What a week in NRL. In amongst some tremendous football being played, there has been very lively debate about the coaching situation which has unravelled in Newcastle, the coaching situation which will continue to unravel in Balmain and debate as to whether we are simply pushing players too hard, particularly now that the schedule for the 2015 season has been released.
I thought I would take a look at something different today.
As an NRL supporter, my team winning on the field is not something I expect on a weekly basis. Despite this, I do have some expectations of my team – that they are fit and that they give 100 per cent to every single performance.
Over my many years of watching rugby league though, I have learnt (most often the hard way) that a team’s performance on field is often impacted by events happening off the field, whether they be personal to the players, in respect of what is happening in the board room or whether it is in respect of stability of the coaching staff.
As a Parramatta fan, the issues that have affected my club most acutely has been instability in the board room, particularly over the last few years and in respect of changes in coaching staff (just think Daniel Anderson, Stephen Kearney and Ricky Stuart).
Football is a funny thing though, because I am often surprised by teams and the effort they are able to put in, despite the existence of extenuating circumstances.
Today I just wanted to spend some time thinking about two clubs who I feel have done this very well over this season. Of course, I am talking about the Cronulla Sharks and the Newcastle Knights.
The problems at the Cronulla Sharks have been well documented for the last 2 seasons. Amidst continuing ASADA investigations, the team has had to deal with instability at a coaching level, uncertainty in respect of the Club’s immediate future and more recently with the sacking of one of their key playmakers, Todd Carney.
Less than a month ago, the Sharks were a team which had not scored a point since the middle of May. Since then, the Sharks have really rallied together and put together a couple of very impressive performances, which has seen them come from behind on several occasions to shock their rivals and be victorious.
This happened again on the weekend, with Cronulla beating Penrith, who have been red hot to finish amongst the top four. On the back of a stellar performance from Andrew Fifita, the Sharks showed incredible resilience to be able to hold onto a 2 point lead for the last 20 minutes of the game. This is the Sharks fifth win of the season.
It also gave their long suffering fans something to cheer about and was another performance which the fans could take enormous pride from.
Another club which has suffered tremendously this year as a result of extenuating circumstances has been the Newcastle Knights. Amidst financial drama, the club being taken over by the NRL and the devastating injury suffered by Alex McKinnon earlier this year, the club has recently been rocked by Wayne Bennett’s decision to leave the club at the end of the year. The Knights are also currently without one of their best players, Darius Boyd who is currently seeking treatment for depression.
For me, the Knights, more than any other club this year have exhibited a never say die attitude. This was evident in their 16-12 win over the Sydney Roosters at Hunter Stadium on Friday night.
Forget all the drama that I outlined above. On top of this the Knights were also missing Kurt Gidley, Akuila Uate, James McManus and Chis Houston.
This was one of the biggest upsets of the season and has gone to show what the Knights are really made of. They could almost be forgiven for throwing in the towel for Season 2014 and simply deciding to go through the motions for the rest of the season. It has been the season from hell for them and to see them put in such a committed performance on Friday night was inspiring.
I was really pleased for the Newcastle fans – to see their team stage such an upset must have brought joy, despite what the team has been through this year.
I wanted to take a moment to congratulate these two teams who are a very good example of the strength of resilience and most importantly team work, especially when everything on the outside seems to be going wrong.
Ladies who League