The Cumberland Throw

Bumpers Up – August 8, 2022: NRL Heat Shows No Sign Of Waning

The beauty of the NRL is that it is the gift that always keeps on giving.

From a news, rumour or controversy perspective, it is rarely quiet on the NRL front. However, over the last month, the game seems to have found another gear.

I thought we’d seen the craziest week of it all, and then Ricky Stuart comes out with the “hold my beer” moment of the season after the Raiders capitulation to the Panthers.

From the outbursts to on-field action, let’s jump into it.

Bumpers Up!


Canine Call

“He was a weak-gutted dog as a kid and he hasn’t changed now. He is a weak-gutted dog person now.”

And with those words aimed at Penrith’s Jaeman Salmon, Canberra coach Ricky Stuart has crossed a line, perhaps one with legal implications.

A tirade like that might be likely within the walls of a footy dressing shed, but to bring such personal abuse to an official NRL press conference was unforgivable. It was easily the least professional outburst I’ve heard in over half a century of following the game.

Was there a method in Ricky’s madness?

That presser (image via Foxsports)

His team’s season was on the line in a home match against a weakened Panthers outfit. They were smashed. Humiliated.

Only a couple of weeks ago his friend Paul Crawley was full of praise for where Ricky had the team positioned given the early season injuries to Josh Hodgson and Jamal Fogarty. They still remain outside the top 8 with their odds lengthening.

Perhaps Stuart’s outburst will deflect the heat from such a poor performance in a critical game?

Regardless of his reasons, what he said was disgraceful. He’s making slanderous comments about a young man in the early years of his career and making references to when he was a child. Seriously!

And don’t dare suggest that he has apologised.

There was no retraction regarding what he said about Salmon. Instead he defended his actions as that of a father who cares too much. Well mate, try putting yourself in the shoes of the Salmon family whose son has just been publicly abused by a famous rugby league identity.

Stuart’s media friends have run to his defence, putting the focus on Stuart the father and pointing to his apology as evidence of emotion and contrition. Again, there was no apology for Salmon, just spin and rationale for Ricky’s actions.

If the NRL, and the Raiders club themselves, fail to take disciplinary action against Stuart it will be a black mark against the code.

Stuart’s status in the game is no reason for going easy on him, quite the contrary. His standing makes the whole scenario worse.

In my opinion, fines don’t work with this bloke. He needs to be stood down.

 

Gutherson Continues To Star

The last couple of weeks have produced a remarkable change in form for Clint Gutherson. He’s not yet getting everything right in defence, but it’s difficult to ask for more in attack.

Why is that?

The Eels Captain has returned to what he does best.

A couple of weeks ago I was critical of the King. I wrote that he had strayed from the play that works so successfully for him and the team.

Clint Gutherson

Gutho is an elite support player. The strength of his game is his “availability” around the ruck.

When he’s on song, Gutherson is a lurker. He looks to back up breaks or offloads. He ducks into dummy half to take darts against retreating defences. Such footy is less predictable.

Conversely, when Gutho is in form, his involvement in sweep or block plays is minimal. It’s not that it doesn’t happen, it’s simply more selective, and consequently more effective. Parra’s attack becomes less reliant on such structures.

It’s also interesting that the King has looked more energised since reverting to his strengths.

Long may it continue.


Stadium Wars

Any continued negotiations between Peter V’landys and the NSW Government over the broken Stadium deal must never lose sight of one clear fact.

Supporters should not be the “victims”.

As things stand, supporters in greater Sydney are missing out on promised, improved facilities at a number of grounds. The folly of pushing for funding of Leichhardt ahead of Campbelltown aside, fans deserve modern facilities at venues that are clearly trapped in the 1970s.

To threaten to take the NRL grand final away from Sydney supporters as the response would literally be cutting off the nose to spite the face. For the rugby league heartland, it feels like being held to ransom no matter the outcome.

I get where the NRL is coming from.

4 Pines Park with the antiquated hill in the background

With the exception of Shark Park, these venues are community owned grounds. Investment in the facilities benefit people beyond professional rugby league. These stadiums host a range of events, and the flow back to local businesses is real, especially those in the under-siege hospitality industry.

The optics of spending money in flood ravaged areas instead of stadium upgrades works well for the government’s stance, but should it be a case of either/or? Why does spending money on stadiums mean that the government can’t help those suffering due to natural disasters?

Whether it is the government trying to put the football community on a guilt trip, or the NRL leaving us on tenterhooks about the grand final, it feels like supporters are the pawns.

And that’s not on!

 

Jake Stands Tall

Anyone who knows Jake Arthur will attest to him being a quality young man. Those who know his football speak about his rugby league intelligence and work ethic.

I expected him to deliver on Friday night and he didn’t disappoint.

He was composed, didn’t overplay his hand, but when the moments arrived for him to pull the trigger, he didn’t hesitate.

Critics of him or his selection remain defiant.

