St. George Illawarra Dragons, We Need To Talk (Pt. 2)

OK, so before I start this one, I feel there’s a couple of things that should be said. Firstly, everyone who knows me, KNOWS how much of a fucking passionate supporter I am. Everyone knows it. I scream & roar with cheers to the point of losing my voice at all the games, I make all the artworks that I do, etc. I fucking LOVE my team.

WITH THAT BEING SAID, I do acknowledge that I was allowing my emotions to get the better of me & I was perhaps a bit TOO harsh in my last post. Now, let me make 2 things perfectly clear:

1) I am NOT happy with the way that we’ve been performing, I’m not going to sugar-coat that. There are quite a few mistakes if we’re going to be held scoreless for 2 weeks straight, after getting our asses handed to us by the Sharks. It’s VERY obvious that there are problems that need to be addressed. I will not apologize for saying that I believe that we have a LOT to work on before we become a strong force to be contended with.

2) This is NOT a retraction of my last post. I am merely writing this so that I can try to convey what I originally wanted to say, without the fuel of anger feeding me.

So… I’ve had some time to cool off. I’ve had a nice bubble-bath, complete with little rubber duck and all, and I am now ready to give a bit more of a balanced view on what I was attempting to portray earlier.

I still cried like a fucking baby when I saw Duges crying in the sheds, and the thought of seeing that man be broken like that still hurts… But, for the sake of getting my point across, I will not let my emotions get the better of me.

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I love this pic, that is all

 

Thoughts On Players Who Need To Be Dropped

Benji Marshall

Look, I’m not a fan of Benji Marshall. I’m just going to say it, I was against him coming to us when he first signed with the club and to this day, I’ve always had my reservations about him. After writing the first post, I had people saying that I was a prick for hating Benji, that I was an asshole, etc. etc.

Look guys, I don’t have to LIKE everyone who plays for us, OK? I’ve ALWAYS said that I will support the Red V and all those who play in it. And I always will. That does NOT mean that I have to like them. Look, I hated Nathan Green. I’m sure he was a nice bloke off the field and all, but I fucking hated him. Matt Prior? Same deal.

Guys, I’m just not a Benji fan. I don’t like how his style of play, like when we faced the Cowboys, was all about him trying to be flashy and cool. Look mate, 2005 was 11 years ago. You’re not that spunky kid from the Tigers who’s pulling flick passes out of his ass. To think that you’re honestly worth more than $300K a year is a bit ludicrous, mate.

I’m sorry Benji, but you’re not getting any younger and if you think that the Dragons are going to risk giving you more than $300K, then you should be looking elsewhere. Unless there are massive 3rd party deals involved, I don’t see Benji staying in the NRL p0st 2016.

Mitch Rein

Another player I mentioned was Mitch Rein. Now, unlike Benji, I actually am pretty cool with Mitch… Not his haircut, because he legit looks like Legolas from Lord of the Rings, but that’s besides the point. As I said, Mitch is a Kiama kid and I have the biggest soft-spot for Kiama-based Dragons, due to my mate living down there for years and I love the area.

Look, the problem I have with Mitch Rein is that he’s not consistent. The problem I have with Mitch is that there are some games where he’s on absolute fire and then there are the games we’d all like to forget. I find that he’s too readable in attack, predictable to a fault. We can’t have someone who’s able to be read like an open book.

Sorry, but I don’t think he offers anything in terms of creativity in attack. Unless there’s a MASSIVE shift in performance, I honestly don’t see him getting a renewal with the Dragons. Which is a shame, because as I said, I have a soft spot for Kiama Kids.

Ben Creagh

Ben Creagh. Look, I didn’t even rip into Benny in my last post. I actually said I was gutted to say that it was time for him to hang up the boots. I’m sorry mate, but with age slowly catching up along with your injuries, I think it is best for you to move onto the next chapter in your life. I really feel gutted with saying that.

Tim Lafai

OK, first thing is first, I’d like to say sorry to Timmy for being a rude prick in my last post. But I seriously think that after this much time, he should’ve improved in ability and be able to create something. And I’m sorry, I don’t see that in him. I think the best thing for Tim would be to drop back to the Cutters to not only regain his ability, but also to build up his confidence.

I’ve seen it a couple of times where Tim sort of just stops and pauses, before continuing to play, which gives the opposition a chance to adapt and defend. Mate, you need to flow with it. And I think you do need to go back to the Cutters to get that edge back.

Hey, J-Moz got dropped to reserve grade at the Bulldogs and it did wonders to turn his ability around. Could do the same for Tim, Mitch, and yes even Benji.

 

Changes To Be Made To The Team

One criticism I was given in my last post, which I actually agree with and am stumped on how I missed it, was to give replacements to the players dropped. So, let me go into who I think should be included into the squad.

