Matt Cleary

Author's details

Name: Matt Cleary
Date registered: October 20, 2014
URL: http://www.theguardian.com/sport/super-rugby

Latest posts

  1. NRL players’ star value pushing demands over revenue sharing — March 26, 2017
  2. Rugby league needs to be saved from itself over concussion management — March 20, 2017
  3. Cronulla kick off NRL season tasked with defending the indefensible | Matt Cleary — March 1, 2017
  4. Cronulla kick off NRL season tasked with defending the indefensible | Matt Cleary — March 1, 2017
  5. Cronulla kick off NRL season tasked with defending the indefensible | Matt Cleary — March 1, 2017

Author's posts listings

Mar 26

NRL players’ star value pushing demands over revenue sharing

Players feel they are not paid commensurate with other branches of the entertainment industry for what they bring to the table

As the recent travails of Jason Taylor and Des Hasler show, players can make or break coaches. How players perform each weekend is attributed to their coaching and, right or wrong, if players perform poorly for long enough, the coach gets it.

It’s like this because players are the stars of the show. Each week the NRL puts on a show – eight games of footy. Rugby league is entertainment and players are entertainers. And if a dud movie is made, it’s the director who won’t work again, not the top actor.

Related: NRL: Tigers begin post-Taylor era with capitulation loss to Storm

Related: NRL referees should be able to order concussion tests, says Peponis

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/mar/27/nrl-players-star-value-pushing-demands-over-revenue-sharing

Mar 20

Rugby league needs to be saved from itself over concussion management

The NRL is under fire after another weekend blighted by on-field concussion but the players themselves can help drive a change in attitudes towards head injury

There is plenty of fine footy on the highlights reel after round three of the 2017 NRL season and yet the vexed issue of concussion management dominates many post-round re-caps, as it should.

Channel Nine talking head Peter FitzSimons – who would know as much as any lay man about the medical effects of concussive injury causing bleeding on the brain – led the way with an impassioned and compelling plea after Knights fullback Brendan Elliot was collected hard across the chops by a swinging South Sydney arm.

Related: NRL: Burgess elbow incident sours Rabbitohs win over Newcastle

Related: Rugby League Week’s demise a sad sign of the times in NRL media

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/mar/20/rugby-league-needs-to-be-saved-from-itself-over-concussion-management

Mar 01

Cronulla kick off NRL season tasked with defending the indefensible | Matt Cleary

Recent history and their off-season recruitment policy suggest the defending premiers will find it difficult to go back-to-back

The last NRL club to win back-to-back grand finals was Brisbane in 1992-93. And they were some footy side. Coached by Wayne Bennett, they trotted out an Origin-strength XVII including Allan Langer, Steve Renouf, Willie Carne, Glenn Lazarus, Kevin and Kerrod Walters, Trevor “The Axe” Gillmeister, Chris Johns and Julian O’Neill.

But they still had to come from fifth in ’93 to do it. And they did need to be lucky enough to (again) front a Dragons side whose firepower featured stick-legged wing Ian “Chook” Herron and Graeme “The Penguin” Bradley whose sole job in the centres was to test Renouf’s dodgy jaw. Which he failed to accomplish.

Related: Signs point to intriguing NRL season on field but definitely ‘more to do’ off it | Paul Connolly

Related: Geoff Toovey: ‘It’s very easy to pull club culture apart’

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/mar/02/cronulla-kick-off-nrl-season-tasked-with-defending-the-indefensible

Mar 01

Cronulla kick off NRL season tasked with defending the indefensible | Matt Cleary

Recent history and their off-season recruitment policy suggest the defending premiers will find it difficult to go back-to-back

The last NRL club to win back-to-back grand finals was Brisbane in 1992-93. And they were some footy side. Coached by Wayne Bennett, they trotted out an Origin-strength XVII including Allan Langer, Steve Renouf, Willie Carne, Glenn Lazarus, Kevin and Kerrod Walters, Trevor “The Axe” Gillmeister, Chris Johns and Julian O’Neill.

