ANZAC Rookies Frustrate Fans

Photo by S.Alexander

Stephen Kearney has frustrated Rugby League fans with an apparent façade over questionable selections for New Zealand’s ANZAC clash. The most notable being the axing of Jared Waerea-Hargreaves.

Kearney has come under scrutiny over the selection of a shocking six debutants, while looking over star players such as Waerea-Hargreaves, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Sam Kasiano, and Frank Paul Nuuausala.

Kearney stated this morning that their policy revolves around wanting “to pick the team on form and obviously with the future in mind.” This vision for a team is all well and true, but how can Kearney justify the omission of Waerea-Hargreaves?

The Roosters wrecking-ball is regarded as one of the best props in the game, and his statistics in last Fridays ANZAC clash with the Dragons reflect the influence he brings to a side. Hargreaves managed a brutal 17 runs for 156 metres, combined with a solid 23 tackles in an astonishing 49 minutes.

Although Hargreaves hasn’t stood out as much as previous seasons, his form for the Roosters and the big stage should be enough to validate selection. With Hargreaves only being 25 years of age, Kearney’s notion of picking the side with “the future in mind” is hard to explain.

When prompted as to why Waerea-Hargreaves wasn’t selected, Kearney stuck to his form and future policy.
“I think he (Jared) should be pretty disappointed. From our point of view Jared would certainly count himself unlucky, but there’s a number of guys who have been playing good football over the last couple of weeks who would be in Jared’s shoes also.” Kearney said.

“We’re not treating Jared any different to the other guys who missed out on selection also.”

Kearney is correct in his approach to
the equitable treatment of the axed superstars, as not one of the overlooked players previously mentioned are over 27 years of age. The fact that these stars which have such a wealth of experience between them, and by far and large should not be considered ‘too old’, have been overlooked for players who have arguably made the game redundant cannot be comprehended.

Kearney’s reasoning for overlooking SBW was also apparently down to the controversial future ideology, amidst speculation that the superstar was going to boycott the clash in response to the Stilnox controversy that haunted the New Zealand camp in the World Cup.

To be fair to Kearney his hands were tied in some circumstances, considering the horrible run of injuries his players have had. With a list of injured stars that Kearney explains would take “half an hour” to go through, debutant Isaac John’s calling from the NSW Cup is feasible. While Kearney has a fair explanation over the replacements for injured players, critics are still baffled over the Hargreaves mystery.

With this huge question mark over his tactics, and the sense that an issue lies deeper under the surface, Kearney spoke of the stars returning for the Four Nations clash later in the year, further reinforcing theories that the stars were dropped as a result of misdemeanours or poor on-field performances.

“The events of last year we’ve well and truly dealt with them and put them behind us.” Kearney said.

“Again we’re moving forward with what we think’s going to be best for the kiwi jumper. I’m here to tell you that I’m hoping Jared is part of the four nations and I’m hoping Shaun Kenny-Dowall will be part of the four nations at the end of the year.”
“When there is disappointment in your football career, the players who want to stand for something; normally they stand up and do their best to get back there. I expect no different.”

While Kearney brands the match up as “a wonderful ANZAC story” it’s a tough pill to swallow for the Sydney public, who are only left with the option to buy into a hopelessly one-sided and seemingly redundant match. With the idea of New Zealand fans losing their patience with the outfit, Kearney had the full support of Captain Simon Mannering.

“I guess for Stephen he wants to choose a side that he thinks can win this game on Friday and he’s done that. So we’ve just got to stand by that and make sure we perform well on the field.” Mannering said.

“They’re already picked because they can get their job done.”

“There’s no pressure on us, and no expectations from outside in.”

Sam Alexander

Find the story published on Sydney TAFE Media –

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