It was about this time last year that the whinging started as Brian Smith used the mandate given to him by the Knights board to end years of terrible football and put a broom through the entire club.
He started telling poor, underperforming players that they didn’t have a god given right to play for the Knights and they had to work hard just like anyone else.
That saw a group of players leave the club, all of which thought they were irreplacable, and none of whom have been missed.
Clint Newton demanded an immediate release. A fringe first grader who had to go over to Hull KR to get a run. What does that tell you about his reputation!
Josh Perry headed to Many and decided to have a bit to say in the newspaper, thinking that because he went from 120kgs to 115kgs, that he had achieved something. Now he is a bench warmer with the Eagles, who the Knights beat in the first round.
Then there is Kurt Reynoldson who is taking court action against Newcastle because of a clause he knew was in his contract and one that he must have expected to be used should his form be as poor as it was. He is still whinging too, playing on a stupid Dragons team he fits in really well with.
Danny Buderus was another that had a whinge last year, but now that he is playing in a much younger, much fitter and faster side this season, you tend to notice he doesnt say as much about the whole clean out these days.
I always felt that the silence from Andrew Johns said it all.
Johns, at the end of his career and playing in a poor Knights side, was well within his rights to speak up if he felt what Brian Smith was doing was wrong. But he never did.
You have to wonder if the years of dragging a poor Knights side kicking and screaming to success made Joey realise that things needed changed, that things counldn’t go on the way they were.
Even when he was forced to retire with a neck injury, Johns could have walked away from the mess, it would have been the easiest thing in the world to do.
Instead, he stuck by the Knights, he took an active role in coaching the club and he still sticks by them to this day.
The difference between the Knights this year compared to last year is night and day.
The Knights are younger and for the first time in a long time, they all look fit. You look at the side now and you can see a long term future for them, they are not just surviving and hoping to ride the coattails of one brilliant player.
Their halves combination is amazing! Their wingers are fast and get in to take pressure off the forwards. Their pack is big, and is a throwback to the early 90’s when the Knights were known for not only being big, but mobile and athletic too.
Its been an amazing turn around, and its all thanks to Brian Smith.
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com
Aug 28, 2020 0