Tonight will see the highest individual honour awarded to the Player Of The Year in the form of the prestigious Dally M Medal.
With Cooper Cronk’s being injured for more than a few weeks after Origin One, we are set to see a new winner crowned. That being said, it’s highly likely we will see a former winner crowned once again with Hayne and Thurston amongst the favourites.
South Sydney’s Sam Burgess is sure to figure at the business end of the count after a brilliant season, in what will be his last in the NRL, at least for the time being.
Below are our choices for each position award, other awards and of course, the big one, the Dally M medal. As always, feedback is welcome. Please like the facebook page and let us know who you think will take out the top award.
Fullback: Jarryd Hayne – Eels
As we mentioned in our team of the year announcement, Hayne beats out some amazing fullbacks after showing form not seen since his Dally M medal winning form of 2009. Had a blinder of an Origin series and seemed to get better as the season went on.
Wing: Josh Mansour – Panthers
Mansour was desperately unlucky to not be selected for Origin this series after a brilliant start to the season. The 24 year old scored 14 tries from his 20 games and made well over 3000 metres with the ball. Will edge out Radradra for the award.
Centre: Dylan Walker – Souths
Walker’s amazing 2014 will surely be rewarded with a spot in the Four Nations squad for the Kangaroos. Walker’s contribution goes far beyond his 11 tries. His combination late in the season with Lote Tuqiri has been vital. Hard to believe he’s still on 20 years of age.
Five-Eighth: Jamie Soward – Panthers
Perhaps the game’s most polarising player has had a year that would rival 2010 in which he led the Dragons to the title. Although the Panthers fell one game short of the big dance, Soward did everything he could to put the Panthers in a position to contest in October.
Halfback: Johnathan Thurston – Cowboys
Thurston, again, showed he is perhaps the greatest playmaker in the modern era, spurning his Cowboys side on to a mid September charge. Topped the point scoring chart with 208, and contributed 28 try assists.
Prop: James Graham – Bulldogs
Arguably the best front rower of the modern era Graham does more than just tuck the ball under his arm and run. A massive metre-eater who can also ball play like a big, dangerous, tackling machine, five-eighth. Has been the Dogs best player all season.
Hooker: James Segeyaro – Panthers
The Panthers number nine has been an absolute revelation in 2014. His defense was first class, his ability to make breaks top shelf and his workrate unquestionable. Has been one of the stars of a very successful Panthers outfit.
Second Row: Aiden Guerrera – Roosters
The roosters backrower has outshone his two much bigger named teammates in Corder and one SBW. If you were going to take an NRL player into battle with you, he’d be built in the Guerrera mould. Has been a rock in defense, and dangerous in attack.
Lock: Sam Burgess – Souths
May very well leave the game with a Premiership, but will without a doubt leave with another positional award to his name. Burgess has been brilliant in every sense of the word and has taken over Paul Gallen as the best lock in the sport.
Rookie Of The Year: Alex Johnston – Souths
Johnston’s ridiculous try-scoring strike rate of 17 tries in 15 games is almost unheard of for a rookie. The Souths wing spot looked like a problem area for the famous club, but thanks to Johnston, has been one of their great successes. The sky’s the limit.
Coach Of The Year: Ivan Cleary – Panthers
Cleary has again proven his worth as an NRL coach, guiding a team with no Origin reps to within six points of a Grand Final berth. Got the most out of the majority of his players, and totally reinvigorated Jamie Soward.
Captain Of The Year: John Sutton – Souths
The Souths skipper has managed to keep his head despite a mountain of pressure on both himself and his club. Has led the way by setting a strong example both on and off the field.
Dally M Medalist: Johnathan Thurston – Cowboys
Thurston will surely add to his two Dally M medal wins in 2005 and 2007 after leading the Cowboys to yet another finals series. Closed the season with an incredible amount of influence during an incredible run of wins. Will edge out Hayne and Burgess for the top honour.
Other Stories Of Interest
Earlier in the season we took a look at the early season success of a series of recruits. The Dragons English pivot Gareth Widdop topped the list ahead of the likes of Martin Taupau and Will Hopoate.
Although we’ve still got the completion of a huge finals series ahead of us, we believe we’ve seen enough to rate some of the biggest hits and misses when it comes to recruitment for 2013 into 2014.
Below are a sample of some of the best decisions made by NRL clubs, and unfortunately some of the worst made.
As always, feedback is welcomed, please let us know if we’ve missed anything, or have anything wrong, or hell, even if we’re spot on, by liking the facebook page and sending us a message. Of course it’s impossible to cover all the recruits, but the below are those who really stood out:
Gareth Widdop (Dragons): Earlier in the year we named him the early season best performing recruit, and no doubt he would be in the top few now that the regular season is done and dusted. Beale was a star in the stop-start Dragons all season. His partnership with Marshall will be key as the Dragons go forward.
Benji Marshall (Dragons): The Dragons took a massive punt on signing the former Tiger following his unsuccessful stint in Rugby, and it looks as though it has paid off. Benji showed glimpses of the form that saw him win the World Player of the year during his stint in the orange and black. Will be better with a full offseason under his belt.
Nathan Peats (Eels): Prior to his unfortunate season-ending injury, there was genuine talk of Peats being in consideration for rep honours. The Eels suffered at dummy half when Peats was injured, and had to look outside the club for a replacement. Parra provided Peats a chance to shine after moving from Redfern, and he repaid them handsomely.
Daniel Vidot (Broncos): Broncos fans questioned the reasoning behind signing the fringe first grader from the Dragons, however Vidot more than justified the decision. Was probably better than his seven tries from 22 games indicates. His strong carries out of the danger zone won’t stand out in the stats, but fans, and his forwards, would notice.
Tinirau Arona (Sharks): A rare highlight in an otherwise horrible season for the Sharks. Arona made a mountain of tackles and metres for the struggling Sharks in the absence of Lewis, Gallen, Graham etc. His efforts went largely under the radar due to the multitude of other stories coming out of the club, but it’s tough to pick a bad game out of his 23.
Big Hit: Jamie Soward (Panthers): I fully admit, I did not foresee myself typing this very paragraph after Soward’s season in 2013. He has been absolutely brilliant at the foot of the mountains, and is arguably the main reason the Panthers have made it through to a Grand Final playoff. Those who doubted Cleary and Gould are eating their words.
Big Hit: Panthers: Jamie Soward, Jamal Idris, Brent Kite, Elijah Taylor, Peter Wallace… The Panthers recruited in big numbers and have come up trumps. The Panthers currently sit one win from the Grand Final, but no matter what the result next weekend, this has been an amazing season for the Penrith side.
Under The Radar Hit: Dunamis Lui + Josh Starling (Eagles): Knowing they would lose Brent Kite and George Rose, the Sea Eagles continued their success in signing young, under rated players and turning them into first grade regulars. Starling played all 24 games, and Lui played 19 games. They will be called upon in 2014 with the retirement of Jason King.
Sam Tomkins (Warriors): This choice might seem a little strange as Tomkins didn’t have a terrible season, but taking into account the massive contract, the hype, and transfer fee they paid Wigan for his services, I simply can’t argue that Tomkins was worth the money. Next season, hopefully the pressure eases on the English number one and he can play the kind of footy that made him Wigan’s superstar.