But they still had to come from fifth in ’93 to do it. And they did need to be lucky enough to (again) front a Dragons side whose firepower featured stick-legged wing Ian “Chook” Herron and Graeme “The Penguin” Bradley whose sole job in the centres was to test Renouf’s dodgy jaw. Which he failed to accomplish.

Related: Signs point to intriguing NRL season on field but definitely ‘more to do’ off it | Paul Connolly

Related: Geoff Toovey: ‘It’s very easy to pull club culture apart’

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/mar/02/cronulla-kick-off-nrl-season-tasked-with-defending-the-indefensible

Mar 01

Cronulla kick off NRL season tasked with defending the indefensible | Matt Cleary

Recent history and their off-season recruitment policy suggest the defending premiers will find it difficult to go back-to-back

The last NRL club to win back-to-back grand finals was Brisbane in 1992-93. And they were some footy side. Coached by Wayne Bennett, they trotted out an Origin-strength XVII including Allan Langer, Steve Renouf, Willie Carne, Glenn Lazarus, Kevin and Kerrod Walters, Trevor “The Axe” Gillmeister, Chris Johns and Julian O’Neill.

But they still had to come from fifth in ’93 to do it. And they did need to be lucky enough to (again) front a Dragons side whose firepower featured stick-legged wing Ian “Chook” Herron and Graeme “The Penguin” Bradley whose sole job in the centres was to test Renouf’s dodgy jaw. Which he failed to accomplish.

Related: Signs point to intriguing NRL season on field but definitely ‘more to do’ off it | Paul Connolly

Related: Geoff Toovey: ‘It’s very easy to pull club culture apart’

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/mar/02/cronulla-kick-off-nrl-season-tasked-with-defending-the-indefensible

Feb 22

Few star attractions make Super Rugby in 2017 a tough sell | Matt Cleary

It’s not that there aren’t super players in Super Rugby, it’s just that they are spread thinly. And the format of the competition is hardly adding interest

Super Rugby, you could argue, in terms of speed and skill and power, and any number of different markers, has never been better. Rugby, like everything, evolves and improves – either gradually, or seismically when a Jonah Lomu turns up, or you can lift in the lineout, things like that. Yet Super Rugby doesn’t feel like it’s better. Rather, the Super Rugby competition is a bit uninspiring.

The 2017 season starts on Thursday night, when the Rebels and Blues meet at AAMI Park, but there’s some chance you didn’t know that, such is the lack of fanfare about the competition.

Related: Could a rugby union State of Origin be more than a glorified exhibition match? | Paul Connolly

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/feb/23/few-star-attractions-make-super-rugby-in-2017-a-tough-sell

Dec 31

What lies ahead in 2017: the major highlights in Australian sport

Women’s AFL, the year of Kyrgios, more sevens success? 2016 was an ‘annus horribilis’ for some but there is plenty to stoke the spirits in 2017

The three week Australian tennis ‘season’ (like the Australian golf season except hotter) climaxes with the Australian Open finals on the weekend of January 28-29.

Australian hopes rest on the much-maligned man-child Nick Kyrgios whom good judges (Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray) suggest has the game to become a world No1 and major championship winner.

Related: Australia’s sporting year in review – fairytales, flops and fiascos of 2016

Related: The 2016 Rusties: Guardian Australia’s alternative sporting awards

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jan/01/2017-preview-major-highlights-australian-sport

Oct 29

Kangaroos handed warm up game as Four Nations opener underwhelms

Australia’s dominate win over Scotland makes you question the merits of a Four Nations tournament in which only three nations provide a contest

In the original version of The Longest Yard (1974), starring Burt Reynolds, Eddie Albert and James Hampton as “Caretaker”, Reynolds’ character, former NFL quarterback Paul “Wrecking” Crewe has a conversation with Albert’s prison warden Rudolph Hazen.

