It has been a bit of an interesting week in the National Rugby League with different different teams facing different issues that really come back to personal responsibility.
In Canberra, the Raiders season has once again got off to a terrible start and there is talk that an alcohol ban imposed by the club went down quicker than a Sonny Bill Williams opponent in what ever round had been agree’d to beforehand.
When I heard about this I thought about the make up of the Raiders team. Sure, there are a fair few younger players in the team but there are also a number of older players.
Now, I don’t drink alcohol that often, but if I was in a team playing poorly and the club told me I couldn’t drink, I’d just laugh! I’m an adult! Yes, I have a responsibility to make sure I stay at my physical peak, and for that, I am rewarded with a big contract. However if some suit thinks the way to motivate me is to treat me like a teenager, I have some bad news for them.
Imagine trying to tell a bloke that has a wife and kids in any other job in Australia that they are not allowed to drink….
The thing about alcohol bans is, unless they are a personal decision, they just don’t work. It is all very well and good for a player group to sit down and all agree to not drink, but break those individual players up and they will have a quiet drink early in the week if they feel like it, no matter what they agree’d too.
Then we head on over to the Parramatta Eels and the way they have handled Chris Sandow. Sandow was a huge off season signing and I’ve watched his season play out very closely.
Over the first few weeks, he did everything he possibly could. This is a terrible Parramatta team and in the early rounds, Sandow was playing behind a beaten pack. He kept trying though! The problem was, opposition teams had a very simple task. If they shut down Chris Sandow, who else on this Eels side has game breaking ability? Who else was able to put in attacking kicks or do something decent on the last tackle?
Teams simply pressured Sandow out of the game and the Eels had no Plan B when that happened.
No other playmaker in the competition had the same lack of support that Sandow did. No other playmaker was under the same pressure from the opposition. You throw that in with a losing Eels team, a supporter base that is fed up, a bunch of former players who apparently never lost a game in their lives and a coach who is under pressure to make changes….and something had to give.
Leading into the representative weekend, Sandow asked the club to head back home to his country town just to unwind a bit. They said no. They said he would have to play in the clubs NSW Cup side. On the eve of that game, Sandow withdrew due to injury.
Last weekend the Eels stuck solid to their decision and Sandow played in the NSW Cup while the Eels themselves ran out a halves pairing of Casey McGuire and Ben Roberts.
If someone can tell me how that helped the Eels, I’d love to know.
So now you have your big signing, who was already under pressure, being shown that the coach will cut him loose after 2 months of the season in favour for a couple of reserve grade halves, and if he does make a return to this losing team, he will be expected to set the world on fire. Otherwise people are going to be saying he should be dropped back to park football again!
Talk about making a rod for your own back!
If Chris Sandow was a little more media savvy he would be coming out and pleading with the club to get him a bit of help!
In both of these cases, you have struggling clubs that think the way out is to treat players like children. It smacks of two coaches that have no idea what else they can do, and so why not try belittling their players in the hope that it might kick start something.
Both the Raiders and Eels have made a habit of making terrible decisions, from board level down to the coach, and at the end of the day, that is the reason for the clubs poor performances on the field. These two clubs can not get out of the mess they have made for themselves by trying to play the headmaster.
is it any wonder players struggle for motivation? They are not stupid, they are closer to all of this than you or I. They see the same mess we do, and on top of that, they get bagged every day for losing games.
So when these same players get treated like children by these dysfunctional club hierarchies, is it any wonder that they would respond in a negative manner?
Players demand discipline, it is a key part of any successful football club. The thing is, it has to be brought in in the right ways, in the right areas and most importantly, by the right people.
If you treat players erratically, if you treat them like children, and you do it from a base that suggest you don’t know what you are doing yourself, you will lose the player base.
Right now, the Raiders and Eels look like two teams that have completely switched off and pay little to no attention to their coaching staff or the club boards.
Can you blame them?
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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