Suncorp Stadium Aerial

GIVE & GO by Marco


Courier Mail's leading sports columnist, Marco Monteverde, writes for Suncorp Stadium about the issues and personalities the fans are talking about. Agree or disagree, his columns certainly provoke spirited debate.

NOVEMBER 2018 | GIVE & GO by Marco
Fri 09 Nov, 2018

GIVE AND GO a weekly column by The Courier-Mail's Marco Monteverde

OCTOBER 2018 | GIVE & GO by Marco
Thu 18 Oct, 2018

GIVE AND GO a weekly column by The Courier-Mail's Marco Monteverde

SEPTEMBER 2018 | Mike Coleman
Wed 26 Sep, 2018

Mike Coleman's weekly column 

SEPTEMBER 2018 | Six of the BEST
Thu 06 Sep, 2018

Mike's SIX OF THE BEST for the month of September. 
WALLABIES

AUGUST 2018 | Six of the BEST
Thu 16 Aug, 2018

Mike's SIX OF THE BEST for the month of August. 
BRISBANE BRONCOS, JOHNATHAN THURSTON, MANLY SEA EAGLES

MAY 2018 | WHAT DO YOU RECKON?
Thu 31 May, 2018

I reckon this weekend’s NRL round should be renamed ‘Maroons Hooker Trial Round’. In this column last week I wrote that Broncos number 9 Andrew McCullough was the game’s unluckiest hooker to be stuck behind Queensland legend Cameron Smith. Well what do you know? Seven days later Smith has hung up his rep boots and the door is wide open for McCullough. Trouble is, there’s two other top-class players who are dead keen to get through it before him. Wayne Bennett has made it clear that he believes that McCullough is the pea for the job, and Paul Green is just as adamant that his man Jake Granville would look good in maroon. Ask Roosters coach Trent Robinson and you can rest assured that he’ll vote for Jake Friend. Of course there’s only one coach whose opinion matters, and that’s Kevin Walters. The good news for Kevvie is that he’ll get the chance to see all the candidates under the best possible circumstances on the weekend. As luck would have it the Broncos and Roosters just happen to be playing each other at Suncorp Stadium tomorrow night. It’s a crucial game for both sides, but the battle of the number 9s will be worth the price of admission on its own. Then on Sunday afternoon the Cowboys are up against South Sydney in Townsville. With the Rabbitohs’ Damien Cook odds-on to be the Blues hooker and Granville keen to be the one lining up against him in Game 1, I reckon by Sunday night Kevvie Walters is going to have plenty to think about. What do YOU reckon?

I reckon we’ll see Queensland’s greatest-ever hooker running around at Saturday’s Suncorp Stadium double-header – and it’s unluckiest. The Storm’s Cameron Smith and Broncos’ Andrew McCullough won’t be lining up against each other, but it will be worth going along just to see them both in action. There’s little doubt that Smith will become an Immortal when his playing days are over. The 42 Origin matches he has played – and still counting – will make sure of that, but my question is this: if Smith hadn’t played those 42 Origins, how many would McCullough have played? Since 2003 Smith has missed just one Origin through injury. That was in 2010 and Manly’s Matt Ballin was his replacement. After the way he came back early from a serious elbow injury to take his place against the Bulldogs last week you wouldn’t rule anything out when it comes to McCullough but it would appear Origin might have passed him by. It’s not the first time a very talented player has been stuck behind a great one. I remember Queensland five-eighth Alan Smith telling me about his one and only Origin game, the first in 1980. After that, he said, Wally Lewis was handed the number six jersey “and that was that”. Even so I reckon Wayne Bennett wouldn’t swap McCullough for any other hooker in the competition – except maybe Cameron Smith. What do YOU reckon?

