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From The Couch: Round 18

Origin III Review: Well Origin is done and dusted and the biggest build-up to an interstate clash in years did not disappoint with Queensland taking an astonishing seventh straight series 21-20.
From The Couch: Round 18
by NRL

Origin III Review: Well Origin is done and dusted and the biggest build-up to an interstate clash in years did not disappoint with Queensland taking an astonishing seventh straight series 21-20.

It was an excellent finale to a memorable series, a fitting scoreline to an entertaining and tight affair.

The game, sadly, was lost before a ball was kicked in anger. Or, in Brent Tate's case, a punch was thrown at a player pinned on the ground in a hissy-fit. If it wasn't Greg Bird, there would be a fair case for legitimate anger but given his history, there is no point acting as if he is holier than thou.

We digress.

Yes, the Blues faced a considerable handicap when selecting Mitchell Pearce and going in a prop short. Both decisions hurt.

Pearce was abhorrent. Supposedly selected for his defensive capabilities, he missed eight tackles, including a critical miss on Johnathan Thurston late in the first half that essentially cost the Blues the game. His horrid kicking and his refusal to run the ball pretty much sealed the deal. Pearce is as allergic to grass as Steve Elkington and if he wasn't playing in a dinner suit, then my name is Graeme "The Penguin" Bradley. Pearce plays like he is bordering on some severe learning disorder, unable to actually see what is in front of him. If I was Brian Smith, I'd drop him this week just to make a point.

The lack of a third recognised prop also hurt the Blues. Tony Williams was always going to be selected. Fair enough. But it should have been Ben Creagh who missed selection, not Trent Merrin. The Blues needed a big body who can play the middle. Williams is a big body but he is not for the middle, at least not yet. It was a stupid and unnecessary risk and it bit the Blues in the ask.

It was hardly Ricky Stuart's only error. To keep Luke Lewis on the bench until the second half was ridiculous. To play Williams so long was just as bad.

Pearce may have been the big let down for the Blues but Todd Carney was not much better. His goalkicking was on song but his general play was poor. He refused to make runs at the line. He seemed to play without any forethought.

This should take nothing away from Queensland though. They were the better team. They were more composed, more consistent across the board, more brilliant when it mattered. Johnathan Thurston starred. Cameron Smith was Cameron Smith. Corey Parker was a beast.

The Maroons seemed home for all money until the Blues launched a comeback. It was a courageous effort. Robbie Farah was inspirational. Josh Morris a star.

But when push came to shove, it was the Blues that blinked. Cooper Cronk was clearly shaping for a field goal. Only Paul Gallen challenged. If this was the other way around, there would have been five Maroons charging. It was a lack of discipline, a lack of awareness. It sealed the seven.

The controversial play of the game was the Justin Hodges try. On first viewing, I had no issues with it. Admittedly, I was eight schooners in. On replay, it was a shepherd. But why should we be surprised? The vide referees have made egregious errors in each game. To blame the Blues' loss on this, though, would be to pitch the blame from Mitchell Pearce and Ricky Stuart to the referees. And it wasn't nearly as awful as the calls in games one and two.

So now Queensland chase eight. Hopefully the Blues make the right adjustments.

Player Ratings:
Queensland
1. Greg Inglis (8): Was a powerhouse at the back ... Billy who?
2. Darius Boyd (5): Had a quiet game though he did cross for a try
3. Dane Nielsen (5): Offered nothing in attack but was fair defensively
4. Justin Hodges (6.5): Played his strongest game of the series and score a big try
5. Brent Tate (6): Ran hard, played grubby but was always well positioned
6. Johnathan Thurston (9): Was Queensland's best and involved in all the plays
7. Cooper Cronk (7): Kicked the winning field goal and always hit the play
13. Corey Parker (8.5): Was a beast given the opportunity to start, key offloader
12. Sam Thaiday (5): Did very little in what was a surprisingly quiet showing
11. Nate Myles (7.5): Again got through a mountain of work
10. Petero Civoniceva (6.5): Had his strongest game of the series, great farewell
9. Cameron Smith (8): Another wonderful game from the best player in the NRL
8. Matthew Scott (6): Didn't make a big impact but was never beaten either

14. Matt Gillett (3.5): Doesn't appear ready for this level yet, quiet again
15. Ben Te'o (4): Decent enough in limited minutes
16. Ben Hannant (5): Well held in what was a very quiet game from the prop
17. David Shillington (6.5): A few errors but was the Maroons' top prop

Backs: 46.5
Forwards: 41.5
Bench: 19
Total: 107

New South Wales
1. Brett Stewart (6): A non-factor, seemed to really miss his brother
2. Jarryd Hayne (6): Made some impact in attack but had a costly defensive read
3. Michael Jennings (6.5): Well contained but was strong in defence
4. Josh Morris (9): Scored a beauty and saved another, the Blues' best player
5. Brett Morris (8.5): Was excellent in his return game, particularly his work
6. Todd Carney (5.5): A major disappointment, ran the ball just five times
7. Mitchell Pearce (3): Another useless and costly display from an ordinary No.7
13. Paul Gallen (8): Did not stop all night and was a heavy-hitter in defence
12. Greg Bird (7.5): Battered and bruised but really is reliable at this level
11. Beau Scott (3.5): Was shockingly found out and played his last rep game
10. James Tamou (6.5): Not a bad knock but the series seems to have hit him
9. Robbie Farah (8): Huge effort after being knocked out early, put on two tries
8. Tim Grant (5): Was disappointing with the ball in hand, lost the arm wrestle

14. Tony Williams (5): Got too many minutes and used too early for an impact
15. Luke Lewis (6.5): Strong when on but didn't play until second half
16. Ben Creagh (3): Hardly played and was again a non-factor when on
17. Anthony Watmough (6): Was handy enough but couldn't rattle defenders

Backs: 44.5
Forwards: 38.5
Bench: 20.5
Total: 103.5

Making The Nut Player of the Series: While Queensland were deserving winners of the 2012 Origin series, they claimed victory by having more players play at an average-to-above-average level while the Blues had a more stars-and-scrubs lot. As such, four of the top five rankers were Blues with Robbie Farah winning the Making The Nut Origin player of the year award from Cameron Smith and Paul Gallen. It was an amazing accomplishment given Farah was reportedly behind Danny Buderus in the lead-up to the series, not considered an Origin type. He has now locked in the jumper for as long as he wants it. The worst players to play all three games: Mitchell Pearce and Ben Creagh.

25.5: Robbie Farah
25: Cameron Smith, Paul Gallen
24.5: Greg Bird
23.5: Josh Morris
23: Nate Myles
22.5: Greg Inglis
22: Brent Tate, Johnathan Thurston
21.5: James Tamou
21: Brett Stewart
20.5: Matthew Scott
20: Cooper Cronk
19.5: David Shillington, Jarryd Hayne
19: Darius Boyd
18.5: Michael Jennings, Luke Lewis
17.5: Petero Civoniceva
16.5: Ben Hannant
14.5: Todd Carney
14: Justin Hodges, Ashley Harrison (2 games)
13.5: Glenn Stewart (2 games)
12.5: Trent Merrin (2 games), Anthony Watmough (2 games)
12: Billy Slater (2 games), Corey Parker (2 games)
11.5: Sam Thaiday (2 games), Tim Grant (2 games), Matt Gillett
11: Tony Williams (2 games)
10: Mitchell Pearce, Ben Creagh
9: Akuila Uate (2 games)
8.5: Brett Morris (1 game)
6.5: Dave Taylor (2 games)
5: Dane Nielsen (1 game)
4: Ben Te'o (1 game)
3.5: Beau Scott (1 game)
2: Jamie Buhrer (1 game)

No Club: Ricky Stuart has not earned the right to coach a club and the New South Wales team and to allow him to do so, in whatever guise, would set the Blues back years and ensure the Maroons go a decade without defeat.

There is no question that Stuart has made some positive contributions to the Blues over the last two years. He has brought through some young talent. He has identified a number of key contributors. He has started programs to usher in the next generation. He has taken Blue passion to new depths.

