Tigers and Canterbury denounce a cruel lack of professionalism in returning the ghost



Losing a rugby league game is one thing, but very different from turning your head, failing to compete and waving the white flag at an opposition.

That’s precisely what the Wests Tigers did against the Cowboys last Saturday, in one of the most tasteless and shameful performances in the modern NRL. Frankly, it was a disgraceful prank and an insult to paying club members and fans who basically flushed their money down the toilet for bothering to show up.

NRL sides are far from equal when it comes to talent and there are plenty of Tigers who would struggle to earn a starting spot at other clubs, but the effort, pride in performance and the professionalism as an athlete are simply non-negotiable expectations.

In the 74-0 loss, Wests coach Tim Sheens received little to none of the above and in a performance that was somewhat uncomfortable to watch, his players effectively gave up.

Aside from Alex Twal’s 31st-minute sin, there were no unusual events or considerations to excuse what happened, with a Cowboys try occurring on average at one in every six minutes.

Tim Sheens received little to no effort from his players in the 74-0 loss to the Cowboys. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

Yes the Tigers are outplayed across the park by North Queensland and sometimes the tries can be racked up late as fatigue grows and scores increase but the obvious lack of commitment sets in almost immediately and a deficit 42-0 at halftime suggests The Wests weren’t interested from the start.

The level at which a team is activated is most accurately reflected in the defense and 54 missed tackles pretty much says it all about the NRL’s worst performance of 2023.

A defeat is a defeat and all teams are well used to dealing with disappointment, the media and repercussions for the club as a whole, but the game at large suffers when a team checks two-thirds through the season.

Simply, the ARL Commission should ask the Tigers to explain themselves. As a show it was an annoyance for the competition and in a professional environment it’s something that simply should never happen.

However, Wests weren’t the only side to embarrass the Round 18 game. The Bulldogs came close to leveling them for their efforts in a 66-0 loss to Newcastle on Sunday afternoon at the Accor Stadium.

In perfect weather and in front of just over 11,000 fans, Canterbury had their loyal supporters in a chorus of half-time boos – down 30-0 to a side sitting just a rung above them on the premier scale.

The blues and whites deserved every one of those boos and as first-year coach Cameron Ciraldo, sitting helpless in the box watching the Knights romp in 11 tries, the very fabric of what is increasingly looking like a broken club continues to be questioned.

The Bulldogs had a significant injury list earlier in the season but have plenty of back troops on deck and just can’t say that what we saw against Newcastle was anything other than a non effort that has compounded the problems evident in their previous two performances.

Canterbury conceded 34 to the Eels on June 12, 48 to the away-from-home Sharks a week later, enjoyed the bye and then obediently succumbed to the Knights; 148 points against in three weeks and a monstrous 473 at this stage of the season.

Canterbury Bulldogs fans

Bulldogs fans had nothing to celebrate against the Knights. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

I’ve never seen kennel fans more disgusted by a performance than they were last Sunday, standing around booing, leaving the floor en masse or commenting comically on social media in the aftermath. -match the joke their team had become.

It’s not pleasant to watch, but as paying fans they were well within their rights to do so and essentially, correct.

As fans we can bear our team losing when the effort is there, but after 40 years in the game I have learned that the one thing that most cringes the rugby league faithful, it is the lack of effort.

No matter what coaches, clubs, players or officials might say, neither the Tigers nor the Bulldogs came to play football last weekend, plain and simple, they didn’t compete.

I love the sports analogy of trying and “really trying”, something both teams will have thought about in preparation for Round 19. What the Tigers throw against the Sharks on Thursday night is anyone’s guess and the Dogs meet the weakened Origin Rabbits on Sunday.

Results aside, hopefully they show up and try their luck.


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