Probably not the right place to post this, but will put it here anyway.
I’ve been trying to stay positive all season, and we are still a small chance of featuring in the finals, but it’s probably time to be brutal.
Our season was over before it began. The sex tapes scandal in the off season has been an ongoing distraction for the squad, and we have lacked focus all season. While I could cop that excuse early in the season, they should have buried it & got on with the job by round 6. The only way to label it is unprofessional. We all have distractions away from our jobs, but remaining distracted & not performing for 6 months would get most people sacked.
At the start of the year, most of us would have been confident of a 4th straight finals appearance, and with the talent we have in the squad it wouldn’t have been an unreasonable expectation. Unfortunately the effort & execution has left a lot to be desired. We have been mostly poor, with glimpses of mediocrity. I’d almost go as far to say that the playing group as a whole (and in particular the players caught up in the sex tape scandal) owe the fans & sponsors an apology for what has happened this year,
The fact that we are still alive (barely) this season is mainly due to the efforts of our rookies, in particular Martin, Kenny, Naden & To’o. While they have made their share of mistakes, like rookies tend to do, I can’t fault their effort. The spark they have brought to the team is probably the only reason we aren’t staring down the barrel of a wooden spoon. It’s probably indicative of our season that they have been 4 of our best players. The only experienced players that I would rate alongside them this year are JFH & Tamou, who have probably been our 2 most consistent players. I’ll also give Leota a mention, he has been solid, and has shown improvement as the year has progressed.
As good a player as Maloney is, I think he has been a liability this year. If he was half as interested in playing the game as he is in arguing the point with the referees, we would probably be safe in the 8. Then there’s his defensive deficiencies & the penalties that he gives away. To be honest I don’t think we will miss him next year. Burton showed his worth against the Sharks, and Luai has a good bag of tricks too. Both are capable of stepping up & complementing Cleary in the halves next year. So au revior Maloney.
RCG & Mansour haven’t been the same since their injuries of the last couple of years. We look to have ready made replacements in Leniu & Chrichton, so it might be time to look at freeing up some cash on those contracts.
I’m also starting to think Whare is past his best. No doubt he can put on a few good hits in defence, but we need more than that from a centre, especially in attack. Not sure if we have someone ready to step into his shoes yet. Maybe Cartwright if he can stay fit.
A number of other “stars” have been well below their best this year, although have shown glimpses of form. Cleary, Edwards & Kikau in particular come to mind. Yeo hasn’t been as good as recent years, but has been mostly solid & consistent. His concussions early in the year may something to do with it, so I will wait & see how he goes next year before getting too worried about his form.
Given the way our season has gone, I’d be seriously considering getting the players back into training the Monday after our last game if I was Ivan Cleary. No off season holiday after what has happened. Most of them need to take a good hard look at themselves before next season kicks off.