But his record says this: two wins, four losses, zero series wins.

He has not been able to establish a spine. He found a hooker this year, but almost only by default. The fullback situation remains up in the air. He has a blindspot that has crippled NSW with his loyalty to Mitchell Pearce. The risk on Todd Carney was fair but he is surely only on limited time.

He is tactically inept and refuses to hire the right people to help.

And he has shown very little at club level since Brad Fittler retired, showing that he cannot handle one job, let alone two.

If Stuart wants to coach the Blues, he should be given a one-year deal. If he wants to go to club football, he should commit to whatever club is stupid enough to hire him. He should not be allowed to combine both roles or act as a Blues coaching director for a minion. Both jobs are hard. And Stuart can't handle the two.

Dave Taylor, Moron: Only Dave Taylor could make Mitchell Pearce look reasonably intelligent by comparison last Wednesday night. His call to flip the bird to the Blues was dumb. No wonder he was dumped by Mal Meninga. Fools don't cut it in that Queensland team.

Lie Down With Dogs, Get Up With Fleas: The Sydney Roosters deserve all the misfortune heading their way when they sign Sonny Bill Williams. You lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas and the Roosters are going to wake up covered in a rash so nasty that Bubbles from The Wire would be ashamed to be seen with it.

The Roosters have a very talented young group of backrowers. Aidan Guerra and Boyd Cordner are both future rep players while Tom Symonds, Brad Takarangi and Frank-Paul The Wrecking Ball are all serviceable. The Roosters have a core, particularly with Daniel Mortimer, to build for the future.

They are prepared to whore it out for an overrated mug who will take the money and run, most likely within two years. The decision makes no sense. It makes less when you consider the culture at the Roosters.

The smart money is on the Roosters to miss the finals yet again in 2013 with Williams arriving late and providing little, destroying what is left of a battered and bruised culture. Williams will set the Roosters back years. They are crazy for even entertaining the idea of getting into bed with some rugby hack who likes bullying fatties and old men.

Lay Down, Sally: Wayne Bennett and Tim Sheens deserve to be listened too. They are two of the wisest men in rugby league. And they have the best interest of players when they say that referees should automatically stop a match when a player is injured. But they are wrong.

In a perfect world, stopping the clock with every injury would be acceptable. Sadly, we live in a world where players stay down to win penalties, lay down to slow the momentum of a game down, fake injury to win an advantage.

This is rugby league, not some skirt sport, but increasingly players want to use injuries to bend the rules. In this environment, you simply can't just stop the clock when there is an injury. Until there is a cultural change in the game where the greater good of the code is protected, referees must maintain their ability to use discretion regarding injuries and stopping the clock.

The Sad Debasement of Luke Lewis: Of all the happenings at Penrith this year, one outcome I did not see coming was the release of Luke Lewis. It has been an incredible fall for the champion backrower who was appointed Penrith captain in January this year, the fulfilment of a lifelong dream for the 12-year Panther who made his debut nine days after his 18th birthday. He has played 207 games in the - wait, what colours do Penrith wear again - let's say teal, black, white and pink since.

There is no question the Panthers needed reform. Phil Gould was brought in to conduct same. So too was Ivan Cleary. The salary cap was causing the side grief and there were major cultural issues. Most of the five on big contracts have been put on notice this year: Michael Jennings was dropped and dressed down, Lachlan Coote was dropped, Lewis lost the captaincy.

But it is a major shock that of those three, Lewis is the one that is going to hit the road.

He is a beloved figure at Penrith, had another two years to go on his deal, is the last remaining premiership Panther and is a western Sydney hero.

Ivan Cleary has the runs on the board. He deserves time. But he will live and die by this decision.

A Star in the Making: Adam Reynolds is going places and he is taking South Sydney with him. He was magnificent again against the Knights, orchestrating another Bunnies win. He has an incredible future with his maturity set to take the Bunnies to their first finals win since 1987.

