The biggest disappointment this NRL season

Oliver Matthews Roar Guru

By Oliver Matthews, Oliver Matthews is a Roar Guru

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    With Origin a distant memory and everyone’s focus completely on the run into the finals there are lots of interesting stories to play out in the NRL this season.

    Will the Sea Eagles regain earlier form and stay in the eight? Will a JT-less Cowboys miss out on finals footy? Will the Panthers start to live up to expectation and hold onto their finals spot?

    At the other end of the table the intrigue continues. Will the Knights keep the faith with Nathan Brown and give him some more time to continue the reconstruction of the proud Newcastle team? Will the Bulldogs be hiring some legal specialists to find a loophole that will allow them to undo the new contract with Des?

    But one of the most heated discussions, especially among us disgruntled fans whose team’s players are already checking in online for their early holiday flights, is who has been the biggest disappointment this year.

    To be honest there have been some strong contenders. The NSW Blues almost made it onto the list after their recent capitulation but then I realised that actually they were never going to win in the first place – the Maroons are simply too good.

    The Tigers, unsurprisingly, are on the list too. From back office to playing field they have managed to demonstrate some truly impressive levels of poor performance but with the upheaval that they’ve been through it seems fair to leave them be for a while longer. Plus under Ivan Cleary’s management they do seem to be some signs of positivity in the back half of the season.

    How about the Warriors – surely one of the most consistently frustrating teams the NRL has ever seen? So much talent and yet the most irritating run of under performance over several years since their 2011 grand final appearance against the Sea Eagles. But did anyone really expect anything different?

    It can’t be easy being the other rugby side in the land of the All Blacks and like I say, we all knew that this was going to happen yet again.

    In the past few weeks the Dogs and the Titans have both made a strong play for most disappointing team of the year. Both on the field and off the field these clubs have shown some impressive commitment to messing things up. Both coaches and players are unsettled at these clubs and the results on the field are unsurprisingly suffering week after week.

    So who is it that has let their fans and the whole game down the most in 2017? Please come to the stage and collect your prize… drum roll… the Rabbitohs!!!

    Whether you are a Bunnies fan or not there is something annoying about an NRL where the Green and Red deliver such poor rugby league week in and week out. To make matters worse they have such an incredible roster that is jam packed with experience and skill. But this year this roster has been struggling week after week. Players like George and Tom Burgess have been playing far, far below their ability while club legends like John Sutton just seem to be out of ideas or energy.

    Sure GI has been missing for much of the season but look at the Cowboys – they’ve been missing Thurston and yet are winning games and are battling hard to stay in the eight. And what’s more damning for the Bunnies is that the Cowboys seem to give a damn. For so many games this season the majority of the Bunnies seem to be missing that “anything to win” mentality.

    They go through the motions but there doesn’t seem to be that do or die attitude that can see average teams win games they arguably shouldn’t. The Knights are a good example – they have a lack of experience and talent in many positions and yet Brown has got them working hard no matter and in recent weeks this has seen them win games and forcing the Tigers to fight hard to avoid the Wooden Spoon.

    Maguire however doesn’t seem to have any tricks left in his bag – the players seem uninspired and are definitely uninspiring.

    Not having talent is one thing. Not working as hard as you can for 80 mins and for each other is not acceptable. So many things are in the South Sydney team’s favour and yet the past two seasons has seen them underperform. The Rabbitohs have fallen quite a way from the grand final triumph of just a few years ago and what’s more worrying is that I really don’t see 2018 being that different.

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    The Crowd Says (57)

    • Roar Rookie

      August 18th 2017 @ 3:09am
      David Brown said | August 18th 2017 @ 3:09am | ! Report

      “..but then I realised that actually they were never going to win in the first place”

      A bit harsh as all Hayne had to do was a basic pass and not drop a sitter and the Blues would have won the series.

      For me the biggest disappointment is the Raiders. With their roster they should be looking to take the Minor Premiership but they seem to find different types of brain explosions to lose matches. There is no plan to the way they play, as if they are in some kind of meaningless exhibition match. Ricky Stuart is a very lucky man to still be there, imagine how well this team would perform under Bellamy or Bennett.

      • Roar Guru

        August 18th 2017 @ 3:22am
        Oliver Matthews said | August 18th 2017 @ 3:22am | ! Report

        “imagine how well this team would perform under Bellamy or Bennett.” – fair point and I reckon it’s fair to say that same sentence could be applied to half the sides in the league!!

        Yeah I agree that the Raiders have been disappointing this year. There was a lot of hype about them back in Feb/March and they really should be a regular in the Finals. There’s always talk about how teams have a Premiership Window and I don’t really know if Canberra can keep delaying!