Martin Kennedy (Broncos): Broncos fans were championing the signing of the former Rooster big man, but unfortunately for the club Kennedy spent stints this season in the QLD Cup competition. Kennedy, who was selected as QLD’s 18th man in the 2013 Origin series, had fallen so far from grace that there were rumours he would leave the club mid year.
Sam Williams (Dragons): Williams ended 2013 at the Raiders and will begin the 2015 season at the Raiders, via a trip to the Dragons and the ESL. Williams was seen as the long term halfback for the joint venture club, where he would partner Gareth Widdop. Widdop became arguably the best signing of the season, whereas Williams was shipped to France after failing to fire in his four games.
Ben Barba (Broncos): Despite a late season revival, there are very few that can argue Barba has lived up to expectations at Red Hill. Barba was bought, and paid, to be a match winner both with and without the ball. It took him an age to score his first try, and although he did end up with eight for the season, many would have expected to him to reach double figures, as well as lay off plenty as well. May or may not be at the club long-term.
Sharks: At the end of 2012 the Sharks brought in a group of stars that had 2013 looking like they may genuinely push for a top four spot. At the beginning of 2014 the Sharks were asked to get excited about Matt Prior, Blake Ayshford, Siosaia Vave, Eric Grothe and Daniel Holdsworth. Arona and Gagan saved the the club from a total recruitment embarrassment, but fans were left frustrated at the club’s going backwards.
Big Miss: Blake Ayshford (Sharks): The Sharks, who finished one game shy of a Grand Final play off, lacked a genuine try scoring centre who could break games open. They turned to Tigers fringe reserve grader Blake Ayshford and hyped him up as the next ET. Ayshford was responsible for plenty of tries this season, unfortunately for the Sharks they came against the Sharks due to his flimsy defense. Was told to look elsewhere for next season before being dropped to NSW Cup.
Big Miss: George Rose (Storm): Big George Rose was hailed as the next big thing in Melbourne after moving South. Craig Bellamy, who turned the hard working but unspectacular Bryan Norrie into a premiership winning prop, was expected to turn Rose into a weapon. By the end of the season Rose was flat out making the NSW Cup side for the combined Storm-Sharks set up. Was unable to get his weight under control under the strict regime in the Victorian capital.
Other Stories Of Interest
This past weekend in the AFL, for the first time since the introduction of the current finals system, two sides who finished in the top four at the end of the regular season went out in straight sets.
Of course straight sets means they did not register a victory in the finals series, as they were beaten by the victors of the elimination finals in week one of the current series.
With history being made in the AFL, could we be looking at the same situation occurring this weekend as Manly host the Bulldogs, while the Roosters play the Cowboys?
If Manly and the Roosters were to lose, it would remarkably see the teams that finished one and two in the regular season, exit the finals at the earliest possible opportunity.
On the back of their crushing 28-4 victory over the heavily favoured Storm, the revitalised Bulldogs will be chock full of confidence as they prepare to play a side heavily hampered by injury, and the very real possibility of at least one more star missing through suspension.
The Sea Eagles limped into the finals on the back of three losses in their last five games, including big losses to the Rabbitohs and Cowboys. They did however manage to stun the Panthers thanks to some last minute magic.
Incredibly, the Des Hasler coached Bulldogs will go into next weekend’s fixture as favourites despite finishing seventh. As bad as the aforementioned form for the Eagles was, the Dogs form was equally as bad.
They had also lost three of their last five games regular season games, including being belted by 31 points at the hands of the Broncos.
Hasler, who is no stranger to the majority of the Manly squad due to his years as manager at the club, will spend the next week plotting the downfall of his former side.
On the back of a monster forward pack, the Dogs representative halves pairing will be licking their lips at the opportunities they hope James Graham and co. will provide.
Manly, who will be missing Glenn Stewart, Jamie Buhrer, and Matt Ballin just to name a few, will be hoping that both Jamie Lyon and Anthony Watmough will be available despite being placed on report for a dangerous tackle on Greg Inglis on Friday Night.
If Manly are to avoid a straight sets exit, they’ll need to overcome injury, possible suspension and rumoured off field troubles to record one of their bravest and best victories of the season. They have the players to do it, but on current form, you’d be brave to bet on them.
In the other game the Minor Premiers and defending champions will have to hold off the red hot, in form Cowboys, who will be looking to avenge two controversial exits in the finals in the last two seasons.
The Cowboys, whose only loss in their last nine games came via a one point loss to preliminary finalists the Panthers, will hold no fear as they travel to Allianz Stadium to play the Roosters.
The Roosters, who were beaten thanks to a brilliant Jamie Soward field goal just seconds before fulltime, will be looking to set up the mother of all prelim finals by ensuring the Cowboys suffer more finals pain.
As good as the Cowboys have been in recent weeks, the Roosters are Minor Premiers, and defending Premiers for a reason. They know how to win the big games, shown as recently as their victory to capture the Minor Premiership with a victory over fierce rivals Souths two weeks ago.
Whereas the Sea Eagles look vulnerable, the Roosters will have plenty of motivation, and almost all a full squad at their disposal. Of course there are always injuries at this time of the season, however the Roosters medical team has done well to keep the majority of their top squad on the park.
That being said, the Cowboys do hold a 42-10 victory over their opponents this season.
History beckons as we head into the second week of the NRL finals series.
I wonder what odds you would have been offered for the Roosters and Manly to go out in straight sets.
Other Stories Of Interest
With 26 rounds of NRL action now in the books, only eight teams remain, while the other eight plan their Mad Monday celebrations. The Roosters have secured a second straight Minor Premiership, the Broncos return to the finals, the Bunnies continue to tease fans that this may be their year, and the Cowboys continue to send messages to the Sydney sides that they’re going to be tough to beat.
With the end of the regular rounds, we can now name our NRL Team Of The Year. The below is not a side made up of the best players in each position, but the players who have been the best in their position during 2014.
We weren’t too worried in the side the players below lineup in for their club (i.e. we may have named two left sided players in a position) and it is just made up of the best player this season, in that particular position.
Of course, as always, the below is totally subjective and is just an opinion. Please let us know if you agree or disagree with some, or all of the below:
Fullback: Jarryd Hayne – Eels
The Eels and NSW fullback almost reproduced his amazing Dally M winning form of 2009 and went within a game of carrying the Eels to a finals birth. He was arguably the man of the series for the Blues as they ended a near decade long dominance at Origin level. Hayne beats out Inglis, Milford and co to the top fullback in 2014. He tops the try scoring charts with 20, and finished atop the line breaks tally with 23. Amazing!
Wing: Josh Mansour – Panthers
Desperately unlucky not to play Origin this series after a barnstorming start to the year. Based on form you’d have to say he’ll be there or there abouts for next year’s series. Mansour has been a rock out wide for the high flying Panthers, and at times seems to score tries for fun. Although an injury robbed him of a chance of topping the try scoring charts, his carries out of his own danger-end were worth their weight in gold.
