Who has been the most disappointing team of 2017?

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    My goodness there has been some dreadful football over the last couple of weeks.

    Given the point of the season we’re at, I’m not surprised.

    I tend to think about the NRL season in three distinct parts: the pre-State of Origin period, the State of Origin period and the post-State of Origin period.

    We generally see the best football of the year in the pre-State of Origin period, when almost every team has the opportunity to make the eight and when teams are almost injury free and are fresh from the off-season.

    When I look back on those rounds this year, the dominance of the St George Illawarra Dragons and the Manly Sea Eagles’ strong start stand out, as do how Luke Keary looked to be fitting so well into his new home at the Sydney Roosters.

    Then State of Origin comes along and wreaks havoc on the season. There are always plenty of injuries, new players being given an opportunity and gripes about how this period favours some teams over others.

    The focus during this period always moves away from club football and onto the rivalry between Queensland and New South Wales – so much so that when the series is over everyone suddenly remembers that finals are around the corner and the end of the season is looming.

    We’re now at the point where several teams, including the Canterbury Bulldogs, Newcastle Knights, South Sydney Rabbitohs, Gold Coast Titans and Wests Tigers, know there is no chance they can make the finals. Unsurprisingly some of these teams begin to switch off and start thinking about the offseason, so we start to see games where the quality of football is substandard.

    But even with that in mind some of the football we’ve seen recently has been atrocious. Interestingly it’s not just been the teams who have been ruled out of finals contention that have been difficult to watch – it’s also been some of the teams that should be making a push for the finals given how congested the middle of the ladder is at the moment – the Dragons, the Sea Eagles (prior to last weekend) and Warriors all come to mind.

    The dismal standard of football in some cases has made me think about which team has been most disappointing this year, and there are a couple of contenders.

    (Image: AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

    Gold Coast Titans
    This is a team that made my top eight at the start of the year. Given they just missed out last year, I thought the addition of Jarryd Hayne would only improve the team as would Kane Elgey returning and Ash Taylor’s learnings from last year.

    I was wrong.

    To be fair, the Titans have had plenty of injuries. This is a team that have had so many injuries that I wonder if it’s beyond the point of coincidence and something to do with their strength and conditioning.

    What intrigues me most about this team is that they were the team that everyone described as ‘gritty’ and ‘brave’ earlier in the season. I thought that their sole purpose in the last few weeks of the competition would be to mess up other teams’ runs to the finals, but despite being almost at full strength now, in the last fortnight this team has shown none of the grit and tenacity which held them in such good stead earlier this season.

    Hayne looks similar to how he did at the Parramatta Eels: outstanding some weeks, uninterested other weeks.

    The effort against the Broncos on the weekend was appalling. To have 54 points scored against you in 57 minutes of football is almost unfathomable. This was the heaviest defeat the Titans have ever endured.

    A team with players like Ryan James, Jarrod Wallace, Nathan Peats, Hayne and Ash Taylor should not find themselves so low on the ladder, but here we are.

    Canterbury Bulldogs
    If I don’t see another Canterbury Bulldogs game this year, I won’t be disappointed.

    But I do believe in the old saying ‘a fish rots from his head’, and there has been plenty of rotting at Belmore this year. It started with uncertainty around the coaching future of Des Hasler – and continued uncertainty despite the Bulldogs re-signing him earlier this year – the playing future of Josh Reynolds was played out in the media and then the news of Raelene Castle’s resignation effective at the end of the year came among rumblings of a divided board.

    Some of this has surely impacted the team, which looks lost in attack each week. It says a lot when your best fifth-tackle option is David Klemmer kicking across the field to Marcelo Montoya.

    Kieran Foran has his work cut out for him next year, and after what I’ve seen from him at the Warriors this year, I query whether he is up to the challenge.

    (Image: AAP Image/Paul Miller)

    Canberra Raiders and Penrith Panthers
    For the moment these teams get only honourable mentions that depend on whether they make the finals.

    Despite being premiership favourites at the start of the year, Penrith waited until the back third of the competition before managing to beat a team in the top eight. They have now won five straight and are still very much in the mix for the finals – unless the Raiders take their spot – but to do that the Raiders must win at least three of their four final games if results go their way, or all four if other matches don’t fall for them.

