Hey Roarers! Round 22 had it all! Upsets, blow outs, two teams kept to nil and the biggest case of Déjà vu we have…
Actions made with the best of intentions sometimes have regrettable outcomes.
History teaches us that there is value in recognising accidental mistakes, but little to be gained from apologising.
The best example of this so far this season was the decision of Tino Fa’asuamaleaui back in Round 18. The Titans had bizarrely drifted into the uncharted position of leading the Broncos 24-4.
From here surely they would ‘coast’ to victory, but the toll of defending through the loss of two sin-binnings was beginning to tell. Their defensive line was screaming, “We are tired, and about to crack!”
So when the Broncos scored in the 52nd minute and the Suncorp crowd roared to life, I think most people had a pretty fair idea which way this match was heading. The Titans were on an out-of-control skateboard that was only going to accelerate in one direction.
This was a time for courage and resolve and brave leadership. This was a time to do what the opposition would least expect. Brisbane would have been very happy to receive a long kick off and rumble up the field to continue their scoring procession, so young captain Tino decided to roll the dice.
It was a smart plan with only one tiny flaw. The rugby league ball has a funny shape and its bounce can be unpredictable. On this occasion the kick-off decided to zig towards Cory Paix, rather than zag towards the seven chasing Titans.
That’s what happened, but it could have easily been very different. This might’ve been a moment on a par with Andrew Johns making the crazy decision to run short-side at the end of the 1997 GF. He backed himself, and he had the vision, skill and luck to make it succeed.
Of course, it’s one thing to make a decision, but something else to execute it properly.
There were a lot of things wrong with the Titans’ restart.
The kick should’ve been aimed a bit more towards the places where the Broncos weren’t, rather than were.
What were the Titans outside chasers thinking as they all raced comically in the opposite direction to which Paix and then Riki were travelling? Had they rehearsed this option at training? Why didn’t someone realise that the straight line, an effective structure in many defensive situations, was not the tool for this job?
So everything was wrong with that kick-off, except the decision to perform it. So naturally the only aspect that was criticised by the media was the decision itself.
After the match Tino was led forward to prostrate himself as the scapegoat of the week. He realised the futility of defending his decision against rugby league journalists far wiser than himself, so he simply bowed and meekly accepted his fate. He kowtowed and apologised and swore he would never do it again.
And that pretty much was the end of the Titans’ season. They committed to going out with a whimper rather than a bang.
Teams need leadership. They need leaders with bold plans, and the conviction to carry them out. Successful leaders learn from their mistakes, but they don’t apologise to appease the mob.