Centre: Steve Matai – Eagles
For years and years the centre of the year went to a different Manly centre, but this year, Matai is the man. His left side partnership with Jorge Taufua was lethal early in the campaign and although his partner’s form faulted, Matai remained in great nick. Linked with a huge money move away from the club in 2015, despite being the wrong side of 30, Matai is still amongst the elite.
Centre: Dylan Walker – Rabbitohs
I almost picked Jarrod Croker for this position, however Walker just edges the Canberra centre. Walker has had a breakout season and has been amongst the Rabbitohs best all year. His importance to the side goes far beyond the 11 tries he registered throughout the year as he played a hand in many more, and more than held up his end in defense. Croker also had a brilliant year, however the young Rabbit’s defense earns him the nod in comparison.
Wing: Semi Radradra – Eels
The flying Fijian would have topped the try scoring charts if not for the superman efforts in the round 26 fixture by his fullback Jarryd Hayne. His haul of 19 tries was amazing considering his relative inexperience. An absolute monster for just 22 years of age, Radradra’s best footy is still ahead of him. He will give plenty of opposition wingers nightmares in the future, as I’m sure he did this season.
Five-Eighth: Jamie Soward – Panthers
I fully admit I did not foresee myself typing the above at the beginning of 2014, but Soward has had a brilliant campaign. Often unfairly criticised due to his theatrics, such as the double barrel solute, Soward’s kicking game has been absolutely key to the Panthers top four finish. Soward posted seven tries and a bag of try assists, and landed conversions from all angles for fun. Edges out Maloney, who himself had another brilliant year.
Halfback: Johnathan Thurston – Cowboys
The Cowboys superstar posted an incredible 208 points this season, the most of anyone in the competition, and won multiple games on his own back throughout 2014. it’s no coincidence that his amazing form has propelled the Cowboys to an incredible fifth place finish, something that looked impossible early in the year. He’s probably only a premiership away from being the next Immortal. Edges out Ben Hunt, Pearce and Cronk.
Prop: James Graham – Bulldogs
I think it is fair to say James Graham is the Bulldog’s most important, and best player. Registered an ironman-like 344 hit ups for the regular season, and made over 3400 metres. Graham has been the model of consistency in what has been an inconsistent year for his Bulldogs side. He seems to have minimised the niggle that in previous years probably held him back slightly, and if the Dogs are to beat the Storm, it will have to be on the back of the Englishman’s efforts.
Hooker: James Segeyaro – Panthers
I never thought I’d type a different name other than Cam Smith, and I almost didn’t, but it was just too hard to ignore the brilliant number nine’s amazing 2014. Will be locked in a battle with Soward and Moylan for the Panther’s player of the season, but Segeyaro has been magic at times this year. Posted 10 tries this year and made a multitude of breaks from dummy half. Absolute key for the Panthers come finals time.
Prop: Jesse Bromwich – Storm
The Kiwi prop was a priority re-signing for the club early in the campaign and it is easy to see why. Bromwich lead the line for his Storm side, and laid the platform throughout 2014 for the likes of Cronk, Slater and Smith. Almost 300 hit ups and over 3300 metres gained make him the Melbourne side’s main man up front. Still only 25 years of age, it’s conceivable he still has improvement left in him. A scary thought.
Second Row: Sam Burgess – Rabbitohs
Despite the perceived broadcaster love-in, Sam Burgess is without a doubt one of the elite forwards in the game right now, if not THE elite. He will be a huge loss to the Rabbits in 2015 when he crosses codes, but not before leading his side towards a possible Premiership shake. Burgess is capable of the flashy play when needed, however he is just as adept when called upon to take part in the hard graft. 10 tries, almost 800 tackles, over 3800 metres made. The stats do not lie.
Second Row: Aidan Guerra – Roosters
It says something about Guerra’s form that he has outshone international backrow partners Boyd Cordner and one Sonny-Bill Williams. He may not attract the headlines of the bigger name players, but make no mistake, Guerra has been absolutely outstanding throughout 2014. His form earned him a Maroon Origin jumper, and if he can continue to play like he has this season, he will become a mainstay in the QLD pack.
Lock: Corey Parker – Broncos
Parker may not have registered the unhuman-like stats he has produced in seasons gone by, however a shift to prop at times this time round certainly had something to do with that. Parker, for both Brisbane and Queensland, was brilliant. He once again led the way for hit ups and metres for his club side, despite moving into the middle at times. At 32, Parker remains a vital player in the Broncos lineup, and will be looked to once again in 2015 under the returning Wayne Bennett.
Bench: Matt Scott – Cowboys
Such has been the form of Matt Scott for so long, I’m running out of superlatives to throw his way. His barnstorming runs for club, state, and country, lay the platform for his superstar half Thurston, and his defense is seemingly tireless. Over 500 tackles, just under 3000 metres gained, despite only playing 18 games for the Cowboys this season, well it really says it all. Capable of huge minutes if needed, Scott is once again one of the top props of the modern era.
Bench: Josh Jackson – Bulldogs
The young Bulldog well and truly announced himself in 2014 after a breakout season in 2013. Having represented Country Origin twice in his young career, his name will surely pop up come Origin selection next series. Jackson doesn’t have the reputation of some of the bigger name stars in the Dogs pack, but his input has been just as important. At 23 years of age, he is approaching his physical peak, which could be scary if he continues to develop and improve the way he has.
Bench: Simon Mannering – Warriors
A sad end to the Warriors Jekyll and Hyde season should not take away from the superhuman efforts of the Warriors captain. Playing in all 24 games for his club, Mannering made over 700 tackles, over 2200 metres and contributed nine tries. You never quite know what to expect from the Warriors, however you always know you can count on the 28 year old club legend. Although the Warriors missed the finals, it certainly wasn’t due to a lack of effort from their captain.
Bench: Ben Hunt – Broncos
Pre-season, all the talk in Brisbane was about a huge bid for Daly Cherry Evans. Fast forward to September 2014, and I’m not sure they need him, such has been the form of their brilliant number seven. Hunt has probably been the Broncos best player in 2014, bagging 13 tries, a stack of try assists, 20 line breaks, and even kicking goals when called upon. At only 24 years of age, Hunt has scary potential, and will be a lynchpin for Wayne Bennett next season.
Coach: Ivan Cleary – Panthers
To sum up the influence of Ivan Cleary on his players this campaign, you only need to look at the return to form of Jamie Soward. Cleary has been able to get the most out of a team that did not contribute one single Origin player in 2014, something that may change in 2015 and beyond. Multiple club players such as Kite, Idris and Manu are playing brilliant football, while players such as Moylan and Mansour are improving dramatically under his tutelage.
Other Stories Of Interest
Although most boxing fans knew of his talents, David Aloua truly announced himself to a wider audience by knocking out the previously undefeated top cruiserweight in the country in Brad Pitt.
27 year old David Aloua was born in Thames, New Zealand but had made a name for himself in the ring since moving to Australia.
Under the guidance of the Mundine camp, Aloua has made all the right decisions and has achieved the success his undoubted talent all promised.
With a fight announcement not too far away, we spoke with Aloua re his recent fight camp with Blake Caparello, his career best win over Pitt, the influence of Anthony Mundine, and his bright future:
Follow Dave On Twitter: @dave_rocket
Monstasport: You were recently in the States helping Blake Caparello prepare for his World Title fight against Sergey Kovalev. How was the camp? What did you make of the fight?
