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“THERE is a tendency,” says Sydney Roosters chief executive Steve Noyce, “to get a false sense of security from the idea that once you have made the tough decisions regarding the coach, it’s like waving a magic wand and it will fix everything.”
It’s not easy for Noyce to rake over the coals of 2012. Just eight wins, lots of penalties (against, of course) and errors, a couple of heart breaking defeats on the bell and a shocking 50-12 flogging by North Queensland in Darwin.
Any season that ends with a coach leaving early is not a good one.
“There are some positives off the field but professional sport is about on the field, it’s about winning,” says Noyce. “If you don’t make the finals, then it hasn’t been a successful year.
“Jared Waerea-Hargreaves was a deserving winner of the Jack Gibson Medal – he has really improved this year. There’s Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Tautau Maga and Daniel Tupou at the end of the year. There’s the Toyota Cup side making the preliminary final and Newtown the grand final.
“But we can’t continue to rest on the fact that the future looks bright and our players are young. It’s time to shut up and get the job done.”
Prop Martin Kennedy’s season is another one of the year’s positives, culminating in his selection for the Australian train-on squad. But he speaks bluntly and constructively about the disappointments of the season.
“Fans see losses like the ones against the Dragons and the Rabbitohs as demoralising – and players are exactly the same,” he says. “To be up there among the top teams early in the season and then losing games by such small margins, so late, is shattering.
“But the flipside of all that is that if we were two or three per cent better in those matches, we’d have been in the final eight and from there, anything can happen.
“That’s something for us to take into the pre-season and into next year.”
Kennedy says there are important things for supporters to understand about the mountainous penalty counts. ]
“The hardest thing for someone to understand who doesn’t play football is how, when you are under the pump out on the field, you try to make up for it by doing things you wouldn’t normally do,” he explains.
“So holding on for five or 10 more seconds in the tackle seems the same as running harder. If you can do something that’s a little bit outside the rules to help your team, you want to do it to try and help your team-mates out.
“We’re not trying to give away penalties or lose the game but that’s what ends up happening.
“It’s something we are really going to have to discuss in the pre-season because doing that doesn’t work. The referees are so much in the money now that you get caught every time. We have to make sure we don’t do things outside the rules when we’re under pressure.”
Kennedy says the Roosters’ players feel terrible about Smith’s departure. “I have really struggled with it, expecially now that so many of his assistants are going too,” he says. “Even when Braith (Anasta) announced he was leaving, that was bad. He had been here for so long and I really took it hard.
“We all know it’s easier to move on the coach than it is to move 17 under-performing players. It cut us deep and will drive us next season.”
Kennedy has no trouble identifying which defeat stung the most. “Yes, up in Darwin was definitely a lowlight to the season,” he said. “But as a Roosters fan growing up, you never want to lose to Souths.
“Losing to Souths – you don’t want that, whether it’s by one point or 30. So I would say that was the worst.”
Noyce said it is down to individuals to assess how they contributed to the downfall of Smith, who he described as “a thoroughly decent human being”.
“I didn’t see Brian dropping balls, missing tackles or – at my level – making bad buisiess decisions,” he said.
“Hopefully it can be a catalyst for people to look at whether they took a short cut here, didn’t work hard enough there, didn’t engage with the group enough, whatever. If that happens, something positive will come from it.”
But thinking a change of coach will bring a change of fortune? “If you think that,” says Noyce, “you’re destined to fail.”
Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK
Album review: LA Guns – Hollywood Forever
By STEVE MASCORD
THERE are no hard and fast rules for an eighties hair metal band aiming to eke out a living this decade.
Some, like Motley Crue, have studiously avoided the nostalgia circuit and aligned themselves with young bands. Others, like Whitesnake and Def Leppard, have their pre-Sunset Strip heritage as English blues and metal (respectively) bands to fall back on.
There are those like Tyketto and Junkyard who have day jobs and tour in their vacation time. But for the likes of Ratt, Queensryche, Slaughter and LA Guns, it’s a fulltime job that now involves keeping their support base’s attention, one fan at a time, via social media and the speciallist press which has been chased out of the physical realm and onto the internet.
As many readers will be aware, until recently there were two LA Guns, one headed by Phil Lewis – the singer from the band’s late eighties heyday – and the other by founder Tracii Guns. To the relief of confused punters everywhere, Tracii’s version is apparently now on ice indefinitely.
Hollywood Forever is from Lewis’ version and it’s a timely reminder that this genre is still turning out quality material – even though the mainstream has long since moved on. If you liked the new Van Halen album, dig a bit deeper to the likes of LA Guns and you won’t be disappointed.
The biggest compliment you can pay a band from the big haired eighties (Motley Crue might consider it an insult) is that the album sounds like the last twenty years never happened. That is certainly the case here – Phil Lewis is probably the number one torch-barer, anywhere, for the Strip scene of the eighties and Hollywood Forever would have been a massive album back then.
Its biggest strength is its diversity. “Hollywood Forever”chops along metallically at at a cracking pace, “Eel Pie” is a sleazy grinder and “Sweet Mystery” is a dreamy radio ballad – and that’s just the first three tracks.
