DISCORD 2013: Edition 38

YOU know how some rugby league columnists seem to have a go at the game’s administration every chance they get?
You know how you read their columns and wish they’d talk about something else?
I was one of you. Really, I was. Here at Discord, we’ve staunchly defended new NRL CEO David Smith, for example, saying he should be accountable to the game, not the Sydney media. I’ve never met him – and regard that as a healthy sign.
But recent events – on both sides of the world – have got Discord wondering whether rugby league really is going to some version of Hell in some version of a hand basket.
You already know what we think of a club administrator who presided over an alleged cover-up then getting – and so far, retaining – the second most senior position a headquarters. Not much. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that ringing people and asking them questions will be rendered a pointless exercise for rugby league reporters if the NRL endorses providing incorrect answers by doing nothing about that situation.
Let’s take you to Super League now, where Huddersfield – having secured the minor premiership – fielded an entire team of reserve graders on national television in the final round and were lapped 58-6 by Bradford.
The Rugby Football League found that the Giants fielded the best available team – even though all of their stars were miraculously back on deck for the play-offs the next week. Come again?
Unlike broadcasters in Australia, Sky try to help the game by giving all clubs more or less equal exposure throughout the season. Their goodwill has been thrown back in their faces by a club which – to be fair on them – is only playing by the rules. Rules that should be changed immediately.
We now move to Saturday, when North Queensland coach Neil Henry threw up – although didn’t explicitly endorse – the prospect of a conspiracy to get a Sydney Roosters-South Sydney grand final after his side was beaten by a seventh-tackle try.
“If you were … conspiracy theory (sic), you’d say ‘we’re so Sydney-centric, we don’t care about the boys up north’. The press talks about the ideal grand final – Souths-Roosters. Bring it on. Don’t worry about Melbourne. They’ve won a couple. Don’t worry about North Queensland. That’s what you want: the heartland of the game.
“Yeah, well we’ve just been dudded of an opportunity to maybe make a dent in this competition. Where’s our pull? We’re out of mind out of sight up there. You get a bit bitter when it’s happened to you two years.”
Later, Henry added: “What do you say, that there’s – as I said – a conspiracy theory? Let’s keep it Sydney-centric, as I said before?” If you watch the video, Henry then shrugs. “Who knows? How can you go down that track?”
In 2008, Craig Bellamy said this about the judiciary suspending Cameron Smith from the grand final and the link with bookmakers: “Bookmakers and betting agencies, they don’t guess, they’ve got good information – take that as you may.
“As soon as I saw that (market) on Wednesday morning … he was thousands.”
The club was fined $50,000 and the judiciary members initiated defamation action, even though Bellamy was specifically asked at the press conference whether was he suggesting the judiciary tipped off bookmakers and said no.It’s nonsense to say Saturday night’s conspiracy theory was aimed a reporters and not referees.
Did reporters give Beau Ryan a try on the seventh tackle? That was the entire context of the media conference: referees.
I am not calling for Neil Henry to be fined, I am calling for the NRL to pull itself out of this freefall of inconsistency before it finds itself splattered all over the ground. I don’t think Neil Henry believes the referees were in cahoots with the League but as a result of his comments, hundreds – or maybe thousands – of people do.
As we said in – ahem – Joy Of Seven, the NRL has extended its powers to fine coaches beyond comments which are defamatory to criticism deemed “excessive”. As a result of being subjective, this rule is unenforceable and stupid. It’s no co-incidence that this change came when the solicitor who used to run the NRL, David Gallop, left.
Solicitors know the importance of precedence, consistency and transparency. Footy officials, historically, have struggled with those concepts.
Do Saturday’s match officials have grounds for any legal action over the “conspiracy theory”? One thing’s for certain, the events of last weekend indicate Manly were dudded by their $10,000 fine almost as severely as the Cowboys were by their seventh-tackle try.
Like I said: Hell, hand basket.
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THE JOY OF SIX: Round 26

THREE games on the final day of the regular season exposed an unintended benefit of the second tier salary cap and an unforseen danger of changing it without careful consideration. With the finals spots assured, Cronulla and Manly fielded somewhat under strength sides but still put up a fight and provided fans and broadcasters with credible entertainment. Some 16,949 km away, Super League minor premiers Huddersfield rested almost their entire side and were lapped 58-6 by Bradfordon national television. The only thing stopping the same happening here is the second tier salary cap, which limits the number of players outside each club’s top 25 who can appear in first grade. “That’s right – I definitely thought about leaving out more,” Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan told Joy Of Six. “We don’t have a problem with our second tier cap but if there was none, you’d consider resting them all.”

