Laurie Daley sent shockwaves through the NRL this week by reporting that Newcastle were looking to offload star halfback Mitchell Pearce.
It’s official: the Newcastle Knights I grew up watching are dead.
This club was a blue-collar club. While they never had the best equipment or stadium, they always played their hearts out, giving their all. They could hold their heads high at the end of each game at least happy that they had the right attitude.
The current crop of Newcastle Knights, and the teams for at least the last half decade, have been the polar opposite. Last year after being in the top four, they got embarrassed game after game after game.
They were accused of being soft and not putting in, and of being disrespectful to their fans that keep turning up in droves week after week to support them. Nathan Brown copped the brunt and was fired, and Adam O’Brien was brought in, citing toughness and resilience as a mantra during a hard off-season.
Where is all that now? What has changed from last year?
Another week, another embarrassing loss to a team below them on the ladder. No resilience, no toughness, no desire. That was among some of the softest defence I have seen for years.
Each time this happens, Adam O’Brien comes out and calls out his team, and they respond well and then the pattern repeats.
I feel like I am repeating half of what I said a few days ago. I am near certain the Knights never learn any basic lessons from their losses. I am just a lifetime fan watching the game? How come their coaches can’t see these continual issues? Where is the professionalism?
Against the Titans, there was a failure across the entire team to treat the opponents and the ball with any respect, and they paid the price. The playing group’s leaders were well below par. David Klemmer, Mitch Barnett, Kalyn Ponga and Mitchell Pearce were all guilty of poor attitude, and not putting in. Enari Tuala and Hymel Hunt were absolutely woeful in defence, and continuously leaked tries on their side.
There was no second-phase play again, with just boring one-man-up plays going continually, then to a Pearce bomb with no pressure applied whatsoever. Again, it was very clunky attack and they never even looked like scoring a try when they had the ball within 20 metres of the try line.
Where do they go from here?
The Rabbitohs beat the pulp out of the Roosters, and as far as I am concerned, the Knights do not deserve a home final.