The Cumberland Throw

Sixties Mind-Trip: The Finals And The Fury

Welcome to the inaugural edition of “Sixties Mind-Trip”.

In any week, there’s a mixed bag of moments in the NRL which captures the interest or the outrage of punters. Often times I’ll quickly tweet on the topic. On other occasions, when warranted, I’ll put it under “The Spotlight”.

But in the stream of consciousness that drifts through the mind of Sixties (look out, I’m referring to myself in the third person), those vehicles are not always “right on”.

And so “Sixties Mind-Trip” emerges from the TCT womb to collate my recent cognitive meanderings.

Let the journey begin, man.


What a Trip!

It’s incredible to think that we’ve reached the final round of the 2020 regular season.

Peter V’landys

Back in March, when COVID-19 began wreaking havoc on the world, and inevitably on the Australian community and our way of life, it seemed most unlikely that the NRL would be able to stage a viable and valid competition this year.

Yet, here we are, thanks to the tenacity and leadership of Peter V’landys and the sacrifices of people within their respective bubbles.

Amidst a barrage of questionably motivated criticism (I’m pointing at you Peter Fitzsimmons), the NRL was the leader in the return of professional sport in Australia.

It’s not just rugby league fans who should be grateful.


The Eels Finals Campaign Begins Now

It’s said that finals footy is a whole new ball game. No longer are there 16 teams competing to progress, it’s eight. And the reality is that each of those eight teams only need to win between three and four games to take the title.

Instead of planning to manage an entire season of matches, the preparation becomes more focussed. And though coaches and players will utter the cliche of “one week at a time” during the season, it’s this time of year when that truly applies.

For the Parramatta Eels, I don’t view this weekend as the final Premiership round. As far as I’m concerned, this Saturday marks the first week of the finals. Just like a final, the consequence is immediate.

The finals start this week for Parra

The result from this one match literally places a grading on the previous 19 rounds.

A victory presents Parra with the reward of a second chance the following week, or even better, the fast track to a grand final qualifier. The Eels have completed the hard yards and deserve a Top 4 placing, yet it is this one clash that cements that outcome.

Defeat at the hands of the Tigers loses a chunk of what they’ve worked towards since November last year. Should the Raiders win as expected, a loss places the Eels into sudden death football the following week.

Accordingly, the preparation and attitude of the team must be the equivalent of a finals campaign.

Would any Top 4 team enter the first week of the finals without giving their all? Would they be thinking, “we can lose this week and still get one more chance?“

It’s a captain obvious answer. Consider this Parramatta’s first week of finals footy.

Good teams thrive on the pressure that comes with that territory. In those clubs, each one of the 17 knows and understands their role, they trust and communicate with the players around them, and the non-negotiable – they keep their faith in the processes.

These mindset KPIs underpin every aspect of the match. Whether it’s attack or defence, whether it’s straightening an attack or numbering up in defence, whether it’s structured or unstructured play,  if it’s not right in their heads, what’s produced is less likely to be good enough.

The Eels need to be good enough.


A “Stickying” Point

For all of my admiration of the NRL and Peter V’landys, one aspect which has not improved during 2020 has been consistency and transparency.

Case in point, Ricky Stuart’s conduct during and after the Raiders victory over the Warriors.

In a moment of rage following an unfavourable decision, footage was captured of Stuart hurling a water bottle from the coach’s box into the stand.


The reaction from journalist James Hooper spoke volumes about the disconnect between some of the media and the average fan.

“People say he threw a water bottle, it was plastic, it didn’t hit anybody, there was nobody in the crowd in front of him so I’m not sure what the outrage there could be about.”


Should any spectator be stupid enough to throw a projectile at the footy or any sports event, you can guarantee that the  “I didn’t hit anyone” rationalisation would not wash when consequences were being handed down.

Worse still, Stuart is a figurehead in the game, an NRL coach, a representative of his club and the code. Dare I say it, he’s a role model.

Where is the consequence? Where is the explanation for the lack of consequence? What happened to transparency?

Not satisfied with venting his rage with the bottle throwing tantrum, Stuart then doubled down by taking aim at the match official in his presser.