David Aloua: Had a great time with Team Caparello for the last fight in Melbourne then to New York City and Atlantic City. We have worked together for the last year and a half for both of our previous fights. He’s the best southpaw around this side of the world, and I get on really well with Blake & his trainer Sam La Bruna, Nik and Blake’s family. What I made of the fight was Kovalev got dropped on his ass! Then Blake got caught with a massive body shot and had to take the knee. I was surprised he got up to be honest I’ve never seen Blake even bothered by anyone’s punches never mind taking a knee. Anyway he couldn’t even breathe he was still winded and fought on but was helpless to do anything really against someone like Kovalev. There was no way he was gonna give Blake the opportunity to recover. But it’s as simple as that though, he got caught. It’s boxing. Kovalev got caught too in the 1st round and ended up on the canvas. Odder things have happened at fights, especially when the stakes are so high. I still believe he has the style and all the skills to upset Kovalev. It just wasn’t the night to be.
MS: Your last fight was an incredible knock out win over Brad Pitt. You went in as a huge underdog and finished the fight in brilliant fashion. How do you feel the fight went?
DA: The Brad Pitt fight went good man. Getting a decisive win over Brad is a great achievement. He is a legitimate world class fighter with a ferocious attack. I had a great prep with some great sparring, coaching and game plan. The last 3 to 4 years I have progressed well with Tony and Anthony Mundine mentoring and guiding me. Tony & Choc have never hesitated to give me very important advice and key tactics to keep my development moving forward. And working with Lolo Heimuli is great. He has known me since I started in the amateurs and has a great stable of fighters who were key to help me prepare for this important fight. The 1st 3 rounds Brad boxed well, very aggressive, still quick on the defence. We did what we had to do, we just caught Brad with a good shot and it could’ve happened to me also. This is boxing and that’s what happens. Call it a lucky shot but I don’t feel it was lucky as I believe it was something that was produced from the gruelling preparation I have at City Boxing NZ. It has set me up for the world stage so we will make the most of it our next fight.
MS: As the number one Cruiserweight in the country, what is next for David Aloua? Are you looking to head overseas?
DA: Yea definitely man. Pitt’s corner are asking for the rematch. That will come but I really want to make the most if this opportunity and if possible test myself against other top cruiserweights, preferably someone in the top 15 or abroad. We will know for sure soon an opponent and date.
MS: How important has the influence of Anthony Mundine been in your career?
DA: Choc has been the biggest influence on my pro career so far. But It’s not just Anthony as he doesn’t come as a single unit. He has a rock solid family and they are always behind him whatever he does. Including the work he has put into me. His mum (Lyn), dad (Tony mundine) and sister (Kelly) treated me like their son and took me into their home for 3 years. I’m forever grateful for that. It has been a turning point in my life, living with the family taught me some great things for life I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
Dave’s FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/David-Aloua/1426347084286840
MS: Do you believe it is important to establish yourself in the amateurs before turning pro? Is it possible to become one of the best without that background?
DA: It depends on the person everyone’s different. I don’t think everyone needs to have a big amatuer career to make it. And look at Blake Caparello he had 9 amatuer fights then went onto 20-0 to fight for the WBO world championship in his first attempt! I would have loved to have gone to the Olympics etc. It’s a hard road boxing and trying to juggle work and make the Olympics from NZ was probably too big an ask for me at the time. I’m glad I turned pro when I did and the trip to Delhi for the 2010 commonwealth games is still a highlight for me.
MS: Despite three World Title losses in as many weeks, the boxing scene within Australia has arguably never been better, and Joseph Parker is leading the way for your native New Zealand. Who do you believe is the next to emerge from the talent pool? Is it David Aloua?
DA: Yep definitely australian fighters have been coming il short lately, but they have all been fighting the fighters in the world. I believe the Australian mentality will serve them well and they’ll be back to try again with everything they have. Sooner or later they will start winning the fights like they have before. There’s a lot of talent around. Yep Joe is going great he is a star and everywhere I’ve been they’ve heard of Ioe in Aussie and the US etc. I tell them the same, thing Joe is a beast!
MS: Speaking of Joseph Parker, how far do you believe he can go? For his age and lack of big fight experience, I don’t think I’ve seen a prospect burn so brightly, so quickly.
DA: Yep Joe has talent and his mind and belief in himself was there from a young age. Some people say they’re pushing him quick but I think he needs to keep the challenge because he’s good for it. He has great support from his family and seems to be working well with Kevin Barry. The sky is the limit for Joe. I reckon he’ll go all the way.
Dave’s FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/David-Aloua/1426347084286840
MS: How important was your decision to swear off alcohol in your undoubted success? Any advice for young boxers out there who wants to get serious?
DA: Mate turning from alcohol etc changed my life. Thanks to Tony Mundine, Anthony and his family I have a new life and I’m happy without. To have a social drink is fine for some people . But for me now I’m happy without it. For or any young person that wanted to take boxing seriously, id recommend to ditch alcohol, drugs, cigarettes etc. I soon realised it wasn’t just the boxing but all areas in my life improved. You don’t waste as much cash and you got more time to do things that matter in life.
MS: Having just watched the latest Commonwealth Games, do you agree with the change in scoring of the competition?
DA: To be honest I didn’t see any of the games I was in the states for most of it. I saw a few highlights and looked up David Nyika and David Light. Looks like the NZ & AUS amateurs are looking very promising.
MS: How are you feeling now that you’re a fair way into your career? Any last messages for anyone reading re the future of David Aloua?
DA: I still think I’m fairly still early in my career. I’ve had some great experience thanks to the Mundine camp for how many fights I’ve had. I’m still focused on honing my craft, And now to work in with the promotion of Sky Arena I hope to build a good profile and keep on learning from Lolo and my training brothers at City Boxing Auckland. I hope to sparr more around the world with more top fighters as this is key for my development. I believe I can win a world title one day and be a respected champion. All praise to god Jesus Christ my saviour
Aloua, although just 12 fights into his career, has proven himself to be the top fighter in his division in the country, and may just be one fight off a Top 15 World ranking. Be sure to keep an eye out for his next fight. Follow him on twitter @dave_rocket
Other Stories Of Interest
With just the one fixture left in Round 24 of the NRL Premiership, and just the two rounds set to follow, the make-up of this year’s final top eight is still yet to be even close to decided.
This is one of the most open, if not THE most open season I can remember, with the minor premiership, top eight spots, and possibly even the wooden spoon going down to the final round of games.
Although Cronulla’s loss to Canberra yesterday all but cemented their position as the worst team of 2014, mathematically they can still avoid the most unwanted prize on professional sport.
The way this season, and even this round of football, has gone, you’d have to be pretty crazy to even attempt to predict a Top Eight, but alas, that is what I am now going to attempt to do:
8. Cowboys (30 points)
The Cowboys sent a loud and clear message to the rest of the NRL on Saturday Night by disposing of the in-form Rabbits. A one-point loss to the Panthers aside, they’re arguably the form team of the competition in recent times.
