In 2017 there was no shortage of controversy in rugby league whether it was Des Hasler’s future at Belmore, through to the lack of interest in the Rugby League World Cup.
NothingButLeague takes a look back at some of the most popular opinion pieces that made 2017.
5. ADMINISTRATORS MUST HELP IN PLAYER REHABILITATION
by Matt Pritchard
It was revealed this week that Castleford Tigers fullback Zak Hardaker had failed a drug test following his teams Super Eights match against Leeds on September 8.
Finally rugby league fans, especially those who follow the mighty Cas’ had an answer to their star player being stood down from the Super League Grand Final. This news also provided a headache for English national selectors who were set to announce him in their Rugby League World Cup squad.
Hardaker will face a ban which is likely to be two years with different media outlets reporting that cocaine was involved.
Whatever ban is handed down, it’s crucial that the Rugby Football League assist in rehabilitating Hardaker during the ban.
4. QUEENSLAND’S LOYALTY FORMULA IN NEED OF DRASTIC RE-WRITE
by Jordan Crick
For over a decade the Queensland State of Origin team has prided itself on loyalty. A tried and tested formula once reknown for its long running success, is in need of a drastic re-write. After a comprehensive 28-4 loss to New South Wales in Game I – Queensland’s biggest loss in an Origin series since Game III 2005 – the team once a dynasty, is no more.
Compounded by their own belief of loyalty, Queensland chose to select out of form quartet Justin O’Neill, Nate Myles, Jacob Lillyman and Aidan Guerra for Game I.
In a move that proved disastrous for coach Kevin Walters, O’Neill missed 8 tackles, leading to two New South Wales tries. Myles ran for just 60 metres and was often dominated by the New South Wales defensive line. Guerra bombed a certain try and missed a handful of tackles and despite being the best of the four, Jacob Lillyman also failed to run for over 100 metres.
This has led many of us to comment about what changes should be made to the side for Game II.
3. WHY THE NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS BIGGEST PROBLEM IS HEAD COACH NATHAN BROWN
by Jarryd Hackett
Many seem to forgive Newcastle Knights head coach Nathan Brown for the clubs’ woes over the past two years of football. With an inexperienced squad and a football department deep in debt, Brown’s three wins in 18 months have flown under the radar.
The final nail in the coffin I believe is when Brown failed to guide his team to a much needed victory against a second last placed Wests Tigers side – at home – and with a missing James Tedesco.
Many said at the end of 2016 that the Knights couldn’t get any worse. Well, I think they have this season – despite having one more win this year.
In the 40 matches since Brown took over, he has won just three games to hold the worst win/loss record of any coach in the modern era with a measly eight percent.
2. PHIL VEIVERS SLAMS RFL FOR CREATING ‘MENTALLY DAMAGING’ SUPER LEAGUE STRUCTURE
by James Messenger
Former Super League coach Phil Veivers has urged the RFL to change the structure of Super League in a bid to prevent players mental health from continuing to decline.
The current format involves Super League and Championship sides splitting after 23 rounds of the season into three groups of eight, with sides in the ‘middle 8’s’ fighting for Super League status.
However, the much discussed Million Pound Game, which pits the fourth and fifth-placed sides against each other for the final top-flight spot, has come under fire for its uncertainty over player contracts, should a side get relegated.
1. HASLER’S DOGS OF BORE NEED A REFRESHER
by Matt Attard
DESSY’S Dogs have their tails between their legs, struggling to outplay the last-placed Newcastle Knights and looking abysmal in almost every other game this season. So what’s the problem?
The team, on paper, is strong. There are rep players scattered throughout, so perhaps it is Hasler’s game plan and coaching style.
If I had to pinpoint an area the club are lacking, it’s the halves. The team can’t score points, we all know this, and that starts with your halves.