The blame game – the act of pointing the finger at others to explain your shortfalls appears to have found another home. Thankfully it’s not at the Eels.
Some of the actions and reactions to last Saturday highlight why our club has turned a corner in 2019, and why the Warriors have to find that same road to travel on.
Before doing so, let’s address that forward pass call. If Parra had been on the receiving end of that call I would be upset. I don’t know if it was forward, but there was certainly some doubt about it.
That said, refereeing errors could be found in the first Warriors try, in penalties not given to Parry when he was taken mid air and in the ruck. The Warriors were heavily penalised because they came with the game plan to bash the Parra pack, and when that didn’t come to fruition, they turned to tactics which were obvious infringements. Indeed, their actions in the ruck should have drawn more penalties. They have no one to blame but themselves for the lopsided count.
However, to spend too much time debating refereeing only detracts from the positives to come from the clash. As an NRL coach, Arthur won’t enter such debates. Despite Eels fans calling for the club and coach to let rip in media conferences and wear a $10K fine, he stands firm at looking within.
Unfortunately, the post match focus last Saturday overshadowed the positives.
Nathan Brown was a star on the field. Then, to see him on the sideline with a few minutes to go pacing up and down yelling at his teammates was wonderful for fans. You could see how much he wanted to be on the field and how much the game meant to him. People around me pointed it out and the comment was made that if we get a few more with his attitude we will certainly get better in the coming years.
But maybe we already have many of them in our club. Maybe another off season with young players training alongside players like Gutho and Brown and seeing that desire, commitment and mentally resilient attitude will work wonders.
Last Saturday was about getting the win. Good teams win well, really good teams can win ugly games. We have not won a game like that for a while and I was really pleased with it.
Another thing that has pleased me is the total BankWest game day experience. It has really been the last two games at the stadium that I have realised how much I missed the experience of being at a true home game. Going to the Leagues Club before and after the game. Having a meal, predicting and dissecting the game in our club, surrounded by Parra fans, makes the game day complete. It is creating an energy around the whole day and will only get better if and when the team becomes more consistent.
Where are our Eels at?
The five teams that sit above us have been much more consistent. The teams directly below us on the table have lost 4,5 or 6 games in a row. The last couple of teams have issues off the field, that have impacted them on the field.
Our place on the Premiership ladder probably reflects our strengths and our weaknesses. Not consistent enough to warrant a top four place, too good to slump to lengthy stretches of losses.
The positive has been the progress made this season. After last year, we accepted our faults, the club and everyone in it took responsibility and we are coming out the other side better for it. We looked within.
Perhaps looking in the mirror would be a better option for CEO, Cameron George and his Warriors team.
In my opinion, George, was less than professional when calling on Warriors fans to bring whistles to the next game. It’s embarrassing to have the head of an NRL club trying to incite the fans to undertake match disruptive behaviour. Furthermore, for him to suggest that the calls cost them their season is ludicrous, especially when a number of dubious decisions have gone their way, both in this match and other clashes.
Supporters might make emotional statements and have a shot at ref calls costing their team a game. Leaders of organisations must hold themselves above such public comments, no matter their beliefs.
I could never imagine the Storm or Roosters making such amateurish comments. Likewise, I could never imagine Bernie Gurr saying such things.
On reflection, when supporters like me know that our club executive will conduct themselves as total professionals, that they won’t fall back on the blame game, it’s an indicator of the progress that the Eels have made.
Finally I want to wish Bevan French all the best.
It has obviously not worked out for him but I think he played an important role in our recent history. He came into our team just after we had lost the points in 2016 and the loss of key players such as Peats and Foran. French provided the fans with an exciting young player to cheer for. I think that parting company is best for everyone.
I hope Bevan goes really well at Wigan and starts to enjoy his footy again.