“Yeah he did well, but…”

Jake Arthur

Such responses are predictable.

Jake’s post match interview on Nine’s coverage was an insight not only about Jake, but also how a couple of legend halfbacks view his potential.

At 19 years of age, he’s had a limited introduction to the NRL, starting in ten matches over the past two seasons, and coming off the bench in three others. That stands him in good stead for his current role of filling in for Mitch Moses.

He’s not currently staking a claim to replace Moses or Brown. He’s still learning his craft.

What he does have is the respect of his team mates and their faith that he’ll get his job done.

And to those who suggest that Jake has received an inside run that other players have not, may I remind them about Dylan Brown and Jaeman Salmon.

Both debuted as teens. In Dylan’s first two years in the NRL squad he played 33 games. In Jaeman’s first two years, he played 17 games. Each had minimal lower grade experience and they were brought in to replace, not fill in for, an established player in the halves.

It’s time to move on and just support our players and our team.

 

Dyl Bags The Fan Vote

Dylan Brown was the overwhelming fan selection as the best on field against the Sea Eagles.

The highlight reels will show his skill set threatening the Manly defence. What should be in the spotlight was his defensive work and decision making.

Brown made an astonishing 40 tackles with just two misses. He also saved a near certain try by beating a swarm of Manly chasers to the ball when a kick by Saab was sitting up perfectly in the Eels in-goal area.

But the talented five-eighth is even more valuable in defence than his high tackle counts indicate.

Dylan Brown

His positioning and movements often shut down opposition shifts towards Parra’s left before they get the chance to threaten. There are times when this doesn’t even require him making a tackle. He simply shuts down the option. And when a break does occur, he’s often anticipated it and is sprinting across in cover.

Dylan’s tackling efficiency in 2022 is an extraordinary 93.6%. Last year it finished at an amazing 95.7%.

Premierships are meant to be won on the back of defence. Dylan is one player that is fulfilling that prerequisite at the Eels.

 

Lane Adds A New Dimension

Here comes a bold statement.

Shaun Lane could be one of the most instrumental players in Parramatta’s push for finals success.

How many of you are nodding as you read this?

For those that aren’t, allow me to elaborate.

Shaun Lane

The threat posed by Lane on Parra’s left edge is creating uncertainty in opposition defences. Not only does he have the capacity to break the line himself, his ability to pop a pass in contact is providing the line break assists that make the Eels attack less predictable.

Furthermore, with his presence drawing the attention of defenders, the alternative of going out the back on a sweep or throwing cut out passes to Maika Sivo becomes more likely to achieve a result.

Putting Sivo up against fewer defenders close to the line is one sweet prospect.

Go you good thing Laney!

 

The Tip Sheet Live

TCT in Jacks

Just a reminder that Forty and I will be back with our Instant Reaction podcast in Jacks Bar & Grill in Parra Leagues after the big match on Friday night.

Souths are in a rich vein of form and have proven to be near impossible for the Eels to beat in recent seasons.

However, I sense that our team will be ready for this assignment and a hoodoo is ready to be broken.

There will be no better place than Jacks to celebrate an Eels win. Join us for the footy talk, a refreshing drink and some delicious pizzas.

See you there!

Eels forever!

Sixties

 

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Colin Hussey

Great article sixties. I watched the Manly game on Kayo and my mid points feelings had me doubting a win, but a win was on and it was a very good one to say the least. I’d like to comment on two eels players, both of whom have shown their developed skills in the teams and both players have been all but drawn and quartered by eels so called supporters over the time. First off is the veteran in Shaun Lane, I remember his first year and the sparks of abilities shown especially ball skills, but that tended to drop… Read more »

Anonymous

Right in front of me , once again the officials fail , disgraceful deliberate act !!

Anonymous

If Shaun Lane form holds, I think he could be a smokey for the World cup tour.

John Eel

Where do you start with the disgraceful actions of Ricky Stuart. For starters he is a serial offender at pressers. Without researching the topic I believe he has been fined by the NRL more times than any other coach. The Raiders said nothing yesterday. They are as culpable as Stuart. I heard the commentators on 2GB yesterday saying it was good that Stuart had apologised. He did not apologise he made excuses for his actions. He never apologised to Salmon. It is clear that fining him will not work. In the past he has been fined and his buddies in… Read more »

Anonymous

We all know which biased bully your referring to !!!!!

Achilles' Eel

What a contrast in the way Jakob Arthur and Ricky Stuart handled their media commitments. It reminds me of Dickens’s tale of two cities: ‘ It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…’

Longfin Eel

Regarding the stadium wars, I don’t believe the government has rejected the funding, they just said it wasn’t appropriate at the moment. I suppose from their perspective they have delivered 2 brand new stadiums over the past few years, and we already have one at Olympic Park (yes, which probably needs an upgrade too). When you look at AFL in Melbourne, they only have 2 stadiums where all Melbourne teams play and that works for them. I don’t think that’s where anyone want’s the NRL to be, but the world class facilities are already there for every Sydney team to… Read more »

Anonymous

I don’t think the govt should invest founds into Shark Park which is privately owned by Cronulla leagues club.

