Why it's time for a Gould coaching comeback
How good has Minichiello been, why the eight might be sorted, Canberra's bleak immediate future, and why Gus should make a comeback.
1) Who should coach the Gold Coast in 2015?
It's time to come back Gus. Coaching is your calling.
I pestered him for years back on the old Sunday Roast on Channel Nine to make a return to coaching, and now – more than ever – the time and the position is right.
The way I see it, the Gold Coast don't just need a good coach; they need a Kevin Sheedy-style promoter to go with it.
The Titans are doing it tough in many areas, and I do have reservations about their future.
Gus's return would be great for the club and the NRL.
I know there is a five-year plan at Penrith but the structure has all been set in place. Many good people are now on deck in management at the Panthers and can carry on the work.
Pay him well, let him have open slather at the 'all you can eat' Pizza Hut bar* whenever he wants at Kirra, give him a lifetime pass to Sea World and Movie World if you have to!
Just get Gus.
(*Yes, they still have one of these on the Gold Coast)
2) What are Canberra's prospects for the immediate future?
In commentary last Sunday on Fox Sports I remarked their prospects were as bright as those of a "crab in a tank at a Chinese Restaurant".
However there is little joy in calling a proud club belted at home by such a margin. With four and a half minutes remaining on the clock it was 54-0.
But while the Raiders – unlike the crab – will live on, I can't see 'five star dining' any time soon for Canberra fans.
The fact they have managed just two wins at home this year, their worst return in the club's history, is the saddest statistic of all.
No more do we tipsters lean towards the Raiders at home.
Their signings for 2015 have hardly raised a headline compared to the stories of those who have rejected the club or are leaving.
And here is the big deal: if I were forced to nominate a side as favourites for the wooden spoon already for next year, my answer would regrettably be Canberra.
3) Are we any closer to knowing the top eight for the finals?
I'll stick my neck out and say the teams in the top eight heading into Round 22 will be the eight that compete in the 2014 playoffs.
But I have no idea how the order will finish with an exciting month ahead of us.
I admire greatly what the Eels, Dragons, Broncos and Tigers have done this year, however my feeling is they will all come up short.
Happy to be proven wrong… but just calling it as I see it.
4) How good has Anthony Minichiello been?
What a great story in rugby league the career of 'the Count' has been.
From south west Sydney and a footy field in the backyard of the family home, Minichiello rose to be one of the best players of the modern day.
I still recall being told how good this kid was before I called his run-on debut for the Roosters against the Northern Eagles in a Sunday Night game at the Sydney Football Stadium back in 2000.
A few years later and he'd notched up four grand final appearances all before he had turned 24.
The Minichiello scrapbook now bulges with the tales from six premiership deciders. Almost 300 NRL games. Test and Origin success. A Golden Boot.
But it also includes memories of the hard times through injury. In four seasons between 2006 and 2009, Mini managed only 33 games.
So much to admire… so hard to replace.
5) And what about Whitey at Canberra?
The biggest praise you can give Brett White is to laud him for hard work.
There have been no shortcuts to a decade of success in the NRL for White, who didn't crack first grade until 2005 in Melbourne, a month out from his 23rd birthday.
White, who hails from Cooma, admits he is just a country kid made good. He originally headed to Sydney with a priority of getting work as a plumber. But the footy started to take over when he linked up with the Dragons.
And heed the lesson he now preaches to young players. Be prepared to give up the big nights out. Train hard every session; be it an off-season run in November, or days out from a grand final. Make a few sacrifices to be the best you can possibly be in what can be a rewarding career in the NRL.
Like Minichiello, Brett White can be very proud of what he has achieved.
6) How do we follow up on the success of the superhero jerseys?
Put your thinking caps on folks.
I understand the NRL is already looking at what can be done in 2015 after fans rallied to buy the one-off strips for the Roosters, Dragons, Cowboys, Raiders and Sea Eagles.
If the 20,000 sold figure is correct, that's an injection of over $3 million into the NRL merchandise market.
Jersey prices are a huge issue with me, but it seems if you hit the right nerve, the fans will pay whatever the cost.
So what is next?
"…And here come the Bulldogs dressed in their SpongeBob Squarepants attire. Doesn't Josh Reynolds look good in that white shirt and tie!"
I'll leave it with you!
See you at the footy this weekend. I'm off to call the Warriors and the Sharks in Auckland.