The Wrap round 25
THE WRAP: NRL Round 25
By STEVE MASCORD
BRISBANE prop Ben Hannant played on with two potentially serious injuries on Friday night in a vain bid to lift the Broncos into the finals.
There are 10 teams still in the running for the play-offs following the penultimate round of the 2013 season, with Brisbane crashing out of contention in a 26-18 defeat to Newcastle at Suncorp Stadium on Friday.
Hannant should be relishing an encounter with former club Canterbury to finish the campaign on Thursday but is in dire doubt after playing 48 minutes against the Knights despite shoulder and hand injuries.
“I hurt my shoulder and then my hand in the first set of six– that’s the way it is,” Hannant tells smithyspeaks.com.au. “I did my AC (joint).
“It’s just frustrating. The effort was there and it’s very disappointing really.
“We worked hard. We put ourselves in a good situation there at halftime, we got someone sent off (Sam Thaiday to the sin bin) and we scrambled well there near fulltime.
“Both teams wanted it and they came through the end better than us.”
The Broncos made a mid-season run towards the finals but ended up missing the play-offs for only the second time in 21 years.
“We always thought we were going to get there,” said Hannant.
“You play the game because you want to be there in the finals. We shot out of the box really well (against Newcastle), started playing some good footy, it’s just disappointing we couldn’t do it for 80 minutes.”
Asked what the Broncos had to do better in 2014, Hannant said: “It’s a tough one. That’s a question for the coach. I think all of us need to be better.”
The other sides to drip out of finals contention over the weekend were Penrith (beaten 34-14 by Canterbury) and Canberra (tonked 50-16 by the Warriors).
Penrith performed much better than many expected this season while Canberra has been hit by multiple dramas, with Blake Ferguson’s on-going problems, Josh Dugan and David Furner’s sackings, Anthony Milford’s release request and the Sandor Earl drugs infraction notice.
Asked if there was a way a club could minimise its chances of being embroiled in such controversies, caretaker coach Andrew Dunemann told this reporter: “I think you’ve got to set a culture and you’ve got to set some standards and you’ve got to maintain them.
“Obviously having a happy work environment as well. That’s the biggest area. You get their respect, you get the happy work environment and they want to do things right.
“…whereas, you know, I don’t think we’ve always been that way and we need to get that way.
“I honestly think that the staff that we’ve got there, and the playing group, when everyone’s fit we’ve got the team to do very well.
“But I think structurally, the way we do things, needs an overhaul in all areas, to be honest.
“… whether it’s the medical, whether it’s the strength and conditioning, whether it’s the actual football.
“But what we’ve got there is a good crew of staff and given the chance, they could do really well.”
BEST OF ROUND 25: The carnival atmosphere and festival footy at Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday. Three hat-tricks, with Manu Vatuvei scoring one try for each of his baby girls, the most recent of whom was born when he was away in round 24.
WORST OF ROUND 25: The photo in Sunday’s News Limited press, allegedly of Ben Barba’s former partner, with a bloodied lip. Could there be a logical explanation for this being covered up for the last six months?
WEIRDEST OF ROUND 25: Both coaches being asked after Monday Night Football if they thought they would still be at their respective clubs next year. Then again, it was 15th versus 16th.
WHAT I SAW: Raiders assistant coach Brett Kimmorley on the early, early flight from Auckland to Sydney on Sunday morning. Check-in time, 2am NSW time.
QUOTE OF ROUND 25: “Do you want me here, Dean?” Ricky Stuart when asked by Daily Telegraph reporter Dean Ritchie whether he would be at Parramatta next season.