RUGBY league just can’t help but go around in circles. In 2005, when 41,260 saw St George Illawarra play Wests Tigers in a preliminary final the Sydney Football Stadium, the outcry over the number of fans locked out led to a policy change which introduced greater flexibility into the scheduling of play-offs. That flexibility was gradually extended to the point where the NRL now has complete control over which Sydney venues are used for which matches. The downside of that is that venues can’t be booked in advance. This opens the door to the AFL getting in first, and that has resulted in a double header at Allianz Stadium this Saturday, back where it all started. And what will be the main criticism of the double header? That fans are locked out. Will we then see a call for finals venues to be booked further in advance?

THE chattering opposition to golden point is becoming a roar with even Australia captain Cameron Smith joining in after Melbourne’s narrow escape against Gold Coast. “It’s got no rules, there’re no rules in golden point,” said Gold Coast coach John Cartwright. “It’s good for the crowd, the fans, they cheer. But one of the field goal attempts Aiden Sezer went for, Cameron Smith was five metres offside. I understand they don’t want to give a penalty because we were doing the same thing. But does that make it good for the game? ‘Cause it doesn’t. It comes down to a lottery”. As for the try Sezer had disallowed, Gird Bird yesterday put a screen grab on Instagram which showed Ben Ridge not touching the ball as he tackled Billy Slater. Cartwright mused: “They’ll find a way to say they got it right and pat themselves on the back but they got that one wrong.”

GOLD Coast giant David Taylor has become such an enigma that friends and foes have discarded the standard diplomacy in describing the mind-blowing extent of his unrealised potential. “He could play like that every week if he wanted to but it comes down to him, whether he wants to do it,” said Cameron Smith after a fearsome DT outing on Saturday. “Hopefully he looks at that game that he played tonight and says ‘why don’t I do that every week?’ He’s a Queenslander, so hopefully he does.” John Cartwright said now that Taylor’s switch was in the ‘on’ position, the trick was to keep it there. “It is pretty simple – as long as Dave don’t complicate things … his last two weeks, he’s been unstoppable,” the coach said. “Where that’s been all year? We’re not the only club where he’s struggled for consistency. We think there’s a player there who can win us games of football. We won’t give up on him, we’ll keep working on him.”


EVEN if North Queensland wins the comp, coach Neil Henry says there’s no hope of him sticking around. The Cowboys are undefeated in six games since Henry was sacked, with the calls for the club to reconsider growing steadily louder. “I think it’s off the table,” Henry said on the ABC yesterday. “I think they’ve canvassed a number of potential coaches … they’ve shortlisted it down for further interviews. I’m down the track with possibilities for me. We’re just getting on with the season. I’, pretty resigned to the fact. I’ve had a lot of support up here.” Henry says the Cowboys will find it difficult to omit prop Matt Scott (finger) next week.

A REALLY interesting trend in rugby league is players who have had occasionally prickly relationships with the media seeking to become journalists. Jamie Soward wants to be involved in general sports broadcasting when he retires, Jamal Idris is studying journalism and retiring Scott Prince revealed on Thursday night he was about to commence a Sports PR course at university. All three eemed willing to foster good relationships with reporters early in their careers but somewhere along the line became aggrieved. With Soward it was criticism over his form, with Idris it was unflattering pictures in newspapers and with Prince it was the Titans salary cap scandal. Perhaps their personal interest in the media makes them more aware of criticism. Maybe they want to change the system from within.\