“Burn” is the sort of glammy blues lament meant to blast from convertables back when the riots were the number one topic of conversation in Lala Land and the “Vine Street Shimmy” is the sort of song that makes you visualise the video clip (all low-slung guitars and sneers) even though there actually isn’t one.
My favourites are “Dirty Black Night”, a monster of a chugga-chugga glam rock epic that dares you to listen passively without the slightest nod or smile, and “You Better Not Love Me” which is a perfect example of the commercial LA metal genre.
People thought these eighties metal bands recorded catchy songs to get on the radio and please the record company execs. Maybe they even used this excuse themselves as an alibi for “wimping out”. But the radio and the execs are long gone – and the hooks keep coming because that’s actually the sort of music these guys like.
WARRINGTON coach Tony Smith said rugby league would never be able to perfectly police concussion after former NSW fullback Brett Hodgson ignored a ferocious head knock to secure the Lance Todd Trophy as Challenge Cup final man of the match.
In a turning point at Wembley Stadium in front of 79,180 fans, the former Wests Tigers premiership winner was flattened in a tackle by Leeds prop Kylie Leuluai three minutes into the second half, with Warrington ahead by just two points.
The ball was jolted loose and another Australian, Brett Delaney, ran 10 metres to claim a try. But after the sickening impact – which occurred after Leuluai’s arm bounced off the ball – was replayed countless times on the big screen, the try was disallowed and Leeds given a scrum-feed.
That infuriated the camp of Leeds, who’ve lost five consecutive Challenge Cup finals, but in the NRL, there would have been increasing pressure for Hodgson to come off under new guidelines in response to American athletes suing governing bodies for long-term brain damage.
Instead, Hodgson, watched several of the replays himself and not only continued but set up the next two tries before scoring the clincher himself in a 35-18 triumph, the Wolves’ third in four visits to Wembley.
“I don’t think we’re ever going to … if we go too far with it, we’re not going to have anybody on the rugby league field,” Smith told the Herald.
‘You also don’t want to endanger our people by any means.
“On the whole, I think we do it pretty well. We don’t have too many bad cases that are avoidable. Sometimes we have an over-reaction, be it the shoulder charge or over-protection.”
Hodgson agreed, saying: “There’s no doubt I didn’t want to come off. We’re a weird bunch, us league players out there.
“It’s hard to differentiate when you shouldn’t be allowed to continue. It will be difficult to police. “They asked me where we’re at, who we played last week, what’s the score, who scored last, whether you’ve got pins and needles …”
Former Manly prop Leuluai said refereeing errors could have cost the world champions the contest. said the Delaney try should not have been disallowed and also a knock-on by Lee Briers was missed. “Those two errors, I feel, from the referees were crucial,” said Leuluai.
Michael and Joel Monaghan are the first Australian brothers to win at Wembley in the same team. Smith said Joel, in particular, had overcome great adversity in the wake of his infamous Mad Monday misdemeanour to become a leading player in the British game. He scored the first try from a Richie Myler kick in the sixth minute.
Another Warrington tryscorer, Trent Waterhouse, spoke to good friend Luke Lewis, who revealed a cancer battle , in the lead-up to the match.
“When you hear the word cancer, you get really worried ,” the former Penrith forward said. “He’s had a tough year – he says he’s going to be OK.”
WARRINGTON 35 (J Monaghan T Waterhouse C Riley R Atkins T McCarthy B Hodgson tries Hodgson 5 goals L Briers field goal) bt LEEDS 18 (K Watkins 2, I Kirke tries; K Sinfield 3 goals) at Wembley Stadium. Referee: R Silverwood. Crowd: 79,180.
Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
TO most people attending the Bloodstock Festival two years ago, describing Europe’s place as headliner as “incongruous” was an understatement. What Europe played in the 1980s does not even count as metal by its current definition; Cold Chisel were heavier.
But Europe weren’t pelted with bottles of piss or sharpened pennies. They weren’t even booed or jeered that much. Because they WERE heavy – much heavier than anyone but their loyal fans present had expected.
To listen to Joey Tempest’s Swedish superstars now is to hear what Bon Jovi may have sounded like today if New Jersey flopped, if the ballads had failed to find traction. Imagine Jon Bon Jovi playing theatres instead of stadia, still fighting Ratt and Motley Crue for ticket and album sales.
Bag Of Bones is the fourth album since Europe re-formed in 2003. The first two, Start From The Dark and Secret Society, dabbled in modern rock territory. With Last Look At Eden a couple of years back, the Swedes managed to blend the need to be relevant with the echoes of their glory days.
Bag Of Bones is another big step in that direction.
“Rags To Riches” is a bluesy, riffy, stadium rocker, “Firebox” is modern rock without the contrived abrasiveness and “My Woman, My Friend” is actually something of an epic, beginning it does with a simple piano refrain and building to the crescendo of a booming chorus.
In an apparently deliberate attempt to be as diverse as possible, the title track is an acoustic lament with a beguiling melody, “Mercy You, Mercy Me” has the sort of choppy delivery reminiscent of Last Look At Eden and the reviewer’s favourite off the entire record – which stood out like, ahem, dogs balls live last time I saw them – is “Doghouse”. There’s no reinvention of the wheel here, folks, just a rollicking slice bar-room boogie.