From the stands is going to be forward thinking and positive this week. This is not me ignoring the negatives or problems. After listening to BA call some of our players part-time I don’t feel the need to point out the obvious as the obvious is known, noted and those that need to be removed from our squad going forward will be.
In the press conference the coaches are really addressing the fans and I applaud BA for his honesty. I sensed a man who is fed up with the excuses from our players. In some ways losing on Saturday could be a blessing in disguise. There is no hiding from the fact that we have some dreadfully mentally weak players, they cannot turn up each week with a tough attitude. One good game a month is enough for them.
Thankfully most are off contract this year or a few next. I dare say we will have far fewer part-time players next year so I will not waste my time on them anymore. I would rather talk about the positives moving forward.
If you look at our forward pack we have some really good foundations to build from. We have some good leaders who our young, talented forwards can learn from. Brown, Manu, Lane and Junior have the ability to shape our pack going forward.
It is no surprise that we got back into the game when Brown came on in the first half. His direct running, quick play the balls and leg drive was equally impressive as it was damming on others.
Statistics sometimes can be misleading. Brown’s metres were gained when we needed them, through the middle and against the Sharks best. He got us back into the game. Other forwards gained metres in the hit and giggle time at the end of the game, running out wide with the Sharks best happily sitting nice and relaxed on the bench. There is no comparison between his metres and the others. They may look the same but they are worlds apart in both impact and effort.
Lane has an important role in this team. You could see Moses trying to involve him, but it was tough for Moses having to constantly play both sides of the ruck, make the kicks and also run himself. I cannot wait until the partnership of Lane and Dylan reunites, it could be lethal.
Some will say Reed had a tough night and in truth he did. What I really liked was from the stands you could see he realised that he had to take more responsibility with kicking once Gutho went off. Sure his execution was poor but the fact he realised he had to. and the fact he got himself into the position to attempt it is very pleasing. He is young, he is talented and he is a hard worker. I have no doubt he will work on improving his kicks but the fact he both recognised he had to kick more and the fact he was willing to do so was extremely positive. Unlike others he was not unwillingly to have a go, to step up and try to do what the team needed. He will learn from this. He will get better because he has the right attitude.
I really like the extension of the Moses contract. You would know I have not always supported Moses and if truth be told I wanted to keep Norman over Moses. Some will criticise his game last week, especially the kicks and missed tackles. His missed tackles had as much to do with our non existent line speed and our middles inability to slow down the play the ball.
We left Moses exposed one on one against Fifita. Our middles cannot tackle him by themselves yet we expect Moses to. That is an unfair criticism. His kicking game in the first half was poor at times and he must improve it.
So why do I like the extension? Simple, his combination with Gutho and Dylan Brown works. They complement each other and after watching Norman and Moses fail we should know how important that combination gelling is. Norman and Moses are both extremely talented but just did not work. I don’t really know why spine combinations do or don’t work but our three do.
I do want to praise Moses’s attitude last Saturday. I did not see yelling, hands going up or his head dropping. That is important, it is an improvement and once reunited Moses, Gutho and Brown could become a real asset to this team.
I don’t have the luxury of watching the junior rep teams play but over the last couple of years I have heard names like Reed, Oregon and Dylan praised. All three have demonstrated this year they have the ability and mental toughness to make the jump to first grade, they have a big role in our future. I mention this because the weaknesses I saw on Saturday in our team have the capacity to be filled in part by our young players. This is important because with the salary cap it is hard to simply buy on the market all the players you need. Most clubs don’t have the luxury of uncle Nic’s sombrero.
Along with the above three players, praise has been given equally to Parry, Utoikamanu, Fainga’a, Dunster and in the group below Schneider and Hollis. We externally recruited well last season. Ferguson, Junior, Sivo and Lane have made a big difference. A few well selected, seasoned, mentally tough recruits coupled with the promotion of a few highly talented and capable juniors could transform this team. We have the nucleus of a strong squad. We have the ability to shake up our squad without paying players to play elsewhere and most importantly we have a coaching staff who is willing to call out and no longer accept part-time players.
Stay strong Parra fans. We have a bright future and we have a group on Saturday who both deserve and need our support against the Broncos.
For our season this is a crucial game. We will be there cheering on Brown, Gutho, Reed, Mitch etc on Saturday night as they deserve our support and will respond to it. We trust that the blue and gold army will get behind our boys. The ones who are our future will put in and they deserve and need our help.
(Thanks and best wishes to Tim Mannah)