I reckon all those so-called experts out there who think Wayne Bennett has passed his use-by date should open their eyes. Have they been watching what is happening this season? Plenty of the negative comments I read about Bennett mention the fact that he “only” won premierships at Brisbane when he had a team full of Origin stars. Well, that’s not the case now. It seems to me the true worth of a coach, and a club, is how they go in the tough times, not the good, and right now the Broncos are very much in the former category. They started the season without a top class halfback, their biggest off-season signing was coming back from injury and way off full fitness and the captain wasn’t much better. Then, of course, there was the controversy over Matt Lodge. Throw in the loss of Matt Gillett and Andrew McCullough, to my mind the two most important players in the team, and you’ve got any number of reasons for a side to turn it up and reach for the box of excuses. So what happens? They keep slugging away, plugging the holes and producing youngsters from nowhere who become household names overnight. Eight rounds in they’re four and four and they’ve just beaten a Rabbitohs side that a week ago was touted as having the best backline in the comp. If that’s the sign of a coach who can’t cut it anymore then I reckon there must be a few other coaches worried about their jobs right now. What do YOU reckon?
I reckon there’s a real symmetry going on with the Reds’ milestone game against the Chiefs at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night. It is Queensland Rugby’s 1000th capped game – and it also marks the first appearance this season of George Smith who must have played 1000 games in his career. Having spent the last few months researching the recent history of the Wallabies, it is staggering how many times Smith’s name comes up, and just what an incredible contribution he has made to the game here and overseas. He tried his heart out for the Reds last year in a side that never really clicked. With the arrival of Brad Thorn and his youth policy this season the Reds showed plenty of fight and potential in their early matches. It was always going to be hard for the youngsters to maintain momentum in the tough Super Rugby environment and they have struggled over the past two rounds. They needed an injection of experience and leadership, and there is no better on-field role model in the game than Smith. I reckon he is the right man at the right time to help give the Reds their second wind. What do YOU reckon?
I reckon Nathan Brown overstepped the mark in his attack on Wayne Bennett last week. I’m all for a bit of banter between footie coaches – sports reporters wouldn’t have much to write about if officials didn’t open up every now and again – but getting personal like Brown did after the Knights win over the Broncos was not on. Having worked in the UK for a couple of years I’ve seen blanket media coverage of coach-speak at its absolute heaviest. There is not a word that an EPL manager utters at a media conference or post-game interview that is not reported, dissected and interpreted from every possible angle. Likewise there are some genuine feuds between many of the biggest name officials in the game. Believe me, there is nothing put-on or contrived about the animosity between Manchester United’s Jose Mourinho and Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger. It even got physical one time when they had a bit of sideline push and shove while Mourinho was in charge of Chelsea. But even those two would never stoop to making comments about each other’s private lives. We don’t accept our politicians dragging family matters into their debates and I reckon we should never accept it in sport either. What do YOU reckon?
I reckon the coaching machinations in Queensland right now are almost more interesting than the footy. The departure of Kevvie Walters from the Broncos, the to-ing and fro-ing over Paul Green’s contract negotiations at the Cowboys and the endless speculation over Wayne Bennett’s future is like the NRL version of Days of Our Lives. To hear one version of events it seems that Walters was frustrated by Bennett’s refusal to let him implement his ideas on improving the Broncos’ attack. Given Bennett’s long-held – and very successful – belief that if you get your defence right the attack will follow, that theory makes sense. But then there is the school of thought that Kevvie was concerned that his dual-roles at Brisbane and the Maroons were impacting on his effectiveness in both jobs. It wouldn’t be easy rocking up to Broncos training having just sacked a key player from the Origin squad now would it? As for Green’s reluctance to sign a long-term contract with the Cowboys, is that because he has been told he has the inside running at the Broncos when Bennett steps down? And if that is the case, where does that leave Kevvie, who many believe is the right man for that job? I reckon it’s the best footy show since … well, The Footy Show. What do YOU reckon?