I reckon the double header at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday week could be prove to be one of the most important rounds of the season for the four clubs in action – especially for the Manly number 7. If the Sea Eagles and Titans are to stay in touch with the leaders they are going to have to pull off a couple of mighty upsets, and if the Storm and Broncos are to be a real force this year they’ll have to be absolutely ruthless against two teams that are desperate to stay alive. It all makes for a fascinating few hours of footy. The double-header concept has been a huge winner for the NRL since it was introduced and this will be the third time that Manly and Melbourne have each given up a home game to play at the country’s number one rugby league stadium. There’s no question the Sea Eagles will make a healthy financial profit from their decision to play on the road, but they’ll need a win against the Broncos to really make it worth their while. Both clubs have been hit hard by injury this season and giving away home ground advantage will only make it harder for the Sea Eagles in what will be a must-win game. Adding spice to the contest will be the fact that a keen spectator will be Queensland coach Kevin Walters who will get the chance to see a host of Maroons hopefuls in action, most notably Daly Cherry-Evans who has made no secret of the fact that he is sick of watching Origin on TV. As for the Titans chances against the reigning Premiers? Well, you wouldn’t back them with my money but given some of the results we’ve had so far this season I reckon anything is possible. What do YOU reckon?

APRIL 2018 | WHAT DO YOU RECKON?
Mon 30 Apr, 2018

I reckon all those so-called experts out there who think Wayne Bennett has passed his use-by date should open their eyes. Have they been watching what is happening this season? Plenty of the negative comments I read about Bennett mention the fact that he “only” won premierships at Brisbane when he had a team full of Origin stars. Well, that’s not the case now. It seems to me the true worth of a coach, and a club, is how they go in the tough times, not the good, and right now the Broncos are very much in the former category. They started the season without a top class halfback, their biggest off-season signing was coming back from injury and way off full fitness and the captain wasn’t much better. Then, of course, there was the controversy over Matt Lodge. Throw in the loss of Matt Gillett and Andrew McCullough, to my mind the two most important players in the team, and you’ve got any number of reasons for a side to turn it up and reach for the box of excuses. So what happens? They keep slugging away, plugging the holes and producing youngsters from nowhere who become household names overnight. Eight rounds in they’re four and four and they’ve just beaten a Rabbitohs side that a week ago was touted as having the best backline in the comp. If that’s the sign of a coach who can’t cut it anymore then I reckon there must be a few other coaches worried about their jobs right now. What do YOU reckon? 
 
I reckon there’s a real symmetry going on with the Reds’ milestone game against the Chiefs at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night. It is Queensland Rugby’s 1000th capped game – and it also marks the first appearance this season of George Smith who must have played 1000 games in his career. Having spent the last few months researching the recent history of the Wallabies, it is staggering how many times Smith’s name comes up, and just what an incredible contribution he has made to the game here and overseas. He tried his heart out for the Reds last year in a side that never really clicked. With the arrival of Brad Thorn and his youth policy this season the Reds showed plenty of fight and potential in their early matches. It was always going to be hard for the youngsters to maintain momentum in the tough Super Rugby environment and they have struggled over the past two rounds. They needed an injection of experience and leadership, and there is no better on-field role model in the game than Smith. I reckon he is the right man at the right time to help give the Reds their second wind. What do YOU reckon? 
 
I reckon Nathan Brown overstepped the mark in his attack on Wayne Bennett last week. I’m all for a bit of banter between footie coaches – sports reporters wouldn’t have much to write about if officials didn’t open up every now and again – but getting personal like Brown did after the Knights win over the Broncos was not on. Having worked in the UK for a couple of years I’ve seen blanket media coverage of coach-speak at its absolute heaviest. There is not a word that an EPL manager utters at a media conference or post-game interview that is not reported, dissected and interpreted from every possible angle. Likewise there are some genuine feuds between many of the biggest name officials in the game. Believe me, there is nothing put-on or contrived about the animosity between Manchester United’s Jose Mourinho and Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger. It even got physical one time when they had a bit of sideline push and shove while Mourinho was in charge of Chelsea. But even those two would never stoop to making comments about each other’s private lives. We don’t accept our politicians dragging family matters into their debates and I reckon we should never accept it in sport either. What do YOU reckon? 
 