They play, the bottom running, and top running sides over the next two weeks. They’ll rack up a score against a busted Cronulla outfit and will push Manly all the way, but will ultimately fall just short. Hopefully this will be a season without a Cowboy refereeing controversy come September.
7. Eels (32 points)
The Parra juggernaut is well and truly rolling after a season defining win against the table topping Sea Eagles on Friday Night. Jarryd Hayne is in near career best form, and his supporting cast is firing on all cylinders.
I expect them to have no problems disposing of the poor old Knights this weekend, and the same can be said for Ricky Stuart’s Raiders. Finishing seventh, they’ll need to do it the hard way, but after finishing with two last place finishes in a row, even a straight sets exit in the finals will cap off a hugely improved season.
6. Bulldogs (32 points)
If not for a horrible dip in form post Origin, the Dogs could have very well finished in the top four. Recovering from the aforementioned form loss to finish comfortably inside the top eight should please many fans of the blue and white.
I’m tipping them to drop their next game to Souths, who will be furious after their efforts against the Cowboys, however I do them racking up a score against the Titans to lead into the finals with a big win. Don’t count the Dogs out, come finals time, as they’ll be looking to avenge last season’s whimpering exit in week one.
5. Storm (32 points)
After looking like they may miss the finals for the first time since their salary cap punishment, the Storm’s return to form coincided with the return of superstar halfback Cooper Cronk, who was denied a chance to defend his Dally M Medal due to injury.
Expect them to beat the Panthers tonight, and be too good for Brisbane in round 26, however they won’t be able to overcome the red hot Roosters next week after coming off a Monday Night game. Never ever this side out, and expect them to be there come the second week of finals at very least.
4. Panthers (34 points)
What a season for the boys at the foot of the mountains. After a few lean seasons, a top four finish sees them well ahead of where they were expected to be in their over-mentioned ‘five year plan’. Jamie Soward has been a revelation, although he is not the only one to exceed expectations out west.
I believe the Storm will be too strong for them tonight, and I don’t see them overcoming Manly at Brookvale next week, however a last-up win over the Warriors will seal a top four finish and a second chance, should they need it, come finals time.
3. Rabbitohs (34 points)
What a difference a weekend can make in this game. This time last week the Souths faithful were certain this was the year they would break their Premiership drought, however after being handily beaten by the Cowboys, they gloss has fallen off the last few weeks.
They’ll be fired up on Thursday Night and should be too good for the Dogs, however just as they did last year, they’ll have to face the Roosters to be any chance at capturing the minor premiership. I don’t see them doing so, however they will be far more dangerous in the finals for the loss.
2. Roosters (36 points)
The defending Premiers looked like they would miss the top four for a large part of this season, but as champion sides do, they come good at the right end of the season. Yesterday they put an in-form side away with ease in the form of the Warriors.
They have two extremely tough games in the next two weeks, and will need to win both to be any chance of retaining their Minor Premiership. I can see them winning both games, over Melbourne and heated rivals Souths, however fall just short of defending their shield. There’s no reason they can’t be there once again on Grand Final day.
1. Sea Eagles (38 points)
Two losses in three weeks has reduced an absolute stranglehold on top spot on jeopardy on the Northern Beaches. Their loss to the Eels will surely prove to be a wake-up call and propel this champion side back to form.
Surely they’ll be spurred on by Friday Night’s loss, and will be too good for the Panthers, before capturing the Shield in North Queensland a week later. They have the players to overcome off field troubles, and the fans demand success. Manly will once again be there come the business end of the season, and they’ll do so, from the top.
With games like Roosters vs Storm, Eagles vs Panthers, Roosters vs Souths and Cowboys vs Eagles headlining the final two weeks of competition, positions one to four are still up for grabs, let alone five through eight. Table wise, this is one of the best seasons in recent memory, and one that despite horror seasons from the Sharks, Raiders, Knights and Titans, will be remembered for the battles at the top … hopefully.
Other Stories Of Interest
Chris O’Dea – @Vossy7
The Glazer family, based out of Palm Beach, Florida are worth a whopping $4.4 Billion as of July 2014, according to Forbes Magazine.
In 2006, the Glazer’s orchestrated the leverage acquisition of Manchester United for a cool $1.4 Billion, using the English Premier League powerhouse to finance the deal. This put the club into huge debt just so they could buy the club.
The interest alone has only just started to be paid off and there’s still a long way to go before getting to the original debt.
What were the Glazer’s intentions for buying Manchester United? Simply because “they could”? Maybe plan to turn them into the world’s biggest sporting brand? Or just go for a world record number of sponsors for a single entity.
Since 2006-2007 season, United have spent approximately 648,700,000 pounds on players compared to earning 186,800,000 pounds in player sales.
When you run through the list of the incoming players, you have to wonder about whom is really controlling the quality of players coming in and at what price.
It is now a well known fact that United have to pay well over the odds for players because it is there for all to see where the weaknesses are at the club and other clubs are running with it.
Fans have been screaming from the rafters in the Stretford End that there are obvious holes in the team that need to be addressed if United are to be any hope of keeping up with the big spending Chelsea and Manchester City.
The reinvestment into the squad just has not been there to the level required and the standard that Manchester United should be at. Manchester held onto Sir Alex Ferguson’s brilliance for too long.
Since selling Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid for 80 Million Pounds (an absolute bargain), he was replaced by who? Antonio Valencia, Michael Owen and Gabriel Obertan.
The next big buy didn’t come until Arsenal decided to sell Robin Van Persie for 22 Million Pounds in 2012. Who replaced Paul Scholes when he retired? Paul Scholes did. Shinji Kagawa came in after a standout season in the Bundesliga and to this day, you wouldn’t know he still exists.
Marouane Fellaini could go down as the biggest panic buy turned flop in the history of football. United had the chance to buy him at his buyout clause price but instead bought him for an extra few million pounds and now he’s on a one way ticket to Napoli if you believe the rumours.
Along came a little bit of relief as Chelsea sold Juan Mata during the 2013/2014 summer window and he is accompanied by another two signings in Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw.
Now look at the ins and outs of the last few years and try and tell the fans that Wayne Rooney’s brutal assessment that United lack ambition is wrong.
For the last year the only thing Manchester’s management seem to be doing is signing sponsors for everything you could think off. On the United website, it has a list of 32 sponsors surely with more that remain unlisted.
A new kit deal from Adidas worth a massive 700 million pounds over 10 years, throw in major sponsorship from Chevrolet and training ground sponsorship from DHL and you’re looking at close to 200 million pounds a year from just THREE sponsors.
The list goes on for sponsorships all over the world. CEO Ed Woodward left the MUFC Tour of Asia when they hit Australia for “urgent transfer business”, well Ed, everyone is still waiting for that and since then every “Breaking: New Signing” headline is followed by a sponsor not a player.
What is a manager to do when he goes to the CEO and asks him to go enquire and bid for a player? Sorry Mr Moyes, Sorry Mr Van Gaal, we just can’t do that. Too much emphasis has been placed on making money off getting commercial partners instead of you know, making sure the football team remains competitive. A winning football team equals an increase in income or is the club purely now just making sure the back pocket of the Glazers is lined no matter what happens on the field.