Tyrone McCarthy

Ok, being a Conor McGregor fan, I fucking love the Irish. So when we got McCarthy, I was ecstatic with joy. If anyone has seen what this guy can do in Super League, they’ll know that he’s a MASSIVE asset to the team. I don’t know why we’re restricting him to just the Cutters, when he has this potential to be a great NRL player. He hits hard and knows how to play the ball and create chances for tries.

I’d put him in over Ben Creagh on the bench.

Tahne Milne

OK, I wasn’t really sold on Tahne, since I haven’t actually SEEN what he can do. So yeah, I was a bit skeptical about whether he would be a good player. I had people saying “Dude, he’s actually good”, but I didn’t see it. Regardless, having watched a couple of Cutters games now, I have seen the light and Tahne would be a great player to blood for First Grade. Fast, creative, and someone who could offer us that spark in attack.

I’d include him over Tim Lafai.

Tommy Carr

Tommy’s a bit of a difficult one, because he still needs a bit more time before he’s properly ready for First Grade. With that being said, I think he’s DEFINITELY the winger that we’ve been praying for. We’ve struggled with the Left Wing since B-Moz left and after seeing some of the freaky shit that this kid can pull… Mate, he’s B-Moz V2. Needs a bit more time, but someone who’ll be as valuable to the team as Aitken is right now.

I’d include him over Peter Mata’Utia.

Siliva Havili

He’s already on the squad, but I would like to see them shake things up and start Havili over Mitch. Siliva offers SO much more in attack from the small glimpses that we’ve seen him play, and it’s been noticed by the fans in particular. I would like to see him get more game-time, even start as our Hooker, just to see how he’d fare over an 80 minute game.

I’d include him over Mitch Rein.

… I know, you’re all waiting for who I’d replace Benji with. Look, we don’t really have anyone at the moment on the team who would make a significant difference over Marshall. We have Josh McCrone and while he’s a great short term option, we HAVE to look outside of the club for a new half. Lachlan Coote would be AMAZING to have in the halves, as well as Luke Keary. So I’d gun for one of those two to replace Benji.

 

The Captaincy Dilemma

OK, so the issue of whether Gareth Widdop is a good captain has been brought up numerous times over the last couple of weeks. Gaz, I love you as a player, but I honestly think that you’re not the captain that we need. Sorry mate, but I really think that the pressure of the role is getting to you and it’s affecting your ability.

I would honestly prefer Josh Dugan as our Captain.

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Duges don’t take no shit from anyone

And no, it’s not because he’s my favourite player in the squad. Far from it. I want Duges to be our captain because he has that fire that we NEED in a captain. He’s not afraid to challenge the referees, he’s not a punk-ass bitch who’ll take shit from players (Especially little smart-ass bitches like Tyrone Roberts), and he’s one of the popular players within the playing group.

Seriously, he’s apparently the mentor to a few of our younger Dragons and that’s something you WANT in a Captain. You WANT people to look up at you and want to follow in your steps. Duges as a captain would be a great asset to the team, in my opinion.

 

The Coach

Before I begin this, I really need to get this off my chest.

For the record, I absolutely hated it when people in the Save Our Saints campaign decided to rip into Mary with the #FailMary tag that they started using in their SOS posts for 2016. Um, did you SOS guys forget that you stated in 2015, numerous times and from numerous posters, that the team and the coach had your full support? No? Let me refresh your memories with a couple of them:

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When you guys PUBLICLY make a claim that the coach and players have your full support and how this isn’t about on-field success… And then decide to rip into the coach DURING one of our slumps, you’re not really painting a good picture for yourselves. You’re also coming off as hypocritical.

Now that I got that off my chest…

Look, I love Mary. I met him last year in the coaches forum and it’s so clear that he bleeds Red and White. For fuck’s sake, the man actually paid money out of his own pocket for our gym to be upgraded so we didn’t have the old shit-box era gym that we had for years. He’s been nothing but a gentleman to me and others when we’ve had the chance to interact with him.

But there has been some questionable choices he’s made during his tenure as coach, some of which are not exactly the wisest of moves. Look mate, you bought Siliva Havili to be the back-up Hooker for Rein and to get him to pull his socks up. The fact that you’re just putting the poor bloke on the bench to keep his bum warm is something that has not only pissed off a few of the fans, but probably Havili himself. I don’t think he’d appreciate being stuck there all day with nothing with do. That’s a bench spot you could’ve given to someone else.

I also think that Mary isn’t well trained in how to deal with players’ psychology. I’m sorry, but I’m seeing a bunch of blokes out there who are losing confidence as the game goes on. They start strong and then as soon as shit calls get thrown our way, they switch off. This shouldn’t be happening and as the coach, it IS your job to get to the bottom of it. Even if that means calling in a specialist sports psychologist to sit down with the lads and get them to relieve themselves of any stress they have.

I think it’s well and truly time for the axe to be swung as well, Mary. I’ve already stated who I’d get rid off and who I’d like to replace them with. You NEED to start cutting players if they don’t perform. It’s as simple as that.

