Winning and losing can both be habits, NRL clubs might recruit well or they may appoint a new coach – but at the end of the day, if bad habits can’t be broken – it could be a frustrating year. The same goes for good habits, it’s amazing to see how even when some teams play bad they manage to pull a rabbit out of their hat and secure a win.
The best two examples of this are the Cronulla Sharks and the Gold Coast Titans.
The Sharkies have made an artform out of losing in recent times. The Cronulla club came into the big League in 1967 and have been unable to win a title, now it’s hard to say whether this has any long standing effects on the culture – but certainly in the past 12 months they’ve continued to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
While the Sharks had a horror 2009, only 12 months prior they managed to finish equal first at the end of the regular NRL season.
But in a staggering statistic, in attack Cronulla only outscored wooden spooners Canterbury that year. Amazingly, the Sharks backed by their strong defence were able to achieve equal first and yet were miles behind almost every single other team in terms of points scored.
Sadly for the the Sharks, their habit of not scoring points remains with them to this day.
Their attacking problems have continued to frustrate them so much so, that they cannot find a balance between smart and risky attacking footy. When problems first appeared for the Sharkies they tended to go into their shells and resort to simple, error free footy. Some games they were flawless and made virtually no mistakes with the ball in hand, but were still losing by small margins because they couldn’t score points.
They needed to take more risks to score points, but in most cases they overplayed their hands and paid heavily for dropped ball and mounting tackle counts.
It looks like Cronulla just cannot shake this habit of being unable to score points, even the impressive offload skills of NSW Origin Rep Anthony Tupou is not enough to get this team chalking up tries.
In their Round 1 match against the Melbourne Storm, Cronulla’s performance was admirable. Apart from a few discipline lapses, they weren’t too bad. They didn’t let the World Champion Storm side run in too many points, but again they couldn’t manage to even notch up 2 tries.
Habits, Habits, Habits. If Ricky Stuart can’t change the habitual culture there, then this team could be in for another long year.
It’s totally the opposite for new boys the Gold Coast Titans. Only a few years after being admitted to the NRL, they achieved their first finals birth last season and have formed a much sought after habit – winning.
Sure, they do lose games. But the thing with the Titans is, even when they aren’t at their best – they have a good habit of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.
Take yesterday for example. The NZ Warriors were expected to be easy meat for the Titans at home and with the Gold Coast at near full strength, this scoreline could have been anything.
But it was an off-game for the Titans, Presto’s hands were failing him early on and new recruit Greg Bird was having a forgettable game.
NZ were up for it and ran away to an early lead. But the Titans good habit kicked in, no panic for this mob, they just went about their business as usual and were able to claw the game back.
They are expecting to win on almost every occasion. Thats the difference.
Think Broncos for virtually the past 2 decades, they expect to make the finals every year. It’s a given. And they generally do.
What about the Dogs of War? Canterbury have an unbelievable ability to pull off an upset when controversy surrounds their team. They’ve had this habit for years.
Penrith have a habit of being able to notch up big scores. They are virtually the opposite of Cronulla. The Panthers will rack up points no problem, but can be guilty of leaking too.
Wests Tigers are known as the modern day entertainers. Their habit is exciting attack, movements that can sometimes start from their own red zone – this side got a whole new culture when Balmain and Wests merged and it’s nabbed them a Premiership in their first decade.
What habits does your NRL side have?