Like a Lamb to the slaughter

Lining up the last gasp penalty at Belmore Sports Ground yesterday evening, Newcastle Knights halfback Brock Lamb couldn't have begun to imagine what was about to transpire.

Not only did the 20-year-old have to deal with the indignity of missing the penalty goal that could have sent the game into Golden Point, he was also hit with a barrage of criticism on social media in the moments after the match concluded.

Lamb was in a position that he hardly volunteered for. The second string kicker at the Knights was thrust into the limelight when regular kicker Trent Hodkinson didn't feel his troublesome knee could reach the distance. He had no time to prepare and had done zero goal kicking warm up pre-game, after being a late inclusion at the expense of Jaelen Feeney.

Sure - it wasn't a great strike, hell that's probably an understatement, but the kid had turned in a very good 75 minutes prior to the penalty strike and the grubber minutes earlier that Moses Mbye had swooped upon to score the match winning try.

Us NRL fans are a fickle lot aren't we? One week a player is a villian for missing a tackle or dropping a ball. Next they are cheered and raised to almost God-like status as they score the winning try in the next game. It doesn't take long for us to change our tunes on players, and considering the way that Lamb has held himself after this mishap is admirable.

Yes the NRL is a results business and yes I am well aware the frustration and hurt the Knights fans are feeling at the moment as their winless streak away from home continues on. However there needs to be a much better way of handling this situation.

Lamb is 20 years old. How well adapted were you at handling criticism when you were that age? I know even at my age in my mid 20's I still cringe when people criticise my work whether it be in the commentary area or in journalism.

Lamb would have been playing both of those kicks over and over in his head after the game and will probably continue to do so for the next couple of weeks. He will be beating himself up over it and the last thing he needs is to have the boot laid in by armchair critics, most of whom that wouldn't have any idea of the pressure it takes when you're confronted with that kind of situation.

I was appalled to see people who have a big influence in the media crucifying Lamb for giving his best shot. Along with the large majority of the Knights team, he is young and inexperienced. These defeats will galvanise Brock and his teammates, helping them further down to track into molding them not only into a better footy team but better men.

The NRL has shown an increased influence and promotion when it comes to mental health as the likes of Greg Inglis, Darius Boyd and Josh Dugan have spoken out about the battles with playing professional sport along with keeping a healthy mind and battling the inner thoughts. While not for a minute am I saying Lamb has a mental illness or that these comments will contribute to one, I do think we as fans and media need to be mindful of what we say and the repercussions it can have on individuals.

As for Brock Lamb and where he goes from here. I think the only way is up for the youngster. He has shown maturity above his years in his stay in the top grade and if it were not for the shambolic state that the Knights had been left in when Nathan Brown took the helm there is a good chance Lamb would still be plying his trade in the Holden Cup.

As he develops the experience to go along with his solid organisational skills, good running lanes and his solid defence out wide, Lamb will develop into a very dependable first grader for the Novacastrians.

Don't be surprised to see him bounce back sooner rather than later.

Chin up young man!