I reckon the coaching machinations in Queensland right now are almost more interesting than the footy. The departure of Kevvie Walters from the Broncos, the to-ing and fro-ing over Paul Green’s contract negotiations at the Cowboys and the endless speculation over Wayne Bennett’s future is like the NRL version of Days of Our Lives. To hear one version of events it seems that Walters was frustrated by Bennett’s refusal to let him implement his ideas on improving the Broncos’ attack. Given Bennett’s long-held – and very successful – belief that if you get your defence right the attack will follow, that theory makes sense. But then there is the school of thought that Kevvie was concerned that his dual-roles at Brisbane and the Maroons were impacting on his effectiveness in both jobs. It wouldn’t be easy rocking up to Broncos training having just sacked a key player from the Origin squad now would it? As for Green’s reluctance to sign a long-term contract with the Cowboys, is that because he has been told he has the inside running at the Broncos when Bennett steps down? And if that is the case, where does that leave Kevvie, who many believe is the right man for that job? I reckon it’s the best footy show since … well, The Footy Show. What do YOU reckon?

MARCH 2018 | WHAT DO YOU RECKON?
Sat 31 Mar, 2018
I reckon calls for the Gold Coast Titans to be relocated to Brisbane are off the mark. Brisbane might be able to maintain another NRL club but I don’t think packing up the Titans and sending them up the highway is the answer. The Gold Coast is a rugby league town, there is no question about that, and the NRL should do everything it can to continue to have a strong presence on the Glitter Strip. The problem with running a team on the Coast is just that – it’s on the Coast. The weather, the beaches and the lifestyle make it hard to attract fans away from the other natural attractions of one of Australia’s favourite holiday locations. Which is not to say that rugby league should walk away and leave the market open to the big-spending AFL. The game must remain on the Coast in some form or another, but I am not a big believer in relocation. Rugby league is a tribal game. Fans give their allegiance to a club that represents their town, region, or patch of dirt. Flying in a club from somewhere else and simply saying, “we are now yours, support us” never works in my opinion. I reckon another club could be representing Brisbane before too long, but it will be a brand-new entity, not an old one transplanted from somewhere else. What do YOU reckon? 
 
I reckon the Broncos are right in making the signature of Matt Gillett their number one priority but I would be just as keen to lock up Tevita Pangai Jnr long-term before his current deal expires at the end of the season. Gillett is the club’s marquee forward at the moment, but Pangai is the man the club can build its future on. His performance against the much-vaunted Cowboys pack at Suncorp Stadium last Friday night was as good as anything I can remember from a Broncos front rower. The most impressive part of his game was that it didn’t rely on any one element. His defence was as good as his attack, and that’s saying something. The former Knights junior showed last season that he has some sublime ball skills – who can forget his no-look flick pass to set up James Roberts against the Titans? – but it was his overall energy and enthusiasm that really impressed in Friday’s Queensland derby. He was everywhere, leading the way for a side that had plenty to prove after the first round loss to the Dragons. Pangai Jnr credits his current form to cutting back on the fast food and slimming down from a 127kg blimp to a 112kg stealth bomber. I reckon the Broncos should pull out the cheque book and pay the Tongan terror whatever he wants to stay at Red Hill for years to come – and make sure he doesn’t spent it all on Maccas and KFC. What do YOU reckon?
 
I reckon there was a silver lining to the Broncos’ loss to the Dragons in week one, and that was the return of Andrew McCullough. He might not have played the full game, but just seeing him back on the field and getting through his work without any issues was almost as good as a win for Brisbane fans. McCullough might not get the wraps of some of his bigger name team-mates, but for mine he is the heart and soul of the Broncos and the team will need him to show the way when they play what could be their most important game of the season on Friday night. I know that sounds ridiculous after just one round, but if Brisbane are going to find the self-belief needed to make an impression in 2018, they have to aim up against the Cowboys at Suncorp Stadium. I’m not saying they definitely have to win, but at the very least they must put in the kind of performance that proves to the fans – and most of all to themselves – that they have the personnel to match it with the best. And let’s face it, that’s what the Cowboys are. Their win over the Sharks was not a classic by any means. Johnathan Thurston was understandably well off his best, Matt Scott was also short of a gallop and Michael Morgan was on the sideline, but if the Cowboys can still register a win against a top side despite those setbacks, it shows just how good they are going to be at full strength. The competition favourites up against a Broncos side with everything to play for? I reckon it’s going to be a ripper. What do YOU reckon?
 