“I don’t need to say anything more about it, but…”

Yes, that not saying anything turned into saying plenty as he unloaded on the inequity of the penalties and how the sin bin decision was incorrect.

Did his comments question the integrity of the officials? The media and the NRL obviously decided that they didn’t because he’s been given a free pass on comments like this:

“I don’t think it went both ways in terms of what we were being penalised for…..When you see the opposition do exactly the same thing, i expect the penalty to be there too.”

I don’t think it went both ways….

Isn’t that suggesting that only one team was being penalised? Ivan Cleary was rightly fined for stating that Canberra was managed back into their game against his Penrith team.


Finally, we have Mr Annesley’ response to Stuart’s tirade – “I’ve got nothing to say publicly about Ricky’s views. Ricky and I will talk and we’ll sort that out.”

Say what?

Phil Rothfield elaborated on this on NRL360, “Ricky did the right thing, he rang him (Annesley) today, early this morning, and they’ve agreed to have a bite to eat and some lunch at the end of the season.”

Transparency, thy name is NRL. (Please add requisite sarcastic tone)

(Edit – A couple of hours after this post was published, the NRL issued a suspended $10000 fine to Stuart for his bottle throwing and comments. They’ve basically said that they have served him with a good-behaviour bond. Is this a free pass? This is basically saying “don’t do it again or else!” Or does the punishment fit the crime? Does every coach get or deserve a warning for such conduct? Feel free to comment in the replies)

Junior Doesn’t Front Jury

It’s difficult to criticise Junior Paulo and the Eels for not contesting the ridiculous “dangerous contact – other” charge.

The injury to Fifita was unfortunate but to find fault with the defender was absurd in the extreme. To quote BA, it wasn’t even worthy of a penalty.

But the Eels would have been reflecting on past trips to the judiciary which rarely result in a favourable outcome.

In his Monday briefing, Annesley presented a sequence of similar incidents from the past three seasons by way of highlighting the danger of such tackles. I’m not sure that a judiciary defence is able to use footage of equivalent tackles in their evidence, but this montage was certainly being presented as justification of the charge if not the guilt.

What chance would the Eels have had in defending Paulo?

Annesley’s presentation included what were obviously a couple of deliberate hip drops onto lower legs, but there were also what were surely a couple of accidental injuries to players.

An awkward accident

Would any of these tackles be reviewed were there not injuries?

Players beware! It’s obvious that the Match Review Committee will put any tackle that results in injury under the microscope. If you lean the wrong way or your body turns as a result of momentum in such a tackle, expect a suspension.

That’s if there’s any consistency. There’s no doubt that many accidental injuries will be labelled as deliberate hip drops and deliberate acts will escape scrutiny.

Will players now stay down when their lower leg feels trapped? I probably shouldn’t open that can of worms.

And as for Junior, I’m more convinced than ever that he didn’t belong in any such montage. His guilty plea means he’ll now carry 75 points into the end of season games.

Don’t fart mate or you’ll be suspended.


Eels forever!


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56 thoughts on “Sixties Mind-Trip: The Finals And The Fury

  1. HamSammich

    Agree 100% that our finals start this week and in a way I think we’re lucky to play a team who is sending off 2 of their club stalwarts. The tigers will be up for it, despite them not being in contention for the top 9.

    I’m disappointed that we didn’t fight Junior’s ridiculous charge, there were many examples of “hip drop” tackles throughout the weekend that were let go with no punishment, not even a penalty. But Junez doesn’t have any luck at the judiciary, I remember him being charged for dangerously taking out a fullback whilst he was attempting to take the ball. Footage clearly showed Junior to be pushed in the back, I think it happened in 2015 and he was suspended for 6 weeks +

    1. sixties Post author

      Ham, I’ve struggled to come up with a more ridiculous charge that a player has had to answer to and I’ve been watching the game for over 50 years. There have been numerous dangerous tackles this year that have even escaped mention. Olam flipping Moses onto his head comes to mind, but it escaped penalty as the player wasn’t injured.
      Junior was suspended for 9 weeks in 2015, yes for those who don’t remember 9 weeks, after contesting a dangerous throw charge when he dragged the tackled player across his body which then saw the player land awkwardly. It was a ridiculously long suspension for the tackle and sums up Parra’s fortunes at the judiciary.

