I always think that going into a season, you can get a feel for what direction a club is heading in by the little subtle things they have been doing over the last few months.
Some things are good. For instance, have you heard much from the Melbourne Storm? No. Thats a good thing, more of the same in 2010 then.
The Sydney Roosters, have they been out of the news. Once again, a good sign, more of the same from them in 2010.
So when it comes to Penrith, obviously I’m watching a little closer, and right now, I’m very worried about how season 2010 is going to turn out for them.
Whats got me worried?
Let me show you….
Mick Fanning and Matthew Elliott’s Love In
If you don’t know, Mick Fanning is the Surfing World Champion and he was born in Penrith. Good on him. Somehow, and I don’t know how as I don’t care so I didn’t read about it, Mick Fanning has an association with Penrith coach Matthew Elliott.
What worried me is that this connection keeps being brought up. Time after time, every few weeks, this is in the papers. It was to the point where Elliott brought in Fanning to talk to the players about his experience as a World Champion.
I know its only footy, its not Rocket Surgery, but even if a World Champion Surfer was brought to my high school when I used to play to talk to the footy side….I’d have been thinking :What the fuck can a Surfer teach me about football?”.
Everyone Is Bulking Up
Every time a Panthers player has been in the paper talking about this coming season, they talk about how much they have bulked up over the off season.
This puts the fear of god into me!
I remember after the 2004 season, having had a very deep run in the playoffs only to lose to the eventual champions, the Bulldog’s, the Panthers set out to put on a heap of weight during the off season.
Every player in the side, especially the forwards put on muscle mass, and when the season kicked off they were immobile, their fitness was in the toilet, it killed Joel Clinton’s entire career, and the team took a good year and a half to get over it.
Fast forward to the Elliott era. Matthew Elliott had a big team at Bradford and brought his Bradford trainer to the Canberra Raiders. He made them big and immobile. Then he came to Penrith, and made many of our forwards big and immobile.
Penrith is one of the poorest teams in the competition when it comes to fitness. So when you couple that with the fact that now players are bulking up again, its a worrying sign.
Watch Out, Jobs Are On The Line!
We all know what I think of Penrith management and their lack of accountability. Last year they Extended Matthew Elliott’s Contract for an extra three season despite the fact he has one of the worst losing record of any coach that has been around lover than a few seasons.
So its a bit rich when that same person starts pointing fingers at his players and tells them “Perform or else”.
Of course Elliott has done this before. When under pressure, its not him that is the problem, its obviously the players. He cut a number of Penrith players a few years ago, with no change in the clubs performances on the field.
So when someone that apparently is immune to performance based accountability starts threatening the players, you can imagine what that does to a team. Not good.
Everyone Is A Superstar!
You know when a player is talked up in the off season and he comes out and just explodes during the year, kicking everyone’s arse and looking like a world beater?
No…I can’t remember that ever happening either.
So when Matthew Elliott calls sacked West Tigers forward Dane Laurie an “International super star in waiting” and compares Kevin Kingston to Australian hookers Cameron Smith and Robbie Farah, you know I’m starting to worry.
Is There A Theme Here?
And as you read through all of this, it all comes back to the coach.
This will be his fourth season in charge of Penrith and he has yet to even get close to having a winning season.
Looking towards the 2010 season, it doesn’t look good.
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