Tag Archives: brisbane-broncos

Friday musing – Premier League, NAB challenge, NRL

Chris Barwin HillsWith the EPL results this week it would appear that the title race and the race for the top four positions are still up for grabs with seemingly no side in contention performing to expectations. Leicester are still inspurs front and have stretched their lead by a point with a draw and Tottenham and Arsenal wasted great opportunities to make up the ground. We now see Manchester United and West Ham United with a real chance to get the coveted fourth position with Manchester City losing again. The title is there is be taken by the side that gets into a bit of form. The result of this week’s London derby between Tottenham and Arsenal could be crucial in the end result. From a purely unbiased perspective….’Go Gunners’.

I have heard a lot of AFL commentators criticise the teams that have been selected for the NAB Challenge and the standard of the games. What must be remembered is that nothing really hinges on these GCSgames. They are purely practice matches and sides will play how they wish and who they wish. I can appreciate that the media wants more and the AFL always likes to promote the games as being serious, but when it all boils down, it is the pre-season and the expectation that teams will treat them as any more than ‘practice’ is misguided.

The NRL season kicked off last night and it is great to see action on eelsthe field replace all the off field insanity.  For the record books, the Brisbane Broncos knocked off the Parramatta Eels. The Broncos seem like they have picked up where they left off in 2015 and the Eels look like they are in for a long season.

Have a great weekend!

AFL & NRL Grand Finals, Arsenal…..

Chris Barwin HillsWell the AFL Grand Final is over and the competition has seen it’s second three-peat in the space of 15 years and this is in the context of a competition which has a salary cap and draft which is supposed to even out the competition. You factor in that Geelong has also won three in five years in that same period and the Swans have played in four Grand Finals and won two as well and it seems to be an indicator that once clubs get to the top it is hard to topple them despite the imagesdraft and salary cap. It has meant that Brisbane who completed the initial three-peat struggled after competing in the last of their grand finals in 2004 and Geelong are starting to struggle now having finished out of the finals for the first time in nine years. It seems though that teams are having long sustained runs at or near the top. Free agency and trading also favours teams up the top as good players only want to go to ‘destination’ clubs.

The NRL provided a lot more interesting grand final than the AFL with the high drama of the golden point result. While it might be sour bennettgrapes on the part of Wayne Bennett, I must say I think to lose a game in that circumstance would be pretty hard to take. If they are going to have extra time, it should be ten minutes each way as the golden point comes down to luck or bad luck as Brisbane’s Hunt would attest.

It was good to see last years VRC Derby winner, Preferment win the Turnbull Stakes and last years VRC Oaks winner, Set Square run third in the same race. Too often these days the winners of those races Unknown-6disappear the following year to be never seen again. I hope they both go on and have a successful spring carnival as it adds to the value of those races.

It was also great to see the Gunners fight back after a very disappointing display at home against Olypiakos during the week to alexis-sanchez-arsenal-burnley_3223813come out and trounce Manchester United by 3-0. The three goals came in the first 20 minutes and Man U did not look like scoring. I think this year Arsenal have a side which could be good enough to win the title, they just need to be consistent through the entire season.

Have a great weekend!

Friday musing – AFL, Brownlow Medal, Nat Fyffe, Dally M, Jonathan Thurston, Wayne Bennett

Chris Barwin HillsI think everyone was impressed with the interview/acceptance speech from Nathan Fyffe on Monday night when he won the Brownlow medal. In my opinion it was the most impressive, natural post Brownlow performance I have seen. Not only is the guy a naturalfyffe footballer but he is a natural in front of the camera so you can imagine the media outlets will be lining up for his services and advertisers lining up for him to endorse their products. He is my favourite footballer that doesn’t play for my team and it was great to see him win.

The Brownlow voting seems to have changed over the last ten years. If you think back to 1990, Tony Liberatore and Gavin Wanganeen tied with 18 votes. Going back even further to 1986 Dipper and Greg Williams tied on 17 votes. In the last ten years only Ben Cousins in 2005 scored less than 24 votes (he scored 20) with five players HANNEBERYscoring 30 or more. In 2000 Essendon scored the most team votes ever in the Brownlow (116 votes), but James Hird was the highest with only 16 votes so the votes were more evenly spread amongst the players. Today we get star players dominating the voting. The best example of that is Josh Kennedy and Dan Hannebery from the Swans scoring 49 of the Swans 94 votes. That is more than fifty percent of the Swans votes between two players. It seems to me there is a bit of a “cult of personality” which has impacted upon the umpires and their voting.

