playing group – Michmutters

Geelong Cats premiership favorites but fixture curveball, defeat St Kilda Saints, Nathan Buckley on Best On Ground

Geelong veteran Zach Tuohy believes there’s a different feeling about his playing group in 2022 compared to past seasons after the Cats claimed their 11th straight win on Saturday night.

But while seven-time All-Australian Nathan Buckley believes the Cats are “primed at the right time of the year and on top of the ladder for a reason”, he holds some concerns about how “hardened” the Cats could be come September, with clashes against two bottom-10 opponents to come over the final two home and away rounds.

The Cats on Saturday cemented their spot inside the top four with a 45-point win over St Kilda at GMHBA Stadium. It means the Cats will earn a double chance in finals for a fourth straight season – and the ninth time in 12 seasons under coach Chris Scott.

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The narrative around Geelong at this time of the year in recent seasons has been whether they’re able to translate their home and away form into a finals campaign, consistently reaching the preliminary final stage since 2013 but falling short of a flag.

Speaking on Fox Footy’s Best On Ground on Saturday night, Tuohy said there was something different about the 2022 Cats.

“We’ve certainly always felt we’re in with a big shout coming to the pointy end of the year, but this year kind of does have a different smell to it,” Tuohy told Fox Footy.

“I’m not sure you can shut down one or two of our players and think it’s going to effect the result too much, which is a great problem to have.”

Asked if the Cats were the clear No. 1 seed heading into finals, triple premiership Lion Jonathan Brown told Best On Ground: “I think so. They’re building something nicely, they just seem to be very complete.

“I just have more confidence in the game style they play. I think it’ll stack up better in September.”

Saints champion Nick Riewoldt added Roo: “That style they played that brought them unstuck – in finals in particular under the fierce pressure – that control game, they can flick to it and still go to it, but they’re less inclined to start games like it

“I think they’re just far more potent on offense than they have been in recent times and they haven’t given up much defensively.”

After a tough five-game run against finals contenders, the Cats now face Gold Coast (11th) and West Coast (17th) to finish their home and away game.

Buckley suggested it’s “not the best way to finish the home and away season”.

“You want to be hardened because you get that week off between home and away and finals, so if there’s anything that’s not working for Geelong, it might be those couple of games,” he told Best On Ground. “But they’ve taken it all before them.”

Isaac Smith of the Cats is in stellar form. Picture: Darrian TraynorSource: Getty Images

But Buckley said the changes the Cats had made personnel-wise over the past 12 months would put them in good stead for a shot at this year’s flag.

“Sam De Koning down back, Tyson Stengle up forward, Jeremy Cameron’s up and about, Zach Guthrie played a really good game tonight and Tom Atkins through the midfield – five players they’ve found this year they didn’t have last year,” he said.

“They’ve always had a deep squad and players that can come in and play the roles, but they just seem to be deeper again this year.

“The other two are Max Holmes, who’s a young player that’s getting it done, and at the other end of the spectrum is Isaac Smith – those two are running players getting up and down the ground in front of the ball. Brad Close is another … I mean Sam Menegola wasn’t even in the 22 and he comes in and he’s a legitimate AFL player.

“They’re really well placed and that depth of squad they’ve been able to put together with shrewd trading and recruiting, salary cap management – ​​they’ve done well.”



Adelaide pre-season camp, Don Pyke apologises, ex-coach’s role, Eddie Betts, Josh Jenkins, Bryce Gibbs claims

Former Adelaide coach Don Pyke has apologized for the 2018 pre-season camp amid growing scrutiny of his role in it, as players continue to speak out.

On Saturday Bryce Gibbs joined Josh Jenkins and Eddie Betts as past Adelaide players opening up on their disturbing experiences.

Gibbs backed up Jenkins and Betts’ claims, including about counselors asking the players for personal information which was then used to abuse them during camp rituals.

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Jenkins revealed during the now-infamous ‘harness’ incident he asked Pyke and Crows development manager Heath Younie why it was taking place, telling them “we lost a game of footy (the 2017 Grand Final), we are all good people, this is rubbish and I think we should all leave”.

