Well there we have it, another season has just gone down in the history books and we have our premier.
But for the first time since 2016 it is not the Roosters or the Storm, it is the Penrith Panthers who have earned redemption after last year to win their first grand final since 2003.
I’m what is arguably one of the better Grand Final’s we have seen the Panthers team who since the game has finished and celebrations started have the news come to light that a major part of their squad will be in hospital together soon for post season surgeries. In particular is the Clive Churchill medallist in Nathan Cleary who may now even miss the start of next season for the mountain men after getting his shoulder operated on (which yours truly has been saying for ages) and that in turn could be an issue if he has an complications with the surgery or if he has done anymore significant damage to the area.
Staying with the Cleary household, Nathan’s father and Penrith head coach Ivan Cleary really can claim 3rd times the charm after finally getting the NRL premiership. Now I’m not going to say I was the only one to say it (maybe the only one publicly) had he lost and gone through the agony of another Grand Final loss he would have been coming close to being compared to Brian Smith, nothing against Smith as he always had teams in the top 8 if not top 4 virtually every year but you would not want to be compared to him on your past as a coach on that first Sunday in October.
And before we get stuck on to South’s I want to give praise to the real winner from the night and that is Brian To’o. Who not only got the premiership ring but was also able to give out an engagement ring and now put all of us others that haven’t asked that question yet to shame, as how can we top that.
Now we move on to South’s, where to begin. The fight they showed to be so close in the game should be commended, the big thing that they can be proud of is that they did themselves and fans proud.
I feel for Adam Reynolds who is probably besides John Sutton Mr South Sydney (before you get angry that is in my lifetime and memories of the game). He has busted his gut the last 4 seasons including this one just ended in the hopes of adding another premiership to the trophy cabinet for the Cardinal and Myrtle.
The thing I hope is that the Rabbitohs season isn’t remembered for the crushing way it ended but for the hope that they have put back in to the hearts of all clubs in the competition. That is, despite conceding 50 points in a game you only don’t have have a chance to win the premiership if you believe that to be the case.
However the big question will be, is South Sydney’s window still open? Given how they have performed this year you would have to say 100% without a shadow of doubt that it is. Though I feel like they may have missed it now, I’m not saying they won’t make the finals in the coming seasons but will they have a genuine shot at lifter the trophy at the end of the season, I think not.
Now I’m not saying the don’t have depth in the squad but Benji Marshell has left, Wayne Bennett has left (believed to be joining Redcliffe) and you are replacing Reynolds with Anthony Milford. Now nothing against Milford, on his day he is one player you either want on your team or you know the odd’s of winning are probably going to be less then 10%. On the other hand, when he is off you wouldn’t even want him anywhere near the squad. That’s the problem for him, after the way he played years ago he needs to find a way of getting back to that form and closing the gap in his good and bad games and if he can do that then maybe just maybe the window is still open.
But an even more major change is that in the coaches box with potentially the greatest coach of all time in Wayne Bennett moving on and being replaced by his deputy since 2017
Jason Demetriou. Now for those of you that know about Demetriou’s record yes he has been successful at those teams and as an assistant but being the head coach in an NRL team is a completely different kettle of fish, but even more so when you are taking over from a GOAT.
In closing on the rugby league season for 2021 even though it’s only been for a month, I would also like to congratulate Ronaldo Mulitalo from my team the sharks for winning the Ken Stephen medal for the work he has done of field. He is truly a great idol for young kids to have. But thank you for letting me pass on my thoughts for the end of the season, I look forward to sharing more next year.