<!–IE6 does not display properly if there is whitespace between elements inside the
“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.