NFL games a week v 8 NRL games).

Week 8 begins with Tampa Bay hosting Carolina on Friday Morning Australian time, the perfecto dream still lives... 23-7 the last two weeks is filling us with a little more confidence!
=====WEEK 8 PICKS===== 

Thursday, 17 October 2013

#NFL 2013: Week 7 Picks - Head to Head and with Spread | #nflpicks #nflpickem

2013 NFL PICKS - WEEK 7
- AFC and NFC Picks - Head to Head and with the Spread -
By The Postman, October 17, 2013

WEEKLY RECAP: Week 6 was a resounding success - going 12-3 in Head to Head and a respectable 8-7 with the spread. Are we back? Let's find out in Week 7.

H2H UPSETS PICKED: Went with 3 Upsets in Week 6 and got 2 of them - Pittsburgh at NY Jets and San Diego at home to Indianapolis. Missed on Baltimore at home with Green Bay getting home 19-17. So 2 from 3 Correct (per Pick'Em favourite/underdog listing).

H2H LESSONS LEARNED: Finally got off the NY Giants train... they might win 4 of their next 5 but it felt good to take Chicago with some confidence last Friday. Minnesota were bad at home dropping a 35-10 game to Carolina who aren't much better despite the scoreline... Kansas City keep on winning and it took Tom Brady magic to beat the Saints. St Louis over Houston confirms that the Rams are unreliable, while the Texans are ordinary at the moment and their QB (who has been ordinary) got hurt... Other than that - San Diego continue to be good every other week and a few other teams continue to do just enough to keep winning games they should.

Our Week 7 Picks are up next...

My 2013 NFL Season Preview and SuperBowl picks are here - and every week throughout the NFL in 2013 I will be posting my picks here on www.wdnicolson.com and via @wdnicolson.

Last year in the Yahoo! Sports Pro Football Pick'em competition I managed to finish in the 98th percentile (so Top 2%) of tipsters across the world... completely surprising myself by using the rule of thumb I (for some reason) refuse to back entirely in my NRL Tipping (that is pick favourites and then pick favourites and then, and only then... pick favourites and maybe one or two gut picks - which doesn't hurt you as much with up to 16 NFL games a week v 8 NRL games).

Week 7 begins with Seattle visiting Arizona on Friday Morning Australian time, after a 12-3 H2H week - dare we dream for a perfecto?
=====WEEK 7 PICKS===== 

Thursday, 10 October 2013

#NFL 2013: Week 6 Picks - Head to Head and with Spread | #nflpicks #nflpickem

2013 NFL PICKS - WEEK 6
- AFC and NFC Picks - Head to Head and with the Spread -
By The Postman, October 10, 2013

WEEKLY RECAP: Week 5 we went 7-7 to fall off the recent good form we'd put on the board, while with the Spread it was back to Mediocreville with a 6-8 effort.

H2H UPSETS PICKED: Went with 4 Upsets in Week 5 and missed on Buffalo on Thursday at Cleveland and Tennessee at home to Kansas City. Picked Baltimore on the road at Miami and Arizona at home at Carolina (which we couldn't understand had the Cardinals as outsiders). So 2 from 4 Correct (per Pick'Em favourite/underdog listing).

H2H LESSONS LEARNED: New Orleans made a mockery of picking against them - even on the road in Chicago (pity I won't learn and pick against them on the road again this week!), while Kansas City are laughing at us with 4 wins in games we've picked the other team... Indianapolis won at home so that's not a massive shock even if Seattle were the visiting team, while the NY Giants are woeful - losing at home to Philadelphia. Oakland upset San Diego (maybe the Chargers will suck every second week and surprise us in the other week), while Atlanta got the lead with 2 minutes left (after trailing for most of the game) and let Geno Smith and the NY Jets beat them to fall to 1-4!!! The Falcons (my Superbowl loser) are 1-4... and one of their best receivers - Julio Jones - is out for the year. OUCH!

My 2013 NFL Season Preview and SuperBowl picks are here - and every week throughout the NFL in 2013 I will be posting my picks here on www.wdnicolson.com and via @wdnicolson.

Last year in the Yahoo! Sports Pro Football Pick'em competition I managed to finish in the 98th percentile (so Top 2%) of tipsters across the world... completely surprising myself by using the rule of thumb I (for some reason) refuse to back entirely in my NRL Tipping (that is pick favourites and then pick favourites and then, and only then... pick favourites and maybe one or two gut picks - which doesn't hurt you as much with up to 16 NFL games a week v 8 NRL games).

