A lot has been said and written about the Newcastle Knights in recent months.
At first, it wasn’t good, however it’s amazing how a few wins changes everything.
Now, they are the darlings of the Hunter… and the hottest ticket in town after their past two NRL fixtures were sold out at McDonald Jones Stadium.
And, this is where we need to praise those behind the scenes, especially Peter Parr.
It would have been easy to dump coach Adam O’Brien mid-season when the criticism started to flow freely in certain sections of the media.
Most of us had even heard the rumours that the mentor was “out the door” and set to be replaced, with ex-Gold Coast Titans leader Justin Holbrook mentioned, especially after Newcastle was thumped by the Parramatta Eels.
But, the Knights refused to buckle to the outside noise and remained confident in their man.
And, hasn’t it paid off?
The side last lost a match on 24 June, a close 20-12 battle with two-time premiers Penrith Panthers.
Since then, Newcastle has claimed the scalps of the Canterbury Bulldogs twice (66-0 and 42-6), Wests Tigers (34-18), Melbourne Storm (26-18), Canberra Raiders (28-6), Dolphins (30-28), South Sydney Rabbitohs (29-10) and Cronulla Sharks (32-6).
They’re now in the top eight and likely to host a play-off fixture next weekend, irrespective of how they go against the St George Illawarra Dragons in the final round.
I guess, the morale of the story is: show faith in the people around you.
The board, CEO Philip Gardner and director of football Parr continued to back O’Brien, even during the tough times, while the players rallied for him, too.
All of a sudden, everything clicked into gear… and life’s good.
Too often these days, clubs are quick to pull the trigger at the slightest hint of negativity.
However, the Knights held their nerve and stayed strong in their “bubble”.
Rival organisations like the Bulldogs, Dragons and Tigers – to name a few – could learn a thing or two.
What if Wests had stuck solid with Michael Maguire, who was trying to change the culture at the embattled outfit?
Surely, they’d be higher up the ladder, instead of claiming a second successive wooden spoon.
Of course, we’ll never know, but it’s food for thought.
There’s a saying that when the Knights are travelling well, rugby league is travelling well.
So, the code must be in a great position at the moment.
Not such a Black day for Maitland rugby
Lengthy droughts, and hoodoos, all add to the theatre of any sport.
Remember when the Parramatta Eels won their first premiership back in 1981, likewise when the Cronulla Sharks did it in 2016?
They captured the hearts of everyone.
Just recently, a local rugby union club, the Maitland Blacks, achieved a great feat by winning its first title in 24 years.
The 32-26 victory over Premier 1 opponents Merewether Carlton was not only a thrilling result, but lifted the spirits of the community, too.
Well done to each and every member of the Blacks.
For more sports stories:
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- Young Hunter athletes suffering as cost of living rises
- Newcastle athlete freediving into world record attempt
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