Since his debut in 2016, Nathan Cleary has played 79 games for the Panthers.
I love the new caring, visionary, goal-oriented human-resources speak that is oozing out of the Blues camp at the moment.
I couldn’t agree more that if the Blues are ever going to be competitive, they need to build combination and cohesion.
Likewise, it is clear that catching every pass and making every tackle with visions in your head of a selector with a sniper gun ready to pull the trigger if you make a mistake, is not the ideal way to build Blue behemoths who swagger into a game ready to gorge on cane toad blood.
But to come out and state categorically that there will be no changes to a losing side is lunacy.
Let me get this straight, in Ricky Stuart’s “Bible for Building A Winning Culture”, there is a chapter that says; “If you select a team that does not win – simply repeat.”
The score line flattered NSW in Game I and the Maroons will improve as the series goes on but that’s irrelevant. The blokes in Blue in the series opener just weren’t as good as their opponents.
And Ricky Stuart effectively walked into the banana benders post-match keg show and said; “Scuse me boys, well played, good win. Just wanted to let you know, that mob you just beat, well we’re gunna trot them out in a few weeks again. No surprises, same team that you are celebrating beating. Just thought I’d let you know.”
And the Queenslanders would be thinking; “You are gunna throw up those two props again? We slaughtered ‘em. Petero’s older than yoda and he smacked their bums. Beauty.
“And Kurt Gidley? He won’t be included if he comes back from his shoulder injury?
“And even if Jamal Idris and Jarrod Hayne terrorise the competition as they can do, there is no chance we are going to have to deal with them as we go for the series win?
“Well, jolly good. Well done Ricky! In fact, if we were picking the Blues side, we’d be doing the same thing mate. And good luck with that winning culture you are building.”
Snigger, snigger, snort.
Ricky, the job is simple but the execution is complicated. Your job is to win. And if you lose, you need to find some blokes who can win. You still have to build confidence and combination, and a winning culture and a sense of unity and purpose.
As the guys at the Human Resources seminar would say; “Those are some tough KPIs.”
But then, you have arguably the biggest job in rugby league, so that comes with the territory.
Of course, maybe this is all a coaching masterstroke. Maybe you’ll ring in mass changes.
Maybe you will punish those who failed and reward those who deserve promotion. I heard you gave Luke Lewis a sly phone call at the weekend.
And perhaps you’ll win. If that happens, why the need to embark on this ridiculous tactic?
Where will that leave your credibility? You can keep your credibility by staying true to your word, which is why a former Blue joked with me this week; “Injuries are our only hope.”
You’re the boss, Ricky. You’ve been given executive powers to do it your way.
But know this: you should not expect the same level of loyalty you’ve exhibited and I’d have a draft resignation ready to go just in case because someone needs to own the loss and according to you, it’s not the players.