Week 6 begins with Chicago hosting the NY Giants on Friday Morning Australian time - going 3 Head to Head Upsets this week... scroll down to find out who we foolishly think can win as the underdog.
=====WEEK 6 PICKS===== 

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

#RLWC2013 Sonny Bill Williams wants in... so what if Jamie Lyon did too?

IF JAMIE WANTS IN - DO WE LET HIM?

2013 Rugby League World Cup

By W D Nicolson - October 9, 2013

If New Zealand want to defend their World Cup title - SBW over Harris is a no-brainer... but what about Lyon over _____?
| 2013 Rugby League World Cup Schedule |

There appears to be a little more controversy left in Rugby League circa 2013 after all... after the Daly Cherry-Evans/Forward Pass/Penalty Try 'controversies' coming out of the Roosters claiming the NRL Premiership last Sunday, it seemed like for a few weeks at least, we'd have some quiet on the western front of Rugby League.

Listen to the GF Review Podcast here
But thanks to Sonny Bill Williams - who won the Roosters the title with the best 27 minutes of pure impact footy in a big game you'll see this side of Andrew Johns' Origin cameo in 2005 - Rugby League is plunged into more controversy after the Kiwi changed his mind about representing New Zealand at the 2013 Rugby League World Cup in the UK later this month.

Essentially (and quite understandably) Williams cited the opportunity to have his first relaxing off-season since 2008 as his reason for making himself unavailable for Kiwi selection (and fuelling the collective opinion that he will head back to Rugby next season to be seriously considered for All Black selection in the 2015 Rugby World Cup) on Tuesday morning, only to change his mind later that night and declare himself keen to represent the Kiwis in their quest for back to back World Cups (also quite understandably).

The controversy is that New Zealand had already selected their squad believing Williams would not play... and thus to include Williams in their touring party a very recently selected player would have to be cut hours after finding out he was part of the team...

That unlucky youngster is Storm second rower Tohu Harris and he was punted to make way for Williams on Wednesday.

But is he really that unlucky?

Monday, 7 October 2013

#NRLGF 2013: Premiership Chooks! Roosters 26 defeat Manly 18 in Decider - NOT The Footy Show Episode 145

Download the mp3 Podcast here
ROOSTERS REIGN!

Time to recap the 2013 NRL Grand Final - won 26-18 by Easts over Manly in a superb game of Rugby League!

Maria and Waz offer their thoughts on the last game of the season as we salute the Chooks as the best of the best in 2013.

Who stepped up to win the game? Feeling in the sheds post-game? The best Grand Final since? And was DCE unlucky to get the Clive Churchill rather than undeserving?

NOT The Footy Show Episode 145
'Roosters 26 Manly 18 Grand Final Review Podcast' - Released Monday October 7, 2013 
Right Click Save Target As This Link if you don't have iTunes for the MP3 File
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Plus the outstanding cameo from James Maloney's kid on the presentation stage!

Enjoy the last NRL instalment of NOT The Footy Show's Finals cameo - we might have a Rugby League World Cup Show or two... but can't promise anything kids.

Thanks for listening - now please rate us on iTunes and tell people about the show!

Send us a Tweet via @NRLTweet or post on the Facebook page - www.facebook.com/nrlpodcast if it was good to have us back?

LIKE the show on Facebook and most of us are on Twitter: @NRLTweet or our individual accounts @wdnicolson @Mr_DC11 @mtsialis @mrpeninsula @horry37 and Nic McInerney is our Facebook Mozart.

Roosters Kid stage dives at 2013 NRL Grand Final, then goes after Ken Sutcliffe!

We missed the kid throwing his footy the first time as well... poor Male Model from Mudgee, doesn't know what hit him.

Match Highlights

Sunday, 6 October 2013

#NRLGF Clive Churchill Medal Market: Which Rooster or Sea Eagle actually has a chance to win?

CLIVE CHURCHILL MEDAL MARKET

2013 NRL Premiership Grand Final

By W D Nicolson - October 6, 2013

The actual Clive Churchill Medal market and our market of actual contenders per traditional picks
| GRAND FINAL PREDICTIONS | GRAND FINAL PODCAST |

GRAND FINAL PODCAST
 Out NOW!
The Clive Churchill Medal for the Best Player in the Grand Final has traditionally been a far better judged award than it's regular season brother - the Dally M - but it still tends to follow the same science to a degree... big name player who has a half decent game, is going to beat out a lesser known player who has an outstanding one.

But generally you can't argue too strongly with a one game award like this, unlike the way this year's (and previous years) Dally M votes unfolded at the back end of the season however... okay, let's stick with the Clive Churchill talk for now.

