NRL Talking Points – 20 October

Here are the talking points in the rugby league world this week.

Freddy a formality

It appears Brad Fittler is all but confirmed as the next NSW State of Origin coach. The early favourite to replace Laurie Daley, Fittler brings NRL coaching experience and an intimate knowledge of Origin, but it looks like it has been acknowledged that he can’t do the job on his own. Phil Gould and Andrew Johns have been touted as his assistants, surely the most high powered support staff ever assembled in the game. Gould and Johns will be invaluable for Freddy, as on face value it is difficult to see what he brings to the table that Daley didn’t. Neither of the assistants wanted the gig full time, so the support role suits them perfectly, although it will be interesting to see if Channel 9 keeps two NSW coaches in the commentary box, as they did with Peter Sterling this year. Fittler will face the same problems Daley did this year, namely a lack of depth in key positions. He must unearth a halfback and a hooker who can trouble Queensland, or his big forwards and fast backs will be unable to finish the job, just like they’ve been unable to do for so long. Good luck Freddy.

New head Titan

In other coaching news, Garth Brennan has beaten off the competition to land the Titans head coaching job. In a similar move to the Rabbits, the Titans have put their faith in a career coach without a stellar playing record. This is encouraging for coaches all around the country, but there is the slightest disappointment in the air that the Gold Coast shied away from the prospect of handing the keys to the Walker brothers. The current coaches of the Ipswich Jets, Ben and Shane Walker have revolutionised the QLD Cup with their innovative strategies and subsequent success. If ever there was a location perfectly suited to a team playing a razzle dazzle, attacking, entertaining style, surely it is the Glitter Strip. It seemed like a great match, but we will have to wait to see if a team is brave enough to give them a shot. A little less structure can only be good for the game. Brennan, meanwhile, will be working hard to secure the signature of Ashley Taylor before the Broncos can get their hands on him at the start of November. It is the most important signing the new coach will, or maybe won’t, get on the dotted line this summer.

Goodbye Jamal

In sad news, Jamal Idris officially retired from rugby league this week. Injuries have ruined the back end of his career, making it easy to forget just how good the big centre was. Representing both NSW and Australia, Idris was one of the game’s most damaging ball runners at his best, and it is a great shame we never saw that over an extended period of time.

Words – Cameron Stokes