        • August 18th 2017 @ 8:25am
          Wild Eagle said | August 18th 2017 @ 8:25am | ! Report

          It is assumed that Bellamy and Bennett would automatically do well at other clubs yet Bennett has been to two other clubs , The Saints and The Knights , and his results at the Knights were very poor.

          It is one of the greatest myths around that a well performed coach with a strong roster can move clubs and clearly transform the new club. We know what happened when Bellamy coached NSW for three series, nothing changed , we lost. If he never did coach them try telling anyone that he wouldn’t have made any difference. It is a different arena obviously but this assurance that top coaches move clubs and transform them is regarded as a given thing by many. History proves this to be untrue.

          Hasler was regarded as the best coach around when he was at the Eagles and his move to the very strong Bulldogs club with everything on his side was a scary prospect. Despite leaving the Eagles in a mess they are now closer to winning a title in the next couple of years than the dogs.

          • August 18th 2017 @ 11:53am
            Agent11 said | August 18th 2017 @ 11:53am | ! Report

            But Bennett did win a premiership with another club (dragons) and took the Knights to a prelim final. The Bulldogs are in bad shape now but Hasler did take them to 2 grand finals. Good coaches can excel at other clubs.
            What coach has won a premiership at every club they have gone to? Gould didn’t (roosters), Sheens didn’t (Cowboys, panthers), Bennett didn’t (Knights), Gibson didn’t (Sharks), Anderson didn’t (Sharks) …

            • August 18th 2017 @ 12:49pm
              matth said | August 18th 2017 @ 12:49pm | ! Report

              It amazes me how Bennett’s effort to get the Knights within 80 minutes of a grand final is completely forgotten or underrated. Look at how the Knights went in the years before and after that time. Look at how the Dragons went before and after his stay. Look at how the Broncos went while he was away and then they make a grand final when he returns. All the evidence i8s there that this grumpy old fella makes a real difference.

          • August 18th 2017 @ 11:54am
            BleakCity said | August 18th 2017 @ 11:54am | ! Report

            Hasler though likes to stack his “premiership window” with lots of quality players by backending contracts. It worked well at Manly and he jumped before the contracts got out of control & blew up with Glenn Stewart issue tearing apart the core group. It didn’t quite work at the dogs with (twice runners up) plus banking on Mbye proved to be a dud bet. Now the backended contracts have come home to roost & the club is in massive do do with their rudderless & ageing roster.

            Bennett & Belamy’s records speak for themselves but let’s face it, they have been at clubs with massive budgets both on & off the field. Bellamy has also been blessed with a once in a lifetime spine who, Slater aside, have rarely been injured (or suspended) over a long period of time. Plus, along with the Roosters, these clubs have a lot of “resource” to pluck the best youngsters into their systems early. It’s not just good coaching that keeps refilling your star roster to ensure you have more rep players than other clubs.

        • Roar Rookie

          August 21st 2017 @ 8:04am
          David Brown said | August 21st 2017 @ 8:04am | ! Report

          I agree Oliver about how any club would improve with Bellamy and Bennett although I think the Raiders manage to be far less than the sum of their parts.

          I feel sorry for Austin as he has trouble organising play as too many players take it on from dummy half. On 4th or 5th tackle he’ll look up to see Leilua playing the ball with Rapana aimlessly wandering around in the middle. There is something to be said for the robotic style of play the Storm and Cowboys use where everyone knows their role in each play.

      • August 18th 2017 @ 9:54am
        Big Al said | August 18th 2017 @ 9:54am | ! Report

        Fair call. Raiders had almost the same team as last year, an extra year of playing together and yet they went backwards. It was that middle period of the year that hurt the most – they should have picked up wins against origin depleted teams, they lost to struggling teams like Bulldogs and Knights, let the Panthers score 2 tries in the final 2 mins of a game to win.
        But a couple of possible explanations:
        1. Loss of depth – Vaughn, Fenson, Brenko and Edrick Lee to name a few (although you could argue Cotric is an upgrade)
        2. Started the season with Baptiste injured. He was critical to the late season surge last season, coming in late, darting out of dummy half for easy metres.
        3. Teams are switched on to their plays and style of footy.
        4. They don’t have a competant field goal kicker. Austin and Sezer can’t slot them, why not give Croker a go?!