I am hoping that the West Coast Eagles salute on Saturday, however, it is hard to see Hawthorn getting beaten.

The Dally M for the NRL was decided on the same night as the Brownlow and Jonathon Thurston won the award for a record fourth time. I am not a big rugby league aficionado, but that is a remarkable performance and now that the Storm has been knocked out of the johnathan-thurstonfinals it would be good to see his Cowboys salute in the grand final. Up against him is the Wayne Bennett coached Brisbane Broncos, who I understand has a perfect seven from seven record in Grand Finals. That is a remarkable statistic in its own right.

Have a great long weekend!

Titans in major state of disrepair…can NRL intervention fix that?

Feb 20 2011 006The Gold Coast hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for Rugby League. There have been three prior attempts at life on the Gold Coast in the form of the Giants, Seagulls & Chargers between 1988 & 1998. It is fair to say that not one of those teams covered themselves in glory and each one ended in failure.

As a comparator, Brisbane Broncos and Newcastle Knights were also admitted in the same year of 1988 and they have won eight premierships between them.

The NRL sought to revive the Gold Coast push and introduced the Titans in 2007. It is arguable that they are an upgrade on the three prior teams, having made the finals in 2009 and 2010. However, they have struggled to retain stability in their playing list and flashy signings haven’t worked out for them ie. Jamal Idris leaving after two years of a five year contract. That combination has led to the inevitable decline in crowd numbers over the last three seasons.

Since late 2014, the Club has made headlines for all the wrong reasons starting off with the Club being unable to afford to remain at their ‘Centre of Excellence’ base at Robina due to an inability to afford the rent. They are currently in temporary accommodation and still looking for an administration and training home just a week away from the start of the NRL season. If that was not enough, the Titans are without a major sponsor for the 2015 season and given recent media attention, are unlikely to find one thereby exacerbating financial pressures.

With two strikes on the scoresheet, the third strike came in the form of a number of players being charged by the Queensland Crime Commission with drug charges. Some of those charged, Greg Bird, David Taylor, Kalifa Faifai Loa and Beau Falloon would have formed an important part of the team in 2015 and have all been stood down until further notice. They could well miss the entire season.

Checking Nick Tedeschi’s NRL Punter’s Guide, he says as follows of those players:

Bird – Blue chip player – one of the strongest runners in the game, a staple of the Australian and NSW teams, a big game player.
Taylor – was at times devastating in 2014. His freakish combination of size and skill only countered by an equal lack of football intelligence.
Falloon – Club’s top hooker. Had best season in 2014 winning the Club’s player of the year gong.
Loa – Probably third in line for a wing spot but is a better player than Gordon and Mead and should get a look in at some point.

Earlier today, the NRL in the form of CEO Dave Smith indicated that the NRL will be taking over the troubled franchise. He says there are no thoughts of relocation or of winding the team up. Positive sentiments indeed, but the club is a basket case!

One wonders, given what has transpired since the end of the 2014 season, why it took so long for NRL HQ to step in. There were certainly enough indicators for much earlier intervention.

If as expected the Titans have a poor season on field (Tom Waterhouse had them at $6.00 for the wooden spoon – he probably has stopped taking bets on them with recent developments!), sponsors and crowds will stay away and make saving the franchise that much harder. Perhaps the Titans are that badly broken that even the NRL can’t save them.

Some clubs will never learn

barbaOne wonders what NRL Clubs thought when confronted with the fact that one of the wisest and most successful coaches going around in Wayne Bennett decides to release Ben Barba from the remaining two years of his contract with the Brisbane Broncos.

Like me, smart clubs would have ignored the fact that Barba was on the market.

Not the Cronulla Sharks though, or a number of other clubs for that matter who all showed an interest in the full back once Bennett gave Barba his marching orders.

