TONY BUTTERFIELD: Initials enough for JWH

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, centre, is known as JWH, luckily for some. YOU know you’ve got street cred when you’re known by your initials. OJ, MG, AB, MR and JT have all resonated in the past.
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Not to be out done, now we have SBW, DCE (Daly Cherry-Evans) or the new member of the gang, JWH.

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves is one such man of the moment hyphenated kind of guy. Rated as one of the most damaging carters of the ball in the NRL, the Roosters big guy is reported to be a big softy off the field.

His expression of power running can be explained as a “get out of my way” style that worries the life out of even the sturdiest defender. Time and experience has forged a more mature player with skills, feet, and toughness.

He’s a competitor, this fella – a real force among the big men of our game, and I’d never question his commitment to his craft.

That said, there should be little question what should happen in response to JWH’s knack of chinning would-be defenders when in possession.

Penalise, penalise.

And after that, I’d make sure every single time he ran the ball he was sat on his backside for the intent and unnecessary risk that he brought.

Spare me the “north-south” explanation from the Roosters coach.

To be clear, if the referee feels a forearm is used in a dangerous, unusual or reckless fashion, normally aimed at throat or head, it should attract a penalty. Why? Because it’s bloody dangerous.

It’s not really in the spirit of the game. Nor is it a terribly courageous thing to do. As far as I can recall, it has always been thus.

In saying that, there are few better exponents of the use of the “bow” in the NRL. If you watch him closely, most of what he does in deflecting his assailant with his forearm seems entirely legitimate and a real competitive advantage. I say most, because there are times when he turns his shield into a sword, with damaging repercussions.

The loss of Danny Buderus in last year’s preliminary final to a thunderously damaging forearm is a case in point. JWH was cleared of any wrong doing after the match by the powers that be and the incident was classified as a case of bad technique – ie, Danny led with his chin by aiming too high and you can’t do that on the big boys.

I’ve no idea if the big unit was chastened personally by that incident, or whether he has consciously worked on his technique in pre-season. But judging by last week’s game against the Knights it seems he, and the odd opponent, may now have a problem – like ball-runners who from time to time tended to get away with raising the leading knee on impact.

They were ultimately penalised when the refs woke up and saw the pattern.

Mark my words, this is a real talking point among players, and the word on the street is that the bumper bars will be up hence forth. That could get ugly. Your call ref!

WHEN you play in key positions of major sports teams you are bound to be noticed and much is expected on and off the field.

As such, athletes like quarterbacks, pitchers, first drops in cricket or league halves and hookers necessarily know things us mere mortals never could.

Theirs is a world of inches where touch, feel and instinct is the final frontier. Where self-confidence and self-belief is as fundamental as oxygen, and speculation and risk are the parents of inspiration.

Leadership and example is mandatory in these positions regardless of age or experience. Tough as it may seem, there is nowhere to hide. In league, you determine field position, deliver tactical kicks, instruct yardage and offense and organise the kick chase among a host of other things.

Also implicit in the position descriptions is the requirement that when all looks lost, you do something, anything, brilliant. Just do it! It is you that must save the day.

Understandably, things don’t always work out.

That thing about confidence and belief can sometimes prove fragile for rookie and old campaigners alike. In the case of the Knights halves pairing, it may be necessary to recognise that the requisite confidence and steel-edged belief has deserted their combination for the time being.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting Jarrod Mullen or Tyrone Roberts have blown their assignments. As a firm supporter of both lads I think a circuit breaker right now is needed in any event. But, with the future in mind, smart changes may provide scope to confirm other strategic needs and options.

The young bloke of Clydsdale has a lot of work to do but has shown he could make a fist of the dummy-half role long term. Given the key tactical value of the position, knowing whether he will or won’t make the grade is a priority in the scheme of things. I’d give him as much game time as he needs to season’s end to prove himself. Go from there.

As Clydsdale’s interchange rotater, I’d inject Tyrone armed with an up-tempo “harry and accost” lazy midfield defender mentality. This gives the coach, I think, a slightly improved impact potential from the bench rotation.

This, of course, necessitates moving Kurt Gidley to his favoured fullback spot. Why? Because it frees up his natural instincts to run, chase, back up and lead. Importantly, it also gives him a chance to compose himself from time to time.

I would be happy to experiment with Darius Boyd to five-eighth and push Mullens to half. I hear Darbs is a “gun”, so let’s have a look at him. The extra workload and responsibility for Boyd won’t be baggage to carry. I reckon he’ll lap it up and thrive closer in – a bit like Darren Lockyer did.

This ultimately frees Mullo to run his more favoured agenda to mix things up and attack opportunities at will, rather than bearing the full responsibility of traffic cop and playmaker.

The poor old playmaker. If his job is not hard enough being responsible for the fortunes of your home-town team on the field, the media glare and supporter expectations can sometimes make a tough job unbearable. But, like it or not, it’s expected.

If you’re a “star” player and ever find yourself fighting to navigate back from the dark abyss of lost confidence and belief, think Josh Reynolds, Trent Hodkinson and Robbie Farah in Origin II. They proved that if you think it, believe it, work at it and never give up, it will be so. That is the magic formula.

Go the Blues and come on, Knights!

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