NRL Footy Tips Rd 16

With at least ten injured or exhausted State of Origin players forced to pull out of this weekend’s games, their teams are counting the heads.

Those missing include Brett Morris, James Tedesco, Johnathon Thurston, Darius Boyd, Boyd Cordner, four from Melbourne-  Cooper Cronk, Billy Slater, Cameron Smith and Will Chambers, and Tyson Frizell.

There could be more who don’t make it onto the field.

There are seven games in Round 16 (the Eels and Rabbitohs have a bye). Five of the match-ups feature teams in similar positions on the ladder so the results are vital as to which teams shuffle up or down the table.

Here are my tips (winners in CAPITALS):

  • WARRIORS v Bulldogs
  • Tigers  v  TITANS
  • Cowboys v PANTHERS
  • RAIDERS v Broncos
  • ROOSTERS v Storm
  • DRAGONS v Knights
  • Sharks v SEA EAGLES

Last week: 4/4    Total: 77/111

NB: look out for next week’s tips on twitter.

 

 

 

Origin 2

by Warren Boland

Will Origin 2, now a sell-out in front of 80,000 fans, be a series-winner for New South Wales or series-leveller for Queensland?

Much anticipated after the Blues won Origin 1 by 28-4, the two sides look much more evenly matched the second time around.

New South Wales with the same 17 have to perform at least as well, and add  a few variations because Queensland will have done their homework . Coach Kevin Walters says they can not stop Andrew Fifita but they aim to limit the damage he will do.

The revamped, new and improved, Queensland team will aim to get a faster start to sets, a stronger surge in the rucks, and quicker play the balls. Early on they may kick early in the set. They will strive for better field position than last time to allow them to put in more attacking kicks on the last tackle or to launch their talented backline from 20 or 30 metres out.

It is very hard to split the two teams.

Home ground, home-crowd, and powerful forwards in slippery conditions may give the Blues a slight advantage but the Maroons will be primed to seek revenge.

Of the debutants, I will be fascinated to see how well the huge, yet fast, Coen Hess performs. He sure knows his way to the try-line.

Here are more thoughts from me for ABC News  on the significance of this match :

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-21/state-of-origin-preview-queensland-maroons-nsw-blues-new-era/8634282?section=sport

 

NRL Footy Tips Rd 15

by Warren Boland

With star players in camp for Origin Two, eight teams have a bye and Round Fifteen of the NRL has only four games.

The clubs hardest hit by the absence of Origin players are Melbourne, North Queensland and Cronulla but the injury-weakened Gold Coast are also struggling to put a team together.

In Round Twelve, before Origin 1, the teams without their key players were much more limited in attack but stuck to their task in defence.

Here are my tips (winners in CAPITALS):

  • RABBITOHS v Titans
  • STORM v Cowboys
  • SHARKS v Tigers
  • EELS v Dragons

Last week: 5/8   Total: 73/107

 

NRL Footy Tips Rd 14

by Warren Boland

A full round of eight NRL matches stretches from Thursday to Monday this weekend, starting with last year’s grand finalists meeting for the second time in 2017 in what is becoming a fierce rivalry.

The absence of Cooper Cronk, apparently rested by the Storm, is a let-down for the clash and will make it more difficult for Billy Slater to dazzle by comparison with the Sharks’ fullback Valentine Holmes as both chase Maroon selection for Origin 2.

There is a long list of Queensland Origin hopefuls who should be playing the house down this weekend to force their way into the team.

As well as Slater and Holmes, the list includes Jarrod Wallace, Coen Hess,  Gavin Cooper,  Scott Bolton, Ethan Lowe, Korbin Sims, Felise Kaufusi, Cameron Munster, Daly Cherry Evans and, if declared fit to play, Corey Norman. Also a chance to play this weekend is Jonathon Thurston.

Meanwhile the Maroons whose places are in jeopardy after their resounding loss in in first Origin match – Justin O’Neill, Nate Myles, Jacob Lillyman and Aidan Guerra – will be determined to shore up their  places with strong games. Even Anthony Milford and Sam Thaiday will be feeling the heat.

It will be a surprise if the Blues make any changes but the impressive return from injury of Josh Mansour last week and, possibly, Tom Trbojevic this week will keep Brett Morris on his toes.

Two of the three  matches this Saturday are being played in Bathurst and Darwin. They are toss-ups anyway and the venues don’t make it any easier.

Here are my picks for Round Fourteen (winners in capitals):

  • SHARKS v Storm
  • SEA EAGLES v Knights
  • BRONCOS v Rabbitohs
  • TITANS v Warriors
  • PANTHERS v Raiders
  • Eels v COWBOYS
  • Tigers v ROOSTERS
  • Bulldogs v DRAGONS

Last week: 7/7   Total: 68/99

NRL Footy Tips Rd 13

by Warren Boland

As fans and players recover from a bruising and emotion-charged State of Origin 1,  we turn our attention to the seven matches of Round Thirteen of the NRL.

A number of key players from both the Blues and Maroons are out or in doubt for their clubs: Cameron Smith, Mitchell Pearce, Dylan Napa, Anthony Milford, Justin O’Neill, Nathan Peats, Nate Myles and Brett Morris were all knocked about in Wednesday night’s clash.

