NRL great PAUL GALLEN will appear on Nine’s 100% FOOTY every Monday night of the NRL season, debating rugby league’s hottest topics alongside Phil Gould and James Bracey. Tune in tonight at 9:40pm (AEST) following a bumper round 23!
There’s no way to sugar coat this. The Wests Tigers were embarrassing on Saturday night.
Some of the defensive lapses were things you learn when you’re six years old. It’s not unfair to say that a few players pretty much gave up against the Roosters, which is probably a sign that the year has just been too much for them. In saying that, they weren’t the only team guilty of that on the weekend, with six clubs conceding 40 points or more.
James Tamou’s send-off was totally out of character for him. He’s a great guy and a great player. He knew straight away he’d done the wrong thing, you saw how quickly he apologised and accepted responsibility for what he did.
READ MORE: Leeds stun Chelsea after moment of madness
That’s a measure of the man he is, he’s a great person who unfortunately just snapped, but that doesn’t mean it goes unpunished, because you can’t do what he did.
Phil Gould said Tamou’s suspension should be suspended, because of his exemplary career and immediate remorse and apology. Much as I like James and I’m sympathetic to the situation he’s in, that idea is just crazy.
You can’t just let someone off because they’re a good bloke and they’re at the end of their career.
I feel really sorry for him, but as the saying goes, if you do the crime you’ve got to do the time. We’ve seen players miss grand finals through suspension, if we start introducing the “good bloke” exemption that opens up a whole new can of worms.
James was brought to the Tigers in 2021 to change the culture of a club that hasn’t made the finals since 2011.
Without a doubt, that was an assignment too big for one player.
James is a terrific leader and a terrific player, but the simple fact about rugby league is you need a group of players who can push towards the same goal. The Tigers might all be pulling in the same direction, but the sad reality is they just don’t have the quality of players to get the job done.
Tamou apologises for referee spray
That’s just the way it is. They’ve got some talent, of course, there’s some really good players in that squad, but the brutal truth is there’s not enough talent across the board to match the other teams.
Tamou won’t be at the club in 2023, so moving forward it’s up to the coaching staff to drive those changes. I think they’ve done a good job there. They’ve got Tim Sheens, along with Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah. That’s a good start.
Isaiah Papali’i and Api Koroisau have been signed for 2023. I don’t know what sort of leader Papali’i will be, he seems like a relatively quiet player to me, someone who leads through actions rather than words.
Koroisau has the potential to be a good leader, he’s coming from a great club, he knows the ins and outs of what makes that club tick, so he’ll be able to bring that knowledge to the Tigers.
As I’ve said before, their biggest issue is being able to attract talent.
Tim Sheens is the best coach I played under, I’ve said that before, but he and Benji are going to need one hell of a magic wand to attract players to the club based on what we saw on Saturday night.
Tim is fantastic, an absolute genius. But you’ve got to have talent at the club to entice others to come. Well, who the hell can you use to entice others to join the Tigers?
The word is they’ve got some good juniors coming through, but they’re 18-19 years old, and still a couple of years away from first grade, and it will be another year or two after that until they can start making a real difference.
They’ve got such loyal fans, and it’s so hard on them to know it’s been a decade since they made the finals, and realistically that’s not going to change in 2023.
Nobody seriously thinks they’re going to win the competition next year, even making the finals would be a surprise. All they can do is focus on the incremental wins, the small things that, when added together, start to make a difference.
This season is done, obviously, they’ll probably get the wooden spoon, so the only way is up. The pre-season is so important, they’ve got to train harder than they’ve ever trained before, get themselves physically more prepared than in the past. If you’re physically fitter that helps your mental state as well.
Hopefully the pre-season can then flow on into the competition next year, because that’s really all they can do for 2023. There’s no big names they can go out and sign. They’ve got to make the best with what they’ve got.
I get frustrated when I hear players talk about how hard it is. They’re getting paid a few hundred thousand dollars a year to play the sport they love.
Get on with it. Toughen up and get on with it. Just like your fans have got to turn up for work on Monday, you’ve got to turn up for pre-season in November.
It’s professional sport. We can try and make excuses, but at the end of the day they’ve got to deal with what’s happened this year. They’re going to cop plenty of flack for finishing down the bottom of the table, but you can’t change that.
Once the pre-season starts you’ve got to get back on the horse, there’s no other way. I’d say they’d address what happened fairly early on, you can’t ignore it, but get it over with at the start of pre-season and look towards the future. If you dwell on what happened it will carry over into 2023.
Martin’s super finish
I can’t finish without a word on Liam Martin’s performance in Penrith’s win over Souths.
His game at the weekend sums up why the Panthers are so good.
Twice he dropped the ball over the tryline on Thursday night, and he missed a number of tackles at the end of the game. He would have been feeling terrible, he said as much after the game.
To then score the match-winning try at the end, where he had to beat a couple of handy defenders, it was an tremendous sign of his resilience and character.
When the game was on the line, he wanted the ball and he made a difference. I take my hat off to him. I sat there in awe of what he did.
It shows the fantastic culture at the Panthers, because the result against Souths is going to make very little difference in the long run. But they want to win, regardless of what it means.
Panthers try clinches minor premiership
For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!