The CCM was introduced in 1986 and Peter Sterling won the inaugural award in Parramatta's 4-2 win over Canterbury

Take a look at the winners and you'll note there's been winners from halfback, five-eighth, lock, prop, second row, hooker and fullback... but no love at all for centres and wingers.

Is this the year Jamie Lyon or Michael Jennings buck the centre snub? Or will Roger Tuivasa-Sheck or Jorge Taufua make another huge case for a winger to get the nod but ultimately they won't win after the incredibly snubbings of Michael Robertson in 2008 and Jason Nightingale in 2010?

Cronk won in 2012 - who wins in 2013?
Well Lyon and Jennings have some chance... if the game has some serious points, otherwise it's looming as either a half/five-eighth, a backrower or maybe a prop to get the award this year.

This year we ran The @NRLTweet Player of the Year Awards for the 4th straight season - won by Johnathan Thurston, and for the 2nd year The @NRLTweet Player of the Finals will be awarded (Voting 4-2-1 x 3 voters in Weeks 1-3) - with the Grand Final Voting panel as follows - all handing out 5-3-2-1 Votes, with the Man of the Match capable of winning the Player of the Finals gong - given they can get up to 25 votes from the Grand Final alone.

The Finals Leaderboard is currently silent as to not influence the GF Voters on GF day, but all the votes and final leaderboard can be found via #NRLTweetPlayerofFinals tag after the game.
@NRLTweet Player of the Finals Award Voters:
| Ben Hoese @gunnermcdagget Matthew Duncan @mrpeninsula Greg Delaney @gregdelaney84 Matt Spillane @devonhead Warrick Nicolson @NRLTweet |
Track live Grand Final votes via #NRLTweetPlayerofFinals - Announcing the Man of the Match and Player of the Finals after full-time and voting 5-3-2-1.

Whoever wins our Player of the Finals (and is announced as the Man of the Match) does not necessarily mean they'll win the Clive Churchill Medal though... but it'll be a good guide as to who maybe should have won it.

Here is our breakdown of the Grand Final players - in order - of who we think will be awarded the Clive Churchill Medal because A. They are great players, B. They could play great in this game and C. The Australian selectors love them - which is more important than A and B.

CLIVE CHURCHILL MEDAL FAVOURITES
MARKET ODDS
  1. Daly CHERRY-EVANS, Manly$6
    He'll dictate the kicking game, make 20+ tackles, set up a try or two and run the ball a lot. He's a bit Allan Langer-esque but with a long kicking game... so I think it is time to get his CCM.
  2. Sonny Bill WILLIAMS, Roosters | $6
    We all know how good he is... if he makes a difference in a significant Roosters win - he gets it ahead of the next guy on this list.
  3. James MALONEY, Roosters | $7
    I think he's been fantastic this Finals Series - but he probably needs a try and a try assist or two to edge out SBW if the Chooks win this by 7+. Perfect day with the boot - at goal and in general play will help his cause.
  4. Jamie LYON, Sea Eagles | $11
    Everybody loves Jamie these days... may not play rep footy anymore but the Australian Selectors won't hesitate to give him the CCM if Manly score all their points down the right and he's on song with his kicking boot. Playing great don't get me wrong but certainly a 'favourite'.
  5. Kieran FORAN, Sea Eagles | $9
    When he's on - Manly are on. His kick-chase is without pier in the game and his tenacity makes good things happen. When Manly need a lift he'll provide it... sets up two tries and he's a chance. But needs a monumental game to beat out the guys ahead of him on reputation.
  6. Mitchell PEARCE, Roosters | $11
    Just can't see it... then again I'm not selecting the NSW team either. Had a strong running game v Newcastle so he's playing well but is he the calibre of player to walk away with a CCM in a team he shares with SBW and Maloney and JWH etc? Just don't see it sorry.
  7. Jared WAEREA-HARGREAVES, Roosters | $13
    If the game is played almost exclusively in the middle like the Roosters will want to - especially in the opening 30 minutes - JWH can make a compelling case. He tops 20 tackles and say 12 runs for 120m in his opening stint and the stats junkies on the judging panel will have to take notice... If it's 12-10 or very low scoring and his numbers are huge by fulltime - he can win it.
  8. Brett STEWART, Sea Eagles | $17
    Has made Manly a premiership threat in the back end of the year when able to run... scores a couple of trademark Snake tries and he can put his name up in lights... certainly has earned the tag as an indispensable piece of the Manly puzzle this year (and Peta Hiku has been a fantastic replacement).
  9. Anthony WATMOUGH, Sea Eagles | $17
    Soldier has bung knees but will try and play 80 minutes again... if he was fully fit he might walk away with this award given his value at key moments but I'm struggling to believe he'll be able to have a huge impact with his knee problems. Still... can play.
  10. Glenn STEWART, Sea Eagles | $11
    Won it in 2011 and played great, not quite up to speed this year but has shown glimpses and that's all you need in a Grand Final with a good reputation in big games. Doubt he'll win it over DCE or Lyon if the Manly right edge goes nuts - so that price is not good value.
  11. Michael JENNINGS, Roosters | $34
    Needs a BIG Roosters win to get into the conversation and probably the first or second try (and multiple tries to boot). His best chance of winning beyond that is to totally shut down Lyon's attacking game and carve up the Manly centre when the Roosters have the pill... tall ask but one good judge I know actually thinks he's a BIG chance.
  12. Jake FRIEND, Roosters | $11
    Sorry Jake... hookers don't win this unless they are unbelievable on Grand Final day and set up some tries as well... just can't see it. Terrible odds as well that short.
  13. Matt BALLIN, Sea Eagles | $21
    Ditto for Matt... may make a Grand Final record for tackles (beating Nathan Hindmarsh's 60-odd in 2009) but he needs more than his machine like defence to enter the equation.
  14. Boyd CORDNER, Roosters | $26
    While he may struggle with the pace of the game after so long out - and physically he may not be up to it after a bad ankle sprain - you can never count out a player with plenty of ability and the fairytale comeback story... Don't think it can happen, but can't rule him out for the CCM.
  15. Any of the wingers... if life was fair after you scored a hat-trick you should be considered but likely won't. Taufua | $41, Tuivasa-Sheck $41, Tupou | $51, Williams $51.
  16. But really stop the fight - no other player is getting this award.
    Sorry Brenton Lawrence | $34, Sam Moa $34 and Brent Kite | $34, sorry Steve Matai | $34 and Anthony Minichiello | $21, sorry bench players (ranging from Buhrer | $41 to Rose/Gower at | $151 , sorry Aidan Guerra | $26, Justin Horo | $26 and Frank-Paul Nu'uausala | $41 and sorry Shaun Kenny-Dowall | $51 - you've got the least hope of I reckon anyone... even if you play superbly, they won't give it to a centre without the profile of a Lyon or Jennings.

My pick is DCE, narrowly ahead of Kieran Foran - who I think might be the most influential player on the field but I've got Manly winning 17-16 via a late regulation or extra time field goal from DCE - so he'll win the CCM if he kicks the winning point.

GRAND FINAL PODCAST
 Out NOW!
If you want value as a punter - JWH and Watmough represent the best chances in the forwards at odds, while Lyon even at $11 might be the sneaky pick given everyone loves Jamie these days. Brett Stewart isn't bad value at $17, and while Tupou might have a field day over Williams in the air so his $51 is crazy but it'll go to the guy kicking the ball people...

If you want our Preview and other predictions for Grand Final Day - go here - or simply keep scrolling.

Make sure you take an hour out of your day to listen to our Grand Final Podcast with a host of interviews with Manly players and James Maloney from the Roosters.

But most of all - enjoy what is shaping up as potentially the best Grand Final since 2006.

Who is your Clive Churchill Medallist?  

Let us know by commenting below or replying on Twitter.

Friday, 4 October 2013

#NRLGF 2013: Roosters v Manly Grand Final Preview Podcast - NOT The Footy Show Episode 144 | 04/10/2013

Download the mp3 here
This is it - Easts v Manly in The Decider!

NOT The Footy Show brings you Waz and DC's in-depth analysis and predictions for the game plus short sharp GF interviews with Anthony Watmough, Jorge Taufua, Brenton Lawrence, Jamie Buhrer, Peta Hiku, Steven Matai and a cameo from someone who may be a late starter in the big one - Joe Galuvao!

And we threw part of the James Maloney interview we did for Episode 143 in to level things out for Roosters' fans.

Plus we do our popular audio highlights compilations of how these teams got to the GF and Joey G's special Word Association breakdown of his Grand Final Team-mates!

Enjoy but NOT The Footy Show's cameo is not over yet, we'll be back on Monday with a GF Review show.

Grab the Latest Show off iTunes right here
Download the mp3 version
Or play it below

NOT The Footy Show Episode 144
'Roosters v Manly Grand Final Preview Podcast' - Released Friday October 4, 2013
Right Click Save Target As This Link if you don't have iTunes for the MP3 File
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