Super League round 16: HUDDERSFIELD 42 BRADFORD 6 at Etihad Stadium, Manchester


HUDDERSFIELD coach Paul Anderson asserted his desire to play tough as his side kept the pressure on Wigan at the top of the table.
The Giants gave Bradford a lesson in defending as they romped home with a more-than-convincing seven-try win.
Back rower Dale Ferguson opened the floodgates with a comfortable effort in the 10th minute with fullback Scott Grix crossing the line three minutes later.
“This group are working very hard at the moment – we want to go through teams not around them. I’d be lying if I said i didn’t tell the players we owed them one,” said Anderson, in reference to a big Bradford win over thew Giants earlier this year.
Bradford’s hopes were lifted by a possible Elliott Kear try four minutes after the Grix touchdown but they were dashed when it was disallowed for offside.
Huddersfield - Paul AndersonBut the die was well and truly cast in the 24th minute as replacement Larne Patrick ducked through several Bulls defenders to find the corner, making the score 18-0 at halftime.
“Our performance was workmanlike and we created a lot of chances,” said Anderson. “Every time we decided to be direct, we created havoc.”
Another opportunity for Bradford was granted when Grix failed to catch an easy kick, but it was thwarted as Giants defenders forced Chev Walker to drop the ball.
A spectacular 40-20 from Danny Brough in the 42nd minute was wasted as Giants failed to convert.
Ferguson scored his second at 54 minutes by breaking through the Bulls defence, leaving in his way only Jamie Foster,who was easily floored to stretch the gap to 24-0.
The Bulls finally made it onto the board in the 61st minute as winger Kear grabbed a well placed kick and sent fullback Foster over in the corner, flanked by two defenders.
The try failed to stem the flow with Patrick, prop Craig Kopczak, centre Brett Ferres and replacement Anthony Mullally all making it over the line in the last 15 minutes to confirm their superiority.
Bulls boss Francis Cummins was left disappointed with the missed opportunity to pull three points clear of St Helens in the table but conceded the result was fair.
Cummins said: “It was a bad day at the office, but they were the better team. We have people missing and there were some below par performances in there.”

HUDDERSFIELD 42 (D Ferguson 2 S Grix L Patrick S Lunt B Ferres A Mullally tries D Brough 7 goals) bt BRADFORD 6 (Foster try goal) at Etihad Stadium. Referee: J Child.

Final team lists:
BRADFORD: Jamie Foster; Elliot Kear, Matty Blyth, Keith Lulia, Adrian Purtell; Danny Addy, Jarrod Sammut; Chev Walker, Elliot Whitehead, Tom Olbison, Jamie Langley, Heath L’Estrange, Nick Scruton. Res: Matt Diskin, James Donaldson, Ben Evans. Jacob Fairbank

HUDDERSFIELD: Scott Grix; Jermaine McGillvary, Leroy Cudjoe, Brett Ferres, Aaron Murphy; Danny Brough, Luke Robinson; Dale Ferguson, Jason Chan, Ukuma Ta’ai, Craig Kopczak, Shaun Lunt, Eorl Crabtree. Res: Larne Patrick, Jamie Cording, Anthony Mullally, Brad Dwyer.

Super League round one: HUDDERSFIELD 40 ST HELENS 4 at Langtree Park


FORMER Australia forward Luke O’Donnell won’t confirm or deny asking his English club for a release and says he’s unsure of the extent of Sydney Roosters’ interest in him.

But his Huddersfield coach is surprised by reports that the Bondi Junction outfit is clearing salary cap space in the hope of signing O’Donnell for this season.

Roosters recruitment manager Peter O’Sullivan confirmed the club’s interest. O’Donnell has a year to run at Huddersfield, with a further season’s option.

“There was a little bit of interest there, they spoke to my manager – I think – at the end of last year,” O’Donnell told the Herald at Langtree Park after helping the Giants stun St Helens 40-4 yesterday.

“I don’t know if it’s anything to do with that.

“If they’ve spoken to my manager …. In the last couple of days, I’m not too sure. My manager wouldn’t want to mention too much to me before my first game.

“That’s all news to me. Like I said, there was a little bit of interest there but it hasn’t developed too much more than that.

“I don’t know if someone has pre-empted something happening but nothing is happening as yet.”

Asked if he had asked the Giants for a release, O’Donnell answered: “I can’t really say anything.

“While I’m here, I’m just focused on playing well for the Giants and that’s it. Whatever happens, happens.”

Told of the report, Huddersfield coach Paul Anderson said: “Who’s come up with that?

“Did he look like he wanted a release there (tonight)?”

Asked if O’Donnell was going anywhere, Anderson replied: “Not as we’re stood here at the minute.”

Rooster Tom Symonds is reportedly heading in the opposite direction, with a Super League stint this year on the cards.

Yesterday’s result was a major shock, coming as it did in coach Nathan Brown’s first match in charge of St Helens after leaving Huddersfield in contentious circumstances last season.

Huddersfield fans sung “what’s the score, Browny, what’s the score” throughout the second half.

Meanwhile, Hull captain Gareth Ellis’ foot injury is not as bad as first feared, the club announced. Ellis was hurt in the warm-up for his Hull debut on Friday night and feared being sidelined for six months.

Former Wests Tiger Ellis will have scans on his injured foot early this week.

HUDDERSFIELD 40 (L Cudjoe 2 J McGillvary B Ferres L Patrick L George S Lunt tries D Brough 5 S Grix goals) bt ST HELENS 4 (S Flanagan try). Referee: R Silverwood. Crowd: 12,003



FULLTIME: Last night we were decrying 72-odd points of deficit on the first night of the season. But tonight’s deficit is a different thing – because the rank underdogs were on the right end of it. And then there was the intrigue with it being the first game in charge of Saints for Nathan Brown, who had moved from Huddersfield in the off-season. Danny Brough sat out most of the second half through injury and watch his team-mates continue the slaughter. A stunning result and a real worry for St Helens fans.

78 mins: You missed Leroy Cudjoe pouncing on a loose ball to score, Steve Ganson clearing Jermain McGilvry of a knock-on in the lead-up, and Mark Flanagan finally crossing for Saints. 4-40.

62  min: This afternoon Shaun Lunt was spruiking  his website on Twitter, promoting a tipping competition. It’s doubtful any of his disciples tipped this. He just scrambled over from the scrumbase. Thank God they weren’t playing under the experiemental rule where the attacking side has an extra man in that circumstance. BTW it’s freezing. 0-36.

56 min: This is a dead-set rout. Jason Chan centre-kicks for Larne Patrick to score after an in-goal mix-up from Saints defenders. Huddersfield fans are chanting “Browny, what’s the score? Browny, Browny”. Grix goals this time. 0-32.

50 min: Players are often slow to start the second half – and so are bloggers. But no such problem for Danny Br0ugh, whose cutout pass put Luke George over in the corner a short time ago. No idea why Scott grix took the (unsuccessful) conversion attempt. 0-26

HALFTIME: Huddersfield 22 St Helens 0. This is one of the classic examples in rugby league of players having a powerful reason to achieve a result – only to (inevitably) deny it played any role at all. Nathan Brown left Hudderfield last year to join St Helens, and was then given the bum’s rush early. Tonight, his former club is giving him the rounds of the kitchen at halftime in a stunning performance, with four tries in Brown’s home coaching debut. Danny Brough, Luke Robinson, Brett Ferres, Scott Grix all outstanding. Brough added a penalty right on halftime. Obviously … big deficit for Saints to claw back.

31 min: They’re in again! Great lead-up work from Robinson and Scott Grix before Leroy Cudjoe steps inside the cover defence to dot down one-handed without a defender’s touch. Brough goals. Big upset looming. 0-20.

29 min: Mystifying call by video referee Steve Ganson. Luke Robinson studiously avoided lettin the ball touch the turf running out of his own in-goal but Ganson rules a dropout against the Giants. They hold Saints out. 0-14.

27 min: Lovely fella Sia Soliola but he definitely got Luke Robinson late there. Richard Silverwood had ruled “play on” but recanted, with Brough missing a penalty shot from 30 m out. Hit the woodwork. As you were. Saints look to have the chops to pierce Huddersfield at any time but can’t hold the ball. The Giants are showing no sign of dropping in intensity.0-14

15 min: This time Brough goes for goal, at 12-0. It’s not an easy shot but it’s good. Someone just Tweeted “Saints fans want Brown out already!” Stuart Fielden looks as commanding as he has been in half a decade. 0-14.

10  min: Wow. Very simple try to Brett Ferres through some threadbare defence and Brough converts. Apparently Huddersfield have not won in the town of St Helens since 1978. To what extent to we think the Giants are motivated by Nathan Brown’s decision to quit the club? 0-12.

8 min:  Should Danny Brough have gone for goal there? Play broke down after he opted for a tap. BTW, this year you’re allowed a quick 22 tap if you are the bloke who caught it. 0-6

5 min: Great to see France-Is-Smelly (conceived in a Paris sewer) in action again. Willie Manu’s fumble allows Jermaine McGilivray to score the first points of the match for the Giants, Danny Brough converting from in front. Despite the mistake, Manu looks dangerous. 0-6.

Pre-kickoff: Good evening everyone. I actually th0ught this game was at 5.45pm – lucky I was two hours early, thinking I was three. Wondered why those team sheets were provided so promptly – most unlike modern coaches! Superb day in Merseyside, clear skies, a little chilly, and unfortunately too many empty seats. Teams are on the field. Interesting song over the PA: “You Fill Up My Senses”. John Denver? There should be a public safety warning about the new refs’ uniforms. I’m sure they have the same effect as strobe lighting.

Final team lists:

SAINTS: Paul Wellens; Tommy Makinson, Jordan Turner, Josh Jones, Francis Meli; Lee Gaskell, Jonny Lomax; Willie Manu, Jon Wilkin, Sia Soliolo, Anthony Laffranchi, James Roby, Josh Perry. Res: Lance Hohaia, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Tony Puletua, Mark Flanagan.

HUDDERSFIELD: Scott Grix; Luke George, Leroy Cudjoe, Joe Wardle, Jermaine McGillivray; Danny Brough (c), Luke Robinson; Luke O’Donnell, Jason Chan, Brett Ferres, Craig Kopczak, Shaun Lunt, Stuart Fielden. Res: Eorl Crabtree, David Faiumu, Larne Patrick, Jamie Cording.

Halftime: Huddersfield 22-0

Challenge Cup semi-final: WARRINGTON 33 HUDDERSFIELD 6 at City Of Salford Stadium


THE day before he dramatically parted with Huddersfield, coach Nathan Brown revealed following a heavy Challenge Cup semi-final loss that players “didn’t want to play our attacking structure anymore”.

In a precursor to one of the season’s biggest stories, Brown made a series of startling statements after seeing Warrington secure their third Wembley appearance in four years with a 33-6 semi-final win at the City Of Salford Stadium.

The next day, he was released early to take up his post at St Helens next season with assistant Paul Anderson taking over as caretaker.

“It certainly wasn’t my idea to freshen things up, I’ll give you the tip,” the former St George Illawarra mentor said at the post-match media conference.

“Basically, the players weren’t happy attacking how they were attacking. They were desperate to change so from a coaching point of view, last week we obviously had an issue with effort.

“People don’t go out not to try and there were some underlying issues where the players didn’t want to play our attacking structure anymore, so it was pointless going out attacking like that because it would’ve got a poor effort again.”

Despite insisting more effort was given by his players this week, he acknowledged it was a huge risk to take given what was at stake: “We had to try and change it within a week for a Challenge Cup semi-final which was never going to be easy.”

The drama came after a sterling display from another Australian who once played under Brown at Huddersfield until that, too, ended in tears – Warrington fullback Brett Hodgson.

His general-like leadership led to his coach Tony Smith describing him as a “wily old fox”

Huddersfield did find themselves leading after eight minutes when Scott Moore scored as a result of a Danny Brough 4020 kick but that proved to be their only points as Warrington settled into a steady rhythm to ensure a repeat of the 2010 showpiece against Leeds.

Adrian Morley was relaxed after the game and spoke of a job done in an objective manner: “We’ve had a bit of success in this competition in the last few years and it was something we spoke about, that we wanted to do well again,” he said.

“It is a great reward for putting a performance in and it meant a great deal – as it does to all the other boys.”

“(Hodgson) showed a lot of composure and was mistake-free,” Smith added, before joking: “He read their play – it looked like he may have played for them at some stage, the way he read them. It did help us.

“He may not be the fastest or the biggest but he certainly is one of the smartest. He takes a fair battering back there and has done for many a year but he keeps getting up and he keeps doing it over and over.”

Hodgson’s try, on 57 minutes,was enough to confirm it would be Warrington’s day with the score at 25-6 and the way Lee Briers embraced him told everyone the players also though it so.

They will be looking for their eighth Cup win in what has been their most successful era in the competition ever and they will be undoubtedly confident, given the almost boastful remark Smith made about his selection for the semi.

“I was always going to be right today,” he said. “I knew that with whoever I’d selected.”

WARRINGTON 33 (G Carvell R Atkins JMonaghan B Hodgson S Ratchford tries Hodgson 6 goals Briers field goal) bt HUDDERSFIELD  6 (Moor try Brough goal) at City Of Salford Stadium. Referee: R Silverwood. Crowd: 9742

Final team lists:

WARRINGTON: Brett Hodgson;  Joel Monaghan, Chris Bridge, Ryan Atkins, Chris Riley; Lee Briers, Stefan Ratchford; Ben Harrison, Ben Westwood, Trent Waterhouse, Chris Hill, Mickey Higham, Garreth Carvell. Res: Paul Wood, Adrian Morley, Michael Monaghan, Tyrone McCarthy
HUDDERSFIELD: Scott Grix; Jermaine McGillvary, Leroy Cudjoe, Lee Gilmour, Aaron Murphy; Kevin Brown, Danny Brough; Michael Lawrence, Dale Ferguson, David Fa’alogo, Keith Mason, Scott Moore, Eorl Crabtree. Res: Luke Robinson, David Faiumu, Larne Patrick, Jacob Fairbank

Halftime: Warrington 18-6


Super League round 14: WIGAN 32 HUDDERSFIELD 12 at Galpharm Stadium

DESPITE sitting two points clear at the top of Super League after Friday night’s 20-point win over Huddersfield, Wigan coach Shaun Wane said: “I can’t pretend to be 100 per cent happy when I’m not. That’s from my heart.”

The main reason for Wane’s unrest was a tough first 50 minutes of the 32-12 success which saw the scores locked at 12 each thanks to some defensive lapses from Wigan.

He admitted to recognising Huddersfield can strike from anywhere, though. “The was a little bit of D in the first half we needed to concentrate on but to score seven tries against a team like Huddersfield ….

“I’m a big admirer of Huddersfield and Nathan Brown, the way he coaches, the way his teams play and to score seven tries and to keep them to two, I’m fairly satisfied.”

Huddersfield were on top for the opening 20 minutes, after which Josh Charnley’s brace and Sam Tomkins’ touchdown cancelled out Jermaine McGillvary’s opening score.

But Charnley failed to convert a single try which at one point looked like costing Wigan the game. Breathing through angrily pursed lips, the Wigan coach said he expects better.

“I can’t tell you,” he said when asked for his reaction.  “Not worried – just mad. I know Josh is not our normal kicker but he needs to kick those. If Paddy Richards had played today we’d have scored another ten points. I was just concerned it wasn’t going to cost us in the end because that would have been really disappointing for us.”

It wasn’t to matter in the end, though, as a dominant last half hour saw Wigan pull away with further tries from George Carmont with two, Liam Farrell and Jeff Lima. But it was the unsung heroes,  in Michael McIlorum and Darrell Goulding,  Wane wanted to single out for praise

“(Goulding) has been consistently one of our best players this year,” he said.  “He played for me when he was 15 or16 and I know what he can do. I had no hesitation in giving him that starting shirt in my team and he’s repaid my faith and I thought Mickey Mac today was outstanding.”

WIGAN 32 (J Charnley 2 G Carmont 2 S Tomkins L Farrell J Lima tries S Tomkins 2 goals) bt HUDDERFIELD 12 (McGillvary Eden tries Brough 2 goals) at Galpharm Stadium. Crowd: 10,123

Final team list:

HUDDERSFIELD: Greg Eden; Jermaine McGillvary, Leroy Cudjoe, Jason Chan, Luke Chan; Danny Brough, Scott Grix; Kevin Brown, Lee Gilmour, Michael Lawrence, David Fa’alogo, Luke Robinson, Eorl Crabtree. Res: David Faiumu, Larne Patrick, Dale Ferguson, Scott Moore

WIGAN: Sam Tomkins; Josh Charnley, Darrell Goulding, George Carmont, Anthony Gelling; Brett Finch, Thomas Leuluai; Sean O’Loughlin, Gareth Hock, Harrison Hansen, Lee Mossop, Michael McIlorum, Gil Dudson. Res: Jeff Lima, Liam Farrell, Chris Tuson, Dom Crosby

Halftime: Wigan 12-6