Opinion: Could Cullen fix the Broncos’ halves problem?

Could the solution to the Brisbane Broncos’ halves problem be right under the noses?

It’s no secret the Broncos halves combination was one of the main reason they hadn’t performed to their full potential in 2018.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of Anthony Milford and Kodi Nikorima individually but together, not a good match.

I also understand what Wayne Bennett was trying to do.

Most NRL coaches look to have two types of halves, a runner of the ball and a playmaker who steers the team around the park.

Bennett looked to opt for two runners and use the experience of Andrew McCullough to steer the team around.

Throw into the mix, Jack Bird, the third running half who could have transitioned into a playmaker.

Now, this doesn’t sound too bad in theory but a huge gamble.

What Bennett didn’t plan on was the huge injury toll they copped throughout the year, who can though.

I still think he relied too much on Jack Bird.

What is wrong with buying, or developing a young, playmaker?

Well, there was one option right under their nose.

The young 24-year-old captain for the Redcliffe Dolphins, Cameron Cullen.

I’ll be upfront from the start, I am a huge fan of Cullen and have been from the start of his career in the Intrust Super Cup (Qld Cup).

Joining the Burleigh Bears in 2016, Cullens debuted in the NRL for the Gold Coast Titans and then later in the year took the Bears to a Premiership win.

In 2017, Cullen joined the Manly Sea Eagles and played five games off the bench as a utility.

Late 2017, Cullen was released from his Sea Eagles contract due to family reasons and signed with the Adam Mogg coached Redcliffe Dolphins.

Cullen told Mogg he wanted to take on a senior role in this squad and shortly after was appointed the captain.

In September 2018, Cullen led the Dolphins to their first premiership in many years.

Cullen is a natural playmaker, always looking for opportunities in every attacking play.

Nine Network commentator Scott Sattler has previously praised Cullen on how he attacks the defensive line.

Most playmakers will sit back and watch and see what happens.

Not Cullen, when he receives the ball, he accelerates.

Making it harder for the defensive-line to read what he is about to do.

Defensively, Cullen is similar to Johnathan Thurston, at 80kg, not the biggest guy on the field but will throw his body into any challenge in front of him.

One thing to note here is the Dolphins are a feeder club to the Broncos.

So why was Cullen overlooked?

Yes, 10 NRL games isn’t a huge amount of first-grade experience but he has at least had a taste of what to expect.

This on the surface appears to be a huge oversight for the Broncos.

A young playmaker with a different take on his role, but also a mature mindset to handle the big stage, as captain.

I understand the Broncos have bigger problems at the moment but if they aren’t keeping a close eye on this young playmaker, they will not stand a chance for 2019.

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Opinion: Gallen is in no position to lecture on integrity

Cronulla Sharks Fullback Valentine Holmes has been released from his contract to pursue an NFL career. Sports Talk’s Terry Pascoe takes a look at the reaction from the Sharks Captain Paul Gallen.

Valentine Holmes this week has confirmed on social media he will walk away from the Cronulla Sharks and rugby league to pursue a career in the NFL, effective immediately.

The 23-year-old has played 105 NRL games, 5 State of Origin matches for Queensland and represented Australia 13 times.

It had been rumoured the premiership winner was in high demand with an all-out fight been the Cronulla Sharks and North Queensland Cowboys throwing all the money they had at the superstar.

The latest was Holmes was offered $5 million to stay at the Shire, which would have made him the highest paid player in the Sharks history.

I applaud the young man, why not have a crack at the hugely popular sport, especially if it has been a lifelong ambition to play in the sport.  

I mean, the kid is 23, he could have a decent crack at the American sport over a 5 year period and still come back a stronger and bigger player than when he left rugby league.

This would be in stark contrast of Jarryd Hayne’s attempt at the ripe age of 28.

Since the announcement, the overall reaction to the news has been positive, except for his Sharks captain Paul Gallen.

Gallen has called for Holmes to be banned from playing in the NRL again.

What purpose does this serve?

This is absolutely ludicrous to ban a player for simply following a new career path, particular with the free publicity the NRL are going to gain from any success Holmes has from this venture.

Gallen told the Nine Network he couldn’t see how this was good for the integrity of the game.

