‘Ricky Stuart Should Play Lazy Hayne at Lock’ Published on theroar.com.au 4/4/13
Apparently Jarryd Hayne is lazy. People believe his work rate is below average and he refuses to interject himself into matches despite being far and away the best player in a horrible Parramatta Eels side.
You cannot argue with any of that.
So what the hell does coach Ricky Stuart do with his most prized possession?
Despite a sensational 2009 season that saw him capture the Dally M Medal, and a handful of impressive appearances in State of Origin, Hayne has floundered just when his team has needed him most.
The erosion of the Eels in recent years has added to the pressure on Hayne.
Former coaches have tried throwing him into five-eighth and force him to create the plays. But even with Hayne in a playmaking role, Parramatta struggled.
If Hayne could pass to Hayne, maybe the Eels would be okay.
Unfortunately, as good as he could be, Hayne can’t be the playmaker in this Eels side.
But he also can’t sit at fullback and watch from a distance as his side gets annihilated week after week.
Where do you play him?
What could you possibly do to keep him involved in the game and get every last drop of energy out of their captain?
This might be from left field, but why not throw him into the forward pack at lock?
Everyone forgets that 2009 was four long years ago. Maybe he isn’t the player he once was.
At 6 foot 2 and 100 kilograms, he is definitely big enough. Nobody is saying he has to take the first run every set, but by playing him in the pack you force him to be a part of the game.
Whether it be in attack or defence, Hayne would always be around the ruck, and allowing him to roam the paddock without having to return the ball from fullback would conserve some energy.
At the end of the day Hayne needs to be a ball runner in this Parramatta side. At lock he can still play his natural game, but at least you are throwing the game back in his face.
And you never know, he might even enjoy the rough stuff. Its not like he doesn’t enjoy a confrontation, and if Hayne stands up, his team will follow. It would also be a chance for Hayne to show Eels fans how much he truly wants to lead this club.
Don’t forget that former Canberra Raiders fullback Josh Dugan is still a free agent.
If the Eels could somehow get Dugan before St George Illawarra Dragons or others can, Hayne could be shifted away from the number one jersey.
Playing Hayne at lock isn’t such an unreasonable idea if Dugan showed up at Parramatta Stadium.
The Eels currently have around 20 off-contract players on their books, and despite Corey Norman and Will Hopoate headed to the club, have another ten players looking for renewals in 2014.
There is still time for the Eels to nab Dugan.
But Hayne could still be a success at lock without Dugan.
Where is the harm in throwing him in there and seeing how he reacts when he is knocked around a little?
Lets see how much ticker he really has.
‘The NRL Has More Than Half a Problem’ Published on theroar.com.au 5/4/13
On the back of a record television deal, boom ratings and one of the best sporting products in the land you could say the National Rugby League is in a good place.
Forgetting off-field dramas like ASADA’s ongoing investigation, the NRL action has been fantastic. Fans are turning up and they are loving what they are seeing.
But while the game is growing in leaps and bounds, there has been a worrying decline in quality halfbacks across the competition. Once upon a time we were stacked with legitimate superstars in the number seven jumper.
But 2013 has already shown a drastic shortage in quality pivots.
Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk are streets ahead of the pack and have been for quite some time. Granted Thurston might be wearing number six this year, but he is still the dominant force at the North Queensland Cowboys.
Cronk continues to evolve and works harder at his game than almost anyone else in the game.
Coming in a distant second in a group of three are Daly Cherry-Evans, Mitchell Pearce and young South Sydney Rabbitohs playmaker Adam Reynolds.
You could almost add Shaun Johnson, Peter Wallace and Chris Sandow to that list but recent form suggests they still have a way to go to join the aforementioned men.
So how many legitimate top tier halfbacks is that?
I count eight.
How many NRL sides are there in the competition?
We had a plethora of halfbacks in our mighty game seven short years ago. Almost every team had a number seven they could base their side around. Is there really a lack of quality halfbacks or have Thurston and Cronk raised the bar that high that we expect too much from these guys?
In 2006 there were at least twelve great halfbacks in our game.
Thurston and Cronk were two of them.
The Newcastle Knights had the Immortal Andrew Johns, Craig Gower was still at the Penrith Panthers, Brett Kimmorley was the skipper of the Cronulla Sharks, Manly-Warringah had Matt Orford on their books and Scott Prince was playing his final season at the Wests Tigers.
And don’t forget others.
Canberra Raiders boasted a young Todd Carney, Tim Smith at Parramatta Eels, premiership-winner Brent Sherwin was still calling the shots at the Canterbury Bulldogs, Brett Finch at the Sydney Roosters and the injury-cursed Matt Head was at the St George Illawarra Dragons.
There were twelve superb playmakers in 2006 and remember that it was only a fifteen team competition.
Already this year we have seen plenty of debate over the Dragons and their halfback problems. Coach Steve Price has divided Saints fans over the selection of veteran halfback turn hooker turn halfback Nathan Fein.
Many Bulldogs fans believe Kris Keating is not the right choice at their club while Titans mentor John Cartwright went into the new season without a proven playmaker.
