Coaches should play rookies in the halves
Adam Reynolds in action. AAP Image/Action Photographics,Renee McKay
Say what you will about Generation Y. Recent history suggests that a rookie halfback can walk into an NRL side and do the job.
That is why a number of clubs must look to the future in 2013.
Daly Cherry-Evans, Adam Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson have made it abundantly clear that you can take on the hardest job in rugby league and become a star immediately.
Being a halfback in the NRL can be torment or it can be glorious.
But only the brave reap the rewards of throwing a rookie into the deep end. Des Hasler has done it with Cherry-Evans and Hodkinson respectively, with the former handing Hasler a premiership in 2011.
South Sydney Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire shocked us the most when he picked little known Adam Reynolds at the start of the 2012 season. Fast forward sevens months and Souths had never looked so good. The Rabbitohs were one win from a grand final and Reynolds was named NRL Rookie of the Year.
That is why a number of clubs need to bite the bullet and blood new halfbacks in 2013. Only the brave succeed.
Wests Tigers have finally found themselves a coach in Mick Potter. What a task Potter has ahead of him. The Tigers have plenty of problems, but the most apparent is the lack of creative options around Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah.
Marshall is being forced to be the creator for others when the Kiwi captain should really be a little wider and trying to find space for himself. People forget how dangerous Benji used to be.
Tim Sheens couldn’t settle on a halves combination in 2012 and it may have cost him his job. Marshall needs a long term partner inside him. Not outside.
Jacob Miller starred for the Tigers in their Toyota Cup grand final thrashing of the Canberra Raiders. Whether he is ready or not, Miller needs to play.
The Mullumbimby Giants junior backed up a stellar grand final performance with another impressive display for the Junior Kangaroos against New Zealand. If the Tigers don’t play him, somebody else will.
Another team in a rebuilding stage is the once mighty St George Illawarra Dragons.
There is a massive hole now with the retirement of their ever-solid captain Ben Hornby. The Dragons moved swiftly and signed Josh Drinkwater. Coach Steve Price may have no choice but to give the talented playmaker a start.
Kyle Stanley is another option to play alongside Jamie Soward. But you don’t sign Drinkwater and not play him. Stanley’s time may have come, but is it at halfback or five-eighth?
“We’ve got Stanley, Jamie Soward and Nathan Fien so we’ve got some good halves, but the important thing is that we get Kyle’s body right. We know the sky is the limit for him,” Price told The Daily Telegraph in September.
“His [Stanley] best position is in the halves and that opportunity will arise in the off-season. We’ll sit back now and review our playing roster and then we’ll make a decision on which way we’ll go.”
Canberra Raiders coach David Furner has the envious job of manoeuvring his team to accommodate the return of captain Terry Campese.
It is time for Sam Williams to be given the opportunity to prove himself with Campese in the side. The little halfback needs to be assured that his position is safe, even with a fit Campese around.
Campese is big and strong enough to play at the back of the scrum. A move to lock would allow Williams and McCrone to move forward together.
Neil Henry and the North Queensland Cowboys also have pleasant headaches heading into the new season with Michael Morgan, Ray Thompson and Robert Lui all scrapping for the spot next to Johnathan Thurston.
There is no reason why all of these clubs can’t come out of the gates firing next year.
That’s if their coaches are bold enough. Just like Hasler and Maguire.
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