Crows higher-ups have also been criticized for their handling of the camp fall-out, with Jenkins claiming the club told players it had signed confidentiality agreements on their behalf, and that after Indigenous players’ reaction to the camp, it was suggested they as a group would be excluded from the leadership program.

The Herald Sun’s Mark Robinson wrote this weekend: “Coach Don Pyke, who was on the camp and surely aware of the distress and distrust growing within his playing group, needed to be better.

“I needed to stop it. Someone had to and he was coach.”

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Now a Swans assistant, Pyke delivered an apology while speaking to media at Melbourne Airport on Saturday.

“To Josh and Eddie and the Adelaide players and staff who were involved, I apologize for the camp. It’s saddened me to see they’re feeling that way. I acknowledge the hurt and I’m sorry,” he said.

“I’ve been in contact with both of them, haven’t had a chance to speak to them yet but have spoken to a couple of the other guys. Clearly it’s a sad time for us all. I’ll reach out to some other guys in the next couple of days.

“Clearly we’re always reflecting, there’s a couple of components there – firstly with Eddie and Josh, the fact they feel personal information they provided was used against them, that’s disappointing and unacceptable. I’m saddened by that, sorry for that.

“Clearly we entered as I’ve said before, a space to improve from a performance viewpoint. And that space had some challenges and we got it wrong, that has to be acknowledged. Whether it was our planning, whether it was our assessment, the execution or the follow-up or the debriefing following the events of the camp, clearly it was an error and I’ve apologized to the playing group before and I apologise again.

“I respect Eddie and Josh for speaking out and saying their piece about how they felt about the camp. It’s put it on the agenda and on the table for discussion. It’s important we have the discussion to try and deal with the issues that arise from that.

“If there’s still people with ongoing issues we support them and we try and actually move on from this. It’s a challenging time for all of us but one that we’ll hopefully get through.”

Pyke was also asked whether he believed his role in the camp would impact his chances of getting another senior coaching role, such as at GWS, but said that it was “for others” to discuss.



Newcastle Knights, Adam O’Brien, David Klemmer future, news, latest, transfers, Sam Walker, Rabbitohs, Latrell Mitchell

The divide in the Newcastle dressing room has been simmering for the past few months with Knights coach Adam O’Brien telling the playing group after a recent loss: “I know what you blokes are saying about me. I’m going nowhere.”

The point blank message from O’Brien can be revealed as the Knights go into damage control in the wake of the coach’s loose carry press conference last Sunday.

O’Brien fronted the media again on Tuesday to try and walk things back off the cliff but by that stage the cracks in the Newcastle dressing room had been prized wide open.

The David Klemmer situation has only driven a further wedge into the struggling club which has only managed five wins out of 19 games this year.

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The Knights started this season full of optimism after back-to-back wins over the Sydney Roosters and Wests Tigers before going on a run of seven losses leading into Magic Round.

It’s been slim pickings since with Newcastle now having the worst defensive record in the NRL having leaked 522 points at an average of 27.47 points per game along with currently having the worst differential in the competition of minus 238 points.

There’s no question O’Brien’s penchant for a blow-up is wearing thin with elements of the Newcastle playing group.

The problem for O’Brien is in 2022 it’s so much easier to get rid of a head coach than it is to completely try and turn over a roster.

The old saying goes you’ve never really been a head coach until you’ve lost four games in a row and the heat is on – which is exactly where O’Brien finds himself now.

‘AT A TIPPING POINT’: Knights at a crossroads, O’Brien feels for running ‘soft ship’

David Klemmer’s future at Newcastle is clouded. NRL PHOTOSSource: The Daily Telegraph

The Knights are adamant O’Brien will remain as the head coach next season but the biggest immediate challenge the Newcastle coach faces is getting the playing group all back on the same page.

New Director of Football Peter Parr has arrived at Newcastle and could only be shaking his head at the bun fight he’s walked into.

O’Brien is signed with Newcastle until the end of 2024 which if the Knights stay the course would mean he’s had a five-year tenure at the club.