What damage has Holmes possible done to rugby league by switching to gridiron?

I can think of something else that did in-fact saw the integrity of the game take a hit.

Peptides, performance-enhancing your body to get the edge over your opponent.

I hate to break it to you Paul but cheating is what effects the integrity of the game, not merely switching to a new sport.

Before any of the keyboard warriors lose their minds and start defending him by saying he didn’t know he was getting pumped with, I just want to say one thing.

Gallen, as well as his teammates, admitted guilt the moment they accepted their bans.

There is enough education around the game which affirms it is the sole responsibility of the athlete themselves to stay clean, not the clubs, not the coach and certainly not old mate down the road at the local supplements shop.

I know because I have gone through the education with the NRL myself.

Blaming the club and/or the medical staff is no different to Shane Warne blaming his Mum, yet he was rubbed out of cricket for two years.

I can understand why he is upset, Holmes will be a huge void to fill.

But please, spare me the lecture about the integrity of the game and focus on signing a new Fullback.

Opinion: Is Australian Cricket in bad shape?

Today, the first of three T20 internationals between Australia and India will be played at the Gabba, Sports Talk’s Terry Pascoe looks at the Australian cricket 15 days before the first ball of the test match in Adelaide.

Australia has come back from the UAE with its tail between its legs after what can only be said as a “rebuilding phase” of Australian cricket.

Now, off the bat I want to make one thing clear, I am an eternal optimist when it comes to most things.

I can still believe my horse can win, 200 metres from the post, and five lengths off the leader.

Is Australian Cricket really in dire straights? Are the general public revolting after the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa?

I don’t believe the Aussies are in that bad of a state compared to what some of the comments being passed around.

Yes, we do not have the world’s best batsman in the side and there really isn’t anyone who can leap into Steve Smith’s shoes.

What we have unearthed is a unique combination between Justin Langer and Tim Paine.

I always felt Paine should have slipped straight into the Australian side after Brad Haddin retired but it wasn’t to be after his horrific thumb injury.

My personal opinion about Paine was a reserved one until I heard his interview with Mark Howard on The Howie Games. Now I am sold!

There was no question Paine is Australia’s best wicketkeeper and now we will see his experience and tenacity as the captain of Australia, in Australia.

I admit, the form of the Aussies in the recent One-Day Internationals wasn’t great but they didn’t have their full strength team playing either.

It is one of the true victims of this unusual schedule was cricket itself and probably the reason why no one was watching the game, either at the ground or on Fox Cricket.

Of course, the Australian’s were never going to put a full strength side together for a handful on One-Dayers and T20s. Why would you?

It has become clear the Australian selectors have told a few Test hopefuls, this is your time to shine.

One surprising resurgence has been Matthew Wade.  

Scoring four half-centuries and one century, Wade has had a remarkable 2018/19 Sheffield Shield season so far.

You would assume Wade’s wicket-keeping days are over for the International stage but could he be selected as a specialist batsman?

Let us not forget though, Wade has copped two contrary conduct charges in recent times.

How does that go down with the new team culture?

On the horizon, you also have the Marsh brothers, who have both been scoring runs recently in lesser forms of the game. Should they be included?

Yes, the Aussies batting attack does need work and, more importantly, confidence but what is in their favour is the world class bowling attack.

Former Australian Captain Steve Waugh said recently if Australia can score 350 runs in their first innings, they are in with a chance of beating India.

Starting from 10 am on the 6th of December, Langer and Paine will be selling their brand of cricket to the Australian audience.

I can’t wait to see this new era, especially with it being tested by arguably one of International crickets toughest competitors, Virat Kohli.

BRING IT ON!

Opinion: Sacking Archer is only one part of the problem

The news of the Director of Refereeing Tony Archer being sacked has Sports Talk regular Terry Pascoe believing this is only one part of the problem.

It has been reported the Director of Refereeing Tony Anchor has been stood down from his position.

This is off the back of numerous controversies throughout the 2018 NRL season and beyond.

Well,  this is what most reports are alluding to.

Let’s take a step back and have a look at the standard of refereeing in the NRL over the last few years. 

