June 30, 2012
In this week's edition of Tongue 'n' Cheek, Raiders legend Alan Tongue talks about all the big issues in league.
Cheek: Ricky Stuart keeps getting linked with the Raiders coaching job in the media. Any basis to it, or is it simply unfair on Dave Furner?
Tongue: It is unfair on Dave. The club has made it really clear on a number of occasions they're content with Dave. They know they have some injury problems at the moment, he's contracted until the end of 2014. It's a distraction and it's not just frustrating for Dave, it's frustrating for the playing group. You try as much as you can to steer clear of it, but the constant speculation and turmoil around the club isn't ideal for playing your best footy. That's what disappoints me about it.
Cheek: The players keep saying they don't worry about the coaching speculation, that it's out of their hands. So it's not that simple?
Tongue: I've been through it on a number of occasions, you try and focus but it's brought up all the time and you can't hide from it. It takes a very mentally tough and strong player to completely put it aside and play their best footy. With a young group, it's hard to deal with.
Cheek: You're great mates with Josh Miller. You'd be hoping the former Raiders hard nut will survive the chop and play for the Dragons at Canberra Stadium on Monday night.
Tongue: It would be tough for him coming back here, he didn't want to leave. He's had a couple of injuries, which has been disappointing. He'll try and not let his emotions cloud his judgment too much. With Trent Merrin coming back from Origin camp I'm not too sure what the Dragons' make-up will be.
Cheek: I'd imagine you would rather have gouged your eyes out with a screwdriver than play against your beloved Raiders in your day.
Tongue: I was fortunate I never had to do that, it would be tough, especially for a guy like Josh who went right through our junior system. He's good mates with a lot of the players still here, and it would be difficult.
Cheek: With all the injuries to the Raiders' experienced players at the moment, he'd be handy to have here right now, wouldn't he?
Tongue: It would be nice, but like you said you can't predict injuries. He helped the culture around the place because he set the standard with training and preparation.
Cheek: What about the smoke and mirrors up in Queensland regarding who will play fullback for them on Wednesday? It was always going to be Greg Inglis.
Tongue: Matty Bowen's been in unbelievable form but so has Greg Inglis. We've seen with South Sydney he's got more open space around him and touches the ball more. Billy's going to be a huge loss for them, but Inglis is going to be a handful.
Cheek: Are those Cane Toads vulnerable for extermination after seven years of causing pain?
Tongue: They are a little bit vulnerable at the moment. They've had to make a few changes, which upsets the combinations in the team that they've had for the last four or five years. Playing up there is a huge advantage for them, it's Petero's last game, and there's a lot in their favour.
Cheek: Last year the Blues won game two in Sydney as well, but before Ricky had barely taken his seat in the coaches box they were down 24-0 in Lockyer's farewell. Lesson learnt?
Tongue: They blew them away and I know NSW fought back and showed plenty of grit, but they were just outplayed and outclassed. That first 25 minutes was almost the best period of Origin footy I've seen the last few years.
Cheek: The Maroons will be wanting to run through brick walls for big Petero, but should your former Raiders teammate David Shillington be starting in front of him? The big unit was Queensland's players' player in game two.
Tongue: It will be interesting to see if they stick with Petero, or Shillo starts for them. Your bench players are just as important in the modern game. Having Shillo coming on at 20 minutes is a huge advantage to have, but can you imagine the Suncorp Stadium crowd if Petero came on 20 minutes into the game, how much that would lift their side?