By STEVE MASCORD
CRONULLA’S coach and captain have a message for stars who have left for “an opportunity” over the past two years – no offence but we’re better off without you.
While the Sharks fly high after six consecutive wins, the clubs of departed Blake Ferguson (13th), Luke Douglas (15th) and Kade Snowden (10th as of Monday) are struggling with a third of the 2012 regular season gone.
And those are facts not lost on Shane Flanagan and Paul Gallen, who on Sunday easily accounted for a Canberra side including Ferguson – the winger who left because he couldn’t see himself ever winning a premiership in the Shire,
“Fergo’s made a good decision – I think we beat them last year in the competition (table) too,” Gallen tells RLW.
“I shouldn’t say that, Fergo’s a good kid. He made a decision at the time that no-one could blame him for. We were going pretty ordinary.
“He made that decision and guys like Dougy and Snowy made that decision. With all respect to those guys, we’ve reaped the rewards – probably not on purpose, probably a bit more out of luck than anything. That’s what rugby league is like, you’ve got to make your own luck. Picking up guys like (Andrew) Fafita, (Bryce) Gibbs, Mark Taufua, Ben Ross, Jon Green – five front rowers and two have left.
“So, we’re probably better off at the moment.”
Flanagan adds: “I’m not shying away from the fact we got a little bit lucky with the recruitment, especially with Todd (Carney). Gibbs and Fifita, I rolled the dice there and proposed to them that I didn’t want one, I wanted both of them. They had cap issues, the Tigers, so we got lucky there for different reasons.
“The Tigers only wanted to release one. I said ‘I don’t want to take one, I want to take both’. Mark Taufua and Isaac de Gois weren’t in Wayne Bennett’s plans but they’ve done a great job for us. They’ve been outstanding.”
Gallen lamented the fact the Sharks were losing too many good players when Douglas headed to Gold Coast and Snowden to Newcastle. He thinks the tide might be turning – although it’s “premature” to say youngsters will now stay at Toyota Stadium.
“When you look at the clubs those guys have gone to, you probably would say that when they left they did have a better chance of doing better than what we did,” he said “(For instance) Canberra have a good roster, they’ve just been unlucky with injuries.
“Fortunately, we picked up some real quality players that other clubs didn’t want and then Toddy came along late last year. So, I think things have turned out for the best.
“It’s like anything, a lot of it comes down to dollars and what you can spend on players. Hopefully if the club’s going good and the price is right to keep the players, then we can keep a lot of players and sign some quality players in the future
“But this roster we’ve got at the moment is doing pretty good. I’ll keep saying it and I know it sounds crap, be we really are taking it one week at a time.”
“I’ve praised Todd Carney ever since he came here. Everyone feels like I pushed his barrow a little bit but I think it’s deserved. He’s doing his job. You look at a player like that, he told me – we’ve got the same manager but he did the best he could to get him the best deal – but he told me as soon as I rang him that he wanted to come here. For a player like that to say that, it’s a good sign.”
Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK