Foran & DCE the new Kenny & Sterling
Andrew Voss on what's eating the premiers, Manly's star halves, dramas at the Tigers, the wooden spoon race and just how to pronounce Steve Matai's surname.
1) What's wrong with the Roosters?
Let me explain. It's not a complacency that they are necessarily underestimating their opponents. It's a complacency about their own ability. I believe the Roosters' efforts in 2014 perhaps reflect what the majority of we tipsters feel.
There's this overriding feeling that they will just come good, that things will click eventually, or that one of their stars will get them across the line in a tight match which has now manifested itself in the side.
It doesn't just happen in such a competitive competition like the NRL.
Talent alone will win you some games, but talent without absolute desire will often come up short. And if your opposition has that desire aspect covered as the Knights did by the bucketload last Friday night; well there's your recipe for an upset.
Entering Round 21 last year, the Roosters were 14-4 for the season. This year they are 10-8.
They are nowhere near the consistency benchmark being set by their grand final opponents of 2013, Manly.
It's not to say that they don't have time to get it right, nor are they in dire straights on the ladder; far from it.
But again, maybe it's that "she'll be right" mindset that is the crux of their problems.
2) How good are the Manly halves?
Absolutely top shelf.
I have been watching rugby league since the early seventies and obviously the game has evolved over that time in the way a 6 and 7 combine on the field.
However I would be satisfied to put Keiran Foran and Daly Cherry-Evans up against any company from the last 40 years in club football.
This is a great halves pairing. They are skillful, composed and tough.
Foran and Cherry-Evans were magnificent last Sunday against the Warriors, and while most had DCE for Man of the Match, his mate wasn't far behind.
Parramatta had Brett Kenny and Peter Sterling in the halves through their great era. I put this pair in the same class. You can let me know what you think on that lofty rating.
However for Manly's sake I hope they remain together at the club, because so long as they do, the Sea Eagles' run of playing finals football (10 straight seasons) will continue.
3) Have things settled down off the field at the Wests Tigers?
Not in my opinion.
And they only have themselves to blame. The damage is done.
What's more it's a disgrace if the internal strife has had an impact on the playing efforts of a promising 2014 premiership campaign, as it appeared to do last Sunday.
They've already won more games this year than last year and that's with six rounds to play. They are in the mix for the finals. They've had some big wins in 2014 over the likes of Manly, Souths and Canterbury. In my humble view, the Tigers have had a good season.
Where is the leadership?
How does the club undertake an internal review, and some of the findings become public knowledge? It certainly wasn't via the man given the task of conducting that review, Brian Smith.
If you want an unstable club, there is your catalyst.
And now the chairman and those in power at the club appear reactionary and weak after their Sunday night media release stating a decision on Mick Potter will be made at season's end.
The entire episode up to now has been an embarrassment for the joint venture club, and that is leaving the Robbie Farah/Gorden Tallis issue out of the equation.
4) Who gets the wooden spoon?
I think the answer will come in Round 24 when Cronulla host Canberra.
I'll be honest though, I fear for the Raiders and coach Ricky Stuart who could achieve the unenviable feat of wooden spoons in consecutive seasons at different clubs.
It is over five years now since a Stuart-coached side has won back-to-back games during a season, so that doesn't read well for Canberra's chances in 2014 despite the fact their draw isn't that bad.
In the run home the Green Machine face the Warriors, Parramatta twice, the Dragons, Sharks and Tigers. Four of those matches are at home, but sadly that hasn't been of much benefit this year with just two victories from eight clashes at GIO Stadium.
Monday night's effort against Souths had a bad feel about it.
For their passionate fans' sake, I hope they prove me wrong starting this weekend against a Warriors side that has topped 50 points against them the last two occasions they've played.
5) What is the dead ball line 'rule'?
I will do my best to explain, as it came up in last Friday night's game between the Roosters and the Knights.
The important thing to realise is there are different verdicts for attackers and defenders.
The ball mid-air only has to have broken the plane of the dead ball line when contacted by a defending player for the ball to be dead. That is providing the defender does not have a foot grounded in the in-goal area. But it does not matter that he may have taken off from the in-goal area, yet not landed over the line when he makes contact with the ball. It is out.
It is different however for attackers; a play made famous by Greg Inglis's leap and flip back for an Australian try at the SCG in 2008. The ball is not dead even if it has broken the plane of the dead ball line, so long as the attacker has launched his lunge for the ball from the in-goal area, but has no part of his body grounded out of play when he makes contact with it.
In the case of the Knights/Roosters incident… the officials got the decision 100% correct.
6) So … how do you pronounce Steve Matai's surname?
And hey, don't shoot the messenger. That's his name. That's how he pronounces it.
I can't explain why it has taken this long to come to the fore. I guess when Steve first came into first grade he couldn't care less what we commentators called him … and so MAT-TIE it become.
Will it really cause such a problem if we all change now?
Meantime I'll keep researching the pronounciation of Dean Whare, Sione Matautia, Jake Mamo, Josh Papalii, Brad Takairangi and co.
Enjoy your footy this weekend folks … I'm looking forward to a winter's Sunday afternoon in Canberra calling the Raiders against the Warriors for Fox Sports.
I've heard there is a chance of snow in the nation's capital on Friday.