Category Archives: Analysis & Opinion

Gauging the 2018 State of Origin teams – Game I

For the first time in a long time, it looks like we may have a well balanced Origin season. Indeed, the balance may even be a little Blue for my liking but when three of the last generation’s four best players retire from representative football, and they all happened to play for the same state, then the scales will shift perceptibly.

By now, you would know who’s playing for both Queensland and New South Wales in the first of rugby league’s three biggest games. You might even have formed an opinion as to which side is looking the goods. Consensus seems to have settled on this being the Blues’ year. But why settle for the thoughts of experts who have spent the last forty-eight hours tweeting out the leaked Blues lineup, when I’ve crunched the numbers for you?

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The Dally Ms are a wank, let’s use StatScore instead

Let’s get it done off the bat: Ruan Sims didn’t follow the rules. She had to be at the game and she wasn’t. I don’t blame her. It was a punish of a game to have to sit through for anyone other than Eels fans.

I don’t think the actual votes cast are going to matter much. If you think anyone from Parramatta or Manly is getting a Dally M nod this year, you’re an even bigger idiot than I am. Manly will be lucky to still be a first grade club by 2019 the way they’re going.

It is, however, unlucky and unfair that this befalls specifically on Sims and no one else. As a current player, she has the easiest to verify whereabouts. I have no doubt in my mind that she is neither the first nor alone amongst her judging colleagues to have submitted votes by watching a replay. Braver men might come forward to admit that they have done this as well and stand themselves down. Then we could have a sensible discussion about how the player of the year should be awarded, but that seems grossly unlikely in the current climate of hyperbolic overreaction.

In that spirit, let’s throw the whole thing in the bin and start again with something better.

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Which 2018 NRL halves combo is working best?

StatScore, a player rating tool I developed over the off-season, feels like something powerful but I haven’t had a real chance to use it yet. Thanks to Fox League posting individual player stats, I can at least keep updating the scores through 2018 which I was worried I wouldn’t be able to.

But here we are, about one-fifth of the way into the 2018 campaign, and it’s time to start assessing performances. StatScore gives a lot of props to players in the halves, so much so that three of the four top players from the last four seasons have worn the number 7. During the off-season, a lot of the halves shuffled around, including the top line names of Maloney, Cronk, Pearce, Green, Hunt and Marshall. Let’s have a look at how that’s panned out.

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How many NRL premierships should your team have won?

If you’re the Eels, probably a lot more than zero. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Around the start of the finals last year, The Arc posted the probabilities of each finalist winning the AFL grand final. Some guy on Twitter (let’s call him Bill because I don’t remember who it was and I’m not digging out a throwaway tweet from six months ago) asked if the probabilities had been calculated for all finals series throughout history so we could see how many teams were expected to win against reality. They hadn’t but more on that next week.

I thought, in the true embodiment of the philosophy of this site, “That’s a great idea. I’m gonna do that but for NRL.”

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One thing new NRL fans need to know about each team

Last year’s Rugby League World Cup introduced the sport to a lot of new potential fans around the world. If anyone in rugby league administration could see past their nose, they’d be trying to win over these new converts to the game’s top competition: the National Rugby League.

The 2018 season starts this week and if you’re new to the sport, trying to navigate the franchises and understanding why nine teams are based in Sydney can be an arduous task, doubly so if you’re American. I’m here to help by giving you a small overview of each team, just like you guys did for us.

If you need a wider perspective, check out the Complete History of the NRL and the Complete History of the NRL (nerd edition).

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A Complete History of the NRL

Two weeks ago, you may have (but almost certainly did not) read my Complete History of the NRL: Nerd Edition.

Actually, there wasn’t much to read in the way of words and for those who aren’t so inclined to dealing with Elo ratings, Pythagorean expectation and counting premierships, possibly because you’re an Eels fan and don’t remember what victory feels like, I’ve prepared a simpler edition of the Complete History of the NRL.

The history is presented in a series of colourful graphs. The graphs track each team’s win per season and are helpfully annotated to remind you of great moments in NRL history.

And if you’re familiar with the work of Jon Bois, you’ll recognise this as eerily similar to his History of Every NFL Team video, which I have shamelessly ripped off for content.

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