Craig Fitzgibbon has always been known as one of the nicest guys in rugby league, but it’s time for the Sharks coach to add some good sides to his personality.
The Sharks have lost three of their last five games and were completely beaten by the Melbourne Storm on Sunday.
Fitzgibbon used just 21 players all season, meaning he stuck with the same players every week.
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Obviously, the Sharks have hit a wall and the team needs a shake-up.
While young guns like Connor Treacy continue to perform in the NSW Cup and perform well at the top level when given the rare opportunity, a few players aren’t going to live up to the hype.
Wayne Bennett once said “coaching is not a popularity contest” and it’s time for Fitzy to get tough with his troops before the end of the season.
SPECIFIC FILLING NUMBERS
Panthers officials were personally concerned last season when Nathan Cleary’s deputy, Sean O’Sullivan, left the club to join the Dolphins.
O’Sullivan has done a great job filling in for Cleary when he’s injured or at home.
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It was a big hole to fill, but the club found the perfect replacement for the journeyman Jack Cogger.
A former Knight and Bulldog, Cogger, 25, has spent the last two years at Huddersfield in the Super League but has been offered the chance to join the Panthers.
NRL Highlights: Roosters v Panthers – Round 15
This guy is not a superstar, but he is a smart player and a solid football player who knows how to run a team around the park.
With Cleary facing at least six weeks out with a hamstring injury, Cogger’s step up was crucial and he did just that in the Panthers’ 30-6 win over the Roosters on Saturday night.
Jack, son of Wests Magpies favorite Trevor Cogger, gave his excellent back time and space with his good service, while the Panthers’ attacking machine did the rest.
“SPEED” IN AN EPIC ALL-OUT BATTLE.
Brilliant defenders Kalin Ponga (Knights) and Rhys Walsh (Broncos) battled it out for the ages in an epic clash in Brisbane on Saturday night.
The Knights were the better team for most of the game, but the Broncos’ firepower carried them home for a 24-20 win.
But it was the clash between Queensland’s 2022 quarterback and Queensland’s 2023 quarterback that was the highlight of the classic.
NRL highlights: Broncos v Knights – Round 15
Both ran for more than 200 metres, with Walsh notching two assists, a linebreak and a tackle to save a try.
Ponga scored a great solo try and made two linebreaks.
Who won the duel? I’d call it a draw, but both can hold their heads high after coming up with some great football.
dynamic performance of the dragon
At the end of his career, a player can look back and say “that was the game that made me an NRL player”.
And for Dragons prop Michael Molo, that breakthrough match came before a full game against the Rabbitohs at Kogara on Saturday afternoon.
Molo achieved a rare double – he topped both the Dragons’ running meters and tackle numbers and produced a strong performance for a good performance.
Caretaker coach Ryan Carr is a big fan of the 26-year-old – as were the fans on the hill in the 36-30 win over the Rabbitohs.
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Moving across the line BEYOND THE EAGLE’S EYES
Ruben Garrick is a very good winger for Manly, but he wants to be a better centre.
And Garrick made his case for Brookvale coach Anthony Seibold in real style on Friday night, scoring an incredible 30 points as the Sea Eagles put the Dolphins to the sword 58-18.
Big scoring aside, Garrick gave one of the most complete center performances of the year.
He ran for over 100 metres, scored three tries and had three line-breaking assists and produced a brilliant save.
Last week I wrote that the injured Brad Parker was looking to move from center to second row – which could be good given Garrick’s masterful display.
Sea eagles capture the burning knights
THE KEY OF THE WARRIORS TO MAKE A GUARD
The Warriors have reached the Finals just once in the past 11 seasons — and not winning on the road has played a big role in the long run.
But in 2023, Andrew Webster seems to have found the key to the away victory.
The Kiwis have won four of their seven games on the road, including three of the toughest routes in the NRL – Townsville, Cronulla and now Canberra.
The rugby league world expected Jarrod Crocker to be cannon fodder for the Warriors in his 300th game before a full house in Canberra, but the Warriors had other ideas.
They out-thinked and out-muscled the Raiders to finish convincing 36-14 winners.
The 2023 Warriors are as good as any team to represent the club – and don’t forget the Kiwis have been to two grand finals.
They play a great brand of football, defend their line well and are a team capable of really doing some damage in the finals.
TITANS ARE BACK IN THE FINAL HUNT
Don’t rule out the Titans making a late run to the finals now that they have key players out with injuries.
The return of quarterback AJ Brimson and forward Sam Verrills transformed the Titans, and they produced one of their best efforts of the season to dismantle the Tigers 28-12 on Thursday night.
Coach Justin Holbrook sorely missed the duo and they gave the Titans a polished look.
Brimson scored early in the game and Verrills was always a threat in dummy half.
The Titans have plenty of offensive threats and some big coaches, led by Tino Faasuamalaui, who rattled the Tigers with some big hits.
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