      1. BDon

        Matt Ballin darted from dummy half, we were thin as rice paper behind the ruck 20 mtrs out. Ballin saw that and made Junior’s response rushed and desperate, he grabbed his jumper, absolutely no time for a text book tackle, as they went to the ground Junior’s 125 kg momentum flung Ballin’s 90kgs across his body into the turf. The circumstances dictated the outcome not Junior’s intention to execute a dangerous throw.He didn’t have time to even think, but got rubbed out. Olam on Moses was intentional, late, dangerous and unnecessary…wtf?

  2. Longfin Eel

    When was the last time a Parra player actually got off at the judiciary? It’s been a very long time. I suspect the club now has the view that they won’t waste their time in trying to contest the charge. That’s fair enough, but I would expect the club to have a serious private discussion with Annesley. Certainly seems to be that some players/clubs are looked upon more favourably than others.

  3. Rob

    Re: the judiciary and Stuart and Annesley, has it gotten to a point where we drop our political correctness and just call it for what it is, i.e. corruption?

    1. sixties Post author

      No, I won’t go there, but we do know that the media response to it is the old mates club. I’d hope that there’d be a better process with the MRC and the judiciary, because the inconsistencies are infuriating.

      1. Big Derek

        It we were being honest the MRC is consistently inconsistent, as is the appeals tribunal. The Roosters seem to appeal Every charge and get off close to 70% in what seems an old pals act and a nod and a wink to the most powerful man in the game ( not Vlandys).

        Like most I struggled with the MRC not treating the tackle JWH made which resulted in a severe injury In the same manner as Juniors. When it seems there are favoured clubs it makes the whole process seem targeted and really strange for an independent judiciary.

        1. sixties Post author

          Imagine how busy the MRC would be if they examined every tackle. If that sort of tackle is being used frequently, surely it shouldn’t matter whether the player suffers an injury or not. After all, high shots are put on report or cited regardless of injury. The fact that this won’t happen immediately screams inconsistency.

      2. Colin Hussey

        If my understanding of the term Hip Drop Tackle and its illegality is right then to penalise a player it needs to be basically a tackle made in such a way as it is done on purpose other words the tackler has an intent to hurt and put an opposition player out of the game. I saw such an issue when an eels player Matto was put out of the match and a few more by a grub from the Tigers, there was total intent in his charge towards the tackler.

        I honestly had never heard of the Hop drop tackle sounds a bit like a teeny bobber dance routine from my perspective.

        Watching the tackle that Jnr is held to account for and some of the other ones in Annesley’s clips, I do not see intent as the general tackle is made and any 3rd tackler and in some cases a second tackler comes in to assist in the tackle, mostly in the 3rd person in its from the side and with the intent to wrap up the attacking players legs to stop him from running and assist with the tackle by turning him to the side. The attacking player is pretty much still in the running mode as such one leg/ankle/foot comes out of the tackle and the 3rd tackler in this case Jnr has no control as to having the attacking player with his ankle/foot under his body.

        Had there not been an injury and play continued would the tackle have been called out by the ref?

        How many players across the NRL are able to get away with a lot of niggles that often cause an injury and get away with it?

        Having read this post by you sixties, and watching the puff the magic dragon monotoned teachers blackboard/screen and the like, I confirm my previous saying that I am finished with RL, will support the eels but the game overall is finished for me.

    2. Anonymous

      Rob to me we have had these issues previously; and what makes me sick is the peeing in the pocket from the media. I have become v cynical (ask Sixties re; my messages to him) about the game, its reporting and officiating. It has literally driven me from watching shows / and watching many games that I used to watch. I would watch most games from Thursday onward but over the last 4-5 yrs this has stopped.
      The bunker? how in hell do they make so many errors; CEO and being consistent with the clubs……and I am still waiting on the salary cap third party reviews.
      The political side of things and lack of transparency for me has caused the game to become somewhat a farce. These two examples show this. How does RS get off with that….? He’s mates with Annesley for all to see, that is why.
      Old rosey Rothfield spends more time promoting C Gower’s Dally M loss than focusing on the real issues; he seems to forget that the players / admin had issues and the event was cancelled back then….that is bad luck. It is a bit like complaining now about a beer you spilt back when schooners were $1.20

  4. John Eel

    Firstly if we can’t beat the Tigers then we don’t deserve our place in the top four. I have no such fears of this happening .

