Five things for losing coaches to ponder in the off-season

Jack Aubrey Roar Guru

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    With their weekend plans now cancelled and the month of September free, Trent Barrett and Shane Flanagan can look at other things that may have cost them, as well as when the shoe has been on the other foot.

    1. Aku Uate’s handling
    Akuila Uate has had a resurgent year, no doubt about it. After stagnating at Newcastle, his season with the Eagles has shown he still has plenty to offer the game of rugby league.

    Aku though has always been a bit of a ‘rocks or diamonds’ player and on Saturday night that was on show once more.

    With the Sea Eagles trailing 10-4, Daly Cherry-Evans summed a broken play situation beautifully, feathering the ball into the in-goal. The bounce beat Josh Mansour and the ball hung around, waiting to be grounded by Uate. On review though, it was clear he failed to control the football and instead it was a knock on.

    It brought back memories of a Round 14 clash between the Sea Eagles and Knights. On that night, the plucky Novocastrians were giving the Sea Eagles a run for their money when Uate scored in the corner. On replay, it was obvious he failed to ground the football, but the Bunker was not used and the points were on the board. As it turned out, the try was the difference.

    You can’t predict how the game might have panned out had the refs got this call right. Maybe Manly lose, maybe they finish lower on the ladder, who knows? What would have happened if Uate could ground the ball on Saturday night?

    Maybe Barrett can consider this during this week.

    2. Dylan Walker’s mouth
    He spent the best part of two games getting under the Panthers’ skin with his verbal sprays, but Dylan Walker didn’t get the last laugh on Saturday night.

    It has always been part of rugby league. For some players it is part of what makes them so valuable. No one was better than it than Michael Ennis. The talk, the niggle, putting opponents off.

    Walker seemingly made it his mission to put the Panthers off with his chatter and scoring the first try, he had plenty of ammunition.

    Ultimately though, his performance was more about his theatrical sprays than a match-winning try or effort to help his team. He missed nine tackles trying to put big shots on and ran for just 85 metres.

    Barrett might do well to look at Latrell Mitchell’s try to win the game for the Roosters, and contemplate having a centre who, when the game was there to be won, did so with his actions.

    3. Andrew Fifita’s brain snap
    Strong and agile, Andrew Fifita is one of the hardest big men to handle when he is on song. His opening stint on Sunday afternoon was full of venom and it looked like he could turn in a match-winning performance.

    With the game all but over and the Sharks trailing by one, they needed a strong carry by Fifita for a shot to save their season. Instead, he crabbed sideways across the field, pushing an offload that went to ground and was dived on by the Cowboys. Game over.

    With the game on the line, Fifita can lose it for you just as easily as he can win it. Flanagan needs to iron out those brain explosions, or risk losing more games in the clutch.

    Andrew Fifita Cronulla Sharks NRL Rugby League 2017

    AAP Image/Joe Castro

    4. 60 per cent completion rate, 34 missed tackles, 11 penalties conceded
    That sounds more like the effort of a team floundering around the bottom of the ladder, but was what the Sharks dished up on Sunday in an elimination final.

    Completion rate is basic, it can make or break a game. If you can’t complete, you gift possession, same as if you are giving away penalties.

    There is a train of thought that a lopsided penalty count is somehow unfair, but with teams now happy to give away penalties on their own line, that argument is nullified.

    The stats tell the story of a team that didn’t turn up and it cost them their season.

    5. The ‘Hand of Foran’, the seventh tackle try
    Both the Sea Eagles and Sharks have had the better of calls at Allianz Stadium in past finals matches.

    Manly got away with a win in 2012, a video decision of try being made despite there looking to be a knock on by Keiran Foran in the lead up.

    Then, in 2013, the Cowboys lost again at Allianz, this time by just two, due to the Sharks scoring an early try off a set with an extra tackle.

    Referees make mistakes, players make mistakes. It is a fact of life, an inevitable factor in the game we can never fully eradicate. The Panthers and Cowboys played their guts out on the weekend, can it really be said they did not deserve to win?

    Sport is about being resilient, finding a way to win, putting adversity aside. Both Manly and the Sharks had opportunities to win their games and couldn’t do it.

    They have been the beneficiaries of controversy before and they will be again. Go through any close game and consider some 50-50 calls, we will never know the ramifications if the decisions are different. Looking at a game as a parochial fan, you are always going to side with your team.

    It is disappointing for both Shane Flanagan and Trent Barrett that their seasons have come to an end. But they have far more than the referees to look at it in finding a way to improve in 2018.

