Each week we take you through the five big issues that have come out of the latest round of the VB NSW Cup competition - as well as anything else we reckon is worth reporting.
5. Angry Andy
It appears as though the Bulldogs’ VB NSW Cup coach Andy Patmore is cut from the same cloth as the club’s NRL mentor Des Hasler. Dessie – and his magnificent mop (call me jealous) – is infamous for his sprays whether they be in the coaches’ box, at media conferences or inside the dressing sheds. (Who could forget the time he ripped a door off its hinges when he was coaching Manly?) In yesterday’s VB NSW Cup Finals Week Two clash between the Bulldogs and Warriors, Patmore was equally as vocal – his constant yelling and screaming echoing around the top tier of the grandstand at Jubilee Oval. Dessie, who was sat beside Patmore, must have been impressed! I wonder how loud Patmore would have been had his side actually lost the match!
4. Best in Blue
Who is the best NSW VB Blues player of them all? That’s the question that will be answered at the 2015 Brad Fittler Medal, taking place at The Star in Sydney tonight. The awards night celebrates the Blues’ best player, as judged by his peers and coaching staff, as well as a range of other standout achievements across all New South Wales Rugby League competitions and programs. Be sure to visit www.NSWRL.com.au in coming days for more.
3. Stars Align
There was no shortage of crowd-pulling power at the VB NSW Cup semi-finals double header at Jubilee Oval yesterday. No fewer than three current NRL first-grade coaches were spotted in the crowd, alongside a number of high-profile representative players too. Our count had Hasler, incoming Knights coach Nathan Brown, Panthers boss Ivan Cleary, league legend Noel ‘Crusher’ Cleal and myriad stars, including Bulldogs bunch Josh Jackson, Aiden Tolman, Josh Reynolds and Sam Kasiano, watching the action. Quite the attraction! (Don’t miss Finals Week Three and the grand final – tickets are just $10 for adults, with kids under 12 free. Now that’s good value!)
2. Embarrassment of Riches
Some might have been scratching their heads when the Bulldogs allowed Origin half Trent Hodkinson to leave at season’s end. It’s hard to argue against their decision though when you look at how Moses Mbye is going… and how their VB NSW Cup playmaker is faring! Jaline Graham (read about his rise to prominence here) is a bona fide future superstar and in the semi-final clash against the Warriors, scored one of the tries of the year… probably in any grade around the country – an incisive left-foot step followed by another left-foot step before a shimmy-shimmy shake and a sprint to the line. It was Benji Marshall-esque and a superb piece of individual brilliance. While the Dogs would no doubt have loved to have kept a genuine match-winner like ‘Hokko’ on their books, in this day and age with the salary cap and all that jazz, you simply can’t keep ‘em all!
1. Gal's Giant Gesture
Fair to say Cronulla and NSW VB Blues skipper Paul Gallen has been receiving a fair bit of criticism of late – both in regards to his on-field efforts and his (alleged) off-field behaviour. We thought we’d share a bit about the ‘Gal’ we know. Earlier this year in Origin camp, Gallen, with the help of the Cronulla club and the New South Wales Rugby League, arranged to meet a big Sharks and Blues fan suffering from terminal cancer. The inspirational on-field leader invited the sick man, Al, and his family to lunch with the Origin side. A simple meet-and-greet with Gal was on Al’s bucket list – but Gallen went above and beyond to make Al feel welcomed at the luncheon in Camp Coffs, delivering a heartfelt speech in front of the entire Origin squad and presenting him with a signed Blues shirt before sitting and eating with him and his family across almost two hours. It is with great sadness we report Al has passed – but we know Gal, as well as coach Laurie Daley and the entire Blues side, did so much to make one of the final days of Al’s life “one of the best ever”, as his family reported back via email. It was a pleasure to witness exactly how much of a positive impact gestures like Gal’s have on the community and, in particular, those who are suffering. RIP, Al.