I reckon Queensland Reds fans saw the future at Suncorp Stadium last Friday night, and hopefully this Saturday they will see the present. The Reds’ 18-10 win over the much-favoured Brumbies was a stunning result built on youth, enthusiasm and, above all, good old fashioned guts. It had Brad Thorn written all over it. With five players aged 21 or under the Reds could have been expected to buckle late in the game but if anything they got stronger. It is that sort of mental and physical fortitude that Thorn epitomised throughout his incredible career and now he is instilling it in the next generation of Queensland rugby. Saturday night’s Suncorp Stadium showdown with the Bulls from South Africa will be another huge test. The demands of professional rugby take a huge toll on young bodies and minds and backing up week after week will be a tough ask, but on what they showed on Friday this team is building a platform that will win back the respect – and fans – that have been lost over the last few seasons. I reckon in two or three years we will look back at the signing of Brad Thorn as one of the most significant moments in Queensland rugby history. What do YOU reckon?
 
FEBRUARY 2018 | WHAT DO YOU RECKON
Wed 28 Feb, 2018
I reckon the decision to hold an Origin game in Adelaide makes as much sense as holding that one in the US back in 1987. No offense to South Australian rugby league supporters, but their State deserves an Origin game as much as California did. I’ve got no problem with Adelaide having an NRL team. If they can raise the dough and put together a decent side, good luck to them. It’s the same with Melbourne. The Storm is a champion outfit and they bring a lot to the competition. It’s just Origin where I draw the line, and the NRL should do the same. As I have said time and time again, Origin isn’t just a game. It is a tribal contest between Queensland and NSW, and it should be played in Queensland and NSW. Simple as that. It represents passion and tradition and history. To sell it off to the highest bidder is simply not on. I heard an NRL official this week saying how they had to take the game on the road to raise the necessary money to put into grass roots development. Sorry, but if you can’t run the game with the huge money that the broadcast deals bring in then you’re either not getting enough or spending too much. I reckon if people from Melbourne or Perth or Adelaide – or Long Beach, California, for that matter - want to watch an Origin game they should come to Brisbane or Sydney. What do YOU reckon?
 
I reckon the sighs of relief when Cowboys coach Paul Green named his side for Saturday’s pre-season trial against Wests Tigers would have travelled all the way to Brisbane. There at the top of the list was Johnathan Thurston. While seeing JT back on deck, even if only for 20 minutes or so, will mean everything to Cowboys fans hoping to go one step further in the premiership than last year’s second spot , it will be even more exciting to everyone planning to get along to Suncorp Stadium on Friday February 23. The JT-Cameron Smith testimonial match is without doubt the most eagerly anticipated trial game in the history of rugby league. Green wouldn’t even consider risking JT if he wasn’t 100 per cent fit, so confirmation that he will face the Tigers means everything is on track for the grand final replay. With proceeds from the match going to charity, both sides keen to put on an entertaining show and Queenslanders turning out in numbers to salute their Origin heroes, I reckon this is going be a night to remember. What do YOU reckon? 
 
JANUARY 2018 | WHAT DO YOU RECKON?
Wed 31 Jan, 2018
I reckon Queensland Reds supporters should get along to the Global Tens at Suncorp Stadium on February 9-10 if they want a preview of how their side is going to perform this season. Anyone who thinks this tournament is just a bit of pre-season fun obviously doesn’t know Brad Thorn. When it comes to football Brad doesn’t do fun. In fact, his favourite word when it comes to rugby is ‘war’. Ok, I admit that might be taking it a bit far, but who is going to tell that to Brad Thorn? Either way, I can’t see him taking it anything but seriously. After the steady downslide the Reds have suffered since winning the Super 12 in 2011, Brad has a huge job on his hands to restore pride and credibility. Having seen first-hand the way he turned around the Queensland Country side last season – taking them from wooden-spooners to national champions – I have no doubts that he can do the business at the Reds, but it won’t be easy. He has retained faith with many of the youngsters who did the right thing by him in the NRC and is currently melding them together with the experienced old-heads like Scott Higginbotham, James Slipper and George Smith, but there’s not a minute to waste. Brad showed he means business when he sacked Quade Cooper and I reckon we’ll see even more of his intent when the Reds take on some of the best from New Zealand, Fiji and France at the Global Tens. What do YOU reckon?