It's the new craze taking over rugby league, but it's making one of our writers feel very silly indeed.
After Round 11 everyone was talking up the Rabbitohs. Was this their year after so many close misses?
It’s not hard to see why people were saying such things: equal top of the ladder; great defensive efforts; and superb scoring ability. It was all ‘glory glory’ at that stage.
Since then, the wheels have come off entirely and going by reporting, there is bad dose of myxomatosis in the burrow. As Jason Demetriou ponders the great divide between being a head coach and an assistant, the rest of us can ponder what went wrong.
Like a good episode of Air Crash Investigation, pinpointing the exact cause is multifactorial and painstaking in getting to the heart of the things. I may not get close to the real reasons for South Sydney’s issues, but I will outline a few.
To be brutally fair, Souths are an average team, with a few shining lights. Take out Cody Walker and it is a well below average team because he is the true genius and magician for the team.
Yet there is this messiah complex about Latrell Michell that statically, is just not warranted. Sure, silky hands, exceptional reader of the play, but effort areas and positional play are sub-optimal for such a highly paid player (a la Manly’s Josh Schuster).
In years to come I wonder if Mitchell will look back on his career and wonder what he could have been. He reminds me of Bernard Tomic, a gifted tennis player who hated tennis and only after he retired did he realise what he could have been. We all know someone who was gifted athletically or intellectually who never rose to their true potential.
Mitchell is in that same league.
Ever since Dave Brailsford introduced the 1 per cent improvement to the Great Britain Cycling Team back in 2003, effort has been the hallmark of great sporting teams. Currently Penrith are the team that exhibit this week in and week out and it shows.
Souths go out there half asleep, and around the 70th minute wake up to the reality that they are 16 behind and they’d better do something about it.
Souths need a mind coach. Someone who can awaken them to their potential every round. A mind coach that has them focused all week and has them motivated to perform for each other. A mind coach that allows them to take to the field free of distractions.
The departure of Wayne Bennett was a huge loss because he was this type of coach. The footage of him dancing and laughing with his team after a big Rabbitohs win a few seasons back spoke volumes for the camaraderie and sense of team he created.
Demetriou currently looks like a man who is wondering where the magic went.
Souths are dangerous, but they don’t play like it. Other teams have woken up to the fact that if you don’t give them get out of jail penalties, they are impotent coming out of their own half.
Finally, the most gutsy player doesn’t necessarily make the best captain. I love Cam Murray’s efforts, but he is the first human NRL robot with inbuilt ChatGPT for talking points post-games. He is not the leader that Souths need; I’d have Damien Cook as my choice.
I never thought Souths were a premiership threat, even at Round 11, but I always had a hope they could make the eight and knock out Penrith during the semis – that would be sufficient schadenfreude to mark the season as successful.