Earlier this year the Gold Coast Titans announced that they had signed their coach, John Cartwright, to a five year contract extension that would see him coach the team until some time just after the ice caps have melted and we all live in under water cities.
It was a move that raised a lot of eyebrows in the game. No coach had ever signed a contract for that long, and for good reason…
As I write this, the Gold Coast Titans sit in 16th place on the NRL Ladder. They have won just 4 of their 15 games all season.
Someone has to come last, and you can’t just crucify a club for being a bit unlucky or having a bad year. That isn’t the case here.
You need to look at the way the Titans are playing this season. They are so utterly off the pace. So out of the contest. They look like a side that just doesn’t want to be there on game day.
When the Titans were formed, they started off with a clean sheet of paper and i think they recruited very well. They got what they needed, when they needed it. It was a side to be competitive.
As the years have worn on though, it feels like that original blueprint has not changed at all.
Their forward pack has been soft since day one. Enough to win you some games, not enough to worry anyone when the whips are really cracking. Year after year, you expected this to be addressed by the game, and it just hasn’t.
Then there is the teams major play makers.
On day one back in 2007 it was Nathan Friend, Scott Prince, Preston Campbell and Matt Rogers. One of those players was a youngster looking for an opportunity. No one really knew he’d end up being as good as he was. One was a representative halfback. One was an experienced clubman that was a really good buy for a new club, and the last was a former rugby union winger with a history of injury problems, but hey, each to their own.
Today we have hear news that retired Titan Matt Rogers has decided he will come out of retirement and play for the Titans for the remainder of a season that is well and truly over.
That means in 2011 the Titans main play makers are, Nathan Friend, Scott Prince, Preston Campbell and Matt Rogers.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
The Titans are basically an OK expansion team that changed nothing, got old, still changed nothing and then for some reason expected things to pan out for them.
You can’t put all that on the players. Its not their job to craft the side, to make changes when needed and to tell players when to move on. That rests on the shoulders of the team management, and more importantly, the coach.
Now to be fair, the Titans have looked to make a number of big signings for next year, including Jamal Idris and Nate Myles.
My problem is, you are coming to the end of a season that is a complete write off, and instead of blooding a few youngsters, testing out of few juniors and just seeing who might be able to step up to the next level, they are now looking to bring back Matt Rogers. Really?
It smacks of desperation.
I don’t know if it is a publicity stunt in the middle of a disasterous season in which they now have competition in the Gold Coast football market or what, but what ever is driving the decision to bring a 35 year old injury prone player out of retirement, it needs to be reviewed.
Its a bad one.
When the club signed John Cartwright to the longest coaching extension in Rugby League history, it was flying in the face of that same history. No coach in this sport has not been shown the door. Even Wayne Bennett in all those years at the Brisbane Broncos, he just kept signing year long contracts until even they told him it was time to go!
I always remember Phil Gould talking a number of years ago about when you know you time is up at a certain club. He spoke about having the passion, having the right message and giving it your all. However, you look around the room and you realize, where once you had everyone’s undivided attention, now you don’t. At that stage, you’ve lost them. There is no coming back from that. Your time is up.
I like John Cartwright, I think he is a decent coach. I think as time goes on he will become an even better coach. Right now though, I’m looking at a club that looks like its run out of ideas, and the way they play, they look like a team who has been lost by the coach.
With new players coming in next year, I wouldn’t be calling for Cartwright to be sacked. If he has just signed a 3 year contract extension, you’d be wondering if it was the right move. However that massive contract he has signed, it brings pressure to perform.
Right now, the Gold Coast Titans, John Cartwright’s team, they are not performing.
Signing a 35 year old injury prone player is a mistake. This is a club that needs to make changes. They Titans need to look to the future, beyond Matt Rogers, Preston Campbell and even Scott Prince.
This is a club that needs new blood.
Bit hard to bring in new blood when everyone is signed up to career long contracts.
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
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