After the events of the past week it’s now become blatantly clear the Knights coach needs a fast start to next season to ensure his own job security.

Let’s call the Klemmer play from Newcastle for what it is – the Knights are clearly trying to free up some money to try and go in a different direction next season.

Klemmer is on $800,000-plus which would give Newcastle some serious money to go to the open market with.

Plenty of ex-players are happy to tell you middle forwards often protest against being dragged from the field.

Newcastle have clearly identified they no longer want the ex-NSW and Australian prop at the Knights and so have started the process of steering him towards another club.

Adam O’Brien has come under scrutiny this week. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images


The Sydney Roosters are set to launch a multi-million dollar play aimed at keeping young gun halfback Sam Walker at the Tricolours long-term.

Walker, 20, will be a free agent for rival clubs to approach as of November 1 but like all the good clubs the Roosters will try and make sure they strike a deal well beforehand.

The other rookie who has everyone talking at the Chooks is emerging superstar Joseph Suaalii. The Roosters clearly value his contribution to the team at the point where champion frontrower Jared Waerea-Hargreaves has been bringing him into leading the club’s team song over the past fortnight.

Jared has long been the Roosters leader in charge of leading the team song. Even after the Roosters were disappointed with their round 20 win over Manly, JWH still insisted on Suaalii riding shot gun with him leading the celebrations.

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THE Gold Coast Titans aren’t the only club having a crack at signing Sydney Roosters hooker Sam Verrills.

The St George Illawarra Dragons are also making a play for the premiership-winning no.9.

Where it gets interesting is the Dragons have had a tough conversation with current hooker Andrew McCullough.

McCullough, 32, still has a year to run on his contract next season but the Red V are clearly exploring going in a different direction.

McCullough is one of the ex-Broncos clique of Dragons players who enjoys a close rapport with Red V coach Anthony Griffin.

The hooker, Dragons captain Ben Hunt and Josh Maguire all played in an under 20s grand finale with the Broncos in 2008 when Griffin was the coach.

‘This is what gives me the s****!’ | 02:04


The Wests Tigers putting the band back together with Tim Sheens, Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah is a smart play from the struggling club.

What’s equally as smart is Farah’s new contract stipulating that he’s also set to learn the ropes in terms of front office administration with the club.

The Tigers have long been laughed at by rival clubs about the way the club has been run.

Getting a figurehead like Farah who has bled for the club more hands-on in this department makes a lot of sense.


We told you last week how South Sydney had a delicate $6 million balancing act on their hands around the re-signings of superstar fullback Latrell Mitchell and five-eighth star Cody Walker.

We were told there was a big chance the two key position players would wait until after November 1 to re-commit to South Sydney.

The Rabbitohs have swiftly moved to try and nip the scenario in the bud by meeting with the star duo earlier this week.

Both Latrell and Cody are off-contract at the end of next season but with talks progressing positively there’s every chance they can soon re-commit to the Bunnies.

It will be a huge coup for the red and green club and also for CEO Blake Solly.



Manly pride jersey saga, players angry, text messages, emergency meeting, LGBTQIA jersey, news, highlights, Roosters clash, finals race

Fuming Sea Eagles players reportedly sent angry text messages to each other after the decision of seven teammates to stand down from the club’s crucial Roosters clash.

According to The Daily Telegraph, the players demanded to know why the seven players in question put the Sea Eagles’ final hopes in danger over the pride jersey saga.

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With their season in danger of imploding, the Manly playing group then organized an emergency meeting on Sunday hoping to smooth things over and mend relationships ahead of the last five rounds of the regular season.

Reports suggest the squad relieved tensions prior to the group’s return to training.

The emergency meeting was reportedly sparked by a breakfast between Josh Aloiai, one of the players who boycotted the match, Jake Trbojevic, Lachlan Croker and another team member.

Aloiai alongside Tolutau Koula, Haumole Olakau’atu, Jason Saab, Josh Schuster, Toafofoa Sipley and Christian Tuipulotu refused to play on religious grounds, angering teammates.