    If both these teams miss the eight, you can certainly put them down as major disappointments in 2017.

    New Zealand Warriors
    This is the team that inspired me to write this article. At the start of the year I said that the NRL should ‘fold’ the Warriors if they did not make the finals this year.

    Any team with talent like Bodene Thompson, Simon Mannering, Shaun Johnson, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Issac Luke should be aiming to finish the season comfortably within the top eight.

    But, true to form, the Warriors have disappointed, and when Shaun Johnson was ruled out for the rest of the season five weeks ago, I wondered whether they would win another game. Their effort against the Knights on the weekend suggests that they will not, because they do not have the mental toughness to compete in the NRL as a top-performing team.

    I’m out of excuses for the Warriors. They have had several different coaches, none of which have been able to produce results. It’s perhaps time for the players to start taking some responsibility and recognise the impact that their poor football is having on rugby league in New Zealand.

    So the New Zealand Warriors win my award for most disappointing team this season. Who wins yours?

    Mary Konstantopoulos
    Mary Konstantopoulos

    Mary Konstantopoulos is a lawyer, sports advocate and proud owner and founder of the Ladies Who empire, including Ladies who League, Ladies who Legspin, Ladies who Lineout and Ladies who Leap. You can find her podcast on iTunes and find her on Twitter @mary__kaye and @ladieswholeague.

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    The Crowd Says (139)

    • August 8th 2017 @ 5:37am
      Busty McCracken said | August 8th 2017 @ 5:37am | ! Report

      Melbourne Storm. As a manly fan and new south welshman i am sick to death of watching these magnificent bastards continue turning up year after year. Would it kill em to drop their standards just even for one year?? Very disappointing!

      • Columnist

        August 8th 2017 @ 9:02am
        Mary Konstantopoulos said | August 8th 2017 @ 9:02am | ! Report

        Busty, someone said that to me on Twitter this week and it made me laugh.

        It’s interesting, as an Eels fan I always hated the Storm following their salary cap breaches (hypocritical coming from an Eels fan… but being a supporter never makes sense anyway).

        But how can I help but respect them after the quality of football this year, particularly during the SOO period. We’ve spoken for so long about what will happen when the ‘Big 3’ retire, but the Storm have a new generation ready to take their places.

        They are an outstanding footy team.

      • August 8th 2017 @ 10:25am
        Big Al said | August 8th 2017 @ 10:25am | ! Report

        Hehe, nice one! 🙂

        The one consolation I have from watching my team perform poorly is knowing the Storm are dead set on fire! Even if we were performing well we’d have to beat the Storm who are unstoppable at the moment.

      • Roar Pro

        August 8th 2017 @ 11:42am
        J.C. said | August 8th 2017 @ 11:42am | ! Report

        Um Busty, 2008 ring any bells for you there mate????

        • August 8th 2017 @ 12:34pm
          Busty McCracken said | August 8th 2017 @ 12:34pm | ! Report

          Not only does it ring bells but also evokes a tear of joy to my eyes mate. Best game of footy i ever saw haha.

          And mary im hearing ya, thats why i was jokingly listing them as my biggest disappointment. It absolutely pains me to say, because I hate them as a Manly / New south welshman living in FNQ, that i couldn’t help but respect the hell out of them after their grand final performance last year. Their efforts this year have further solidified it so maybe it’s more myself im disappointed in than anything?

          • Columnist

            August 8th 2017 @ 1:01pm
            Mary Konstantopoulos said | August 8th 2017 @ 1:01pm | ! Report

            So is it time for us both to admit that we like the Storm? 😛

            • August 8th 2017 @ 1:33pm
              Busty McCracken said | August 8th 2017 @ 1:33pm | ! Report

              Hey there’s a MASSIVE difference between liking and respecting something. Baby steps Mary, c’mon 😛

              • Columnist

                August 8th 2017 @ 1:51pm
                Mary Konstantopoulos said | August 8th 2017 @ 1:51pm | ! Report

                I’ll ask you again in a couple of weeks. 🙂

          • Roar Pro

            August 8th 2017 @ 3:01pm
            J.C. said | August 8th 2017 @ 3:01pm | ! Report

            Worst game I’ ve ever seen. But them are the breaks.