Hardest hit by losing halves Pearce and Milford to concussion and having  a further four or five players backing up after only three days are the Roosters and Broncos who face each other on Saturday at 5.30pm.

There are two tough-to-pick matches on Sunday in Manly vs Canberra and Canterbury vs Penrith. I’m opting for the two fresher teams coming off a bye.

Here are my tips (in capitals):

  • STORM v Knights
  • EELS v Warriors
  • DRAGONS v Tigers
  • ROOSTERS v Broncos
  • COWBOYS v Titans
  • SEA EAGLES v Raiders
  • Bulldogs v PANTHERS
  • Last week: 4/4     Total : 61/92

Origin 1, 2017 – The halves and have-nots.

by Warren Boland

In the history of  State of Origin, the halves have been the key positions and even more now.

From Wally Lewis and Allan Langer to Peter Sterling, Brett Kenny and Steve Mortimer  crossing over to the era of Brad Fittler, Andrew Johns, Darren Lockyer, Jonathon Thurston and Cooper Cronk, there is a common theme of great halves and series victory.

Here is a link to a story I contributed to ABC News Online:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-30/state-of-origin-nsw-blues-have-reason-to-believe-against-maroons/8568742?section=sport

By the way, in terms of  halves and their record, it’s worth remembering that in 2014 when NSW won their only series in eleven years taking Origin 1 in Brisbane 12-8 and Origin 2 in Sydney 6-4, Cooper Cronk  broke his arm in the first ten minutes of the first game and missed the second. Daly Cherry-Evans took his place in both games.

BEYOND THE HALVES

It is not only about the players wearing numbers six and seven. There are many other factors to consider as to who will win Origin One:

-the absence of Matt Scott  and Greg Inglis through injury

-the non-selection of Billy Slater

-the ages of Nate Myles and Sam Thaiday – both 32 years old next month, and Jacob Lillyman, 33, not that age is affecting Cameron Smith, 34 next month, and Cooper Cronk, 33.

-the inexperience in Origin and jangling nerves of  Queensland debutants Dylan Napa and Anthony Milford, and New South Wales’ Nathan Peats and Jake Trbojevic making their first appearance.

-the return to Origin of Jarryd Hayne who was the spearhead of the Blues win in 2014

-the powerful form of Andrew Fifita and Boyd Cordner, not to overlook the impact of Matt Gillett in attack and defence

-the selection of  the competitive Nathan Peats instead of still skilful 33-year-old Robbie Farah and the representative retirement  of the 35-year-old warrior captain Paul Gallen who also was an inspiration for the Blues in 2014.

LET THE CLASHES COMMENCE

Some of the duels I am looking forward to :

-the clash of  young bulls Dylan Napa and David Klemmer while Nate Myles drops his horns into Andrew Fifita. The amiable build-up should be left in the dressing room as the cauldron bubbles to toil and trouble at kick-off.

-the impact off the bench of Michael Morgan for the Maroons and Jack Bird, Wade Graham and Jake Trbojevic off the bench for NSW.

-the combination of Blues five-eighth James Maloney with Jarryd Hayne at left centre and James Tedesco from fullback

-the combination of Maroon half Cooper Cronk with fullback Darius Boyd

-the biggest test yet of  rising star Milford

THE AFTERMATH

In the last three years the first games of the series have been tough, defensive, low scoring affairs. This could be due to nerves or combinations not yet perfected.

In 2014, New South Wales won 12-8 in Brisbane. In 2015 Queensland won 11-10 in Sydney and last year Queensland won 6-4.

Notwithstanding controversies over tries and disputed calls by referees and the bunker, rightly or wrongly, the loser will immediately face demands for change.

If Queensland loses Origin One, even by a narrow margin, expect immediate calls for the reinstatement of Billy Slater and for fresh blood in the forwards like Coen Hess and Jarrod Wallace.

Scrutiny of Jonathon Thurston’s rotator cuff before Origin 2 could escalate to levels not seen since Wally Lewis broke his arm before the 1990 Kangaroo tour.

If New South Wales puts in a good performance only to lose by just one or two points, the cries for sackings may be muted.

However a loss of anything over ten points by the Blues will be met with outraged demands for wholesale sackings.

Names like Paul Vaughan, Shannon Boyd, James Tamou, Trent Merrin, Matt Moylan and Dylan Walker will be whirling around like confetti.

NRL Footy Tips Rd 12

by Warren Boland

Overshadowed and almost forgotten in the barrage of State of Origin debate, NRL Round Twelve features just four games.

Heaviest hit by loss of star players to Origin camps for this weekend’s games are the Broncos (6), Roosters (5), Sharks (4) and Bulldogs (3).

The Raiders and Warriors are down just one player each while Souths and Parramatta who meet in the Friday night game are untouched by Origin depletion.

Here are my tips (winners in capitals):

  • Rabbitohs v EELS
  • WARRIORS v Broncos
  • SHARKS v Bulldogs
  • RAIDERS v Roosters

Last week: 6/8    Total: 57/88