Hello Darkness My Old Friend

Us and the Dragons are currently jockeying for wooden spoon favouritism. The amount of analytical data this is based on would likely blow your mind.

We have a handful of very good, even elite players but the roster gets too thin too quick.
And there in lies the problem- to a degree.

There is quite a bit of quality youth-depth that just isn't ready as of yet. If the club can keep the roster mostly together, I think most people would believe there is some positives to look forward to. The best hope- our older players keep us competitive & 2-3 of the young players coming through are ready for Bula-like improvements by mid-season, changing the dynamic of the squad halfway through the year.

TDS, Galvin, Lualili'i, Fa'agutu, Fainu....we need some of these quality youngsters to win a starting role in the squad as the year grows. This improves the overall quality of the team. We lack that 'little bit of quality' that sets good players aside from pretty good players.

Utoikamanu & Pole could hold very important player arcs in the squad too. If we can get those 2 to play up to what their ability suggests they could be- we might be talking about a very different looking style of play.
 
Went from getting trounced by St g (second odds for spoon I believe) to getting third spoon in a row (odds on fav) to St merge getting top 8 which is paying good …. Wonder what the two favs for spoon are paying for both making top 8? 🧐 if we win 5 games I’ll be happy and if St merge make tbr 8 I’ll dance naked in front of the wife (to her displeasure).
 
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Guys, its footy. Its a hit out in Mudgee. This season is a marathon, not a sprint.

If I recall, we won every trial in 2003 against some decent sides (on paper anyway) and put on some really big scores too. Didn't really forecast much. You just can't replicate match conditions when there aren't 2 points on the line. As much as we try and improve, you have to remember that it's an elite competition and there are 16 other teams that are also scrambling like crazy to get better and better or keep their place at the top.

Whats important is that we hold our nerve and keep trusting in the process. We are way ahead of where we were last year. The key positives for me going into this season is;

1. We know who our starting fullback is. (And what a fullback!)
2. Ideally, - no leaking, no scott-fulton esq or Anzac jersey debacles this year.
3. Richo running a tight ship in general, and also using his vast experience and reputation to reassure everyone at the club that we are on the right track when things get tough.
4. No brooks debates or the embarrassment of being rejected by countless players mid season.
5. The team supposedly has a process that they have agreed to stick with and believe in no-matter what.

If I have one concern, its that our team looks a bit over-coached. I still don't see enough problem solving in games, and I don't yet see enough players in our team putting the hand up and saying, "Give me the ball, I'm going to win this game for us". This can happen when legendary former players become coaches of the team that they played for.

Don't forget that Robbie and Benji were mostly running the plays and organising the training sessions last year. Tim Sheens' role was supposedly more about mentoring, picking the team, and doing all the media etc, so don't expect a vast evolution from last year in terms of tactics or set plays. When I hear about Benji joining in and still being the best player in training at times, I wonder if that is helpful or harmful...

Our outside backs have very little to offer as well. Where is the next young Chris Lawrence?, (sigh).
 
Our number 7 will likely be on a walking frame in 2 months time.
Going to be interesting how he stands up to the physical challenges of playing NRL again in one of the weaker rosters. Time will tell I guess.
 
Someone suggested he didnt wanna show his hand early ...I think they were serious but who know but yes, it was just like the last few years
I realise many people say trial games are not to be taken seriously and there is nothing to learn from them…if we’re not learning from them then that is a real concern.
Here’s something we already know, in our trial games we lack cohesion and decisiveness, it gets highlighted when we play against any team. You can see the frustration in a few of the players.
Maybe it’s a coaching issue? I tend to think it runs much deeper.
Half of those players we saw in the 2 trials have different coaches and probably will play for a different club with different colours etc.
I don’t know if the Head Coach has any authority to influence playing style at Magpies or Balmain?
 
Going to be interesting how he stands up to the physical challenges of playing NRL again in one of the weaker rosters. Time will tell I guess.
We bought him for his game management and kicking game.
Granted it’s only one game so we have to give him the benefit of the doubt, but against the Dragons he showed no game management and a pop gun kicking game.
That coupled with the fact he wouldn’t be capable of running out of sight on a dark night, it doesn’t fill me with much hope for him.
 
Maybe it’s a coaching issue? I tend to think it runs much deeper.

Mate it's up to the players. I think Benji was being pretty honest when he said post match sometimes it really is as simple as running and tackling harder than the other team. AKA 'Everyone has a plan until they are punched in the face.'. I was relieved to hear Benji make this comment.

It's well and good 'setting standards' in a preseason, but flogging players in training and being pedantic doesn't scale out into results on Matchday. If it did Michael Maguire would have won 8 premierships by now. If you overdo it you end up with robots who mostly follow orders and don't play or read what is in front of them. That's how we had the same halfback for 10 seasons and after a decade of matches no-one could say with any certainty what kind of player he actually was.

Look at the story about how Gorden Tallis became captain of the Broncos."A captain knows when to follow orders and when to ignore them".