Archer was appointed the head coach of the referees in 2014 after Daniel Anderson’s one-year appearance.

Let’s also remember, Anderson replaced Bill Harrigan &Stuart Raper, who replaced long-standing referee boss Robert Finch.

The NRL have sacked five-referee coaches in less than eight years, almost as bad as some of the NRL clubs.

Do you think the standard of refereeing has improved since this merry-go-round started?

The one thing that hasn’t changed is the same people making these blatant errors, the referees themselves, are still refereeing!

Why hasn’t there been a major change in the ranks of the referees?

I get the idea we need to keep the experience on the field but the new referees aren’t coming straight off the street.

A lot of them have been officiating for a decade at the state level.

So, why aren’t we letting these experienced individuals move up into first grade, especially if the current crew aren’t performing?

Do we really need 10 officials with 200 games of experience each to be refereeing at a top level if they are not performing?

It feels like they want regular faces in the game over getting decisions right.

Case in point, Clayton Sharpe officiated 201 Intrust Super Cup games and was widely praised for his 2012 Grand Final performance for having only blown two penalties the whole game.

Now, this wasn’t because he threw the rule book out the window.

This was because he had control, patience and more importantly, he had the ability to read the game.

So, why wasn’t he moved up to the next level? 

It’s believed it’s because of his age.

Apparently, being in your early 30’s is too old to move up to the NRL.

It’s understood the reason Sharpe wasn’t offered a full-time contract was that they thought they would only get a couple of years out of him.

Am I the only one that thinks this is ridiculous?

Shouldn’t our focus be on decision making and not your age?

My next point is there has been a slow decline in recent years of the quality of football we are seeing.

Little infringements being let go because we want the game to flow, only for coaches to exploit, and rightly so.

Coaches are in the business of winning and will do so at whatever the cost.

In my opinion, and some of the referee coaches in the system, this is because of the loose way Archer refereed himself.

The 2018 ‘crackdown’ should never have happened if the referees were officiating correctly from the start of his reign.

They were simply trying to fix a problem he had created.

So, if coaches are in the business of winning at whatever cost, why can’t referees be appointed on their decision making, at whatever cost?

Especially, if the minimum wage for a referee is $150k per year.

Opinion: New era in cricket broadcasting

It’s a new era for cricket in Australia and Sports Talk Contributor Terry Pascoe wonders if the big dollars offered are ruining the fabric of the game.

It’s the dawn of a new era for Cricket Australia and its passionate fans.

For the most passionate supporter, like me, the reality of the new broadcast deal has hit us in the face like the smell of a teenage boy in the middle of summer.

The first ball for the summer has been bowled but has anyone noticed?

Where is the bowler storming in from the Vulture Street end?

In April this year, Cricket Australia announced a new six-year broadcast deal with the Seven Network and Fox Sports, worth $1.182 billion.

The agreement with Seven gives them the hosting rights to the Men’s Test matches and all the Women’s International matches.

Also, Seven has the broadcast rights to 43 men and 23 women’s Big Bash games.

With the exception of the Nine Network holding on to a couple of tournaments, everything else will be aired on Fox Sports dedicated channel, Fox Cricket. 

Now don’t get me wrong, I have loved Fox Cricket so far but not everybody has pay TV.

$1.182 billion is a huge amount of money for any sport in Australia, let alone cricket and this deal has ended the long-standing partnership with the Nine Network, to their shock.

Why did Nine let cricket go?

Was it simply a financial decision or were they so naive in thinking Cricket Australia wouldn’t be shopping around?

In one sense I can understand the latter, especially after what Kerry Packer went through in the 70’s with the Australian Cricket Board.

I feel as though the only winner in this broadcast deal is ABC Grandstand, who will be airing uninterrupted coverage of all International matches.

The one thing the average punter can’t quite understand is when you pay top dollar, like Seven and Fox have, you have the right to choose what games you want, at whatever time-slot you desire.

So the question I ask is, at what cost are these mega broadcast deals a detriment to the game it is on offer to?

What was wrong with starting the Cricket season with five test matches, moving to One-Day Internationals in January and then some 20/20 for the kids?

I feel if Cricket Australia took a hit in the purse pocket but demanded the traditional format to the Australian summer of cricket be maintained, we would all be happy.

