State of Origin 2020: Josh Addo-Carr, Corey Allan hit, Phil Gus Gould, fastest man on the planet, Queensland defeats NSW

Josh Addo-Carr might not be the fastest man on the planet.

And by the letter of the law Corey Allan’s professional foul on the Blues winger in the 77th minute of NSW’s 20-14 defeat in the Origin decider might not have been a penalty try.

But even the most one-eyed Maroons supporter has to admit Queensland dodged a bullet when Allan took out the Melbourne Storm flyer 15m from the try line.

Replays showed Addo-Carr was clearly in front of Cameron Munster, Valentine Holmes and Harry Grant in the race for the ball, which appeared to bounce nicely, making a clean gather by the NSW man highly likely.

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One man in no doubt was Channel 9’s Phil Gould, who called the moment like a broken record stuck on loop.

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Phil Gus Gould, Channel 9, commentary, Andrew Johns, Paul Gallen, Billy Slater, NSW v Queensland, NRL news

He might regularly drive Queenslanders crazy with his blue-tinted goggles.

He might frustrate us by grabbing hold of an idea and then repeating it ad nauseam like how good Wayne Bennett is at halftime speeches.

And he undoubtedly blew it in this year’s NRL Grand Final with his one-sided call of Penrith’s defeat against the Melbourne Storm.

But boy, we missed Phil Gould on Wednesday night.

It’s probably not a popular take but there was a gaping hole in Channel 9’s coverage of NSW’s thumping win against Queensland after its decision to keep Gus out of the commentary box.

The move to sideline one of the most polarising figures in the game was such a surprise no one took the man himself seriously when he revealed he wouldn’t be calling the contest from his normal position alongside play-by-play man Ray Warren because Nine chiefs wanted to give Andrew Johns a turn.

“I’m not calling the game tonight. Andrew Johns and Billy Slater are doing the honours. I’m just watching tonight. Looking forward to it,” Gould tweeted a few hours before kick-off.

“Andrew called Origin II last year. He deserves to call these big games. He is the future.”

Johns is undoubtedly a talented analyst with an eye for the game that rivals anyone. He’s also unafraid to be critical, as he showed in the lead-up to the game when he called for Nathan Cleary’s head and during the contest when he highlighted the rough night Xavier Coates was having.

But Gould is at a different level, as he showed during a brief appearance at halftime when he quickly summarised the source of all three NSW tries to that point in the game.

“(Queensland) are having a lot of trouble on their left side defence now (Ben) Hunt is playing five-eighth instead of (Cameron) Munster,” he said. “It looks like there’s no communication or confidence there.”

The Maroons too often found themselves outnumbered on the left edge and Gould nailed what was going wrong and why.

Even Queensland Rugby League chairman Bruce Hatcher admitted the game is poorer without the former NSW coach.

“Gus is an authority on the game and he sees things other people don‘t see,’’ Hatcher told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“He can’t help himself in terms of what I would call his latent bias — I think he doesn’t necessarily give a completely independent view, and I can understand that with his background — but the reality is he’s very perceptive and knows the game extremely well.

“Although everyone comments about (his commentary) for two or three days after the event, I actually think he’s good for the game.”

Nine could be forced to bring in a new face next year if Warren, 77, decides to call it a day.

But Gould, who is 15 years his junior, shouldn’t be going anywhere.

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Queensland defeats NSW, Blues team changes, Andrew Johns, Luke Keary, Phil Gus Gould, game two

NSW legend Andrew Johns has sensationally called for Blues coach Brad Fittler to dump Luke Keary following NSW’s stunning defeat in the State of Origin series opener.

Johns led the outcry from Blues legends with Phil Gould and Paul Gallen also calling for changes in the post-match wash-up.

The Blues were sensationally beaten in the biggest upset since Paul Vautin’s 1995 Maroons side swept the Blues 3-0.

It’s why the post-mortem has been so savage from the Blues’ alumni.

While Johns’ call for Keary’s head was the most dramatic statement after the game, there are also major fears from Blues greats about the selections of Clint Gutherson and Jack Wighton out of position in the centres.

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The Blues could be looking at sweeping changes for Game 2 in Sydney on Wednesday, November 11, with Cameron Murray suffering a serious hamstring injury and captain Boyd Cordner also copping another head knock.

Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen is also a very real option to come onto the bench.

That’s exactly what Johns wants to happen as he called for Keary to lose his No. 6 jumper to Cody Walker in a move that would allow Papenhuyzen to make his debut from the bench.

Gould was scathing of both Keary and Cleary as neither playmaker found a way to steady the ship or create an attacking spark in the second half.

But it is Keary who should pay the price, according to Johns.

“I think that he (Walker) comes in for Luke Keary,” Johns told Channel Nine.

“After what I saw tonight over the last 15 minutes, 20 minutes, Cody Walker has to start.

“I think he has to come on at five-eighth. He provides a lot of creativity.

“When Cody came on the field, he likes to play. Likes to get his hands on the ball, and he likes to create.

“I thought there were times in that second half, obviously the Blues were on the back foot, but there were times they had quick play-the-balls and the halves didn’t stand up and play.

“At this standard, you only get a couple of opportunities a half. I thought they got bogged down, played too negative.

“But once Cody came on, (NSW) looked dangerous. And that’s where Queensland looked vulnerable.”

Johns also said Keary appeared to be a weak link in the Blues’ defensive line.

“Luke, defensively tonight, looked a little bit vulnerable on that side of the field,” Johns said.

“They have had a long year the Roosters, they have been up for a long time. What I saw tonight in the last 15 to 20 minutes I think that Cody Walker has to start.”

Despite calling for changes, Johns also cautioned against major changes to the Blues side for Game 2 because of the quick turnaround.

“Whether they have enough time to change a half combination (is the question),” he said. “They have to play next week in a must-win game. I don’t expect much changes but there will be forced changes.”

Johns and Gallen also both went public with their concern about Wighton and Gutherson in the centres after Kurt Capewell and Dane Gagai on multiple occasions ran straight through them — twice leading to tries.

“I don’t think that Wighton gets involved enough in the centres and I don’t think that Gutherson is comfortable where he is. Brad will look at it,” Johns said.

Gallen said there would be “serious conversations” inside the Blues camp about picking the two players out of position.

Meanwhile, Panthers star Cleary will also be under the pump as a result of the dominant performances from Cameron Munster and Daly Cherry-Evans after the Maroons halfback was named man of the match.

“These Blues halves have got to get themselves into the game,” Gould said in the second half.

“They are playing no football at the moment.

“The halves have to come to the fore and start to move this ball around. The two halves aren’t getting together and playing the attacking game they would like. They have to find a way to impose their will on the contest. They are not getting it their own way.”

The Blues have just seven days to find the right answers before the series goes on the line in Sydney.

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NRL Grand Final 2020: Josh Mansour Gus Gould

Gould tried to break the news to Mansour, even telling him he had to accept the offer, that it was too good to pass up. But the bearded winger was having none of it.

Mansour wanted to stay.

He told Gould he would settle for less to stay and to make him an offer. Gould said the Panthers simply couldn’t find that sort of money.

Mansour begged him to stay and Gould found some money.

In the end, Mansour settled for barely half the amount he could have earned in Canberra.

But he was happy. He was home.

Josh Mansour knocked back a huge offer to stay with the Panthers and that loyalty will be rewarded when he plays in his first grand final tonight.Credit:Janie Barrett

“Do I remember that conversation with Gus? I’ll never forget it,” Mansour tells The Sun-Herald. “We were sitting in the player dugout at the stadium. It was just me and him. The negotiations had kept going back and forth with the club and Gus said to me, ‘You should take this Canberra deal, it’s a great deal’.

“But I kept telling him, ‘I don’t want to leave’ and ‘Do what you can, I love this club too much’.

“Penrith had handed me my dream to play in the NRL. I wanted to repay the club for giving me that.

“I got emotional. So did Gus. There were tears in the eyes. Everyone was telling me to go to Canberra. Gus did. So did my manager. Everyone except me.”

Mansour and James Tedesco were photographed hopping off a plane from Canberra where they had just been given the Raiders’ grand tour by coach Ricky Stuart. The pair looked sheepish as they made their way out of one of the domestic terminals at Sydney Airport.

Scoring a try for the Kangaroos at the end of 2014, the same year he ignored a huge deal with Canberra.

