The Roar
The Roar



Reading anything into the last two weeks of footy is trial error

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2nd March, 2020

“If you believe it when they say that you’re brilliant, you have to believe it when they say you’re shit.”

While Aussie acting icon Richard Roxburgh spoke these wise words regarding why he doesn’t read his reviews, I couldn’t help but apply them to the trial performances we’ve seen over the past two weekends.

Gasping for a bit of live footy, I attended both Newcastle’s trials – at Gosford and Maitland – for two decidedly different experiences.

Having made the trip down to Central Coast Stadium – my first time at what is a truly gorgeous ground, set on the shores of the beautiful Brisbane Water – I was tentative about Newcastle’s chances against the two-time premiers.

Indeed, the last time I made the trip south to watch the Knights play the Roosters, I was treated to a 48-10 shellacking at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

So I breathed something of a sigh of relief when I saw that Trent Robinson had rested his front-line players after their trip to Europe for the World Club Challenge.

Nevertheless, there was still a degree of schadenfreude on my part as Adam O’Brien’s team put the Chooks to the sword on Saturday night – the same number of total points were scored as that embarrassing afternoon last July, although this time the Knights were responsible for all 58 of them, Easts serving up a bagel.

As for what this means for the Knights’ chances in 2020? While I’m tempted to thump my chest and declare the red and blue as dead certs for the finals, I need only look one week further back to have trepidation, having watched a young Knights side get slayed by the Dragons 38-12 in Maitland.


Trials form. If you believe it when they say that you’re brilliant, you have to believe it when they say you’re shit.

Latrell Mitchell at fullback for Souths? Set up a try with his first touch but dropped a relatively straightforward bomb. Brilliant and shit.

The Gold Coast Titans got up 28-22 over the Broncos but were taken to task by Queensland Cup side Burleigh the previous week. Brilliant and shit.

As for the reigning premiers? They won yet another World Club Challenge, then rested pretty much their entire first-grade squad and watched their youngsters get bashed by the adults from Newcastle. Brilliant and shit.

I think we’d all be wise to appreciate that we got to see a bit of footy over the past fortnight and a few youngsters have put their names up in lights, but that’s all the trials were.

Danny Levi of the Newcastle Knights in action.

Danny Levi of the Newcastle Knights (Ashley Feder/Getty Images)


Because a good win likely came about because it was men against boys, whereas an embarrassing loss was probably the result of the same scenario – just depends which team you’re rooting for as to which way you see it.

So while Warriors and Broncos fans may be sweating a tad after disappointing results in their trials – Brisbane actually played four for just one win, notably going down to Queensland Cup side Wynnum Manly – the only real concerns at this stage should be your injuries list.

Other than that, the trials were a nice distraction after almost five months without a ball kicked in anger, but they’ll have zero bearing on who makes the eight this September.