Yes, I am well aware of the fact the Gabba only started hosting the first Test Match for the summer in the 90’s but it feels like a tradition to me.

Am I the only one who feels a bit flat about the start of this summer of cricket?

Well, if you take into account the attendance figures in the recent One-Day Series and the ratings from Fox Cricket, I don’t think I am the only one.

I did a short poll with a few passionate cricket fans that I know.

I asked the question, what do you think of the new format for the cricket?

There was one word that kept coming up, “Shit”.

One part of me is hoping Seven and Fox take note of this years viewing figures and revert to the format we all know and love.

I do however believe this could just be teething issues that will sort itself out once we are all accustomed to this new format.

Maroons coaching shake-up

Kevin Walters yesterday announced a coaching shake-up to the Queensland Origin team, in preparation of the 2019 State of Origin campaign.

Walters has opted for a fresh approach to his Maroons team with the inclusion of Petero Civoniceva, Justin Hodges, Billy Slater and Johnathan Thurston.

The inclusion of these four former superstars brings a combined 125 Origin games of experience into the squad.

They have been great servants

Civoniceva has been appointed team manager for the Maroons, whilst Thurston and Slater move into a mentoring role to assist with the fresh-faced origin team.

Hodges will become the new assistant coach for Queensland after his successful campaign as head coach for the under-20s maroon’s team.

The 2018 young Maroons were victorious against the Blues under the leadership of Hodges.

A coaching shake-up was not off the cards with the 2-1 series loss to New South Wales in 2018.

This coaching shake-up wasn’t without casualties with the axing of Trevor Gillmeister, Tony Spencer and Josh Hennay.

“They have been great servants, but I just felt that the time was right to get fresh faces in and around the team with the next generation of players coming through,” he told QRL Media.

Melbourne Storm’s Matthew Barradeen has also been appointed the new trainer for the Maroons.

The opening game of the 2019 State of Origin series will start at Suncorp Stadium on June 5, 2019.

Proteas seal one-day series

South Africa have clenched the Gillette One-Day series over Australia with a 40 run victory at Blundstone Arena, Hobart.

In the final and deciding match of a three-game series, the Proteas’ bowling attack proved too strong for a fragile Australian batting line-up.

Earlier in the day, Australia One-Day Captain Aaron Finch won the toss and sent the visitors in to bat on what appeared to be a good batting pitch.

The Australian’s started the match in blistering form with the Proteas top three batsmen falling cheaply in the opening exchanges.

Unfortunately for the Aussies’, this is where the momentum stopped with the Proteas Captain Faf du Plessis anchoring down at the crease.

Both du Plessis and David Miller combined for a patient but entertaining 252 run partnership to have the Proteas finish their 50-over innings at 5/320.

“It is always good to contribute to the team”

Miller’s 139 run stand wasn’t without controversy with the DRS overturning an LBW decision off Glen Maxwell’s bowling.

Under ICC Rules, any team can refer an LBW decision to the Decision Review System, as long as it is within 15 seconds of the original decision by the Umpire.

It has been reported Proteas’ Captain took 19 seconds to refer this LBW decision.

With a run chase set, the Aussies’ changed their batting line up with the promotion of Chris Lynn opening the batting with Finch.

This new strategy failed in the opening over with Lynn edging the second ball faced, off the bowling of Dale Steyn.

The Aussies started their innings faster than their opponents but lost more wickets in a quick succession.

This was until Shaun Marsh and Marcus Stoinis took control of the match with a 117 run partnership and Marsh sealing his sixth ODI century for the Aussies.

A clinical pace attack from the Proteas had vital wickets fall at key moments in the game, with the Aussies finishing their 50-overs at 9/280.

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Steyn finished the series with seven wickets, increasing his chance of a call-up for the 2019 World Cup in England.

South African batsmen David Miller took out player of the match for his 139 run stand, as well as player of the series off the back of his incredible performance in Australia.

“It is always good to contribute to the team,” he said at the post-match presentation.

Australia and South Africa will next meet on Saturday, 17 November at Metricon Stadium on the Gold Coast for the only T20 clash between the two sides.