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Editorial - Australian Rugby league News
globalrugbyleague - Mon, 26 Mar 2007 11:03:00 GMT
The question is not if but when will we see the first NRL halfback dumped to the lower grades in 2007. At the moment, there is no shortage of candidates.

While coaches being sacked seems like an unlikely scenario at any club this season, the odd halfback or two could very well be on the coaches chopping board in a matter of weeks.

Most of those struggling to achieve what is expected of the man wearing the number 7 jersey will simply be moved to a position which yields more of their attacking strengths.

But there is at least one NRL club where the lower grade halfback is viewed by many in league quarters as more then capable of outshining the incumbent first grade star.

NRL coaches are pleading for their fans to be patient. But how soon will the coaches patience run out? The time to get the combinations right on the field is limited.

For teams who don’t have a win by the end of round four or five, the season could become a very long one and that’s when I’m expecting to see some big decisions made.

Could we see a halfback get traded to another club or head to England in season 2007? Don’t discount this possibility either.

Last year we had the coaches merry-go-round. Perhaps this season we’ll see clubs exchanging players who have not been able to clone their past success.

The most positive halfback pairing we’ve witnessed so far in the season has to be the combination of Jeremy Smith and Joe Williams at South Sydney.

In the pre-season neither of these two wonderfully gifted individuals was considered in the top echelon of five-eighths and halfbacks in the NRL.

Yet many of the individuals rated better then Smith and Williams have hardly been as impressive in the first two rounds.

What’s admirable about these two players – who started off in Premier league last season – is their ability to click so soon despite competing for the same job at one stage.

Their individual efforts yesterday did not go unnoticed either.

Smith set up a wonderful try to winger Nathan Merritt in the left corner yesterday off a short cross-field kick while Williams kicked his second 40/20 of the year.

Yes they’ve only won two games together and it’s a long season but if early form is a sign of how they can go throughout the season then they will become the best halves pairing South Sydney has had since 1989.

How did former coach Shaun McRae feel about the form of Joe Williams this weekend I wonder?

Two of the four new teams in the Jim Beam Cup competition won on debut last weekend against more experienced outfits.

Chester Hill under former Bulldogs tough guy Geoff Robinson defeated Asquith 22-16 while Shellharbour took care of Erina 18-8 at Ron (not Peter) Costello Oval.

It will be interesting to see if one of the new teams can compete for a spot in the finals. Their biggest challenge however will be when they play the Sydney Bulls.

The Bulls – who regularly set the standard for tough as nails football – have won the Jim Beam Cup twice since it’s inception in 2003 and will be hard to beat this year.

However not since the Wentworthville Magpies of 1998-99 won the Metropolitan Cup has a team won back to back titles in this grade, so the challenge is there for the Sydney Bulls.

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