    • August 8th 2017 @ 5:48am
      Stu said | August 8th 2017 @ 5:48am | ! Report

      Brilliant. Another author stating Warriors should “fold”.

      Yes the Warriors have been extremely dissapointing (Souths and Bulldogs equally as much) but they are not without excuses.

      1)The “spine” has played less than half the games together whether it be Johnson, Foran or Luke injured (RTS was concussed and played 1/2 games rds 2-4). I dont know why every expects them to fire since they havent played together for the kiwis in the past 4 years.

      2) Despite Mary’s assertion Bodene Thompson is a talent (have you watched him play the past 2 seasons?) Hes part of the poorest forward pack in the comp. When was the last time a team seriously challenged with a poor pack? You cant rely on the likes of Sao, Afoa, Lisone, Vete and Lillyman to beat up the other teams. Apart from Mannering none have performed well but you cant say these players have regressed, they are just not very good.

      3) 5 coaches in 5 years. Kearney needs to be given 2 more seasons with this side.

      4) They are dissapointing to everyone because of the unjustified expectations people placed on them. I had them coming 6th – 8th at best but that required some luck with injuries which they havent had (and a bias opinion of a warriors fan). Mannering, Matulino, Hoffman, Luke, Johnson, Foran, RTS have all missed games through injury (and numerous other squad players).

      A bad season, best to forget for us warriors fans but patience is required as there is no quick fix for this club.

      Think this season is possibly worse for Doggies fans though…

      • Columnist

        August 8th 2017 @ 9:04am
        Mary Konstantopoulos said | August 8th 2017 @ 9:04am | ! Report

        Stu, I was joking when I said the club should fold. I don’t really think that.

        But the Warriors still win for mine – a team with this much talent should not be as consistently poor as they have been this season.

        I’m not comparing SJ to Clint Gutherson, but look how the Eels have managed to galvanise even after losing their best player this season. The Warriors have folded faster than soggy weetbix.

        Can they improve? Sure. But it’s definitely the last time in a long time I will be picking them to make my 8.

    • August 8th 2017 @ 6:07am
      Womblat said | August 8th 2017 @ 6:07am | ! Report

      The refs.

      • Columnist

        August 8th 2017 @ 9:05am
        Mary Konstantopoulos said | August 8th 2017 @ 9:05am | ! Report

        I’m waaaaay more disappointed in the teams I spoke about above.

        • August 8th 2017 @ 1:29pm
          Womblat said | August 8th 2017 @ 1:29pm | ! Report

          Well they are a team Mary. And even though it was well thought out I kept it short because I didn’t want to add unnecessary drama.

          MOC is right. There are multiple failures at all levels of NRL management.

          • Columnist

            August 8th 2017 @ 1:33pm
            Mary Konstantopoulos said | August 8th 2017 @ 1:33pm | ! Report

            It would be great if someone could spell these failures out…

            • August 8th 2017 @ 4:37pm
              Womblat said | August 8th 2017 @ 4:37pm | ! Report

              Failures spelt out…

              One weekend a year for Women in League? Arbitrary rule changes without consulting the grass roots or international League community? Constant salary cap fiascoes? Mishandled media deals and scheduling? Banning shoulder charges with no medical evidence despite claiming to have it? Knee jerk disciplinary protocols? Inconsistent judiciary decisions? No accountability for referees? Failing to support the sport properly at grass roots level? Shocking stadium and ticket prices? Hysterical off-field indiscretion handling? Falling revenue in the face of the competition? Widespread recreational drug abuse? Unfilled stadiums for major games? Withdrawal of players at junior level? Completely turning their back on developing the sport internationally? Soliola’s hit on Slater not being dealt with then and there?

              There are others. Soccer and AFL watchers probably could rattle off a few more with a smile.