Outstanding: Watching Sports Nation's 101 Greatest Celebration Fails on television the other day, it was super pleasing to see Warriors player Glen Fisiahii make the list at No.65. Rugby league in America, hey. Sure, they referred to it as rugby and it was only NYC but it was damned funny and good for league.

Recruitment in the NRL Era - St George Illawarra: The Dragons have not been big recruiters, instead preferring to bring in home grown talent from one of the best nurseries in the NRL. When recruiting, they have had more hits than misses though they rarely chase those in their prime. The misses of Craig Fitzgibbon, Luke Patten and Josh Morris, however, have had long-lasting effects.

Best Year: Wayne Bennett's arrival at the Dragons in 2009 signalled a bright new dawn for the club and the team went on its biggest spending spree, bringing in Darius Boyd, Jeremy Smith and Michael Weyman, among other lesser lights. The loss of Josh Morris hurt and still does but that is it. Few missed Ben Rogers or Jason Ryles.

Worst Year: The Dragons haven't had any awful years but losing Craig Fitzgibbon in 2000 and Luke Patten in 2001 were poor calls. Both became legends at the Roosters and Canterbury.

Best Buy: Jamie Soward was pulled from the Sydney Roosters' reserve grade system and became a star at the Dragons, playing for New South Wales and guiding the Dragons to the 2010 premiership. A wonderful talent, he has thrived at the Dragons since Wayne Bennett arrived.

Worst Buy: Matthew Head. A one-time halfback prodigy, Head went to the Tigers for opportunities but came back to the Dragons in 2009. He played 10 games but was soon forced into retirement.

Worst Loss: Craig Fitzgibbon is without question the one that got away for the Dragons. An Illawarra junior, Fitzgibbon went on to play 228 games for the Roosters, along with 11 Origins and 18 Tests. He was one of the best backrowers of the last decade.

Origin/International Players Recruited:
Already: (10) Solomon Haumono, Henry Perenara, Quentin Pongia, Wendell Sailor, Darius Boyd, Neville Costigan, Nathan Fien, Luke Priddis, Jeremy Smith, Chase Stanley
Became: (3) Beau Scott, Jamie Soward, Michael Weyman

Origin/International Players Lost:
Already: (11) Solomon Haumono, Craig Smith, Henry Perenara, Luke Bailey, Trent Barrett, Jason Ryles, Justin Poore, Chase Stanley, Neville Costigan, Chase Stanley, Darius Boyd
Became: (5) Craig Fitzgibbon, Ben Ross, Michael Ennis, Brent Kite, Josh Morris

*Super League Tri Series and International matches are recognised.
** Only players who went to or came from another NRL club are noted with the exception of English internationals.
***Players signed from St George and Illawarra not included.

Injury Update: The worst injury of the week was no doubt the upper arm break of Lote Tuqiri. We have likely seen his last game.

Greg Bird (Gold Coast): Suffered a black eye and a pec injury in Origin III. Could be missing for quite a while but likely 2-3 weeks.

Beau Champion (Gold Coast): Will have ankle surgery and miss a month. Titans fans will hope Steve Michaels isn't back in first grade.

Paul Gallen (Cronulla): An abdominal strain and the wear and tear of Origin ruled him out of the Roosters clash. Back next week.

Konrad Hurrell (New Zealand): Scored a hat-trick embarrassing Jamal Idris before leaving the field in the 56th minute with an injured left foot. Will miss at least a week. Lewis Brown is set to start in the centres.

Matt Keating (Parramatta): A bulging disc in his lower back flared up during warm-ups, allowing Nathan Smith to make his first grade debut.

Nate Myles (Gold Coast): A sternum injury ruled him out of the Warriors clash but isn't far away.

Ben Ross (Cronulla): Took a pretty rough head knock but won't miss anytime.

Brett Stewart (Manly): Was on fire against the Eels before straining his hamstring scoring his second try. Could miss a week or two.

Jorge Taufua (Manly): Strained his quad. Taken off more as a precaution. If he misses a week, Michael Oldfield or Dean Whare will win a recall.

Lote Tuqiri (Wests Tigers): Suffered a horrible break to his upper right arm. We may have seen the last of him. It wouldn't surprise to see rugby convert John Grant make his debut.