The NRL is a performance-based industry. Yep, that’s right. Industry. As soon as the words “Professional Sport” are applied, that game then becomes a business. Players become employees who are required to work for their pay. If they’re not pulling their weight, then drop them back so that they can get a reality check that they’re not any different than the other team-mates around them. I understand that this might frustrate players & potentially cause more drama, but when you’re being mocked by 99% of the NRL’s fanbase… You HAVE to make changes.

I’ve stated in my last post that if Mary couldn’t give us consistency with positive results, he should be moved on. I honestly think that Mary has the passion that we need as a coach, but his inexperience is something that’s going to cost him greatly. I’d like to see someone like Toovey or Clearly brought in as assistant coaches to Mary, just so that they give him some quality advice.

Especially Toovey. He’s a proven coach who’s won premierships with the Sea Eagles, and gotten them to the finals. He’d be able to give Mary some great advice on how to coach. And, if worse comes to worse, you can always swap the two around. Mary can learn under an experienced coach and we can get some proper direction.

 

Changes To Management

Look, I still believe that we need some fresh new blood in management. I’ve ripped into Save Our Saints for the way that they’ve conducted themselves about their stance on change. But, despite all of that, I’m not disagreeing that there DOES need to be change. I’ve never met Peter Doust or any of the other Board Members, but I think that after so many years running the place, we DO need change. A quote for Avatar: The Last Airbender covers this perfectly (And is one of my personal life philosophies):

“It is important to draw wisdom from many different places. If you take it from only one place, it becomes rigid and stale.”

We’ve become rigid and stale. We need to start drawing wisdom from different places in order to survive.

My main gripe with the Dragons Management comes down to a couple of points:

The Lack of 3rd Party Sponsorship

This is by far the BIGGEST thing that we should be working day and night to fix. The Dragons have little to no 3rd Party Sponsorship and we NEED to fix that, in order to recruit big-name players to the club, as well as retain key-players. Seriously, this shit needs to be fixed. I’m personally dumbfounded how we don’t have access to a plethora of 3rd Party Sponsors, given that we have TWO regions to draw from.

The Right Game/Right Venue Strategy

I just fucking hate ANZ Stadium. It’s a concrete jungle that just feels like shit to sit in for a regular game. State of Origin? Fuck yeah. Finals? Fuck yeah. Test matches? Fuck yeah. Regular games… No. Not just that, the teams that we play there, namely Souths and Bulldogs, are also at a home-field advantage since ANZ is a home ground to a LOT of clubs. We don’t have that electric feeling like we do at Kogarah/WIN because it’s overshadowed by the opposition fan-base. Needless to say, not a fan.

Those two are the MAIN problems that I personally hate. We’re a proud club with a proud history. We won 11 premierships in a row for God’s sake… Yes, different time, but it’s still an amazing feat. I’ve detailed this in a previous post I made some time ago, but Dragons fans are the proudest among all the NRL fan-bases. We DEMAND perfection, & while perfection isn’t possible… We want the closest thing to it.

The Joint Venture Board haven’t done much, in the eyes of the fans, to live up to this. After all, we’re still in debt to the NRL, plus the above I’ve mentioned. We need these problems resolved sooner rather than later. And if they can’t do it, they should bring in someone who can.

 

The Problem

I know in the last one I said that I didn’t know what the problem was. Obviously, now that I’ve calmed down and had a proper think about it, I think it all boils down to confidence. Look, these guys are more than just footy players. They ARE Human Beings who are capable of going through some real-world shit like you and I do. I don’t think it’s external factors so much as internal ones.

And by internal, I mean mental ones. These guys have been getting the fair-share of shit calls, let’s be real here. Tries that would’ve been awarded to ANY OTHER TEAM are getting ruled as No Try for us. Shit like that is demoralizing, people. Imagine continuing to put in 100%, only to realize it’s all for nothing.

Yeah, you’d be bummed out too.

I don’t think Mary has the understanding of sports psychology to help combat this, to be perfectly honest. He’s a passionate bloke, but that can only take you so far. Bring in a specialist to help the lads overcome whatever is bothering them and that’ll be one step towards a solution.

Captaincy is the other. Gaz ain’t a captain, I’m going to be perfectly honest in saying that. Love you as a player, but that’s the truth. Duges as a captain should hopefully help instill confidence into the lads and help them steer to victory.

 

The Positives

I don’t need to repeat this, you all know who’s been the standouts… No? OK, fine.

Josh Dugan
Euan Aitken
Leeson Ah Mau
Joel Thompson
Jason Nightingale

Seriously, you guys are fucking awesome.

 

Conclusion

Hopefully, you guys have seen this and have gotten a better understanding of my previous post. I’m not going to remove it, because you’ve all seen it by now. No point to take it down since I don’t believe in doing stuff like that. I just hope you have a better understanding now of what I wanted to convey.

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