Or as my idol Jose Mourinho said "If you have a Ferrari and I have a small car, to beat you in a race I have to break your wheel or put sugar in your tank." Thats why I was stoked to see Bud Sullivan recruited by the club. We need players (forwards and backs) who have their heads up and want to punish other sides for not concentrating. (which might involve not sticking to the designated playbook)
 
The canary in the gold mine is our old mate AJ Kepoa . He would not make the starting 17 for any other club because he is not up to first grade standard
If he is in our starting 17 for round 2 we a big chance for the spoon. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen
 
Mate it's up to the players. I think Benji was being pretty honest when he said post match sometimes it really is as simple as running and tackling harder than the other team. AKA 'Everyone has a plan until they are punched in the face.'. I was relieved to hear Benji make this comment.

It's well and good 'setting standards' in a preseason, but flogging players in training and being pedantic doesn't scale out into results on Matchday. If it did Michael Maguire would have won 8 premierships by now. If you overdo it you end up with robots who mostly follow orders and don't play or read what is in front of them. That's how we had the same halfback for 10 seasons and after a decade of matches no-one could say with any certainty what kind of player he actually was.

Look at the story about how Gorden Tallis became captain of the Broncos."A captain knows when to follow orders and when to ignore them".

Or as my idol Jose Mourinho said "If you have a Ferrari and I have a small car, to beat you in a race I have to break your wheel or put sugar in your tank." Thats why I was stoked to see Bud Sullivan recruited by the club. We need players (forwards and backs) who have their heads up and want to punish other sides for not concentrating. (which might involve not sticking to the designated playbook)
Your point about Tallis is interesting. I remember having an interesting discussion with a guy a few years back. He said, keep an eye out for my son, he's just landed a contract with Dragons. Let me just say, Gorden was well raised, with strong ethical values. The point is a lot of players don't get to have such a good well rounded family life, so its left to the coach to bring out those values.
Another player with a similar upbringing to Gorden, who offered to play for no pay, but eventually got a small contract with Bulldogs. Thurston's record speaks for itself. These guys are representing their families. Is there any stronger motivation to succeed?
 
Some very good points you make.
Our team is not the Ferrari and does not currently have any players that are considered elite.
Therefore to compete with good teams we have to unsettle them by running hard, tackling harder and not take a backward step. We also have to be prepared to take risks such as more offloads and more players in motion, rather than playing safe and being relatively error free, but simply hitting it up one out for 5 tackles then putting up a pop gun kick which wouldn’t be dropped by an u/12’s player.
 
The canary in the gold mine is our old mate AJ Kepoa . He would not make the starting 17 for any other club because he is not up to first grade standard
If he is in our starting 17 for round 2 we a big chance for the spoon. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen
Not only will he be in the 17, he’s our next cab off the rank in terms of back rowers. When you are coming off two spoons, you will have players like him. It’s not surprising.
 
They thrashed Raiders in last years trials. We all remember how the year ended.

Trials don't mean much. This isn't to say they're going to blow the doors off, but trial performance hasn't been an indicator of anything for us in the last decade.
 
Not only will he be in the 17, he’s our next cab off the rank in terms of back rowers. When you are coming off two spoons, you will have players like him. It’s not surprising.
Kepaoa & Bateman to start in the back row and Papali’i to start at 13 👌
 
We bought him for his game management and kicking game.
Granted it’s only one game so we have to give him the benefit of the doubt, but against the Dragons he showed no game management and a pop gun kicking game.
That coupled with the fact he wouldn’t be capable of running out of sight on a dark night, it doesn’t fill me with much hope for him.
it is a different sezer to the one who left Canberra abd played in a GF
maybe halfway through the season we see 7. L Fainu 6. Galvin
if season is gone halfway then no point playing sezer blood the young blokes
 
Mate it's up to the players. I think Benji was being pretty honest when he said post match sometimes it really is as simple as running and tackling harder than the other team. AKA 'Everyone has a plan until they are punched in the face.'. I was relieved to hear Benji make this comment.

It's well and good 'setting standards' in a preseason, but flogging players in training and being pedantic doesn't scale out into results on Matchday. If it did Michael Maguire would have won 8 premierships by now. If you overdo it you end up with robots who mostly follow orders and don't play or read what is in front of them. That's how we had the same halfback for 10 seasons and after a decade of matches no-one could say with any certainty what kind of player he actually was.

Look at the story about how Gorden Tallis became captain of the Broncos."A captain knows when to follow orders and when to ignore them".

Or as my idol Jose Mourinho said "If you have a Ferrari and I have a small car, to beat you in a race I have to break your wheel or put sugar in your tank." Thats why I was stoked to see Bud Sullivan recruited by the club. We need players (forwards and backs) who have their heads up and want to punish other sides for not concentrating. (which might involve not sticking to the designated playbook)
Tallis did sit out a year so he could leave dragons and ARL to go to Broncos and Super League. A good example of taking your bat and ball and going home I guess
 
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I'd rather start with Samuela instead of Kepaoa much more grunt that we need.
Purely for speed and tackle bust/line breaking ability.
We need points, we cannot continue to select a team full of slow boring players who will hit the ball up one out without any inkling of offloading and next to no chance of making a line break as they are not fast enough to trouble the opposing defence.
Sam Fainu certainly has x-factor about him, but at age 19 I think it’s best to ease him in as a regular NRL player with short stints off the bench.
 
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