As mentioned previously 2018 has been a year of great highlights. 2016 aside I can’t remember enjoying a season of rugby league so much.
That said, as with every great height comes great lows. Below are a list of the disappointments of 2018. Let’s hope they’re turned around.
Please let us know if we forgot anything in the comments section:
Signings fail to fire: Unfortunately for every successful signing for 2018 there seems to be one not so successful signing. The Bulldogs invested hugely in Keiran Foran and Aaron Woods with hopes they could quickly turn the club around. Unfortunately neither fired and Woods’ best game this season has come since his shift to the Sharks. The less said about Foran’s season the better.
Jack Bird’s time at Brisbane has been a mixture of less than stellar form and troubles with fitness and injury. Jarryd Hayne has shown hugely improved form since his return from injury but has fallen well short of expectation since his Eels homecoming.
Bryce Cartwright arrived on the Gold Coast as the great hope. His talents and ball playing abilities were meant to lift the Titans back to the finals. Unfortunately his season has become better known for memes than on-field action. Reports indicate the Titans may be ready to cut their losses by moving him on.
Bulldogs salary cap mess: The Dogs are most people’s favourites to ‘win’ the wooden spoon. They are having a terrible season by any stretch. They’ve just shed their most in-form player and their prized marquee recruit and still have more pain ahead to balance their books.
Those responsible for the current salary cap mess need to be banned from the game in disgrace. Reports of back-ended deals have the club in serious turmoil for the next three seasons. Greg Eastwood, currently playing in the NSW Cup competition is reportedly on more than the Sharks will pay Aaron Woods to play in 2018.
The Dogs continue to pay multiple players across the NRL and even Super League to ply their trade for other teams. It’s beyond belief. Both Morris twins are linked with the Eels with a host of other players set for the exit door. Marquee signings are literally years off unless the Dogs can hit a magic reset button. Awful.
Eels 2018: I did not see this coming. The only major out for the Eels between 2017 and 2018 was Semi Radradra. As good as Semi had been during his time in blue and gold, the fact remains he is a winger. The Eels were able to replace him persay with Jarryd Hayne.
The roster is stacked but for whatever reason the Eels have looked an absolute shell of their 2017 selves. They’ve gone from top four finishers to a genuine wooden spoon battle. Only a salary cap destroyed Dogs side and perhaps a broken Cowboys side can take the unwanted award from them.
Cowboys demise: Another club who have fallen beyond belief is the Cowboys. Last year’s runners up, the Cows are already planning Mad Monday … in June! They made the decider last season without Matt Scott and Johnathan Thurston, both who have returned to full fitness.
Add premiership and World Cup winning prop Jordan McClean and there was surely nothing but success on the horizon. Unfortunately the reality is the Cowboys’ season is over, Thurston is limping toward retirement and the likes of Michael Morgan and Jason Taumalolo have had their struggles.
Crowds: For all the social media backlash to those making negative comments about crowd numbers, the fact still remains crowd figures are pretty terrible. Yes, TV ratings are massive, but the majority of fixtures are being telecast with a backdrop of empty seats.
The Thursday night and early Friday evening time-slots are tough sells in terms of attracting big numbers, but even the Sunday afternoon clashes aren’t setting the world alight. The Dragons are currently leading the comp and hosted a fellow Sydney team in the Eels on Thursday night. They played in front of what looked like 2500 people.
No, crowd numbers are not the be all and end all in measuring the competition but surely something needs to be done to bump up the numbers. Moving every game to super (soulless) stadiums is not the answer.
Referee Dominance: I am loathe to bring attention to this but it would be impossible not to. The refereeing penalty crack down has been an absolute chore to watch. I was at the Sharks/Storm penalty-a-thon and despite my side leaving victorious, the game was awful.
Nitpicking on the most ridiculous of incidents has seen penalty numbers sky rocket and sin binnings set ridiculous new records. The amount of offside penalties due to players, 30 metres from play, being half a metre off-side has fans looking at referees rather than halfbacks.
Too many games are being decided by the men in the middle with the whistle. It’s a tough gig, I can talk from personal experience, but I’d hate to have refereed under the pressure the current crop are under. Put the whistle away.