Another team with real problems is the Tigers after sacking youngster Jacob Miller for backrower Braith Anasta.
And don’t forget that the Panthers have just dropped Luke Walsh to the NSW Cup.
Is it just the evolution of the game?
Are sides less reliant on one man these days?
Or are clubs reacting to a serious halfback shortage in the National Rugby League?
‘Out of the Woods and Into The Blue’ Published on theroar.com.au 6/4/13
They were branded rank outsiders and given Buckley’s chance of upsetting the World Champion Melbourne Storm in Monday night football.
Despite the 26-12 loss, the Wests Tigers proved they could match the best side in the National Rugby League. A victory at AAMI Park was not critical in the big scheme of things, but the Tigers can take more out of a loss to the Storm than any win they will have this season.
Leading by six just passed the sixty minute mark, Melbourne went bang and bang again to put the tiring Tigers to bed.
Benji Marshall was good despite a toe injury, Braith Anasta continually went to the line and Robbie Farah outplayed rival Cameron Smith.
But the shining light once again was young prop Aaron Woods.
The Storm forward pack isn’t the most intimidating or the most dangerous in the NRL. Bryan Norrie, Jesse Bromwich and Jason Ryles don’t instil fear the way the likes of James Tamou or Sam Burgess do. Yet when you run out onto AAMI Park for a showdown with Melbourne, you know as an opposing front rower that you need to be at your best.
Woods was by far and away the best forward on the field last night. The scariest part is the way the young bookend goes about his business. He does it with such ease like he is barely out of second gear.
Statistics are sometimes misleading.
A prop in the modern game can run for over 100 metres and go unnoticed. But Woods devours the metres on a weekly basis and looks impressive doing it.
Against the Storm, the Leichhardt native was at it again adding another 152 run metres to his season tally. Not only that, Woods made 40 tackles in a gruelling contest. Oh and you can add three offloads too.
Such was his performance, Woods picked up Triple M’s Man of the Match Award from the losing side. He isn’t just knocking on the door of State of Origin but ripping the house down brick by brick.
Woods must start in the front row for the New South Wales Blues on June 5 at ANZ Stadium.
Week after week Woods delivers. And he doesn’t just churn out the metres. He outplays his opposing props too. In the loss to the Manly Sea Eagles in round four, the Origin hopeful was at it again.
Despite running for over 100 metres again, Woods made 38 tackles and helped restrict Brent Kite, Joe Galuvao, David Gower and Jason King. All were held to under 100 metres.
But Woods and the Tigers have more immediate issues like a showdown with the St George Illawarra Dragons next weekend at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Wests were gallant but will need to be good again in round six against the resurgent Dragons in a showdown that celebrates the 50th anniversary of the 1963 grand final between the Saints and the mighty Western Suburbs Magpies.
‘Panthers legend Mark Geyer wants Issac John in the Halves’ Published on theroar.com.au
It has been nine long years since both the Penrith Panthers and Newcastle Knights made the semi-finals.
Panthers fans will remember 2003 as the year they snared the premiership against the might of Brad Fittler’s Sydney Roosters.
Many believed a golden era was about to follow.
The Knights, who had won the title two years earlier, were still a force and made the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season.
That golden era never came for either side.
But while both sides have struggled on and off the field in recent years, at least the Knights can say they are on their way back.
Panthers fans will argue that having Nathan Tinkler looking after your franchise isn’t going to hurt, and that’s definitely true. But how have the Panthers fallen so far?
While other teams find themselves in blockbuster round six encounters, the fifteenth placed Panthers travel to Hunter Stadium to face the fourth placed Knights.
Newcastle are improving on a weekly basis, the same can not be said of the bumbling Panthers. Despite a promising first up performance against the Canberra Raiders, Penrith have been average since.
They haven’t been that bad but they haven’t been that good either. They’ve just been making up the numbers.
Halfback Luke Walsh has polarised opinion in Sydney’s west ever since joining the club from the Knights in 2009. After a poor start to the season he was finally dropped.
Some feel he is still their best option and some feel he has had enough chances in the number seven jersey.
For the second week running, Blake Austin and Tom Humble have been named in the halves despite a 30-0 drubbing at the hands of the North Queensland Cowboys last weekend.
That’s the problem for coach Ivan Cleary.
How many other options does he have?
Panthers legend Mark Geyer has told The Roar that he believes Walsh’s time was up, and the likes of Austin and talented youngster Issac John are the future of the club.
“The sacking of [Luke] Walsh was inevitable,” Geyer said.
“I think Blake Austin has to definitely be in the starting 13 [every week].
“I would like to also see Issac John get a run too.”
Kiwi fans will remember John as yet another teenage sensation that slipped through their fingers. After a recent stint in the English Super League at the Wakefield-Trinity Wildcats, John signed with the Panthers in February.
Whether Humble, Austin or John are long term options in the halves for the Panthers is anyone’s guess. To be brutally fair, they probably aren’t.
But Penrith need to find something and do it in a hurry.
Coach Cleary might have named the same squad that went down to the Cowboys last weekend but expect changes in the lead up to Saturday afternoon’s clash.
John has been named to partner Walsh in the halves for the highflying Windsor Wolves.