The Daily Telegraph’s Phil Rothfield provided details on the crisis meeting on Big Sports Breakfast.

“The club brought in a professional mediator to get the group of players to get together to try and get a sympathetic understanding from both sides,” Rothfield said.

“I don’t think they’re ever going to agree on the fact that the players did the right thing by withdrawing from the match last week but what they want is for the players who did play to get a better understanding of what and why they did it.

“That’s why everything was put on the table yesterday and there were discussions.

“I was told late last week the risk amongst the players in the team was basically it was not reversible it was quite deep and the boys who did play and played very bravely against the Roosters could not comprehend why their teammates took such drastic actions.

“I think after they got together yesterday there is an understanding, I still think there’s a very long way to go before it is completely sorted out to a satisfactory position where they’re prepared to like all NRL clubs to have full time camaraderie and strengths and spirit.

“I think you can call it an uneasy trick between the players.”

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It comes amid fears within the playing group that the pride jersey saga could continue next season after players denied they would be willing to don the kit in 2023.

“I’m certainly aware the playing group is getting together,” Manly chairman Scott Penn said on Big Sports Breakfast last week.

“It’s really important everyone gets together and just talks it through. There needs to be a ‘clear-the-air’ session which is perfectly normal in these circumstances.”

“There’s not a deep divide which has been reported but I think there is some frustration in terms of the way all this played out.

“I met with six of the seven – Josh (Aloiai) was injured and wasn’t training but I spoke to him a little bit later. They are very determined and they were put in a difficult position but there are absolutely no hard feelings at all. As I discussed with them at the time, their focus now is on Parramatta.

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“The seven were very clear in their view and religious beliefs and we totally respected that. They have copped it from certain circles and that is unfortunate because we didn’t ever want to put them in that position.

“We will see a very cohesive team for the next five weeks. It was an emotional week and the circumstances put everyone in a difficult position.”

Reports suggest the meeting was not to try and change views, but to clear the air and find a common group as to why the group stood down.

As it stands, the Sea Eagles sit in 10th place, one win behind the Roosters and Raiders.

Des Hasler’s side will face the Eels, Titans, Sharks, Raiders and Bulldogs to close out the season, and every game is a must-win encounter.



Giants coach Mark McVeigh slams own team after Sydney Swans thrashing

The GWS Giants have been lambasted by interim coach Mark McVeigh who said the club was embarrassed in their 17.10 (112) to 5.9 (39) thumping in the Sydney Derby and questioned whether some of his players had “checked out”.

The Sydney Swans victory was courtesy of their highest margin in a derby since 2015 and further incurred humiliation on a Giants outfit that have won only five games for the season and now sit in a 16th position.

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It’s a horrible predicament for a list still laden with so much talent and that prompted McVeigh to lash out post-game.

“We embarrassed our club,” he said.

“They’re far superior to us at the moment, clearly. It’s an unfortunate part of dealing with whether players have checked out or not.”

“I’m extremely disappointed with our midfield as a whole today. It’s just pure work rate and effort. Wanting to defend, wanting to tackle. The motivation should be how proud you are of you as a player and how proud you are of playing for the Giants.”

McVeigh said only eight players in Sam Taylor, Harry Perryman, Josh Kelly, Callan Ward, Adam Kennedy, Lachie Whitfield, Jesse Hogan and Toby Greene “went to the wall” and fought through until the end of the game.

The former Essendon great said he spent a long time in the rooms with the players after the game and sat in silence to see what responses were elicited from the playing group.

I have added that there needs to be a leadership change over in the playing group at the club.

“Without going too much into it we got some good honest feedback from our peers and players which is good. Some players spoke up that you don’t often hear from which is what we need from this club going forward.”

McVeigh singled out two players as future leaders of the club in Harry Perryman, who did an excellent job tagging Swans jet Chad Warner and Sam Taylor who was supreme at the back yet again as he pushes for an All-Australian guernsey and first best and fairest award.

“He is severely dominating games. I’d hate to think if he wasn’t playing how many goals they would have kicked. He’s a star, absolute star,” McVeigh said.

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