Fun Fact : The biggest hoodoos in premiership history -

University never defeated South Sydney in 31 games (1920-37)
Canterbury did not beat St George in 27 games (1954-67)
North Sydney did not beat Eastern Suburbs in 22 games (1926-38)
Newtown did not beat St George in 21 games (1962-72)
Annandale did not beat Glebe in 20 games (1911-20)
Newtown did not beat Eastern Suburbs in 20 games (1929-39)
North Sydney did not beat Glebe in 18 games (1911-20)
Penrith did not beat Parramatta in 18 games (1975-83)
Western Suburbs did not beat Eastern Suburbs in 17 games (1908-17)
Western Suburbs did not beat South Sydney in 17 games (1908-17)
North Queensland did not beat Brisbane in 16 games (1995-2004)
North Sydney did not beat St George in 16 games (1954-60)
South Sydney did not beat Brisbane in 16 games (1990-2006)
South Sydney did not beat Canterbury in 16 games (1973-80)
Western Suburbs did not beat Glebe in 16 games (1908-16)
Gold Coast (original) did not beat North Sydney in 15 matches (1990-98)
South Sydney did not beat Illawarra in 15 games (1990-98)
South Sydney did not beat St George in 15 games (1957-64)
Canberra did not beat Melbourne in 14 games (2003-09)
Newtown did not beat Manly in 14 games (1973-80)
Newtown did not beat Eastern Suburbs in 14 games (1973-79)
Penrith did not beat St George in 14 games (1967-74)
Gold Coast (original) never defeated Canterbury in 13 games (1988-98)
Annandale did not beat Balmain in 13 games (1914-20)
Canterbury did not beat South Sydney in 13 games (1950-56)
Gold Coast (original) did not beat Manly in 13 games (1990-97)
Newtown did not beat St George in 13 games (1974-80)
North Sydney did not beat Canterbury in 13 games (1936-42)
North Sydney did not beat South Sydney in 13 games (1914-20)
South Sydney did not beat St George in 13 games (1995-2005)
St George did not beat Canberra in 13 games (1986-92)
Canberra did not beat Balmain in 12 games (1982-87)
Canterbury did not beat Newtown in 12 games (1952-58)
Cronulla did not beat Eastern Suburbs in 12 games (1967-73)
Gold Coast (original) did not beat Eastern Suburbs in 12 games (1990-97)
Newtown did not beat Canterbury in 12 games (1975-80)
Newtown did not beat St George in 12 games (1956-62)
North Queensland did not beat Cronulla in 12 games (1997-2003)
North Sydney did not beat Balmain in 12 games (1914-20)
North Sydney did not beat Eastern Suburbs in 12 games (1910-15)
Parramatta did not beat Manly in 12 games (1956-61)
Parramatta did not beat North Sydney in 12 games (1956-62)
Parramatta did not beat Western Suburbs in 12 games (1956-61)
Penrith did not beat Manly in 12 games (1970-76)
Penrith did not beat Western Suburbs in 12 games (1978-83)
South Sydney did not beat New Zealand in 12 games (1999-2007)
Western Suburbs did not beat South Sydney in 12 games (1923-29)
Western Suburbs did not beat Canterbury in 12 games (1983-89)
Western Suburbs did not beat Manly in 12 games (1968-74)

The 2012 Willie M Medal: Mitchell Pearce is making a red-hot run at the 2012 Willie M Medal, picking up three points in Origin III. Pearce was dreadful, missing eight tackles including one that led directly to a try from the Queensland half when Johnathan Thurston ran over the top of him. Throw in his three runs and his dreadful kicking game and you have one of the all-time shocking Origin showings.