    Secondly time is over for the commentariat and fans to opine over the ability of our team and our coach. The only thing that matters from this point is us winning

    If we go deep into the finals we will have shown the commentariat to be wrong. Should we go out in straight sets it will be a different story and I for one will need a full offseason to overcome the trauma

    For all of you serious Eels fans out there believe in the coach and believe in the players

    PS. At the moment we have a Bambi effect playing out in the nrl. Be it a player coach or club.

    On the weekend we saw Bambi the coach

    Maybe it is a Koala effect. They are a protected species

      1. Prometheus

        I heard crazy eyes Perenara refer to “duty of care”. What the f..k, this is a game played by 100kg plus men not netball.

    1. Colin Hussey

      If its the koala effect John, perhaps the move to redevelop their habitat might work, or at least strip the habitat of leaves so they are in the open.

    2. Milo

      Could not agree more John, well said. We need to start our campaign now as Sixties mentioned. To me our destiny is truly with us; a win and we can beat the Choc soldiers, and have that week off; or a loss and we have 2nd chance to come back, and maybe with DB back.
      Hope you are well John. Beautiful day on the coast today. Visited the shop at Kens. V happy my assortment.

    3. Rowdy

      I certainly have empathy with you John Eel. I also agree that as fans we need to believe in our coach (BA in particular at the moment) I thought the adjustments to the starting side were insightful and I suspect part of his taking much more control of the running of the contact sessions personally. The players still have confidence in BA and responded in kind with these run on changes last week.

      1. John Eel

        Agree Rowdy. Clearly Kane had his passing licence rescinded and Junior had his upgraded to unlimited

        I felt that was a good performance on Friday night. I believe they have turned a corner. How far they get around the corner is up to them.

        If they continue in this form against the Tigers we will be up for the semifinal against the Panthers

        1. sixties

          Rowdy and John, the quickest way for Kane to return to form is always to simplify his game. Bold move by BA to start him given his recent form but it worked and he obviously followed his instructions.

  5. The rev aka Snedden

    I used to tackle like junior Paulo did when I was in the under 13’s for Blacktown worker’s.

    Why are they cracking down on it it’s a bloody joke. He should have went to the judiciary to fight it. The Game is becoming more like the NFL football.

    I’ve noticed other’s are resting their big names do you think we should rest gutherson n shift field to fullback n shift Smith to 5\8 just putting it out There.

    1. sixties Post author

      Rev, we really can’t afford to rest anyone. Firstly the game is crucial and secondly we need to get our combinations firing as best we can.

      1. The rev aka Snedden

        Maybe we should trust the other players also. The players like Blake n Waqa could gel in a training session.

  6. Darryl West

    After Mitch was somersaulted, I sent the following email to the NRL

    How was the Melbourne player who contacted the head of Mitchell Moses last night not cited for dangerous play? It was not a good look for the game to see Moses somersaulted after he has grabbed around the head/neck area after he has passed the ball. It was only good fortune that a serious injury was did not occur. That he regained his feet quickly should not mitigate the intent.

    I received the following reply.

    The Match Review Committee is established as an independent body and they lay charges based on facts and the available evidence while referencing the Judiciary Code. Every incident is looked at individually and the circumstances considered when it comes to determining whether a charge is necessary.
    With the incident on player Moses, the contact from the opposition player was made to the shoulder of the opponent.
    The fact remains that there is no more important aspect to the game than player safety and we will continue to work to eliminate illegal, dangerous play and minimise injuries.
    Thanks again for taking the time to write to us, we’ll ensure your feedback is registered.

    At least I got a reply. I wonder of Mitch had laid on the ground after the late, high hit, would it have been treated the same?

    1. BDon

      Google Justin Olam Mitchell Moses…is your ‘shoulder’ somewhere on your neck and jaw? Even if it started on the shoulder, it didn’t end there. The high hit deflecting from ball to jaw in the current regime is considered a careless high shot. The MRC make bewildering decisions. Olam should have faced a charge built around intentional and dangerous.