Forget for the moment that the club from the Shire will be his third team in three years or that Barba had a really ordinary season for the Broncos in 2014 or that the Broncos were so eager to rid bennettthemselves of Barba that they were prepared to pay half his salary with his new team or that the player has self confessed gambling and alcohol problems or that he failed to complete a rehabilitation course ordered by Canterbury in 2013.

But return if you will to season 2013, when Barba was in a Canterbury jersey. For those with short memories, he was released on compassionate grounds from the balance of his contract at the end of that season and was headed to the Broncos because of their well regarded welfare program. The catalyst for the release on that occasion was an alleged incident where Barba struck a female companion.

One would have thought the lessons of history would have taught Cronulla well given the union with the troubled Todd Carney that ended in tears.

And all this for $800,000.00 per season – As I said ….. some clubs never learn.

Friday musing – Higgins, Bailey, Smith, AFL…..

Chris Barwin HillsWell it was quite a sad week with the passing of Roy Higgins and Dean Bailey.

Roy Higgins was a jockey everyone knew and it didn’t matter if they followed racing or not. He was one of the first, if not the first jockey to have a media profile. Roy clearly knew his stuff and had a good sense of humour. I heard a recent interview with him replayed last weekend and he indicated that his favourite horse was Light Fingers. This was also reflected in a very good article about him in the Herald Sun written by the doyen of racing writers, Les Carlyon. He said that the only photos of horses in Higgin’s house were of Light Fingers. His post riding aim was to be a little fat man and he was also successful in that regard! He won 108 Group 1 races in a time when
there were less Group 1 races and with a heavy weight jockey, he also had a smaller pool to choose from.  One of the greats!

Dean Bailey’s death was probably more tragic given that he was only recently diagnosed with cancer and 47 at the time of his death. I saw him play his first game for the Bombers down at Geelong and he kicked goals with his first two kicks in league football. He wasn’t a great player, but probably got the best out of himself and often these types of players make good coaches. He certainly had a good CV as an assistant coach and his time at Melbourne as a senior coach came to an unfortunate end. I also think he was harshly dealt with in the tanking saga. To his credit he never tried to push the blame onto anyone else and took his lumps. Universally liked and his sacking at Melbourne was not something that came from losing the players.

Taken too soon!

On a brighter note it was great to see Cameron Smith re-sign with the Melbourne Storm. He is not only the club captain, but also the captain of Queensland and Australia, so it would be hard to have a better CV. With him staying with the Storm it will be easier to attract and retain players. A coup of some proportions given the obvious interest from the Brisbane Broncos. He capped it all off last weekend by leading the Storm to a stirring victory with his first drop goal in the NRL.

The AFL starts back tonight and I am looking forward to sitting back with a few cold ones watching Fre(dis)mantle Collingwood. Fremantle are my tip for the premiership and if they are to fulfil my prediction, they have to win tonight.

Have a great weekend.

Sportzfan Radio show #237.2

@SportzfanRadio now available on iTunes!4 March 2012 237.2 – In the  second hour of the show, the Professor asked Daniel what had happened to the NBL season as it seemed to have disappeared with the playoffs beginning soon and the AFL and NRL overshadowing basketball in the news.  Sportzfan Stan’s view was that the league’s management needed professional help to increase interest in teams, awareness of games and boost revenues. His feelings were shared by the rest of the panel with discussions centering on the NBL’s lack of promotion of the game and a remedy involving a shared venue with other sports such as netball leading to increased awareness.  Daniel reviewed the NBA giving his opinion on the teams, their standings and whether Clipper Darrell had been harshly treated . He also looked at the Twitter tag #BlameLebron. The NRL report from Paul Dalligan included highlights of St. George’s win over the Tinkler Knights. The win surprised Dalligan as the favoured Knights played well. The Professor thought the Raiders v Storm match was the game of the round so far with Billy Slater’s brilliant late try winner being a feature. Dalligan congratulated The Professor on his Bulldogs pulling out a win after overcoming a 14 point deficit. The Panel also discussed Essendon’s no-show for their match on Saturday with St. Kilda in Wangaratta and the AFL originally splitting the game points between the two teams with all in agreement that St. Kilda should receive all four points. Last moment thoughts from the Professor had the Panel discussing the Grand Prix and Bernie Ecclestone’s annual threat of axing the race.

