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Coaching the Coaches - Australian Rugby league News
globalrugbyleague - Fri, 14 Mar 2008 11:29:00 GMT
The GRL Phantom has been pacing the carpet this week in nervous anticipation for the footy season ahead..
And the erstwhile editor of this super website and educational forum on the greatest game of all time has once asked me to prepare tactics for two games which will kick off the 2008 NRL season in style.

rabbitohs v roosters
March 14, ANZ Stadium, 7.30pm
Referee: Tony Archer
Head To Head: Played 195, Rabbitohs 103, roosters 87, drawn 5.
Coaches Winning Percentage: Jason Taylor (Souths) 53.66%; Brad Fittler (Roosters) 62.5%

What a double decker weekend is in store for NRL fans with two games being hosted at a Stadium named after a bank this weekend.
Let’s talk about the Rabbits and the Chooks and the build-up to this slugfest.
Much has been said and written about this game this week with players and officials from both sides have having their say.
Well fellas, it's time to play.
I fancy South Sydney in this one, but not my much.
Essentially, the teams are evenly matched, but I believe the flexibility in the Souths' bench will decide the game.
With the reduction in interchanges from 12 to 10, Rabbitohs coach Jason Taylor, has gone for strikepower and genuine impact from his bench.
Roosters coach Brad Fittler has a more ''power'' based bench, with Willie Mason named on it. Whether he starts the game, or enters the field as an interchange forward remains to be seen.
Craig Wing wanted to play in number six or seven again. He played at number seven when the Roosters won the 2002 grand final.
The former South Sydney junior is back in his beloved burrow.
Wing's footwork will trouble the slower, more power-laden Roosters forward pack and so too, Isaac Luke from dummy-half as the game wears on.
I expect Souths to shift the ball two and three passes of the ruck early in the tackle count to avoid the collisions as much as possible.
The Roosters, like to employ, a rushing, sledge-hammer style defence early in tackle counts and force errors.
Souths will also kick early in the tackle count to turn the Roosters' big men such as Mason, Nate Myles, Mark O'Meley and David Shillington around and burn up their leg speed and energy reserves.
Verdict: Souths being too slick around the edges of the field, will win by eight.

March 15, ANZ Stadium, 5.30pm.
Referee: Jason Robinson
GRL Tip: Bulldogs
Head To Head: Played 121, Bulldogs 65, Eels 51, drawn 5.
Coaches winning percentages: Michael Hagan (Eels) 54.14%; Steve Folkes (Bulldogs) 59.47%

The Phantom has predicted 2008 to be the year of the Eels.
I do believe the Eels and Cowboys are the genuinely most well balanced teams of the competition and the only two capable of preventing Melbourne from winning back to back titles.
This game at ANZ Stadium represents two arch-rivals too, the Eels and Bulldogs.
It's an Eels home game, transferred to the vast expanses of Homebush to attract the 35,000 plus crowd they anticipate.
Both teams have had their share of off-field problems in recent months.
For the Dogs' it's been boardroom coups.
CEO Malcom Noad was shown the front door, and for the Eels, several players got in trouble and paid the penalty with Jarryd Hayne missing out on selection because of his late night antics.
Eels coach Michael Hagan is a former Bulldog and ex-teammate of Dogs' coach Steve Folkes.
I like the style of Michael Hagan as a footy coach.
He remains low-key, he's smart, smarter than given credit for, and I know for a fact from speaking with those in the Eels' camp, has the utmost respect of his players as a man and his coaching nous.
The Eels still assemble a lethal attacking team without Hayne and Tim Smith, still recovering from shoulder surgery.
I like Finch at half, this is his best position and Feleti Mateo, at number six, or second receiver.
Mateo has the potential to become one of New Zealand's greatest ever internationals along with Krisnan Inu and Sonny Bill Williams.
Mateo has the footwork of a ballet dancer and the passing game of Ricky Stuart and the power of a Warrior. He's got it all. I wish I had it all.
In fact, the Mateo versus Sonny Bill Williams duel is worth the price of admission alone.
This game comes down to this fact, the sublime skill, finesse and power of the Eels, versus the grunt, muscle and hussle of the Dogs.
The Bulldogs won't be easy beats this year.
Their squad is still strong and the back row of Sonny Bill Williams, Andrew Ryan, Reni Maitua (although he's starting this game from the bench and the injured Nick Kouparitsas) the Dogs will still be tough to beat in season 2008.
Ironically, retired great Andrew Johns, has been working with both the Dogs and Eels, tutoring the halves in many facets of the game.
Verdict: Eels by seven in a real battle of trench warfare for the first sixty minute. Then Mateo, Luke Burt and Krisnan Inu will show their sublime skills to decide the outcome. - Read More, Here