Tag Archives: Willie Mason

Cowboys Stun Roosters

The build up of the Willie Mason homecoming was laughable as the former Rooster returned to the SFS with the Cowboys to face his old side. While the Cowboys upset the Roosters 32-14, any talk of a Mason welcome committee was just that – talk.

It seemed anytime big Willie was tackled or made a tackle, he smiled and was patted on the back by his former team-mates. There might have been some boo’s by the crowd, but as predicted by Mason – the Roosters faithful hardly turned up, with only several thousand on hand at the SFS, apparently the lowest crowd of the year to date.

It was to be the Cowboys night. The visitors were showing plenty of urgency from the outset and even without star half Jonathan Thurston – they had good organisation and looked dangerous with the ball in hand.

Mason continued his good run this year, the big forward marching up for big metres and proving difficult to stop on most occasions.

But what about that freak Matty Bowen? Making his comeback, Bowen was thrown back into his fullback spot after having months on the sideline and waltzed back into topgear.

While most players would need some match fitness, let alone superglue on their hands to help them keep up with NRL pace – Bowen was immediately at home and showed he has lost none of his speed or elusive style. The former Queensland representative split the Roosters defence in the first quarter of the game, running 70 metres to score a scorching try for his side.

The Roosters on the other hand seemed to push the pass all game.

They played catch-up football even before they got behind it seemed. Tossing miracle balls, pushing passes in low percentage situations on many occasions.

With Mitchell Pearce out of this game, Carney was given the no.7 jersey and Anthony Minichiello was moved to his old position of fullback.

Carney again had a solid game, with some good touches and a skillful try from a magical pickup to outrun Bowen. But for Mini, he would have really wanted to have his time again. Back in the fullback spot, his hands and passing decisions let him down at times.

After toughing out for the win against the Wests Tigers last week, the Roosters have again struggled to etch any consistency into their season.

Brian Smith’s men face the Knights next weekend and the Cowboys head across the ditch to face the NZ Warriors in Auckland who will be boosted by the news they’ve nabbed Feleti Mateo and Kris Inu from the Eels for next season.

Bulldogs still not a happy home

Andrew Ryan might leave Bulldogs in 2009It seems life at the Bulldogs is still far from perfect, as the NRL club battles to keep current players happy, the problems arising after losing Willie Mason earlier in the off-season and experiencing several discipline issues with other players soon after.

While publically the players appeared to back the Bulldogs management in their stance against Mason, it’s looking increasingly likely that it was a forced front that wasn’t a true representation of the players morale. Luke Patten was the player to front the media soon after the Mason exit and explain it was Mason not the Bulldogs at fault – however, prior to this public statement and the eventual sacking, it seemed the majority of the Bulldogs players were backing their mate Willie Mason.

Speculation was rife over the weekend that Bulldogs club captain Andrew Ryan has spoken privately of his desire to return to the Parramatta Eels to escape the low morale of the Bulldogs in their current form and to like with old mate Nathan Hindmarsh in their final NRL years. If this proves to be true, it’s obvious the current state of affairs at the Bulldogs might be driving Andrew Ryan away from his once happy home. The other factor however might be the fact that Brian Smith no longer reigns over the Eels, the coach that continued to use Ryan as a substitute during his Eels days – with Michael Hagan at the helm it makes the possibility of the move more realistic.

The loss of Ryan for 2009 would be a huge blow for the struggling Bulldogs, already losing plenty of experience in recent times with the likes of Steve Price, Jonathan Thurston, Braith Anasta, Brent Sherwin, Mark O’Meley and Willie Mason all moving on. Price has grown an extra leg at the Warriors, Thurston is pressing his claims continually to be the best player in the world and the hard working Anasta is enjoying a senior role at the Roosters.

It seems that the players leaving Belmore are feeling much more engergized at new clubs and the old guard, including coach Steve Folkes might be due for a spring clean.

The timing of speculation isn’t ideal for the Bulldogs with the 2008 kick-off under 6 weeks away. In previous years they have responded admirably to critisim, however more recently they have buckled under the constant pressure and expectations of the media and their own fans.

The 2008 squad features a range of new faces which will take some time to gel; with the potential loss of Andrew Ryan and a high probability that Reni Matuia won’t be at the Dogs forever – there is some seriously tough times ahead for the Sydney based club. Ever growing pressure in the NRL market and new clubs such as the Titans are making it much more competitive for clubs and keeping their players happy is of the utmost importance.

It seems this time that the Bulldogs underestimated the pull that Willie Mason had amongst the players. He may have been a badboy at times, but his larrikin personality and years of experience may have been something that held the player group and the club in general together.