              • Columnist

                August 8th 2017 @ 5:19pm
                Mary Konstantopoulos said | August 8th 2017 @ 5:19pm | ! Report

                I fundamentally disagree with plenty of those listed. But that’s perhaps a conversation for another day…

              • August 8th 2017 @ 9:03pm
                Kangajets said | August 8th 2017 @ 9:03pm | ! Report

                Womblat

                Every thing u say is completely true

      • Roar Guru

        August 8th 2017 @ 9:24am
        M.O.C. said | August 8th 2017 @ 9:24am | ! Report

        I agree Womblat – add the NRL administration and the referee boss, the bunker and the MRC.

        • August 8th 2017 @ 9:37am
          Oingo Boingo said | August 8th 2017 @ 9:37am | ! Report

          The NRL is a basket case .

          • Roar Rookie

            August 8th 2017 @ 9:47am
            steveng said | August 8th 2017 @ 9:47am | ! Report

            • Roar Guru

              August 8th 2017 @ 10:58am
              M.O.C. said | August 8th 2017 @ 10:58am | ! Report

              Just shows how pathetic the Australian Rugby Union is at present – given the way the RL is disregarding the punishment for perpetrators of head injury and the refs are tolerating head and neck tackles and spear tackles, how easy would it be for RU to steal RL kids and their parents by showing them how seriously RU is taking these issues.

              RU participation should be off the charts with parents changing from RL. RL admin and refs need to step up. The RU refs have serious balls regarding foul or dangerous play. They had SBW sent off for a shoulder-charge in a test, the Lions flanker was sent off in the Super Rugby final for a dangerous tackle yet in RL, high shots, shoulder charges and spear tackles stay on the field.

    • August 8th 2017 @ 6:16am
      Kreig said | August 8th 2017 @ 6:16am | ! Report

      I agree with your assessment Mary, except for the suggestion of the Warriors needing to fold.

      What’s lacking is discipline. I’ve been saying it for years. The difference between the Warriors and the All Blacks is that the Warriors constantly recruit talented individuals.

      Whereas the ABs always have a blend of dynamic, powerful Maori/Islander players, and disciplined anglo playmakers.

      Kearney is the coach for the Warriors. But until they can successfully recruit a small contigent of highly disciplined leaders, they’ll continue to under perform.

      Perhaps attempt to draw a couple of non-Kiwis across the ditch, or even from the UK. Shake things up a bit.

      The appointment of RTS as captain should tell you all you need to know; the Warriors are completely lacking in leadership. Leaders who can drive their team to compete no matter what.

      This whole business of bothering to turn up just a handful of times each season has got to stop.

      They always play extremely well against my beloved Broncos, especially at Mt Smart. They need to bottle that effort and take a whiff before every game. They won’t win them all, but they’ll win significantly more.

      It amazes me that people are constantly surprised with the underachievement of the Warriors, and just how many people stand around scratching their heads trying to figure out what the problem is.

      Well this is their problem. A complete lack of disciplined leadership on the field.

      Fix that, and Kiwis will have a team they can be proud of.

      • Columnist

        August 8th 2017 @ 9:05am
        Mary Konstantopoulos said | August 8th 2017 @ 9:05am | ! Report

        Kreig, thanks for the well thought out comment. I don’t actually think that the NRL should fold them – I just wanted to add a bit of drama to the article. 😛

        • Roar Rookie

          August 8th 2017 @ 11:37am
          Bunney said | August 8th 2017 @ 11:37am | ! Report

          Regretting that choice of word eh Mary? 🙂

          I agree with you about the Warriors – I never expected them to be top 4. They’re far too flaky for that. But I expected them to occasionally take some serious scalps and to be a finals contender. But they have sucked.
          To the point where I confidently tipped the Knights last week…and was right.

          You didn’t need to be Nostradamus to foresee Canterbury’s demise this season – an old slow pack of trundlers without any X-factor in the backline. The Rabbits are in the same boat IMO. A coach too enamoured with their outdated game plan, refusing to admit there is a problem. Even with Inglis they wouldn’t have threatened the 8 this year.
          Gold Coast have had mitigating circumstances, but they have almost crushed my heart in the last 4 weeks. Losses to the Tigers and the Panthers while at the last chance saloon have been particularly poor, and then there was the Broncos slaughter. Youch.

          Can I also nominate the Tigers? After trouncing the Rabbits in round 1 with some enterprising footy, they’ve been pretty ordinary.