Seeing teams like Real Madrid, Chelsea and Manchester City buy players for fun just makes the whole situation more infuriating. Seeing Toni Kroos go from Bayern Munich to Real Madrid for a bargain among other cheap deals, you have to wonder what is going on behind the scenes at United.
This past off season for example, United lost Patrice Evra to Juventus, Nemanja Vidic to Inter Milan and Rio Ferdinand to QPR. Who replaced that multitude of experience in defence? Just Luke Shaw, and subject to a medical, Marcos Rojo.
You’d think after losing to Swansea at home in the opening fixture would send alarm bells ringing even louder for the club to reinvest in quality players? It clearly hasn’t! Is it that hard for the Glazer family to part with the cash to keep United at the top of world football?
Where are Manchester United heading? The Theatre of Dreams is fast becoming the Theatre of Concern.
Other Stories Of Interest
In what has been a newsworthy season in many different ways, one of the major positives in the 2013-14 season has been the emergence of amazing young talent.
The Tigers have perhaps the most promising bunch of youngsters in the competition, however the Panthers and lately, the Sharks, have thrown their next generation of talent into the NRL deep end.
For the purposes of this list, only players 20 years or younger, and those who have played less than 20 NRL games were considered.
Of course Anthony Milford, Luke Keary and co. are some of the most exciting talent running around, but it would literally take us a week to name every talented youngster in the competition, such is the depth of the talent pool.
Below are the players we consider to be the brightest prospects in the NRL, fitting within the pre mentioned guidelines. It’s not based on who is the best player at this moment, but who we believe will be the biggest star in say five years time. Let us know on the facebook page if you agree:
Hon Mention: Isaah Yeo (19) – Penrith Panthers
19 year old Isaah Yeo is one of the standouts amongst a very talented crop of youngsters at the foot of the mountains. Weighing in at around a hundred kilos at only 19 years of age, Yeo will likely add to his frame in the off season.
Having played extremely well in his ten games for the high flying Panthers in 2014, Yeo has set himself up for a long and successful career.
Panthers fans will hope he remains at the club after staring for their 2013 NYC championship side, and providing plenty of excitement in his short NRL career thus far.
Equally at home in the second row, or at centre, Yeo has already posted two tries, and will likely add plenty more before too long. A big future lies ahead for the Dubbo born rookie.
10. Cameron Munster (19) – Melbourne Storm
Although Cameron Munster has only made the one NRL appearance, against the Cowboys earlier this season, the man once referred to as a clone of Billy Slater, his talent is clear for anyone to see.
The 19 year old Rockhampton born speedster has represented Qld at Under 20s level and won the 2013 QLD Cup rookie of the year award.
We will see plenty more of this young talent in years to come, as many see him as the natural successor for the man he is reported to be a clone of, Billy Slater.
Quick, strong, and versatile, we have absolutely no doubt Munster will add plenty of NRL appearances to his single game at top level, and will provide plenty of highlights whilst doing so.
Photo: Chris O’Dea – @Vossy7
9. Fa’amanu Brown (19) – Cronulla Sharks
The 19 year old Christchurch born pivot known as ‘Nu’ has provided Sharks fans with some much needed optimism after replacing the released Todd Carney.
Brown’s performances in the NYC had Sharks fans yelling and screaming for his inclusion whilst regular halves Carney and Robson were out. Almost criminally the Sharks insisted on playing back-rowers out of position, or promoting Daniel Holdsworth.
Since finally debuting in his side’s demolition loss to the Dragons, Brown has shown enough to get Sharks fans excited, and has ensured club officials do not need to rush out and spend big money for a replacement for Carney.
Brown has re-signed with the club for a further three years, meaning he is likely to feature heavily in the Shire for many years to come. His combination with superstar fullback Valentine Holmes, and winger/center Jacob Gagan will be key for the black, white and blue in 2015 and beyond.
8. Bryce Cartwright (19) – Penrith Panthers
An unfortunate season ending injury means the 19 year old second rower won’t add to his seven NRL appearances in 2013, however the 2013 NYC player of the season showed more than enough to suggest he has plenty of first grade ahead of him.
Most will recognise Cartwright from his destructive NYC grand final performance last season, as he led his Panthers side to the title.
Contracted until the end of next season, Cartwright will be looking to establish himself as a first choice second rower despite stiff competition, and should see his contract ended before too long.
Cartwright has shown incredible speed and agility for a man his size, and possessed the ball playing skill to move into five-eighth if needed. An incredible gifted player, the Panther junior has a monster career ahead of him.
7. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (18) – Penrith Panthers
18 year old, Hamilton born DWZ has certainly made an impact in his short NRL career to date, having scored three tries in his four games in the top grade.
DWZ is one of the reasons Panthers fans were able to support Gus Gould’s five-year plan, as his efforts for the all conquering Panthers NYC side of 2013 were downright brilliant.
The Panthers, who re-signed the 18 year old until the end of 2015, will be looking to upgrade and extend the talented former Junior Kiwi before opposition sides come knocking for the speedster.
Along with Matt Moylan and Josh Mansour, DWZ will combine to form a fearsome, young and talented back three at the foot of the mountains for many years to come.
6. Tautau Moga (19) – Cowboys
To the surprise of many, the Roosters allowed the man once dubbed as the ‘next Israel Folau’ walk to the Cowboys midseason. Moga chose to head North in search of more NRL opportunities after being stuck behind rep centres Michael Jennings and SKD.
Moga has already scored three tries in his five games in North Queensland, and has shown great speed despite his horror run of injuries while in Bondi.
The 20 year old Brisbane born Moga already has 10 tries in his 19 games, and looks as though he will add plenty more this season and well beyond.
There has been fears that his long list of injuries at such a young age may hinder him in the future, however I for one hope he remains injury free, as this is one talent I want to see reach his full potential.
5. Mitchell Moses (19) – Wests Tigers
Current NSW under 20’s five-eight, Mitch Moses has been forced to play at fullback during his NRL career due to the long term injury to regular number one James Tedesco, meaning we are yet to see the true ball playing skill of the 19 year old.
Moses, a former Australian schoolboy rep, was one of the stars of the brilliant Tigers NYC seasons of years past, and will likely link up with halves partner Luke Brooks in 2015 to form the best young halves partnership in the game.
The nephew of Tigers legend Benny Elias, 19 year old Moses will be look to add muscle to his 80 kilo frame in the off season, before moving into the defensive to defend in the halves.
Moses doesn’t have the hype of Tedesco and Brooks, however he will be just as important as his two higher profile teammates in leading the exciting Tiger cubs into the future.
4. David Klemmer (20) – Bulldogs
20 year old Klemmer has been the stand out prop in the youth competitions for many years, and although he is yet to register 20 NRL games, he has already represented City Origin.
Klemmer is big, strong, fast, and can ball play like a man half his size, which means he is one dangerous young prop. His talents saw him named the NYC player of the year in 2012 before his NRL debut in 2013.
The former Australian schoolboy is an important part of a super talent Dogs pack, and will continue to be so for many years after signing a three year extension mid last season.
At 6 foot 6, and 120 kilos at the age of 20, Klemmer still has some growing to do, which is downright frightening for opposition defences.
