I know I am about a year late but I think it is time to do a 2015 season review.
First of all, I want to congratulate the Newcastle Knights on winning the NRL premiership for 2015, going undefeated for all four of their March games. A perfect record is always something to be congratulated.
I also want to give a ‘better luck next time’ award to the Cronulla Sharks, for doing the exact opposite and going winless all season and taking out the wooden spoon.
It looked like the Cowboys would be destined for the spoon, but thanks to their extra-time win against Melbourne they managed to just avoid receiving the brown cooking utensil and instead the poor Sharkies were handed it.
But anyway, let’s not harp on about details everyone is familiar with, let’s get into my opinions of the season.
Buy of the year is a tricky award to give with a lot of powerful contenders showing up each year. However, I am going to have to give it to Anthony Watmough, mainly because of his brilliant performance against his former club the Sea Eagles.
Watmough played above and beyond that game, and the for and against gained from that encounter led them into the top eight. Many questioned Parramatta’s decision to sign him on a long-term contract for so much money but they proved everyone wrong. Watmough looks as good as he ever has.
Coach of the year has to be Rick Stone. He was only brought in as head coach because Wayne Bennett left Newcastle, but boy did he shine in this role or what? He helped Newcastle overachieve to a ridiculous extent and looks set to be the coach of the Novocastrians for years to come. Expect great things out of him, he is a Stone cold killer of a coach.
I really wanted to give the award for biggest overachiever to Parramatta for managing to sneak into the eight for the first time since 2009, despite not having Jarryd Hayne.
However, while the 2015 season was very impressive for the yellow and gold club, I can’t look past the premiers Newcastle. People said that if Bennett couldn’t deliver finals consistently then how could they do it under a nobody coach like Stone? But they did it, they defied all belief and came out on top. I know it is cheap to give this award to the premiers, but I couldn’t help it.
But we can’t harp on about the positives of the season can we, let’s discuss the negatives of it.
The worst signing of 2015 was easily Anthony Milford. Good old Milf failed to fire in the four rounds of the 2015 season, leaving most of the playmaking to his partner Ben Hunt. It is obvious Milford will take seasons to adjust to the halves, and should be moved to fullback, where he plays his best footy.
Bennett may be a master coach, but it is obvious he is slipping with his old age, especially with the success Stone got from his old side. Big mistake from Bennett here.
Worst coach was Shane Flanagan easily. Sharks fans were crying about how they would make the eight again if their coach returned following suspension. However he was useless and failed miserably. They looked lost, and that is not the fault of the players, because there is some in that side. It was Flanno’s fault, and I can’t see him lasting until the start of next season after his failure in 2015.
Disappointment of the year were the Cowboys, after a gutless season. Manly came close to winning this award but people expected them to start sliding soon. However, a lot of people had pencilled the Cowboys in for the top four, with a lot predicting it was time Johnathan Thurston won a premiership.
But that side looked horrible and unfit. Thurston underperformed big time, Michael Morgan was nowhere near his 2014 self and the forwards were lazy. I don’t understand how a club that looked that good on paper could play that badly for a whole season, but they managed to. It really was depressing towards the end.
So with those awards out of the way I look forward to the 2016 season to see if Newcastle can go back to back, to see if Cronulla can finally avoid that spoon and to see if the Cowboys will decide to fire up this year.
That would be a very accurate season review if the NRL season ended after March, and it is funny how it is the opposite of what had happened by the beginning of October.
People who are already crying about how Manly, Penrith, the Roosters and Parramatta are doomed for a horrible season need to wake up to themselves. This sort of stuff happens every year. Fans need to learn to stop jumping to conclusions based on a single game.