          I thought both the Panthers and Raiders were over-rated at the start of the year, so I haven’t been too disappointed with them! But I can certainly see why others would be – they have both been very, very poor at times this year.

          • Columnist

            August 8th 2017 @ 1:08pm
            Mary Konstantopoulos said | August 8th 2017 @ 1:08pm | ! Report

            Definitely not regretting use of the word… but wish ‘humour’ came across better in my articles. 😛

            The Dogs are an interesting one. Ladder wise I expected them to be where they are, but I think I’ve been disappointed with the type of garbage footy they have been playing more than anything.

            • August 8th 2017 @ 2:56pm
              BBA said | August 8th 2017 @ 2:56pm | ! Report

              Can I say that if you put the Dogs and the Warriors together and got rid of the crap you would probably have a good team.

      • August 8th 2017 @ 12:53pm
        Christov said | August 8th 2017 @ 12:53pm | ! Report

        I agree. The Warriors best years came when they had leadership and quality leadership. Think Price, Wiki and earlier Jones. They need to think about their recruitment a bit more thoughtfully as they would be blowing a large amount on this underperforming spine. I hope they come good soon though, i have a soft spot for them

      • August 8th 2017 @ 10:35pm
        Sylvester said | August 8th 2017 @ 10:35pm | ! Report

        “Whereas the ABs always have a blend of dynamic, powerful Maori/Islander players, and disciplined anglo playmakers.”

        Like Carlos Spencer, Aaron Cruden and Lima Sapoaga, you mean?

        • August 9th 2017 @ 9:38pm
          BTop said | August 9th 2017 @ 9:38pm | ! Report

          Fox,Merhtens, Carter, Barrett.

    • August 8th 2017 @ 6:21am
      AJL. said | August 8th 2017 @ 6:21am | ! Report

      For disappointing I’d still say the Raiders. The ability to be a top 4 team is still there, and if we’d played all season like we did against Cronulla on Saturday we’d be one.
      The Bulldogs may be nearly unwatchable, but the issues with their attack were evident last year. The lack of any change makes their poor performance predictable, rather than disappointing.

      • Columnist

        August 8th 2017 @ 9:06am
        Mary Konstantopoulos said | August 8th 2017 @ 9:06am | ! Report

        AJL, hold off. The Raiders still have a chance of making the Finals and if they do… goodness knows what they can do when they get there.

      • August 8th 2017 @ 10:47am
        Big Al said | August 8th 2017 @ 10:47am | ! Report

        The Raiders were most disappointing early in the year and during the origin period when they should have picked up wins against depleted teams. Losses to the Bulldogs and Knights were very poor. Other notable losses were golden point to Manly and Penriths 2 tries in the last 2 minutes to win a game. Plenty of points there that would have guaranteed them a finals spot.

    • August 8th 2017 @ 6:46am
      Onside said | August 8th 2017 @ 6:46am | ! Report

      Mary, Rugby League has a strong, clearly identifiable , definitive point of difference. It’s the
      possesive title, RUGBY LEAGUE. No confusion. Your article is about dreadfull FOOTBALL.

      A couple of articles down, Mike Tuckerman writes about women being the future of FOOTBALL.

      Underneath that is a Jay Croucher AFL piece about the possibility that FOOTBALL is broken

      All good fun of course, and fortunately there are little pictures alongside the articles so readers
      can navigate the difference.

      • Columnist

        August 8th 2017 @ 9:06am
        Mary Konstantopoulos said | August 8th 2017 @ 9:06am | ! Report

        Good call and taken on board onside. 🙂

      • August 8th 2017 @ 11:57am
        KenW said | August 8th 2017 @ 11:57am | ! Report

        What’s your point? That all codes of football, despite having specific names, refer to themselves as football? RL is hardly the most brazen offender there if you look at the tabs across the top of the page.

        • August 8th 2017 @ 1:58pm
          Onside said | August 8th 2017 @ 1:58pm | ! Report

          Just a bit of mischeif KW. Nothing serious mate. I just reckon ,League, is a very ballsy name .
          League’s got a bit of grunt to it. But hey, I like them all.

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