    If you could choose from any and every NRL player in the competition, who would you pick in your rugby league dream team? Let us know with our team picker right here, and be sure to share it with all your league-loving mates.

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    The Crowd Says (10)

    • September 12th 2017 @ 2:49am
      Jason said | September 12th 2017 @ 2:49am | ! Report

      Shane Flanagan has maintained the rage of whinging even after the heat of the moment comments have cooled off. Just like the whole peptide drama, everyone else is at fault, not him or his players. On the Sharks website, an unnamed author even blames referees for crowds being down.

    • September 12th 2017 @ 3:07am
      Matt said | September 12th 2017 @ 3:07am | ! Report

      In recent years, there are no bigger whinging coaches out there than Ricky Stuart and Des Hasler. Ricky has been shown the exit door at Roosters, Sharks, and Eels, and Desy is now out of favour with the Dogs.

      Heed caution all whinging coaches. You are just a Benji sidestep and a Gasnier shimmy away from the scrapheap. You can only deflect attention away from yours, and your teams performance for so long. Take note of the coaches who often pay credit to the opposition, and those that never do. Barrett and Flanagan, you’re both on the never do list.

      • September 12th 2017 @ 6:26am
        LachyP said | September 12th 2017 @ 6:26am | ! Report

        I noticed it with Flanagan after the Dragons beat the Sharks earlier this year. In a ten minute presser with coach and captain never once mentioned the Dragons playing well, instead just kept talking about it being the worst the Sharks had played. It’s a terrible look for the kids watching to see the coaching promoting disrespect for officials and their opposition.

    • September 12th 2017 @ 3:47am
      Matt said | September 12th 2017 @ 3:47am | ! Report

      Slightly off topic but I gotta say how scandalous for the media to create a doctored image of the offside. The red line is crooked so that it squeezes Walker’s feet in. If they get the red line straight, both feet not just one, are in front of the kicker. Nothing more damning than this, to clearly show he was offside. It was no try. If you haven’t thrown yesterday’s tabloid out – have a look at the crooked line they drew.

      • September 12th 2017 @ 5:11am
        realist said | September 12th 2017 @ 5:11am | ! Report

        The only thing your article shows is your blatant dislike of Manly & Cronulla………….

      • September 12th 2017 @ 5:12am
        realist said | September 12th 2017 @ 5:12am | ! Report

        Perhaps you should book a trip to OPSM or Specsavers!!!

    • September 12th 2017 @ 5:58am
      Womblat said | September 12th 2017 @ 5:58am | ! Report

      I actually enjoyed watching Greenberg’s spray yesterday. He was right… some magical moments in our sport have been overshadowed and that’s a crime. Other codes much be laughing watching League implode like this at what is supposed to be our finest hour. After so much good happened, how could it have turned so ugly? Poor management, past indiscretions, many things probably, but the time for strong leadership is right now. I saw a glimpse yesterday.

      League has taken the soft road over many things recently, including referee abuse, and the whole sport has been staggering. But just like a parent who’s has enough of their wayward kids, the CEO finally had to stand up and say “enough”. He clearly wasn’t comfortable doing it, but totally necessary.

      It remains to be seen what they do from here. Breaching Barrett and Flanagan is a start but they were always going to do that and now it’s about matching the tough talk to a new walk. And the future.

      If referees are always going to make mistakes that’s cool, we all do, but get them out there to accept responsibility publicly like Greenberg wants everyone else to do, “grow up”. They are a critical stakeholder as Greenberg says. They need to be doing what everyone else does to help dig the sport out of a hole.

      And it shouldn’t stop there. It is not a sacrosanct position any more. They need to be right there answering to their critics too. Referee media pressers for a start, people would finally start to see them as humans rather than arrogant robots. Fines and demotions for poor refereeing decisions and performances. As many wise contributors on this site have suggested before, ditch the on-field pre-bunker decision and go back to the old “ref’s call”. And referees get out and help promote the sport a bit at schools and junior events alongside players, not just for referees. They can no longer be a separate entity.

      Everyone should get behind the entire sport.

    • September 12th 2017 @ 5:58am
      Matt said | September 12th 2017 @ 5:58am | ! Report

      Do you “Realiist”-icly think that all footy fans cheer on 16 teams equally?

      That sounds pretty unrealist- ic

    • September 12th 2017 @ 5:59am
      Matt said | September 12th 2017 @ 5:59am | ! Report

      Perhaps you should get “real”

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