41 hours ago
When siege mentality becomes victim mentality: why the Raiders are almost cooked for 2018
Victim mentality: the belief that one is always a victim - the idea that bad things will always happen to one. Exhibit A: Ricky Stuart and the Canberra Raiders.
In the other corner, as responsible for their actions as a team you'll ever see: Ivan Cleary's Wests Tigers.
After only three rounds of the season, these teams are already world's apart.
There was, if you remember, a time when Stuart had siege down to a fine art. Every once and a while his players bought in and before you knew it, Ricky's boys were in a semi-final. But what happens when the siege is no more? You can't play Steven Seagal running around a navy battleship picking off henchmen forever. At some point you have to come up for air.
Canberra are 0-3 to start 2018. Not because they've been wronged by referees but because siege has become victim. The players expect to lose now and they don't even know it.
The Raiders have lost their three games by a combined total of five points. They should be 3-0. They've forgotten how to win because there's no ownership - no responsibility. They led 19-12 against the Warriors on the weekend with a few minutes to play. Bam! Just like that! Shaun Johnson? End of story, Raiders.
What did Stuart do? While he played the siege card, we saw victim. He called out NRL CEO Todd Greenberg because the bunker fairly ruled no try on a Junior Paulo touchdown that would have given Canberra a 25-6 lead.
"It should've been 25-6 because that obstruction try was a try. We lost a game last week on an obstruction try that we thought was obstruction, but no it was a try," Stuart said.
"We have not identified what's an obstruction in this game. And I'll get called a whinger and a sook, but that doesn't worry me what people think and say about me."
Siege, victim, siege.
But Peter Sterling quickly put him in his place the following day on The Sunday Footy Show.
"What Ricky needs to address is the fact they led by seven points with five minutes to go and allowed the Warriors to march 70 metres, twice, to get Shaun Johnson in field-goal range," Sterling said.
"From the restart Lisone took it 20 metres until he met the defence and all of a sudden Shaun Johnson is only 25 metres out. And before that Isaac Luke scored the softest try you've ever seen.
"The contributing factor in so many ways, taking out the obstruction or no obstruction, was the Canberra Raiders inability to defend that lead late through their own poor play."
Your winner, by knockout, Peter Sterling.
Then there's the Wests Tigers.
Look at their team right now. Journeymen, veterans, toilers, NSW Cup rejects, ex-crims. Some would argue Canberra has double the talent in their side. Yet all we're doing right now is admiring how committed the Wests Tigers are under Cleary.
No siege. No victims. They're just getting on with it.
Wests Tigers were robbed in golden point last Friday against Brisbane at Campbelltown when Robbie Rochow was ruled offside handing the Broncos a 9-7 victory.
Did they kick stones?
"It seems to me Robbie was onside, but at the end of the day it was the ref's decision and it's out of our hands. I thought it was valiant effort," Russell Packer said post-match.
"As Ivan said it just wasn't good enough, but we showed a lot of grit and a lot of character in that game to fight back and take it to golden point."
If things went differently on Friday, Wests could be 3-0 instead of 2-1. They're playing for each other and they're playing with the right attitude.
Canberra is just playing and waiting to blame someone.
To play the siege card from the start of the season is just asking for trouble. Stuart is yet to put any responsibility on his players. If they keep losing, it will soon be too late to put any kind of onus on the squad.
Then things could get really, really ugly for The Green Machine.
Maybe they could come up to Homebush on Monday and learn a few things from the Wests Tigers.
Curtis and the81stminute call team will be back on air with Steelesports after the Easter break. Happy Easter!