John Eel

My understanding is that they are still intent on building the new stadium at Penrith.

That is Stuart Ayres seat and was previously a labour seat.

One of the problems there is that they are going to have to purchase part or all of the Trotting track next door as part of the deal. However that is over and above the $300 million quoted to build the new stadium.

John Eel

Do we have a potential selection crisis emerging once Simonsen is back fit and ready to go again?

He has been very good back in the centres and filled in nicely.

John Eel

Should read Opacic has filled in nicely

Clive

I think they have to leave Opacic in the centres mate. Defensively Simmonsen is rocks or diamonds and we look far better with Tom in the team.

Spark

I can’t believe that sticky still holds a grudge about what happened in a football game between 11 year olds! The very fact that there has been no interaction between the two since that time indicates that Ricky may be suffering from some sort of mental illness ! Make no mistake, most of the NRL powerbrokers just can’t understand how he has completely lost it. It doesn’t help Ricky if his so called friends give him excuses for his behaviour instead of giving him some solid home truths. It was a perfect time for the Canberra club to get on… Read more »

Spark

You know I honestly believe Ricky realises that he has crossed the line and I believe that the Canberra club are now realising that it has a bit of loose cannon here as evidence by their offer to him to take some time off. My biggest beef is with Paul Kent who has sat there and stated both on NRL 360 and today in the ‘telegraph’ that Ricky has done nothing wrong ! Arguing that the behaviour of the 11 year old Salmon was so egregious and outlandish to warrant the attack by Stuart !! This is completely and utterly… Read more »

John Eel

Spark I think that basically Kent is a good Journalist. However on this occasion his friendship with Stuart has completely clouded his judgment.

The problem that I see is that all the Journalists getting around Stuart now have always acted in this way when he has said dumb things.

The outcome now is that these Journalists have enabled Stuarts poor decision making at the pressers to the point that he has amassed NRL fines of over $100,000 and growing.

Furthermore dragging MG’s daughter into this denies his normally strong logic.

Spark

Agree

BDon

Plenty happening sixties! Sydneysiders don’t have the same level of attendance as elsewhere and we should be totally prudent with the way taxpayer money is spent. I can see the big picture with the Penrith spend, a spine of multi-use Sydney facilities – the City, the mid west (CommBank) and the far west. The Penrith region is becoming a metropolis in its own right, will be the largest community in years to come. The NRL is a business(we keep getting told) with gross revenues of some $500mil pa, if clubs own their own grounds they are responsible, if Councils own… Read more »

John Eel

With regard to Leichhardt, Hagipsntellis was on 2GB and said there are around three hundred games a year at the eighth wonder. Included in this are League, Union and soccer. Games played by Women and Men. Some professionals, Juniors and social players. Only three games by the Tigers. So I get the push for upgrading the joint as a community protect. Like funding for private schools I don’t have a major problem with funding Shark Park. I wasn’t always comfortable with it in the past. However if it wasn’t for the community owned Sharks funding the place it would be… Read more »

greg okladnikov

Agreed with everything Ricky – totally unacceptable what he said – his standing in the game vs a 20 game veteran – very poor and showed no leadership to his club or the game. Gutherson – when playing as a runner and support player we just look better. When he plays as a link player we can get too rigid. That unpredictability is one of our strengths Dylan – very very good and will only get better. I read on the TCT that he has the potential of a young Brett Kenny. Brett was my favourite all time player and… Read more »

Mclovin.

Good on jakey boy. Didn’t let the team down top effort especially after being in the media for a few weeks.

Shaun

How good was JT’s encouragement of JA during the post game interview on Nine? A class act and way above the rubbish some Eels fans have tried to dish out. As for the stadium fiasco, while I empathise with the suburban fans who would like an upgrade, V’Landy’s is not the person to negotiate with the NRL. He is a good example of all that is wrong with how power and influence operate in Sydney. They game will be better off without him. And while on stadiums, a few years back I mapped the Sydney home grounds against the traditional… Read more »

Shaun

Well, I forgot to check the draw when I booked my tickets. But I’ve been wanting to see Amyl and the Sniffers for some time now so a sacrifice had to be made.

It is why I’m against a Melbourne style rationalisation of stadiums as the Sydney market is so different. But I’m not sure the exact answer for Sydney as the decisions are made with vested interests and pork barreling as the primary considerations.

Milo

Agreed 60’s Ricky has tried to in some way deflect his teams performance with his comments. I have not heard too much worse from a coach in ref to other players besides Bob Fulton threatening to run Harrigan over in a cement truck from a game at Cronulla from memory. Gutho has certainly stepped nicely back into his groove again and been wonderful and Mahoney has also been solid. We need these two and DB and the pack again to stand up – i have no doubt they can. This week can set us up i feel for a top… Read more »

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