At the Dogs, Klemmer has the perfect environment to thrive. He is playing under Des Hasler, and has one of the best props in the world in James Graham to learn from. Klemmer has a huge future at both club and representative levels.
3. Alex Johntson (19) – South Sydney
The South Sydney flyer has announced himself with an incredible 15 tries in just 11 games since making his debut against Brisbane earlier this season.
Souths fans were worried when the wing spots became a revolving door between Merritt, Tuqiri and Reddy, however Johnson’s emergence has turned worry into excitement, and a plethora of tries.
More than just a finisher, Johnston has shown he is more than willing to hit the ball up, and put his body on the line in defence.
Johnston has won NSW rep caps at under 16s and under 18s level, and they may be added to in the future if he can continue his rapid rise. One of the best young wingers in the game today.
Photo: Chris O’Dea – @Vossy7
2. Valentine Holmes (19) – Cronulla Sharks
North Queensland born Holmes has long been spoken of as perhaps the brightest young talent within the Holden Cup. Sharks fans have called for his NRL debut since the opening game of the season, and in the last two weeks we have seen glimpses of the reasons why.
Holmes has carved up throughout the younger grades, and starred for the Sharks NSW Cup side earlier in the season, before finally receiving his long awaited NRL call up.
Holmes is such a talent he forced Anthony Milford from his preferred position at fullback to five-eighth for the QLD under 20s game earlier in the season.
Although his future lies at fullback, he has played his two NRL games thus far on the wing. His debut, in a losing side, will be long remembered, as he has a hand in both Sharks tries, including laying off the final ball for Robson’s four pointer.
If not for two horrible bounces of the ball, Holmes could have two tries to his name in as many games. There will be plenty of tries in the career of this speedster, who has recently been re-signed to a three year deal. Holmes will be a mainstay in the Sharks backline for years to come, and may be the star in the Shire before too long.
1. Luke Brooks (19) – Wests Tigers
Although just 19 games into his NRL career, Brooks has shown he has the talent to lead his young Tigers well into the future.
Brooks was talked up as a potential future NSW origin halfback, before he had even debuted in the top grade. His debut match will go down as one of the best in recent memory as he led the way for his Tigers to record a dominant victory over the Dragons at the SCG.
Make no mistake, Brooks has a long way to go yet. The fact he ‘leads’ the competition in miss tackles will be a worry, however at only 19 years of age, Brooks will mature both physically and mentally over the next few seasons. A big off season will see him pack on more muscle and allow him to muscle up better in defence.
At times Brooks is too quick to try the impossible kick, or lay on the impossible pass, but with each game he will gain the experience to better make decisions.
Brooks is a future star, perhaps the brightest prospect within the current NRL ranks. Both Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston are the wrong side of 30, however with the likes of Brooks and DCE on the rise, the future of the Aussie halves is in good hands.
The above rankings are based purely on our opinion from what we have seen from the NRL’s brightest stars so far in their careers. Is there anyone we left out? Have we ranked Luke Brooks too high? Please like us on facebook and let us know.
Other Stories Of Interest
Earlier in the season, we looked at the eight best recruits (up until that point) of the NRL season. Gareth Widdop, Martin Taupau and co. helped prove that fortunes can be turned around quite dramatically due to clever work in the player market.
Of course the opposite is also true. Poor acquisitions, allowing star players to up and move teams, and poor monetary decisions can negatively affect a team’s fortunes.
Below are the 10 decisions we believe NRL clubs would like to have over again. We’re not saying they were definitely wrong, but with hindsight, they’d like to go over and perhaps reconsider their decision. Let us know what you think on the facebook page:
10. Sharks sign Blake Ayshford
The Sharks achilles heel for many years has been their outside backs. It’s ironic that a club that boasted star centres such as Steve Rogers and Andrew Ettingshausen has struggled for so long for a classy number three or four.
In Tigers reserve grader Blake Ayshford, the Sharks thought they had the answer to their problems. Ashford’s performances were well below par, especially in defence, as opposition teams targeted him from the get go.
Punters were the only ones who were sorry to see Ayshford back in NSW cup, as it made picking a first try scorer much more difficult. The Sharks have reportedly told their ‘star’ signing that he is free to look around next season. Other outside back signing Eric Grothe is yet to play a single game of first grade.
9. Canberra’s entire recruitment strategy
Last season the Raiders signed Baptiste, Bateman, O’Donnell, Page, Pangai, Setu, and Tupou … hardly household names, and none of which have made an impact this season.
Unfortunately their 2015 recruits list is headed by much maligned Storm outside back Sisa Waqa, and former Rooster Iosia Soliola.
The side’s inability to entice genuine first grade talent to the capital has been highlighted by the public backflip of James Tedesco who chose to re-sign for the Tigers on far less money. They also missed out on Josh Mansour, Michael Ennis and Kevin Proctor, all of whom toured the Canberra facilities and knocked back far increased offers than those they signed for.
8. Souths signing fringe reserve grade outside backs
Souths have arguably the best forward back in the game, a brilliant halves pairing and one of the top two fullbacks in the world today. Unfortunately for fans of the red and green, their outside backs just haven’t delivered.
Auva’a has been the exception, having produced some quality tries for the Bunnies this season, however Lote Tuqiri and Joel Reddy have failed to fire.
Bryson Goodwin’s inconsistent form has meant the Bunnies wing spots have been a source of great rotation all season. Bunnies top try scorer Nathan Merritt has hardly been seen in first grade this season. Luckily for Souths, youngster Alex Johnston has been an absolute revelation, meaning only one wing spot has been troublesome since his debut.
7. Sharks failing to retain either Tyrone Peachey or Jayson Bukuya
Injuries and rep duty has meant that the Sharks have been without Paul Gallen and Luke Lewis for the majority of the season. Lewis will miss the remainder of the premiership due to yet another injury, while Gallen this week returns.
Although Tinirau Arona has been a brilliant purchase for the struggling Sharks, they really could have used either Tyrone Peachey or Jayson Bukuya there to provide some go forward, and spark to assist the brilliant and hard working Wade Graham.
Sharks fans blew up when Peachey was allowed to join the Panthers, and their fears have proven to be correct as Peach has produced some amazing efforts for the Penrith side this season. Bukuya had always been solid for the Sharks and had a knack of scoring tries in close games. Both have been sorely missed.
6. Ben Barba to Brissie on a big contract
For whatever reason, former Dally M medalist, Ben Barba simply has not delivered during his time in Brisbane in 2014. He has looked shaky under the high ball, has failed to spark the attack, and has at times been made to look like a turnstile in defence.
With Wayne Bennett heading back to the QLD capital next season, the pressure on Barba to perform has intensified. Bennett has been tasked with rebuilding the former glamour club, and Barba’s big pay packet and inconsistent form may make him a target.
Brisbane are not short of a fullback, with former Kiwi international Josh Hoffman on the books, and the impending arrival of future star Anthony Milford. Barba’s stay at Red Hill may be a short one unless he can re-find the form that made him a marquee signing for the club.
5. Sharks re-sign Todd Carney to big money deal
This is a tough one, as at the time, the Sharks simply had no other option than to tie their superstar pivot down to a long term contract. They had to up their offer to starve off interest from the Panthers, who were intent on bringing him across.
