Reds Thrashed Again - Now to Twist the Knife

The only thing worse than the Reds winning the Super Rugby title last year was the smugness of their supporters. With their descent into their historical status quo over the last three weeks, those supporters have gone strangely quiet.

The bloke who was sledging you at work and the token banana bender in the tipping comp are making barely a peep, and if they do it's just to remind Waratahs supporters of how crap their own team is going.

That may be true, but a true Tahs supporters takes the good with bad in the same way as they know that night follows day. You shrug your shoulders and move on. Wins are celebrated, losses are expected and taken in good grace (OK, maybe the occasional 'boo') and if you're into Chinese philosophy then the ying and yang aspects of all this are apparently a good thing.

But if anything has been learnt from the recent plight of the Reds it is that they are a band of over rated club footy players who were carried on the shoulders of a freakish five-eighth whose stepping and dancing could bedazzle provincial Rugby teams but was ultimately found out and worked out at international level. Add to that a winger whose post try celebrations have only been outdone in the wanker category by Danny Cipriani and you have a recipe that included too much sugar and not enough meat.

Will Genia has been lauded as World XV standard, but if true greatness is the ability to shine in a sea of mediocrity, then Genia has shown that when the going get tough he couldn't get going. Suddenly Genia is looking less like the messiah and more like George Gregan, indeed if he shaved his head the transformation would be total. Slow and crabbing across the field and getting in the way of teammates, Genia is a one-man band as lonely and pathetic as Woodley without Lano.

The front row of Daley, Hanson and Slipper are living on reputation, Van Humphries is an honest but limited toiler and James Horwill is putting the fear into no one even if he ends each game as a bloody pulp. Horwill may be trying to lead his team by example but clearly his teammates can't handle the batterings that he can. Just because you can throw yourself into a maul face first doesn't mean you're any good.

Scott Higginbotham's claim to fame is that he plays every minute of every game and keeps Beau Robinson on the bench, another player who's been found out and also realised that enthusiasm can only take you so far. Sometimes it would be helpful to actually have some skill.

Radike Samo is another player struggling to make the starting line up in a team that keeps losing, an insult's insult. A winger trapped in a loose forward's body, he is too slow for the backs and not tough enough for the forwards. A couple of runaway tries in open play may make for great TV and contribute to a cult following, but the hard work is done at the bottom of ruck and in a defensive line.

There's also a bunch of other backs but even Rod Davies and Dom Shipperly, the next big things, have come back to earth with a thud. They might have speed but it's not enough at this level.

And finally Ewen McKenzie, the next supposed big thing in coaching and that's not just a reference to the old prop's ability to consume Big Macs. He's a fantastic writer and one day his SMH ramblings will make for a good book, but even he's learning that coaching the Waratahs and dealing with the expectations of their supporters was a breeze compared to the mass hysteria and group-thinking of a State that only knows how to vote for one political party at a time. A whole alphabet of plans stored on the hard drive of his laptop can't save him this time no matter how many times he looks at it.

Kicking the Reds while they're down may be cruel but at least it's more fun than the Waratah's roller coaster ride. Still, at least roller coasters follow every down with an up. The Reds have come off the rails completely. Long may it last.


Bailey said…
Have to say I have never rated Horwill as a world class lock. Have no idea how he was made Aussie Captain. Probably got it off the back of the Reds success, but I believe someone like Nathan Sharpe still shows far more leadership than him. Probably slightly over the hill now though. What about Pocock for Aussie captain?