    2. sixties Post author

      I reckon we know the answer to that final question of yours. Thanks so much for sharing your feedback. I’m not sure that the NRL really answered your question. They had a bit each way there!

      1. Darryl

        I wasn’t expecting an answer so I was surprised. I actually sent a still that showed the contact on Mitch’s neck with my email as evidence. Seems the MRC members should have gone to that well known glasses company.

        1. sixties

          Quick story. My greatest surprise was receiving a letter at work in about 1985 from then Raiders coach Don Furner. We used to have a footy betting syndicate at work and after a losing bet, a colleague had forged my signature in a letter of complaint to the Raiders about their team selections and form. Of course, when the envelope with the Raiders logo was dropped on my desk, my first reaction was WTF is this. I was working at the old CES (Commonwealth Employment Service) so a letter addressed to me from a footy club in Canberra was somewhat odd. The personal and professional response from Furner to what was a piss-take letter from a practical joker actually had me cheering for Canberra almost as a second favourite team. I was thrilled for them when they first won the title. BTW, I said they were almost a second favourite team. I have no second favourite team, and the Raiders are no longer close!

    3. Milo

      Darryl as you said imagine if he did lay on the ground afterwards….Bellamy would have thrown more than a bottle. And got off…..This is where the MRC is inconsistent; Juniors contact was minimal.

  7. sixties Post author

    I’ve edited and updated this post following the NRL’s decision to issue Stuart with a “good behaviour bond”?

    1. Milo

      That is how absurd the game has become Sixties; its suspended…..there is no deterrent. I am sure the CEO and Annesley were discussing this all over the last 48 hours….

      1. sixties

        Well why not issue him with a warning? It’s not as if Stuart has ever lost the plot before! 🙄🙄🙄 – heavy sarcasm intended.

  8. Shelley

    Extending what six again can be used for is a joke. The only reason it is in is to cover how bad the depth in the referee ranks is. When a penalty is blown fans can question it as they get time, with six again fans get frustrated but as the play goes on the standard of the referring is not questioned and the calls all merge into each other.

    So in the second half when it has been shown that 6 again is basically shelved, you can wrestle and be offside without penalty, yep that will open up the game.

    Six again is going to blow up in the semi’s and origin because it will either be overused taking teams out of finals or be shelved and the games will be boring. The NRL has let the Jeannie out of the bottle and they are going to have to deal with it. Fans will turn away and there is no entertainment business as the NRL keep saying it is in, without paying customers.

    On Ricky, it is like the police pulling you over for speeding and telling you they will not fine you if you drive down and around the bend sensibly. He was not penalised because his journalist mates will blow up. The NRL no longer cares or pretends to have transparency, they only care about shutting up Fox and Nine commentators. It is all about ego and power for the select boys club. It is both sad and wrong.

    1. sixties

      Shelley, as you know I’ve been on about 6 again before a ball was kicked. It’s only confirmed my worst fears since then and not they’re trialling its expansion FFS!
      The suspended fine is definitely a free pass.

  9. June

    RE the Ricky temper tantrum, if it was a fan they’d be ejected from the stadium. What chance do I have of stopping my 12 yr old grandson from throwing his drink bottle to the ground after soccer or cricket when a decision doesn’t go his way. Perhaps he needs his Mum in the box telling him to shake it off as we do our kids. The Paulo tackle happened right in front of us we couldn’t believe it was a penalty let alone on report.: I also can’t understand the media’s taking pot shots at us we won, Souths got beaten by the team coming 16th but not one word about it.

    1. sixties

      June, I get a laugh out of coaches riding the wave of their emotions in the box, especially Bellamy, but when that bottle flew out of the box it entered a whole new territory. I’ve seen security swarm to thrown bottles at the footy and rightfully so. If you did that you’d be ejected and cop additional punishment on top of that. This “response” is a joke.

      1. June Barton

        sixties, I don’t mind when coaches get carried away in the box either, but if any other coach had thrown a bottle out the window I’m sure the punishment would be a lot more. Isn’t a good look for the game, players miss games for bringing the game into disrepute.

  10. The angry rev aka Snedden

    just throwing it out there what’s everyone’s thoughts on signing levi as a back up or work side by side with mahoney ?

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