Apologies this is so long.
I’ve been going to write many responses to various posts but changed my mind for a few musings around the team going forward and (IMHO) where we seem to be going wrong. All the following suggestions with no idea where our cap lies or what the coach has in mind.
Take an honest look at our team and consider how many of them would be in a premiership winning team. Based on current form, quite possibly none of them. Nofo and Lucy are in career best form so would likely rate a spot in most teams. Harry looks the goods and Liddle will if he can stay healthy.
AD is a manufactured fullback. He’s performed reasonably but isn’t showing signs of being a strike fullback. He is solid with the high ball but still prone to (costly) errors. Personally I think Nofo offers more strike potential and has demonstrated a good passing game this year. He has also developed a very good overhead catch technique which scored him a try earlier in the year and saved at least two against Penrith.
If we’re shopping for a fullback, Alex Johnston looks a better buy than an untested JAC. Staines is the other option.
If not at fullback, Nofo is a lock for a wing. Having JAC on the other would be perfect (at the right price) but if he’s asking too much then Matt Ikuvalu is off contract and has been great for the Roosters. Might be a shrewd buy. I’d even consider him in the centres.
Unless we can convince him to play next to his brother in the forwards BJ will be a centre. He’s a ball hog and limits a lot of ball to the winger by usually trying to beat the player. Momo or Talau likely to be the other centre but honestly not finals bound players.
Our halves, as much as I like most of them, are not going to get us deep into a finals series. Luke, you’ve tried hard but you don’t have the temperament to run a side. He doesn’t have the cool, eyes up play of Keary, the grit of Pearce or the smarts of a Cronk or (Adam) Reynolds. I don’t really know the answer but I know they’re not currently wearing black, white and gold.
Once again looking at value for money, I think Connor Watson (24) and Jackson Hastings might be worth a shot. I haven’t seen enough of Burton but if he’s that good and the right price he’s worth a shot.
I’m a big fan of Twal and a lesser fan of Eiso but neither of them would be my lock. Looking at the game as it is now you need a dynamic lock who’s preferably a ball player. Players like Victor Radley, Cameron Murray and Nathan Brown. This is one position I’d be willing to invest heavily because it takes pressure off the halves to do all the creative works and sures up the middle defence. Me, I’d be throwing the kitchen sink at Brandon Smith and telling him it’s at 13. Coming from the Storm he’ll bring work ethic and will lead by example - I’d consider offering him the as well. Super defender, strong, dynamic runner and noted ball player. Offers a backup if Liddle falls down.
Twal goes into the Prop rotation with Aloiai, Mikaele, Stefano and Musgrove. Prop is the other area I’d be willing to overspend and it would be Christian Welch. The guys quality and brings the same Storm work ethic and character. Won’t be cheap but represents more upside than $800k on JAC.
Doueihi is utility and the rest of the bench is forwards.
Second row is a selection of Lucy, Blore, McIntyre and Garner.
Hooker is easy. If the world rotates on its axis and Harry stays then he’s a shoe-in but otherwise it’s Liddle all the way. Given an once of luck Liddle could be anything.
To sum up, if we want to be a winning team, we need a winning culture and importing it from a winning team is a decent start.
7 Hastings/Burton/ Madden
13 B Smith