Queensland v New South Wales
3-Mitchell Pearce (NSW)
2-Beau Scott (NSW)
1-Matt Gillett (Qld)

Wests Tigers v Canterbury
3-Tom Humble (Tig)
2-Kris Keating (Bul)
1-Blake Ayshford (Tig)

Melbourne v Canberra
3-Dane Nielsen (Mel)
2-Ryan Hinchcliffe (Mel)
1-Matt Duffie (Mel)

Gold Coast v New Zealand
3-Mark Minichiello (GC)
2-Jamal Idris (GC)
1-Brenton Lawrence (GC)

South Sydney v Newcastle
3-Timana Tahu (New)
2-Danny Buderus (New)
1-Alex McKinnon (New)

Manly v Parramatta
3-Cheyse Blair (Par)
2-Willie Tonga (Par)
1-Chris Sandow (Par)

Cronulla v Sydney Roosters
3-Mitch Aubusson (Roo)
2-BJ Leilua (Roo)
1-Jeff Robson (Cro)

Leaderboard:
15: Ben Hornby (Dra)
14: Mitchell Pearce (Roo)
12: Tim Moltzen (Tig), Ben Roberts (Par), Cheyse Blair (Par), Chris Sandow (Par), Timana Tahu (New)
10: Jarrod Croker (Can), Mitch Rein (Dra)
9: Lachlan Coote (Pen), Brad Tighe (Pen), Jason Ryles (Roo), Willie Tonga (Par), BJ Leilua (Roo)
8: Braith Anasta (Roo), Ben Pomeroy (Cro), Antonio Winterstein (Cow), Lote Tuqiri (Tig), Tom Learoyd-Lahrs (Can), Mark Minichiello (GC), Mitch Aubusson (Roo)

Rumour Mill: It has been rumoured that Ricky Stuart has been offered a new three-year deal with the NSW team and it could extend even if he gets a club deal, acting as a supervisor to Trent Barrett. Luke Lewis has been released by Penrith with Parramatta his most likely home, though Cronulla is on the cards. The Wests Tigers are not expected to offer injured winger Lote Tuqiri a new contract, effectively ending his career. David Stagg will be at Newcastle in 2012. Mark Arbib and Todd Greenberg have been ruled out as potential NRL bosses.

Power Rankings:
1. Canterbury 11-5 (2)
2. Melbourne 12-4 (1)
3. Manly 10-6 (4)
4. Brisbane 10-6 (3)
5. South Sydney 10-6 (5)
6. Cronulla 10-5-1 (6)
7. North Queensland 9-7 (7)
8. New Zealand 9-7 (8)
9. Wests Tigers 8-8 (9)
10. Canberra 7-9 (14)
11. Gold Coast 6-10 (11)
12. Newcastle 6-10 (10)
13. St George Illawarra 7-9 (12)
14. Sydney Roosters 6-9-1 (13)
15. Parramatta 3-13 (15)
16. Penrith 4-12 (16)

What I Like About ... Luke Burt: I like that I can go to Brookvale on a splendid Sunday afternoon, watch Parramatta get totally towelled, yet set my wager of the Eels +17 salute when Parramatta winger Luke Burt slotted a meaningless conversion from the sideline after the final siren. Thanks Luke.

Betting Market of the Week: Mitchell Pearce's biggest contribution to the NSW cause has been:

-Dating a Pussycat Doll and then playing like one, bringing a sense of symmetry to Origin 2012: $1.90
-Allowing photos of Playboy bunny Ciara Price to be printed ad nauseum: $2.70
-Giving hope to the likes of Jeff Robson and Luke Kelly that with the right patronage, they can play Origin football as well: $3.50

Moniker XIII of the Week: With Sam Perrett making his debut for the Bulldogs, we name the greatest Sams in premiership history.

1. Sam Vucago (5 games for Canberra)
2. Sam Perrett (149 games for Roosters/Canterbury)
3. Sam Harris (64 games for Manly/Wests Tigers)
4. Sam Tagataese (75 games for Melbourne/Gold Coast/Cronulla)
5. Sam Latu (4 games for South Sydney/Wests Tigers)
6. Sam Parker (1 game Queensland Firsts)
7. Sam Williams (23 games for Canberra)
13. Sam Stewart (81 games for Newcastle)
12. Sam Thaiday (159 games for Brisbane)
11. Sam Burgess (36 games for South Sydney)
10. Sam McKendry (65 games for Penrith)
9. Sam Obst (7 games for Sydney Roosters)
8. Sam Backo (130 games for Canberra/Brisbane)

Analysis: The Sams have an outstanding running forward pack with some excellent international props missing out. The best is Thaiday though Burgess and Stewart are also outstanding. The backline is awful though with most players only part-timers.

