Normally this is a question asked about our first grade line-up on game day but I feel compelled to ask this of my fellow Saints? fans.
For the last week, all we have read in newspapers and Internet forums is dribble about problems within the ranks at the club. Every club has problems yet ours seem magnified by the supporters? more specifically the hangers-on who have to leak this information to forums on fan sites for further speculation. This has got to stop. These people who profess to support the club are hurting it more by spreading this rumour and innuendo. Why they feel the need to do it is beyond me but some reason could be seen as the hype it creates and talk amongst the fans of the one of the most famous clubs in the game.
Now to on-field matters. Whilst our form through trials has been below par, there have been reasons for this. Several players are missing at the moment and others are playing below their best? so what? They are trials for goodness sake. Our trial form in 2002, 2003 and 2004 was exemplary but that didn?t translate into great starts in the regular season when it counted. Looking historically, our last two Grand Final appearances came off the back of fairly average trial form. In 1996, we have less than 10 players in early January, beat Souths in the Charity Shield but than played poorly in trials before getting our next win on Easter Monday against Newcastle once the core of the side returned. In 1999, we lost our first two matches after losing both our trials and made the Grand Final and played well when it mattered most.
Many of us are hard markers on performance of the club but there has been far too much rubbish comment on the side?s performance thus far this year. Many are quick to forget that if you have highly paid players in your side, it provides an imbalance in your salary cap and the subsequent result in that when these highly paid players are out, depth is tested with players on much less than the average NRL wage of $130,000. At the end of the day, many of us can handle losing if we have seen the players give everything in their pursuit of winning the game but the lack of commitment against Souths in the Charity Shield worried a lot of fans. For most people, 17 fully committed players in the Red V is just as important attribute as winning. From reports on the weekend, Saints? kids showed a lot more commitment against Manly and played reasonably well. This will give the youngsters confidence for the day they are thrown in the top grade when undoubtedly a more experienced player is missing. It?s not all doom and gloom as some fans have made it out to be.
In Round 1, we have Canterbury away which is always a test of mental and physical strength. Canterbury are very physical side but provided we get Cooper, Simmonds, Ennis, Head and Barrett back and our forwards (especially the youngsters Sims, Poore and Young) step up to the mark and match them, I think we can get them in a close one. The key is mental preparation and attitude. When Saints come out ready to play, we are hard to contain and this is undoubtedly one of the most frustrating aspects of supporting this club. However, consistency and loyalty amongst the fans (both those at the ground and not at the ground) is required as we search for consistency on the field. I?ll be there as often as commitments allow me to be there? through the good and the bad, chanting and singing my lungs out with the rest of the Dragon Army. As much as we need consistency and commitment on the field, it is required just as much off the field. So stop sooking, whining, whinging etc. for the time being and start believing and supporting. The season is far too long to worry about two lacklustre trials. I?m in for the long haul? join myself and many others and see you on the terraces.