Fast forward a year and now the Sharks are in a terrible position after terminating the contract of Carney. Right or wrong in their decision, the Sharks now have a huge hole to fit, and the timing could not have been worse. The current market simply doesn’t present a huge variety of quality play makers.
Youngster Nu Brown looks to be a long term solution, however with only a handful of NRL games under his belt, he simply cannot be expected to produce the match winning performances that were expected of Carney. This may be a case of short term pain, long term gain, but for the struggling Sharks, in hindsight, the decision cost them dearly.
4. Newcastle signing aging players
After falling just one game short of the most unlikely of NRL deciders in 2013, the form and fortunes of the Knights could not be any more contrast this season. Wayne Bennett’s recruitment strategy has rightfully come under a lot of fire during his time in the Hunter.
Although Beau Scott and Jeremy Smith have been brilliant, and Willie Mason has been very solid, names such as Newton, Gower, and co. have been absolute failures.
With Bennett moving on next season, there’s the very real possibility that he has left the club in worse shape than when he arrived. Of course the multitude of off field factors he had to contend with are more than reason enough to throw your arms in the air and ask why you should continue.
3. Melbourne allowing Widdop to leave for the Dragons
Melbourne could not match the offer on the table from the Dragons, and Widdop had no real choice but to head North and become the chief playmaker for the Red V, but oh how the Storm have missed him.
Since his departure the Storm have turned to youngster Ben Hampton, and NSW cup players Ben Roberts and Joel Romelo to fill the void. Unfortunately apart from the odd flash of brilliance from Roberts, they haven’t been able to provide adequate back up for Cronk.
When Cronk was injured, the Storm suffered massively, and the thinking is, that unless all three of their superstars are fit and firing, they’re no chance of playing in October. Widdop has proven himself at the Red V and is still the recruit of the season.
2. Manly not offering Glenn Stewart a contract
Manly are run away leaders of the competition and look like dead certs to feature yet again come Grand Final day, and have done so while the player in question sits on the sideline recovering from injury, so this seems like a strange one.
The ramifications of this decision may not be seen until next season as reports of player discontent simply refuse to go away. Brett Stewart, Anthony Watmough, Kieran Foran and Steve Matai are all reportedly unhappy with the decision not to offer club legend Stewart a deal for next season and beyond, and this may lead to one of, or more, of the mentioned leaving the club.
With Foran and DCE off contract in coming years, there’s the very real chance Manly won’t be able to offer both what they would likely get elsewhere, meaning Foran especially may have to stay based on loyalty. It was always unlikely the club would keep Stewart, but to not offer him a contract at all, they may have opened up a can of worms that may disrupt their seemingly unflappable senior playing group.
1. Canberra sign Ricky Stuart to huge, multi-year deal
Looking at Canberra’s current roster, it’s hard to see any coach in the world achieving great success. They simply don’t have the stars, and an aging squad means there is too much pressure on young players to assume leadership roles before they are ready.
That being said, the fact that Canberra signed Stuart to a four year, $850,000 annually contract means they have absolutely nowhere to move should they decide Stuart is not the man for the job.
The payout alone would cripple their chances of attracting another coach, meaning that even if Stuart delivers them the next two years worth of wooden spoons, it’s highly unlikely the Raiders can afford to look elsewhere.
The current battle of the spoon is headlined by a third choice coach with only a few NRL games to his name, on minimal pay, vs. a coach the Raiders headhunted from Parra and are laying out almost $3.5 million over four years. It may prove to be the most expensive wooden kitchen utensil in history.
Although some of the above decisions may prove to be geniss moves in the future, as it stands, we bet a few of the NRL clubs involved would like a chance to go back over their original decision. Let us know if we’ve nailed it, or missed the mark.
Other Stories Of Interest
The Daily telegraph is reporting that Allianz Stadium will be receiving a $10 million upgrade in the coming years to improve technology and the overall experience whilst attending games at the venue.
Although this is great, I’m of the opinion that the millions could be better spent upgrading the venue’s parking facilities, and improving transport to and from the venue.
There is no doubt in the world that Allianz is a world class stadium, with far superior facilities to the suburban grounds, but simply put, it’s a hassle to get to and from, and parking is horrible.
I’m sure all fans have horror stories of having to wait an hour to get a bus from the Stadium after a big game, or being turned away at the venue due to parking being full.
Whereas ANZ Stadium has a dedicated train station for the venue, Allianz relies on people walking, or cramming into buses from Central Station.
For those less mobile, or unable to head out early, the 30 minute, mostly uphill walk is not an option. Although it’s only a ten or so minute drive or bus ride, it takes a further fifteen minutes to get to the stadium from the bus drop off site.
Getting back to Central Station can take upwards of an hour as people cram on to buses, and battle traffic to return to the station.
For those looking to exit the congested car park quickly, best of luck.
Allianz Stadium needs a dedicated multi story parking station for its events. The use of Fox Studios is fine, although the car park is used by people heading to Fox, the Hordern and the Moore Park district.
Hopefully a large chunk of the $10 mil on offer is used to build a car park, and fund a dedicated shuttle to and from central, as the problem at the stadium is not currently the lack of free wifi, it is the fact travelling to and from the stadium, is extremely off putting.
Fans Wrong To Criticise?
Anyone else sick of being told they’re a bad fan for daring to criticise their team?
Fans of the Raiders, Knights and Sharks especially have every right to be disappointed in their teams’ efforts this season, and have rightfully vented over the past few weeks,.
Personally, I don’t see constructive criticism as turning your back on your team. In fact I tend to lean towards thinking that by sitting back and accepting that failure is ok, you’re not showing enough support for your team.
Every fan of every team, in any sport, anywhere, wants their team to do well. This is professional rugby league and not under 8s.
Sometimes there are circumstances, such as injury, that mean a team simply cannot perform to its peak. However each and every side should be striving to improve. Whether that be through personal changes, recruitment, or something else, they have an obligation to do so.
I for one am growing a little tired of hearing people who speak the truth about their club, being labelled ‘bad fans’.
That’s correct, I am whining about people whining about fans whining.
Fans sometimes pay a lot of money to support their sides, and they have every right to expect success. Sometimes that simply isn’t possible, but I totally understand the frustration.
That being said, some of the personal attacks I saw yesterday on social media were wrong, and downright cruel.
I do not wish injury upon anyone, and I certainly don’t celebrate when a player does go down hurt. Some people yesterday were openly hoping one of their underperforming players would be injured and therefore lead to a change in personnel.
Walking away from your team when they’re not performing makes you a bad fan. Speaking ill of them when it is deserved, does not. Personal attacks, including tagging individual players on Twitter to criticise makes you not only a bad fan, but a bad person.
Mini Calls Time
One of Rugby League’s nice guys today announced his retirement in Roosters legend Anthony Minichello.
Injury or catastrophe aside, he will post his 300th game this season for his beloved Roosters. The former Golden Boot winner will finish his career as a one club player.
As if the Roosters did not have enough motivation to go back to back this season, they are now playing for to one of the most respected men in the league out a winner.
Other Stories Of Interest