The Coaching Crosshairs: Going into halftime 34-0 down, even against the defending premiers, is not going to ease the pressure on Stephen Kearney, even with Chris Anderson to assist. The hammer is coming down on Kearney. He will forever regret taking on the Eels gig when he was the hottest property in assistant coaching circles.

The Life and Times of the Special Needs Penguin: Ben Pomeroy proved that his flippers pack some bite when he went on a psycopathic rampage looking for Mose Masoe. Pomeroy found him, leaving the big bearded bum with plenty of blood on the lip and plenty of embarassment on the dial.

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 18: Cronulla-Sydney Roosters, 14-14. The season's first draw was a game that missed plenty of stars but missed nothing in drama. The physical encounter was a real grinder with the Sharks dominating field position and possession but couldn't find the all important point to win it. Far from a classic but a pretty good way to finish off the round.

Correspondence Corner: Mr C, Anderson is one of the greatest coaches ever.

ArcVelder, it is actually seven: Anderson, Bennett, Gibson, Sheens, Gould, Arthur Halloway and Jim Craig. It was a mistake. Apologies.

Witty Reference, I would have no drama if one of the Origin matches was on a standalone weekend with a whole raft of other activities: NZ Origin, Toyota Cup Origin, Residents, a sprint, a test of strength, goalkicking comp etc. But only one - having three weekends off is too disruptive.

Robert Horry, can I get a sorry Nick Tedeschi for questioning my judgement on Mitchell Pearce? He was again hopeless. As noted above, it was a simple error in the throes of a very busy Monday.

Michaelson, I'd be very happy for all forward passes to be judged on how they travel and for a computerised chip in the ball to determine same.

SemiPro, I think it is close between the Raiders and Eels as to which club is more contemptuous of their supporter base.

JohnJ, I am with you on the Perth bid. It is apparent the WARL are out of their depth, coming up with a name like Pirates.

Ken, that is a totally fair breakdown of Chris Anderson. So successful that rule changes were made to adapt to his tactics. Yes, the one-marker policy is roundly mocked but at least he was quick to adapt.

Cam, I will be going to Mark Tedeschi's photo exhibition on Thursday.

Zig, sorry mate but I still rate Jamie Soward highly.

Mick, if the Nut is one thing, it is cutting.

Mike From Tari, Gavin Badger certainly did point for a try before going upstairs.

Arthur, the dream has always been for the two Jeremy Smiths to play in the one team.

Col Quinn, Mitchell Pearce ran the ball just three times ... three bloody times. Astonishing. By contrast, Thurston and Cronk went for 15 runs.

Doubter, Pearce certainly should have played his last game for the Blues, Farah is a star and Stuart certainly shouldn't be able to combine club football and Origin duties - hell, he has won only two of six games since his reappointment.

Beard Watch: Manly winger David Williams scored four tries in a half for Manly against Parramatta. It is believed - though not researched for a second - that he is the first fully bearded player to score four tries in a half. I hope to be delightfully updated on this if I am indeed wrong.

Join Us: If you like From The Couch and you like Making The Nut, join the Making The Nut Facebook page. Trust me: you'll enjoy it.

Chasing Greatness: Anyone looking for inspiration, rugby league style, should check out my new book Chasing Greatness, available in all good book stores. I've pulled the best quotes from Jack Gibson and Arthur Beetson to Bob Bax and Royce Simmons.

Watch It: This week we go back to 1978, round 20, and watch the Roy Masters coached Western Suburbs take on the Jack Gibson mentored South Sydney at Lidcombe Oval. From the Channel Seven coverage, we follow the last 10 minutes with the scores locked at 7-7. This was a must-win game for the Bunnies. The highlight without question is Geoff Foster's outstanding field goal. David Waite's playing is also exciting. Watch it here.

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