Down Under Blog: #64 How to be cut throat

Pommy Rich gives us all the mis-dealing's in the NRL in his world famous Down Under Blog.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I HATE close season.

My work gets stupidly busy in the lead up to Christmas, the aircon has broken in my car meaning it’s now actually an oven and there’s only bloody cricket on the sporting calendar over here, and I can’t and won’t ever give soccer a    passing glance.

All this free time isn’t good for me. My mind wanders, and I start to overthink things. Things like – When Adam      Pearson came out and said there would be changes and we’d move players on after the end to the season we all       endured, did he legitimately mean Jansin Turgut, Jack Downs and Jordan Abdull only? Does “going to the market to find players that will improve the squad” accurately describe the business we’ve done?

We do seem to be one of those clubs that hang onto a player just that little bit too long sometimes. I can’t think of many players that have come back to haunt us when playing with other clubs – Tom Briscoe rarely has a good game against us, likewise Tom Lineham, or Westy (when he went) etc. Of course when playing in the East of our fair city that changes….. Paul Cooke, Ben Crooks, Danny Tickle and Craig Hall have all enjoyed success against us after moving to the dark side.

Of course, any comments on our retention, recruitment and losses for season 2019 need to take into consideration that we are one of only two or three clubs that took the RFL at face value and recruited to fill a reserve team as well as a first team. If we have an injury crisis the likes of which we saw this year, that still may be a masterstroke, but I can’t help but wonder if the “are Hull getting left behind” headlines we’ve all recently had to endure might have a point.

On the subject of reserves, the way that the RFL have conducted themselves over this stuff is a bloody disgrace. As a sport, we can look so amateurish sometimes, and its embarrassing. Hull and Wakefield might even have grounds for legal recourse if they finish bottom, after   recruiting for one set of rules only to have the goalposts moved on them. The likes of Gary “Snot Nose” Hetherington must be pissing themselves laughing after signing two marquee players and never having any intention of running a reserves team.

So, if we were to move players on at this late stage, who would we be happy to see go? That’s a hard question and I’m sure I’ll get abused for even suggesting that some players SHOULD be moved on, but I truly think they should. But, there would need to be a player better to come in and replace them. Personally, I wouldn’t be sad to see Mickey Paea moved on for instance. He’s not set the world on fire since he’s been back. There are others that we could stand to lose too.

As I write this Marty Taupau is well and truly trying to extricate himself from Manly, what about him for a marquee player? Would anyone be unhappy to see say, Paea and a couple of fringe squad members put off for him? If our owner is going to talk tough and then shrink from the distasteful business of actually following through, then he shouldn’t talk tough at all.

Fans my vintage go misty eyed when they recall the late Greg Mackey, just about the last true organising halfback to pull on the black and white irregular hoops. Can everyone recall the circumstances of him signing for us? At the start of the season we got him, he was on a short term deal with Warrington. One of our overseas spots was taken up by Aussie David Liddiard. A few games in, he injured his shoulder and looked like being out for a while. Quick as a flash, Brian Smith de-registered Liddiard and swooped for Mackey, pissing Warrington off a treat and snagging a player we built a side around for the next few years. Liddiard actually ended up coming back a few years later too but was never really a superstar for us. Say what you like about Smith, he was ruthless when it came to situations like that.  We need that edge now. Even a few years back we could have probably offered a new deal to Mark O’Meley, but decided not to and he went grumpily into retirement – we’ve been proved right in the long run though after building a formidable pack without him in the years immediately afterwards.

I wonder if now the time is to be that cut-throat club, offload some fringe players, some over the hill players and bring in a “name” or two. We should have been in for Anthony Gelling, we should’ve been in for Sebastine Ikahihifo and we should be in for Taupau or even Shaun Fensom as a statement of intent. Now see what I mean about overthinking stuff? I mean with a fully fit squad to choose from, we should still be beating more teams than we lose to – but from the dizzy heights of being in with a chance for the league and cup double two years running, to hearing rumours of discontent and signing players “with potential” from lower Championship clubs as our recruitment two years on when other clubs seem to pushing the boat out – I must admit I’m a little rattled.

Anyhow – so ends another year so I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a great and safe New Year, and remember, if you find a bloke with a sack full of stuff dressed in red and white in your front room – its probably an East Hull         burglar, and NOT Santa…..

Until next time, Up the Cream, Gerremonsard and Come on you ‘Ull.

Rich – Twitter @pommyrich

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