There are times when we wonder if it is the games themselves or the behind-the-scenes drama that attracts us to the NRL, but it is truly a moot question, since the answer switches according to our whims and in the final measure, the answer is irrelevant.
Earlier, fairly recently, we gave Newcastle high marks for permitting Nathan Brown to finish out the season as the Knights’ head coach.
It was a magnanimous gesture, although it immediately raised the issue of why the club went public with its announcement to replace Brown while the season was still ongoing with the Knights actually having at least the mathematical potential of qualifying for finals.
At this point in the season, Newcastle has nothing on. They beat New Zealand in Round 24, but if anyone were to suggest it was the high water mark of a season gone sour, it would have to be said that there is quite a drought in Hunter.
Newcastle does not even enjoy the potential of causing turmoil in the top eight. They finish with Penrith, another club with nowhere to go and all day to get there.
As was widely expected, the Knights have succeeded in coaxing Adam O’Brien away from the Roosters with a three-year deal that may or may not include three years’ to make something of what is considered an adequate list. O’Brien also has a bullet point on his resume from his time with the Melbourne Storm club.
Brown, now former Newcastle coachBrown, was responsible for the rebuild of the playing list of the Knights, but that rebuild did not deliver in line with expectations, as the Knights did nothing other than capture two spoons since Brown took over in 2016.
Newcastle ultimately was the bystander, with Brown making the call to accept the inevitable ahead of the club’s timetable.
There were some suggestions that the Newcastle club was sabotaged by CEO Phil Gardner’s pursuit of a replacement for Brown while the club still had finals potential.
Despite the gloom, the Knights played finals in 2013, finishing seventh on the ladder and beating Canterbury and Melbourne before being embarrassed by eventual premiers Sydney in the Preliminary final.