Crewe, for a slew of reasons, has ended up in Hazen’s jail. And Hazen wants some advice from Crewe about how to improve his prison football team, otherwise he’ll further imprison Crewe because he’s been bad.

Related: Australia open Four Nations with comfortable victory over Scotland

Related: Rugby league Four Nations: team-by-team guide

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2016/oct/29/australia-scotland-rugby-league-four-nations

Oct 16

Kiwis can improve before Four Nations – but so too can favourites Australia | Matt Cleary

A determined yet error-prone New Zealand side were found out in Perth by the Kangaroos, who will head to the tournament in England full of confidence

Some years ago when Australia played France in a Test match in the regional NSW town of Parkes – known for a giant space dish, a movie about it called The Dish, and as home of the Parkes Spacemen rugby league club – it was the great and wise Ray Warren who said, “There’s something about Test match rugby league”. And he was bang on.

For though that Test match is pretty much remembered only for a rooster that was set free on the field, there was, as Warren said, something indefinable about Australia playing Test match footy. Regardless of the opposition, to wear the famous wattle gold V-stripes on a background of eucalyptus green, makes you the best of your kind and from a storied line of champions.

Related: Valentine Holmes stars on debut as Kangaroos down Kiwis

Related: Australia too good for rusty Kiwis in Perth league Test – as it happened

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/oct/17/kiwis-can-improve-before-four-nations-but-so-too-can-favourites-australia

Oct 13

Australia and New Zealand well set to justify pre-Four Nations scheduling | Matt Cleary

This weekend’s rugby league Test may be a calendar filler, but with so much talent in – and no love lost between – the two sides, entertainment is on the cards

The Four Nations is just around the corner, yet before the big kick off in England, rugby league fans will have a chance to watch the two main protagonists go toe to toe half a world away from where the tournament will actually take place in two weeks’ time.

And it’s entirely reasonable to ask the question: what is this fixture on Saturday afternoon in Perth all about? For money? For content? Because pay-television by dint of its very business model needs to air programs so that people will continue to pay up front for television that comes also with advertisements?

Related: Greg Bird released from end of Gold Coast Titans deal

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/oct/14/australia-and-new-zealand-well-set-to-justify-pre-four-nations-scheduling

Oct 02

NRL premiers Cronulla laughing long and hard for all the right reasons | Matt Cleary

For so long a punchline in the NRL world, the Cronulla Sharks’ 2016 NRL premiership triumph over Melbourne ensures they now get the last laugh

Some years ago, in the guise of Rugby League Week’s “Man On The Hill”, I headed down to Remondis Stadium, the home ground of Cronulla Sharks. There on the hill I laughed along with the Sharks fans as their centre-three-quarter Ben Pomeroy dropped the ball, time and again. We laughed like fiends.

Such was the lot of your average Sharks fan – you just laughed. What else could you do? It was like you owned the players and their errors. They were the fans’ errors. And it was all a big gag, a bit like the Barmy Army celebrating their terrible team by singing songs of their badness. It was the height of good humour.

Related: NRL grand final: Cronulla Sharks vs Melbourne Storm – in pictures

Related: Cronulla Sharks beat Melbourne to break 50-year NRL premiership drought | Sam Perry

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/oct/02/nrl-premiers-cronulla-laughing-long-and-hard-for-all-the-right-reasons

Sep 13

Criticism of NRL referees is nothing new, but fallibility must be accepted | Matt Cleary

If rugby league is to retain any kind of fluidity, the pursuit of officiating perfection – and the whingeing over poor calls that comes with it – needs to end

One day, rugby league is going to eat itself, like a man eating his own head. And on Friday night at Suncorp Stadium, it started nibbling away. During the elimination final between Brisbane and Gold Coast, rugby league reached peak hysteria when the NRL’s much-maligned bunker made a decision, went to the board and got the call 100% correct – and people bayed for their blood.