Sportzfan Radio show #236.2

@SportzfanRadio now available on iTunes!26 February 2012 236.2 -Wayne Holdsworth , CEO of the Southern Football League explained the reasons behind the expulsion of the Doveton Eagles from the League stemming from racial slurs and intimidation of umpires in a 2011 elimination final. This was not the first time the Club had been expelled as in 2010, their coach had been found guilty of coaching whilst his accreditation had been suspended. Wayne also discussed that due to lack of resources, community leagues don’t conduct drug testing. On a positive note, Wayne firmly believed that within three years there will be a professional Australian Rules national competition for women. The Panel discussed the Sydney Kings choice of Shane Heal as their head coach position for the remainder of this NBL season. Daniel believes that in order to increase interest and attendance at NBL games, something needs to be done to boost scoring to make it more entertaining for spectators who want to watch a more fast-paced game. Paul Dalligan provided his NRL 2012 season preview and weighed in with his picks for the first game of the NRL season picking Newcastle to win the first game of the season at home against the Dragons. He also thought the Bulldogs would beat the Panthers and the Rabbitohs would get over the Roosters.  Paul gave his final 2012 ladder predictions including his top eight. He said it was difficult as the competition is one of the best in years.  Surprisingly, not in the top eight were the reigning premiers, Manly, after losing their coach to the Bulldogs and the Brisbane Bronco’s who he saw finishing in the basement due to the loss of several top players.

Sportzfan Radio #201

What you missed on the show yesterday – the Panel having a robust discussion about jumps racing in light of last week’s Warrnambool carnival, the Professor reporting from the USA on the ‘Young Brands’ Kentucky Derby and the making of mint juleps. He passes on that Sportzfan Stan has called for the sacking of Michael Voss, the Brisbane Lions players, the Fremantle Dockers players and the rider of Dialled In. The Gelding defended jumps racing in the face of a full on onslaught from Nicole Chvastek and John O’Callaghan. He was also on the mat expaining his four selections from Saturday failing to salute. The ladies at the Tennis club won’t be happy. Mark Fiorenti discussed more mathematical possibilities in the Asian Champions League and Premier League. Paul Dalligan reviewed the Test match between Australia and New Zealand and believes Billy Slater is the best full back in the world..if not the best player. He also talks about the NRL round to date and says the Melbourne Storm’s win over the Broncos was great with so many players backing up after the Test match. Sean Callanan bats clean up on the show talking sports digital. He talks about several athletes who were caught out making comments about Osama Bin Laden and makes the point that athletes need to realise using twitter and other social medium forums are just like commenting to the media.

Sportzfan Radio #193.2

@SportzfanRadio now available on iTunes!13 March 2011 193.2 – Sportzfan Stan reminds Mark that he had called for Merrick’s sacking weeks ago. Mark then goes on to discuss the A League Grand Final between Brisbane Roar and Central Coast Mariners. He thinks the Roar will win 2-0. The Professor and Mark discuss how tough it is being an Arsenal supporter. Mark says they promise so much but don’t deliver. Paul Dalligan talks NRL and the start of the season. Even though the Rabbitohs lost to the Roosters, Paul took a lot of positives out of it. Melbourne Storm won their first game for points in a long time. After the Broncos first loss, Sportzfan Stan is already calling for Anthony Griffin’s axing as coach. Paul thinks that is a bit harsh after only one game. He says the NRL will need to look at the rule where a defender runs into a referee with the controversy in the Titans/Dragons game. The Panel discuss the Brendan Fevola saga and whether Casey Scorpions should have offered him a contract. They then talk with Australian baseball centre fielder Amy McCann. She started her career with the interestingly named Kissing Point Angels in Sydney as the only girl on the team and in the league. She now plays for Doncaster Dragons with a change to starting pitcher this season. She says her best pitch is a strike. Sean Callanan comes on to talk social media and the battle between the AFL & NRL for the social media fan. In MWC the Utah basketball coach bans live tweets or texts at a shootaround which seems rather pointless in this day and age.