      • August 18th 2017 @ 9:57am
        Geoff from Bruce Stadium said | August 18th 2017 @ 9:57am | ! Report

        Hard not to disagree with some of what you’ve said David. The expectations were huge for the Raiders this season afetr their performances the year before and they weren’t able to handle it in the first two thirds of the season. I was concerned at the way they put little effort in to their trials at the beginning of the season – only one – and with most of their stars missing. They lost some close games early against quality opposition such as the Cowboys and Broncos away and lost some close games they should have won (against Penrith and Manly twice). Fingers have been pointed at the halves for not being able to close out matches but they seem to have turned the corner in the past month. They are still in this but of course they need to keep winning. If that’s not motivation I don’t know what is. If they make the 8 it will be a miracle but they will go into the finals brimming with confidence. Ricky needs to shoulder the blame for some of the performances earlier in the year but he also needs to be given credit for squad he has assembled and the way the Raiders play the game. The group would have learned a lot in the past two seasons. This Sunday’s match against the Panthers is massive.

    • August 18th 2017 @ 3:20am
      Farqueue said | August 18th 2017 @ 3:20am | ! Report

      The refs and the bunker.
      Seriously bad this year. I never really considered corruption in rugby league but this year I’m contemplating it
      How dumb are these refs…The latest blight of dummy half’s picking up the ball and throwing it downwards into an opposition player who has just made a legs tackle….It’s so obvious an attempt at milking that everyone can see it except the ref. But they keep rewarding it..FFS.
      That Newcastle hooker is a good young player but he’s got away with it 3 times in the last 2 games…. You’re creating a monster if he keeps getting away with it.

    • August 18th 2017 @ 3:41am
      Matt dustby said | August 18th 2017 @ 3:41am | ! Report

      Gossip journalism by news limited journalists has been the disappointment but was probably expected

      • Roar Guru

        August 18th 2017 @ 6:08am
        Oliver Matthews said | August 18th 2017 @ 6:08am | ! Report

        I reckon you could write a timeline across an NRL season and plot in the same old story topics that occur in every single NRL season. There seems to be very little fresh insight. is the one that annoys me most – used to be good and since the redesign of their site it’s just become how to click bait and is trying to drive everything to their subscription only offerings like TV. Really poor.

        • August 18th 2017 @ 11:51am
          matt dustby said | August 18th 2017 @ 11:51am | ! Report

          haha, so true. same stories every year

    • August 18th 2017 @ 4:54am
      FrozenNorth said | August 18th 2017 @ 4:54am | ! Report

      Tricky question, the biggest flops based on their roster are the Warriors, they have arguably the best squad in the comp! But you kind of knew they’d be what they are even though they shouldn’t be.

      So disappointing, based on actual expectations, maybe Canberra? I dunno it is tough as I see faults in so many teams because the halves are so utterly bad across the comp.

    • August 18th 2017 @ 6:15am
      Wascally Wabbit said | August 18th 2017 @ 6:15am | ! Report

      “…the Green and Red deliver such poor rugby (sic) week in and week out.”
      Not quite right.
      We played some good football in certain games. Then played some lifeless, insipid football in others.
      THAT is the biggest disappointment.

    • August 18th 2017 @ 6:50am
      Womblat said | August 18th 2017 @ 6:50am | ! Report

      The appointed (not elected) bosses. As usual.

      The way the game has been run this year has been awful. So much money. So little idea. Genuine amateurs with no feel for the game, no idea what stirs people about it, no respect of it’s history, and no understanding of it’s grassroots. The decisions are detached, arrogant and bottom line focussed. The sport is going through the motions.

      Don’t give it back to the people holus bolus. But don’t steal it completely either. Find a balance.

      • August 18th 2017 @ 8:46am
        Nambawan said | August 18th 2017 @ 8:46am | ! Report

        Agree with the basic sentiments behind this post. There are numerous atrocities to consider, but here are two which quickly come to mind:

        1. The farcical scrums – particularly the sight of full backs or wingers packing in at lock and a prop standing at 5/8 – makes me want to vomit . How/why would the NRL allow the coaches to distort the game in this manner?

        2.The continual baying of nonsense by ground announcers plus the silly music that now automatically blares out at every stoppage in play. Once again diminished standards of game day management appear to be of no concern to the NRL.

        After many years of following the code I have recently concluded the game is now beset by the most ignorant and supine administration in its history.

        • August 18th 2017 @ 12:01pm
          Agent11 said | August 18th 2017 @ 12:01pm | ! Report

          sorry, but the only people who complain about scrums are those who love the nostalgia of 70s and 80s league. I doubt most people who started watching the game since the 90s, which is anyone under 30 cares that much about what a “farce” the scrums are. The League scrum is what it is, an opportunity to open up some space and maybe put on a set play.

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