Scoring a try for the Kangaroos at the end of 2014, the same year he ignored a huge deal with Canberra.Credit:Christopher Chan

Tedesco ended up signing a $1.8 million deal with Canberra before backflipping to remain with Wests Tigers. The deal lasted three days.

Mansour never agreed to anything but, like Tedesco, told Canberra he would remain in Sydney.

He still remembers sitting next to Tedesco on the flight home when they asked each other what they were thinking.

“Teddy was asking me if I was going to sign,” Mansour says. “I had a feeling he would have gone there had I gone there. I never asked him. That’s just a gut feel.

Panthers player Josh Mansour, wife Daniella and children Dre, left, and Siana.

Panthers player Josh Mansour, wife Daniella and children Dre, left, and Siana. Credit: Nick Moir

Tedesco was reminded of the pair’s trip together this week, and clearly would have enjoyed playing alongside the winger, saying: “He is a nice bloke, a funny bloke, and every time you get around him he makes you smile.”

For Mansour though, there was always something holding him back from moving to Canberra.

“I had a phone call with ‘Sticky’ [Stuart]. I told him I had all my family here and how it was holding me back,” Mansour says.

“I respected Sticky as a bloke and as a coach. We got along really well. I later called him, I said, ‘Mate, I don’t want to beat around the bush, I’m staying at Penrith. Thanks for your interest’.”

Mansour is mobbed by teammates after a try against the Wests Tigers this year.

Mansour is mobbed by teammates after a try against the Wests Tigers this year.Credit: Getty

Mansour gave up more than $500,000 over the three years of the deal to stay.

Raiders boss Don Furner remembers it well too. It was a tough period for the Raiders. But he appreciated Mansour going to the effort of contacting him personally. Furner says he can count on the one hand the number of players who have actually bothered to break the bad news themselves.

It says a lot about Mansour’s upbringing – and it says a lot about his loyalty.

“It was tough call because I knew how much I was giving up,” Mansour says. “I’ve always been loyal. I’ll do anything for my mates and teammates. If someone does right by me, I want to repay them tenfold.

“As soon as I laced up my boots for the first time as a kid, all I wanted to do was play in the NRL.

“I thought that dream was going to be with Souths. I wanted nothing more than to play for South Sydney. I came through their juniors, had a lot of mates there. We had a lot of success in the under-20s.

“Then Penrith gave me my dream. This is home.”

Born to a Lebanese father and Portuguese mother whose hearts were crushed when their son chose rugby league over football – Mansour was a talented striker who started out at Lakemba Sports, the one-time home of Tim Cahill – the 30-year-old is the longest-serving Panther involved in Sunday’s grand final.

Mansour is off contract at the end of next season and knows the club will need to weigh up experience versus youth.

Charlie Staines has a huge future and already knocked back Canterbury to recommit to the Panthers. He’s known as the “Ferrari” because of his blistering speed. If Staines is the flashy Italian sports car, Mansour is the trusty Holden that shows no signs of burning out.

Fan favourite: Josh Mansour meets supporters in Bathurst last season.

Fan favourite: Josh Mansour meets supporters in Bathurst last season.

Staines won’t find it easy to unseat the veteran. Mansour has bounced back into form this year along with fellow winger Brian To’o. The Penrith wide men are not the biggest, but have huge engines and have been key in getting the Panthers on the front foot in the club’s 17-game win streak by taking the first and second hit-ups in the tackle count. They were awesome last Saturday against Souths.

Playing outside rookie centre Stephen Crichton has also given Mansour a new lease of life.


“I’ll keep playing as long as my body allows me to play,” says Mansour, who has overcome some shocking injuries in recent years, including an ACL he ruptured while on a Kangaroos tour and multiple facial fractures suffered in a collision in 2018.

He might be the Panthers’ longest-serving player but sadly Mansour remains a shocking singer and the only Penrith player to botch the words to the team song – despite the team singing it 17 straight games in a row this season.

“It was my 150th, I had to lead the team song, but I crumbled under the pressure,” he says. “The boys were squirting water in my face and I ended up going too fast. I stuffed it up.”

A small stuff up in the scheme of things, and one easily forgotten if he gets to sing the song alonside the the Provan-Summons Trophy on Sunday night.

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