Five Things: Cameron Smith is a robot

Like any decent armchair critic, we like to take apart that week that was.

Trawling through the video, analysing the stats – it’s our opportunity to hold the players accountable and pretend we run the game.

Here’s the top five takeaways take from the NRL weekend:

1. Cameron Smith is a robot

Some call it dirty. Some call it boring. Some call it robotic.

No matter the term used to describe Smith’s style of play, it must be acknowledged for its unrelenting consistency. Smith was at his best (as we call it) again on Thursday night, kicking a 40/20 and setting up two early tries within the first ten minutes.

The future immortal also came up with 51 tackles and a host of other attacking stats (off-loads, busts and line break assists) in a display that underpinned his incredible contribution to the Storm and rugby league generally.

Sharks’ coach, Shane Flanagan, was left disappointed with his control of the ruck (and over the referees), but to us it simply illustrated his greatness.

Smith’s 16th season in the competition is turning out to be one of his best, and he leads the Dally M voting after 14 rounds.

2. Success for cross-coders

It’s always a shame seeing talented players leave rugby league for the other code, but nonetheless pleasing to see succeed if they do.

Both Ngami Laumape (ex Warriors) and Ben Te’o (ex Rabbitohs) are making big strides on the rugby field ahead of the All Blacks three tests against the British and Irish Lions.

Te’o has been one of the Lions’ best in their three games thus far and looks to be the only midfield player in the squad with the ability to stop or dominate Sonny Bill Williams. It shapes as an intriguing contest.

Laumape on the other hand has just been included in an All Blacks squad for the first time – a long way from Mt Smart Stadium.

3. ‘Trust the process’

The Philadelphia 76ers coined phrase is now making the rounds through the NRL. It refers to a situation where a coach or manager implores fans for their support, loyalty and trust during a rebuilding phase. Asking them to suffer a little in the interim for potential long-term gain.

It’s being used at the Knights and the West Tigers at the moment as both sides settle into the new rhythms. The Tigers, with a new coach, and Newcastle, with much less money (and talent at their disposal) than in years gone by.

The sides occupy the bottom two positons on the ladder, but have made some astute signings for next year as they work through the ‘process’.

Speculation as to how these teams will get on in 2018 is pretty unhelpful this far out, yet loads of fun.

4. Are Warriors players better elsewhere?

As an unashamed New Zealand Warriors fan, this weekly segment will often feature commentary on their performances (usually with an underlying tone of disappointment or frustration) and this week is no different.

On the table this week, is whether the culture at the Warriors – the lazy, losing mentality – makes it impossible for players to succeed there?

The hypothesis is that players have to leave the Warriors to become better players.

Russell Packer, Sio Sio Taukeiaho, Suaia Matagi and Laumape are players that have thrived elsewhere in the NRL or in rugby union.

Have they become better players, through coaching or age, or is it that the attitude that hindered them at the Warriors or any inefficiencies in their game are just well-hidden amongst better players?

Sam Tomkins, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Isaac Luke and Ryan Hoffman are players with big reputations that have gone backwards after arriving at Mt Smart. Potentially hinting that the players around them, the ones that struggle to put in consistent performances over eighty minutes let alone a season, are dragging them down.

It would be interesting to compare player performance both at the Warriors and after they’ve left to confirm the speculative hypothesis.

5. Titans team of the century?

This is the Titans team of the century.

Preston Campbell, David Mead, Josh Hoffman, Mat Rogers, Kevin Gordon, Aiden Sezer, Scott Prince, Luke Bailey, Nathan Friend, Ryan James, Anthony Laffranchi, Greg Bird, Ashley Harrison, Mark Minichello, Luke Douglas, Brad Meyers, Luke O’Dwyer, Anthony Don.

Nothing flashy or fancy. No names that stick out or that you would call world-class.

Taking nothing away from all the players, it’s a list of just good honest rugby league players that gave it their all, and found it incredibly hard to compete with the likes of the Roosters, Bulldogs, Broncos and Storm with their weighted Third Party Agreements (excluded from the salary cap).

TPAs need to be scrapped to make the league more competitive, and the Titans team of the century is a glaring example of why.

For more on this week’s NRL action, check out our report on how the English players in the competition fared. You can also find a full list of results here.

