Imagine being a St George/Illawarra player over the last few seasons.
You are trying your guts out but its plainly obvious that you don’t have what it takes to win a Premiership. Hell, for nearly a decade the club has been there or there abouts, and they always fall short. So much so that the club has the reputation for being chokers. Its tough.
Then, things start to turn around…
Your young five-eight in Jamie Soward starts to show signs he might be capable of bigger and better things. Then, the club pulls off a massive coup and signs Wayne Bennett too coach the club. He brings along with him Queensland State Of Origin winger Darius Boyd and the team starts to move in the right direction.
A big of a clear out, a few smart signings, and a few of the local juniors start to step up, and you are flying high now!
Then, like a gift from God himself, your biggest opponent and a team that just completely owns you in games that matter, the Melbourne Storm, have their season ended with massive salary cap breaches uncovered.
On top of that, you get Mark Gasnier returning mid season and for cheap. It’s all working out for you.
You get to the finals, and have a good run, and of all teams you end up playing the Sydney Roosters in the Grand Final!
Finally, the monkey is off the back. What a perfect season for the St George/Illawarra Dragons. You could not have scripted it any better than that!
Roll on 2011, its time for the Big Red V to look to go back to back! They are bringing back the majority of their Grand Final winning side and as the season kicks off, they hit the ground running. What more could you want!
Then…..things start not working out all that great…..
You’re coach, Wayne Bennett, is off contract. The Dragons do everything in their power to keep hold of him, but he wants to take on the “Challenge” that is put to him by a club that just so happened to be offering by far and away more money to him then any other club.
Bennett describes his time at the Dragons simply as “Job done.”. Nice….
So Wayne Bennett won’t be there for 2012, but you get over that. The assistant coach will take his place, and he is a nice enough bloke.
Then one of your best players from last season, Darius Boyd says he will be following Bennett to Newcastle as well. So he won’t be sticking around. Thats up to Darius, if thats what he want’s, thats fine.
Then the clubs enters the State Of Origin period and has a whole heap of players involved in the series. New South Wales loses in a crushing, sole destroying way. When the majority of the Dragons get back on the park together after the series, they are suffering a little bit.
Then Mark Gasnier comes out and retires. He tells the press he knew all along that he wasn’t THAT committed to playing for the Dragons.
A few more losses and things aren’t going all that great this season compared to this time last year. Still, you feel like that come finals time, you are still one of the teams to beat.
Then, after a bad loss to South Sydney, Wayne Bennett questions YOUR desire!
This is a bloke who is currently recruiting players for the Newcastle Knights. Some of those players are your current team mates! The words “Job done” ring in your ears. HE is questioning MY commitment to winning the Dragons a Premiership?
Imagine that is the situation you find yourself in. How would that make you feel?
Is it really any wonder the St George/Illawarra Dragons have lost some of that fire in their belly. Is it any wonder that they look a bit despondent at the moment?
The St George/Illawarra Dragons are a proud club. Season after season they found themselves underachieving, and had many believing they couldn’t take that next step to become premiers. As such, the club handed the reigns to Wayne Bennett, and bought into his philosophy completely.
As soon as they finally reached the mountain top, everyone that helped them get there, who they put their faith in, who they embraced, who they trusted and looked up too, they all left like rats on a sinking ship!
The REAL St George/Illawarra Dragons players must feel like absolute crap right now.
Imagine being one of the players that signed contract extensions to stay at the club you love, signing for a little less so the team could keep its stars….and then seeing them all pissing off at the end of the year.
It is no wonder the Dragons look like a team thats been absolutely demoralized at the moment.
Worst of all is that, despite their place on the NRL ladder, they are facing a completely different set of circumstances as they head into the NRL Finals series.
Last year was a big of a transitional season for the NRL. If you look at many of the teams involved in last years finals, and who will be involved this year, they are much better sides. Most of this is based on the play of youngsters who have taken a step forward, a years worth of extra experience….it is going to be a tougher title to win this year than it was last year.
Then there is the looming giant that has been towering over the NRL all season, hoping and praying they get their hands on the Dragons.
We all know the Melbourne Storm watched last years Grand Final. We all know how they would have reacted to watching the Dragons lift the premiership trophy.
All of this is now weighing on the Dragons, and sadly enough, most of it is pressure that has been applied by the same people the club trusted to take them to the promised land.
I’m not a Dragons fan, in fact, I don’t particularly like the Dragons.
I will say this though. Every single time I see Wayne Bennett sprouting his sanctimonious bullshit at this playing group, knowing he described them as “job done” and is currently recruiting players for the Newcastle Knights, is makes me fucking sick!
Imagine how the true St George/Illawarra Dragons players feel.