The Craig Gower signing left me scratching my head. What can he possibly add to any side at his age?
The Knights already have Gidley, Buderus, Mason, Tahu, Hilder, Quinn and Smith in the over thirties club so why not add another? Hell, why not bring back Danny Wicks on match payments? That makes more sense if you ask me.
Gower is 35 and has been plying his trade with the worst team in the ESL, The London Broncos. He wants to finish his career in the NRL, which is fine, but coming from a team that would be lapped by a NSW cup side, what can Gower bring to a Knights side that is wildly inconsistent?
The signing has led me to ask the question about the decision making abilities of Wayne Bennett. To be honest, I expected more success from Bennett with the Knights in a similar fashion to the way way he made St George Illawarra a premiership threat in his first season, culminating in the 2010 premiership victory over the Sydney Roosters.
The Knights recruitment has been mediocre at best. Darius Boyd was a solid signing as was Jeremy Smith, but the Knights have received no value from Beau Scott and to a lesser extent, Danny Buderus.
No doubt it takes a great coach to win premierships with two different clubs but it seems Bennett has bitten off more than he can chew with the Knights. On the surface, their seems to be resistance to the “Bennett”way of doing things. At St George Illawarra, Bennett’s inimitable style was ingrained in every aspect of the Dragons play and it yielded results immediately, with the Dragons in 2009, Bennett’s first year, a premiership force who were put to the sword by one man, Jarryd Hayne.
In 2010 they won the Dragons first premiership since 1979. Bennett had achieved mission impossible. A job well done. A new challenge on the horizon. That challenge was the Knights. Did he bite off more than he could chew? Only time will tell on that one.
2013 marks Bennett’s second season with the Knights and they will struggle to make the top eight for a second consecutive year under Bennett if recent form is anything to go by. After a promising start the Knight are now 6-6 and don’t seem to be buying into the Bennett way. The top four is set and there are some quality teams looking to replace the Knights in the top eight, namely the Bulldogs and Raiders. The Knights flogged one and were flogged by the other.
The quality of the Knights play is inconsistent. Yes, they have a heavy injury list but the Knights look befuddled on the field with the ball in hand. They have had their moments, but not enough of them. Bennett can’t use his signature wrap around play that was so successful at the Dragons because it has been done to death and teams know how to defend it now.
Hunter Stadium is not a fortress that can be relied upon to give the Knights the home ground advantage that teams like the Raiders and Storm receive by being cold weather teams. Hunter Stadium is a picturesque, benign home ground that looks beautiful on a sunny Sunday afternoon but that’s as far as it goes for the Knights. It is not imposing and the fans aren’t feral enough (at least on game day) to make it a graveyard for visiting teams.
One question Knights fans are within their rights to ask is, why not promote from within instead of signing a 35 year old player, who has been out of the NRL for over five years and is as old as time itself? Good question you ask. Craig Gower played for the Panthers in Super League back in 1997. Just thought it was worth mentioning.
Has Bennett evolved with the game to the point where he can keep his side not just competitive, but a premiership threat because being near enough is not good enough for a man like Bennett. Wayne is in his sixties and his premiership window with the Knights is beginning to close for good. Will his legacy be tarnished with a “bridge too far”club like the Knights or will he always be revered for his achievements with the Broncos and the Dragons?