The biggest NRL disappointments of 2012
Season 2012 certainly has had its fair share of players who have far exceeded expectations. On the other side of the coin, however, here are some those who just haven’t lived up to their pre-season hype.
Fullback: Darius Boyd (Newcastle Knights)
Like a number of Newcastle’s offseason signings, a lot was expected of Darius when he donned the red and blue jersey. Despite being selected on the wing for Queensland, his form for the Knights has been less then impressive. Having chalked up a combined 41 linebreaks over the ’08-‘11 seasons, Boyd has only managed two so far for his new club.
If Newcastle has any plans of making a run at finals football, Darius needs to find the form that has made him one of the NRL’s better fullbacks in past seasons.
Honorable mention: Jarryd Hayne (Parramatta Eels)
Wingers: Manu Vatuvei (New Zealand Warriors)
Coming off a round one performance against Manly which saw him score two tries and make nine tackle busts, Manu’s season has largely been on the decline since. Every year Warriors fans hold hope that Vatuvei’s form will be more diamonds than rocks, but yet again our trans Tasman cousins have been disappointed.
Having already contributed 26 errors (equal first among outside backs) and turnstile-like defence that has resulted in 31 missed tackles so far can only be bad for Brian McClennan’s health.
Luke Burt (Parramatta Eels)
Usually a very consistent player who is no stranger at finding his way to the try line, Burt has struggled for form so far this season. The winger, who has been dropped to NSW Cup on two separate occasions, has only managed to record two linebreaks thus far, compared to 39 over the past three years. With only a couple of weeks left in his NRL career, I hope Burt is able to find some consistency and finish on a high.
Honorable mention: Akulia Uate (Newcastle Knights), Lote Tuqiri (Wests Tigers)
Centres: Jamal Idris (Gold Coast Titans)
Following a dismal 2011 that saw the Titans claim their maiden wooden spoon, the signing of Idris had hoped to lift the franchise to bigger and better things. Although the Gold Coast have improved as a team, Jamal has shown little of the form that saw him selected for Australia just over 12 months ago. In seasons ’10 and ’11, “the worlds biggest human being” amassed an impressive 222 tackle busts, compared to his paltry 46 this year.
Willie Tonga (Parramatta Eels)
In what was expected to be a big coup by the Parramatta club, Willie Tonga was signed for his experience in the centre position and to help develop the Eels inside backs. Coming off a strong 2011 in North Queensland, Tonga has been less than impressive at his new club, chalking up only 11 tackle breaks compared to his 176 over the past three seasons.
Honorable mention: Matt Cooper (St George Illawarra Dragons), Matt King (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
Five-Eighth: Jamie Soward (St George Illawarra Dragons)
Following the departure of “super coach” Wayne Bennett and a host of big name players like Darius Boyd and Mark Gasnier, a lot of weight was put on the shoulder of the halves pairing of Soward and Hornby. In Bennett’s three seasons at the Dragons, Soward notched up 40 linebreaks compared with four in the Steve Price era. Currently sitting in 10th position and outright last in points scored, the once menacing St George attack has been anything but in season 2012.
Honorable mention: Ben Roberts (Parramatta Eels)
Halfback: Chris Sandow (Parramatta Eels)
Ever since inking a huge 4-year, $1.7 million plus deal with Parramatta, ex-players and the media have been coming out of the woodwork, applying the blowtorch to the little number seven. Despite showing the odd splash of brilliance, his overall form has been very average, and a major contributing factor to the Eels being anchored to the bottom of the table. With a question mark always looming over his defence, Sandow has already racked up a league high 82 missed tackles in 2012.
Honorable mention: Ben Hornby (St George Illawarra Dragons)
Props: Kade Snowden (Newcastle Knights)
Coming off a couple of big seasons in the Shire, a lot was expected from Snowden when he announced he was taking his talents to Nobbys Beach. His form in season 2012 has been a far cry from that which saw him selected for NSW in game one of last year’s Origin series. His ability to make tackle breaks (162 from ‘09-’11) saw him demand the big dollars from Newcastle, but he has struggled so far, having presently only recorded 18 as a Knight.
Luke Douglas (Gold Coast Titans)
The other big member of the Sharks 2011 forward pack headed north during the offseason, with big expectations to go along with it. Douglas however just hasn’t looked as dangerous at the line as previous seasons in Cronulla. His number of tackle busts have dropped from 123 over the past 4 seasons to just 16 in season 2012, while he has yet to find his way over the line despite his five tries over ’10 and ’11.
Honorable mention: Brett White (Canberra Raiders), Matt Scott (North Queensland Cowboys)
Hooker: Robbie Farah (Wests Tigers)
While some people may argue Farah’s inclusion, statically he is having one of his worst seasons in a number of years. While Robbie has missed game time for a number of reasons (suspension, Origin, injury and personal reasons), his numbers still don’t stack up to those of previous campaigns. Over four seasons (’08-’11), Farah recorded 195 tackle busts, while in season 2012, he has only managed 15.
Honorable mention: Shaun Berrigan (Canberra Raiders)
Backrow: Adam Blair (Wests Tigers)
Regarded as one of the biggest buys in the off-season, Blair’s form to date for the Tigers has not lived up to the hype. His ratio of tackles completed to missed tackles is much higher than in his previous seasons with Melbourne, while his tackle busts have dried right up, having only 10 compared to 96 over the previous three seasons.
Chris Houston (Newcastle Knights)
Having come off a suspension that saw him miss all of the 2010 season, Houston bounced back to have a stellar 2011. However, this year, his form has not lived up to expectation, leaving Knights supporters wondering where it all went wrong. Having already conceded 11 penalties over his first 16 games, he is on track to well eclipse his total of 12 from last year.
Chris Heighington (Wests Tigers)
An integral part of the Wests Tigers’ successes, Chris Heighington has had a particularly quiet 2012 by his standards. Despite missing four weeks with a broken left hand, Heighington’s numbers still don’t stack up to those of previous years. Having only cracked the line once this season compared to 17 over the past 2 years, Chris has only make 14 tackle busts in comparison to 173 during the same period.
Honorable mention: Scott Bolton (North Queensland Cowboys), Gareth Ellis (Wests Tigers), Bronson Harrison (Canberra Raiders)
What do you think Roarers? Who would you include into this this, and who would you leave out?
The Roar is giving you the chance to win 1 of 19 prize packs to Australian Open 2014! Each lucky winner will receive four evening tickets to Rod Laver Arena, plus access to 3 hours in the Heineken VIP Bar. Enter here.