See the incident in your head: it’s the 10th minute, Broncos centre Jordan Kahu bangs away down the left before Konrad Hurrell tackles him almost on the line. Kahu reaches around to plant the ball on the try-line but Hurrell kicks the ball from Kahu’s grasp. The referee on the spot, Gerard Sutton, who can see the ball hasn’t been planted, signals “No Try” but throws the decision off to the bunker to check what exactly happened.

Related: Broncos dump Gold Coast from NRL finals after bunker controversy

Related: NRL match officials ‘too scared to make a call’, says Josh Morris after defeat

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/sep/13/criticism-of-nrl-referees-is-nothing-new-but-fallibility-must-be-accepted

Sep 10

Wallabies play with energy and substance to defeat Springboks

  • Australia 23-17 South Africa at Suncorp Stadium
  • Michael Cheika’s side get confidence boost against Springboks

Australia played with energy, substance and style to defeat South Africa 23-17 in Brisbane, a performance which snapped a six-Test losing streak, left the Mandela Plate in the ARU’s trophy cabinet and went some way to easing pressure on Michael Cheika’s beleaguered team.  

With a defensive tenet that gave the Springboks little space, and attack which was equal parts guile, variety and strong running lines – and all largely orchestrated by a resurgent Quade Cooper – the Wallabies were deserved winners.

Related: Warren Gatland to stand down from Wales and focus fully on Lions tour

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/sep/10/wallabies-play-with-energy-and-substance-to-defeat-springboks

Aug 29

Michael Cheika and Steve Hansen a study in contrasts and similarities

The Wallabies can’t hope to match the All Blacks on field, but the mind games between their head coaches continue to be a fascinating Bledisloe Cup sub-plot

International rugby coaches, it’s widely acknowledged by experts, are crazy people. Ridiculously competitive, ornery, cussed. They manipulate men, read The Art of War and sit in glass booths and rage against the Gods.

Well, Michael Cheika does. He’s good television in the coach’s box. There’s a camera pointed permanently at him. Like Craig Bellamy at Melbourne Storm or Ricky Stuart on the sideline, Cheika is good theatre. There’s no filter, he doesn’t turn off because there’s people looking at him. It’s raw stuff. And all power to him.

Related: All Blacks’ ‘secret meeting’ with referee did not happen, says Steve Hansen

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/aug/29/michael-cheika-and-steve-hansen-a-study-in-contrasts-and-similarities

Aug 19

Away Days: Team Cadby takes on The Power as big-time darts hit Sydney | Matt Cleary

The stars of darts reached Australian shores as local hope Corey Chadby took on Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor among Power Rangers, Nuns and many billowy shirts

“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled,” says Kevin Spacey’s Roger “Verbal” Kint in the 1995 sleeper hit The Usual Suspects, “was convincing the world he did not exist.” Similarly, sort of, the greatest trick the world of televised professional darts has ever pulled is actually existing at all.

That people will tune in and turn up in big numbers to watch middle-aged men in very bad shirts throwing sharp little spears at a big wheel of cheese – and really, really enjoy it – is a piece of chutzpah Keyser Soze would appreciate. How the hell did they pull that off?

Related: Away Days: boxer Joseph Parker’s Rumble in Paradise thrills Samoa

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/aug/19/away-days-team-cad-takes-on-the-power-as-big-time-darts-hit-sydney

Aug 03

Australia’s medal chances in Rio: your Olympic planner for the next two weeks

Wondering when you’ll need to tune in to watch Australia win gold over the Olympic fortnight? Look no further than Matt Cleary’s guide (all times AEST)

09:00 The opening ceremony – Firecrackers, feathers and frolicking. So much frolicking. The big dance is Rio’s big be vinda to the world – a chance to show off and let it all hang out. And while it may be naff in parts, you should wake up and watch it over your Wheaties. Because almost everyone else will.

Related: Going for gold: Australia’s best hopes for Olympic success in Rio | Paul Connolly

Related: David Squires on … Australia’s rich history at the Olympic Games

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/aug/03/australias-medal-chances-in-rio-your-olympic-planner-for-the-next-two-weeks

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