3 Comments

  1. As far as Cameron Smith is concerned it’s the sign of a natural leader. When it matters he steps up and can be relied upon to do his job and to lift those around him. He’s an inspirational player to have in your team, I reckon he’s good for a feeling of an 8-0 start to any match for the other players. He is lucky to have a very strong pack supporting him, he’s got a world class scrum half in Cooper Cronk and a developing superstar in Cameron Munster to complete the halves, his back line includes the incomparable Billy Slater, then you’ve a coach in Craig Bellamy who has a proven record in nurturing and developing class players as we’ve seen with Addo Carr breaking through this year. It\s been a golden age for the Storm with Smith at the helm. He deserves the recognition for his talents.

    Point 2 about players going to Union, who cares here? They made their choices they went over. I doubt they put in a fraction of the effort for the money the get, you cannot blame them for looking after their financial security for the future as your time at the top is limited and as Alex McKinnon found out sadly it can end in an instant. I am not sure how bad the bias is in the Southern Hemisphere with regard to the Union position on League, here it remains almost as bas as from 1895.

    The Warriors, you have to look at the culture within the club. it’s been seen in the Super League that often player power exceeds that of the coach to bring about change, certain clubs have had issues with players who can’t keep their bits in their shorts causing upset, there have been issues with substance abuse, and worst of all the old fashioned drinking culture which spreads like a cancer. The Warriors need to identify the issue and cut it out like a surgeon to get what they want. I wondered why Foran was only going to be there a short time, i thought after gaining redemption that playing alongside Shaun Johnson was his dream move, and New Zealand’s too, having your first choice half backs playing together week in week out can only help the national side.

    As for the Titans, i stand by my comments elsewhere, when they put out a first choice squad they are going to hand someone a thrashing. It ill come in time, not quickly enough to resurrect this season, but enough to affect who makes the top 8, and with luck next season they will be very competitive. Anthony Don is having a good season in a losing team, he has stood out as a quality player.

    • My observation on league players succeeding in union was simply that; a comment on how well they are doing and how pleasing it is, despite them leaving our game.

      I don’t care if they leave either, but will take an interest, even if the switch doesn’t go that well (ahem, Burgess).

    • Eric, you have asked how bias the game (RL) is here (UK) compared to the other code.
      Allow to explain..
      The broadsheet papers treat the “other code” as if it is some super sport. It gets as much press , if not more , than Football, which genuinely is a global (corrupt, unethical) sport. Rugby Legaue barley gets a mention. Even your fabulous state of origin never gets covered despite the wonderous rugby on show, yet some cr@ppy game in France gets covered and highlighted.
      We (RL) barley get a mention, even if we fill a stadium with 80000+ and its a spectacular game, barely a mention in comparison to “the other code”
      The news is worse than the papers. Sky News even sponsor our game and yet still show the “other code” sponsored by other TV companies.
      The BBC, now they are truly a disgrace. They still the our sport to be some “flat cap , pigeon fancying” sport as oppose to the “upper class” sport that they deem the “other code” to be. Even the parasite royalty here in England watch the “other code”.
      Why is this do you think ? Well its largely because of the bit corporate business which sponsor the “other code” : this game is played in the major universities, so many of the upper class eventually end up in big positions in the corporate world and support their sport with major funding. Banks , some of which have gone bust and have been pulled out of the myre at the tax payers expense ,still to do this date sponsor the “other code” and even at a time when they are losing millions. The “other code” is all about networking for business and their marketeers have done a fabulous job at this, where as our lot are shabby and let the game down wrt marketing strategy, but the press certianlly don’t help.
      This last few months , all you see on TV is the “other code” Lions tour, not a mention of our world cup planned for this year.
      In short , its a disgrace and will never change…
      As a desperate attempt the RL have asked one of our parasite princess to be our royal patron and he has accepted. He is a lover of the “other code” , I suspect he has never watched our game.
      The RL have dropped an almighty clanger when it comes to marketing. When our sport become full time professional, they chance the name to Super League and dropped the “rugby” ~ Prior to this people in the UK distinguished the two sports by quoting “Rugby League” or “Rugby Union” ~ Now the “other code” have adopted the word Rugby. We (RL) should have rebranded as Super Rugby, So some of this is our own doing, but mainly the bias press. TV & Newspapers, especially the London based ones. Just as they do with the Tories and the Labour Party. The latter being akin to Rugby League. Hope this helps, its help me get my frustration out, so I am glad you asked !! David

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