I expected to see something really special from the South Sydney Rabbitohs in Townsville last night but all I saw was – well there’s no other way to say it – crap.
The premiers of 2014 were absolutely creamed by the premiers of 2015 and it seems a sure thing that it’s going to get a lot worse from here.
North Queensland won 44-18 in pretty much a jog-trot. They were never seriously threatened by a soft South Sydney pack that looked like Tarzan but played like Jane.
‘Soft’ is a word I have never used when thinking of a red and green forward pack.
But that’s what they were against the Dylan Napa-fuelled Sydney City Roosters last week and I honestly thought they’d be breathing fire and brimstone up in the north to blow away those horrendous memories.
No, there was zero starch from the engine room at 1300 Smiles Stadium, where the only Smiles were seen on the face of Cowboys fans. We saw a red and green engine with way too many Burgii, who seem to be picked on reputation alone.
Chris Grevsmuhl looked like a guy prepared to have a red-hot go but he and returning halfback Adam Reynolds were on their Pat Malone. They had to send out a search party for even a skerrick of support.
It never came.
By their lofty standards, the Cowboys didn’t play particularly well but they still cruised home by 26, helping themselves to some ridiculously soft tries. It was another day at the office for Paul Green’s men and all of them had their footy boots up on the desk.
Souths have problems. Massive problems.
Seven rounds in, their forwards are feared by nobody. Their backs are almost as impotent as those pointless frauds trotted out by St George-Illawarra every week.
Feel free to roar at me. Suggest I am wrong on either count.
This Rabbitoh team is lame. It’s going nowhere fast. And it’s sad to see.
There are handling errors and penalties aplenty; there is next to no spontaneity or imagination in attack and I cannot see big improvements any time soon.
It’s all too easy to look at coach Madge Maguire and say he is not motivating his squad but think back a couple of seasons. The bulk of this team was on the field when the Rabbits won the comp. He hasn’t lost his mojo – his team certainly has.
During last night’s debacle, I’m pretty sure you asked: what’s going wrong with the cardinal-and-myrtle men?
In my opinion, the return of 2014 superstar Sam Burgess is one major factor.
I feel it triggered a club-wide mindset that “Slammin’ Sammy’s back, we’ll be OK now.” The big Pom is going alright in his return from rugby union, but really, ‘alright’ is not nearly good enough, especially for a player of his undoubted quality and massive pay packet.
His brothers Tom and George are seriously error-prone and should not be considered for the big stuff until they tidy things up and play like hungry, top grade footballers.
I’ve said it now. That’s the key word. Hungry.
South Sydney are not.
Just two years ago, there was a 42-year-old drought this famous and proud old club was desperate to break.
Players from fullback through to the front row were fiercely committed to do just that. Hell, even Sammy B played for 79 minutes with a busted face.
But now that the trophy has been won, the desire looks to have dissipated. Teams in all sports need to be hungry.
Take a look at Leicester in the English Premier League soccer.
These battlers are hungry for success and I don’t think they’ll stop until the spoils of victory come their way. Every minute in every game, the Foxes are hunting with an insatiable hunger. Who is brave enough to say they won’t complete their fairytale?
South Sydney, in my opinion, are in a deep hole and won’t be climbing out very soon.
By his own standards, superstar fullback Greg Inglis has been ineffectual this season and very few of his backline cohorts have made breaks or troubled the scorer.
I believe it comes right back to the forwards. The once-feared South Sydney pack is coming across as cute and cuddly as the Easter Bunny.
Things will not change until someone – including Sammy B – really fires up and makes a positive statement about the club’s intent for 2016.
For a team of Crowes, they are performing like a flock of harmless sparrows.