The Clutch Plays: Round 8

0 Submitted by on Tue, 26 April 2016, 23:17

Nothing invokes human emotion quite like ANZAC Day. And nothing resonates the soul quite like the reverberating echoes of the Last Post. It’s the one time in the year that a whole nation pauses to reflect on the sacrifices made to provide the lifestyle that is too often taken for granted. It’s a moment of intense national pride. And full credit to the NRL for paying wonderful tribute to our fallen soldiers. I thought the AAMI stadium pre match preview in the Storm v Warriors game was the most memorable of all. Lest we forget.

As for the footy, Round 8 has invoked an array of emotions on and off the field. The Broncos outclassed an improved Rabittohs outfit amidst rumours their coach Michael Maguire is on the outer, the Bulldogs scraped home in yet another clunky performance against a plucky Titans, the Raiders completely outclassed a pathetic and pride-less Tigers team, the Cowboys were too classy against the Eels in a controversial contest, the Sharks beat the Panthers in a nail-biter, the Dragons drew on the ANZAC spirit against a Roosters team that is surely out of semi final contention and out of pocket after their coaches outlandish post match outburst and the Storm drove another nail into the Andrew McFadden coffin.

Terrible Tigers

That performance by the Wests Tigers (losing 60-6) against the Raiders reeked of “I don’t want to play for my coach anymore”. This was later confirmed by former Tigers playmaker Braith Anasta during a Fox Sports interview. I don’t really care about who is to blame! I don’t care who’s at fault. I don’t care for finger pointing. Whether it’s the coach, the players, the management team or the bloody car park attendant, it’s about time someone took notice of the people that matter most. The ones whose lives are deeply affected by every moment of every game. Those that sacrifice their time, their money, their emotion for nothing more than pitiful excuses. I managed to get a hold of an email sent to Tigers CEO, Justin Pascoe, by the 14 year old son of a good friend of mine. I’ve posted it below in the hope that somehow, someway, someone in this wretched organisation can be accountable to the people that matter most.

My name is Michael XXXX (surname excluded for privacy purposes), I am 14 years old and have been a Tigers supporter since I was born. My dad was a huge Balmain Tigers supporter all his life and continued supporting the Tigers in the merger with Wests Magpies. I watch every game with my family, whether it be live or on TV. Last week we went on a 2 week family holiday to the United States and made sure we found coverage of the game to watch it live as we always do. Although the effort has seemed to be there in previous weeks such as against Newcastle and Melbourne, where we lost by narrow margins, our performance (or lack of) against Canberra last night was nothing short of disgraceful. It is the first time our dad has turned off the TV with 35 minutes remaining, and said ‘we don’t have to watch this, they’re not even trying’. 

Our whole family were club members until 2014 when Mick Potter was sacked as Head Coach. We felt that our players did not have the right to ask for a new coach, when their performances were so poor, for example when the Cowboys put 60 points on us, near the end of the season. Me and my family shared the belief that we as fans and club members deserved more from our players, and decided not to renew our membership for the 2015 season. 

The Wests Tigers have not made the finals since I was 9 years old in 2011, meaning we have not been in the top half of the competition for what looks to be 5 years judging our performances so far this season. In 2015 the Wests Tigers outlined a ‘strategic plan’ to make the top four of the competition by the year 2017. I’m finding it hard to believe that this is anywhere near possible, when it seems like we will not even be in the finals, once again in 2016.  

Although I am only 14 years old, I understand that players are very rarely one-club players, and players arrive and depart regularly. However since 2014 we have released Adam Blair, Martin Taupau, Bodene Thompson, Blake Austin and Marika Koroibete, all representative football players, and I am finding it hard to believe how we have signed not one elite player to replace any of them.

Since the merger in 2000 we have only made the top half of the competition 3 times, which in itself shows how poorly managed the club is. Would really appreciate a response from you guys to explain what our future is, if we actually have one. We love the Wests Tigers, but it seems they don’t ever love us back.

– Michael XXXXX, Age 14

The fact of the matter is – everybody is to blame for the Tigers’ predicament. Everyone needs to be accountable. Fans don’t care if there’s a personality issue between players and coach. They can’t give a damn if there are issues among the players themselves. There’s too much at stake. Once you get on the field, all these issues should be cast aside. It’s called professionalism. You’re paid good money for the privilege of playing the game..for putting your body on the line…for giving absolutely everything you have for that tiny 80 minutes of your week. There are NO EXCUSES for such an insipid performance v the Raiders! Stop squabbling and look at the bigger picture. There are thousands of fans like young Michael that deserve better.

Chooks or sooks?

Honestly, I am so over coaches feasting on the easy prey when it comes to post match interviews. The rant by Trent Robinson after the Roosters loss against the Dragons was nothing short of deplorable. His tirade against referee Ben Cummins was pathetic and sour grapes from a team so accustomed to success that they can’t handle failure. They say your true colours come through during difficult times and both Robinson and Roosters boss Nick Politis have shown poor form by questioning the integrity of the referee. As far as I’m concern this outburst is a smokescreen for their ineptitude so far this year. What they should be focussing on is why they got off to such a poor start, both during this game and the season in general. After all, they were awarded two tries that came off a knock on and a forward pass. Why wasn’t that mentioned? Why wasn’t the coach spending more time discussing the unearthing of a brilliant young player in Ryan Matterson? Coaches are rarely accountable for ridiculous team selection, poor strategies or their inability to inspire their players, yet it’s easy to shift the focus on the easy prey – the referees.

Semi the Aussie?

For the record, I think Semi Radradra is currently the best winger in the competition. But his selection in the Australian team to face New Zealand is wrong. Very wrong! Firstly, he can play for his adopted country but not his adopted state?! Would he even be considered if Brett Morris and Will Chambers were available? He played for Fiji 2 years ago. Does this mean James Graham and Sam Burgess can, potentially, pledge their allegiance to Australia if they meet the eligibility criteria? Aren’t we trying to grow the game internationally? Where is the sense in his selection? Answer: $$$. Sad but true…

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