1991: 12th, 8 wins, 13 losses, 1 draw
1990: 5th, 14 wins, 8 losses. Won play-off
Semis: 1 loss
The Tigers started the season catastrophically, going winless until round
nine, but attracted more attention than the competition leaders. A revamped team
gradually turned the season around, presumably as former Australian Rugby Union
mentor Alan Jones settled into League and the players became accustomed to a
new, more open playing style.
Jones blooded many young players who were individually gifted and
complemented the superb tactical kicking of Brian Smith. Paul Sironen and Ben
Elias, and heavyweight prop Steve Edmed, missed huge slabs of the year and will
add class and clout to the pack in '92.
Jones is committed for another year.
The club is talking to many players, including Glenn Lazarus (Canberra).
Gary Freeman and Darren Clark are the only certain departures. Freeman sought
and received a release. Clark has returned to sprint training. It is believed
club stalwart Mick Neil wants to leave.
Steve Roach, Elias, Edmed and Sironen have the makings of an awesome pack.
Garry Jack is not showing any sign of slowing. Robinson and David Bayssari have
provided genuine pace. Brian Smith is up there with Matthew Ridge and Daryl
Halligan as a sharpshooter.
With a full complement of players there are few, if any. Jones is a
newcomer to League, but in itself that is meaningless. Perhaps the pack lacks a
"hitman" and the backline a "barnstorming" centre. Robinson may suffer
second-year blues, his gifts now well-known.
"We have made a tremendous investment in youth in Wayne Sing, Shane
O'Grady, Michael Brown, Jacin Sinclair, David Bayssari, Will Robinson and Martin
Masella. We had a horrendous run of injuries, as well as other obstacles. A
side must have something going for it if it can recover from an 8-0 (win-loss)
record to win seven of its last 11 games. But you're only as good as your last
1991: 7th, 13 wins, 9 losses
1990: 3rd, 16 wins, 5 losses, 1 draw
Semis: 1 win, 2 losses
Like Canberra and Penrith, the Broncos were robbed of players during the
representative season and needed only one more win to make the semi-finals.
In view of their late-season form, where they won six of their final seven
games, it is difficult to challenge coach Wayne Bennett's observation: "If we
had made the play-offs, we could have won."
The Broncos fear a second Brisbane team entering in '93. It would cut
their monopoly of Queensland players. Chief executive John Ribot says: "We must
service our debt and get our operation in solid mode before we get pressure from
a neighbouring club."
Bennett will start his fifth season.
Veterans Dale Shearer and Greg Dowling will leave and be joined by some of
the permanent reserve graders. Ribot says: "We would like to adopt the
Liverpool policy of bringing in one senior player every year. We are negotiating
with one high-profile forward."
Their backline. The Broncos lost international three-quarter Tony Currie
for the year but still found some talented backs. They also have a highly
respected coaching and training staff. It is becoming a young man's game and the
Broncos under-21s finished fourth.
The Broncos need a reliable goal-kicker. Terry Matterson will probably
kick in '92 but they lost six games on goal kicks.
They also lack experienced forwards. When Gene Miles and Dowling were
injured, Andrew Gee, at 21, was the most experienced.
Comments Bennett: "1991 showed me we are capable of beating the top teams
in the competition. We lost a lot of games we should have won, yet only finished
1 1/2 wins out of second place. In '92 we have to be a complete team for 22
"We had two bad performances, against St George in round one, and against
Easts, when there was no commitment."
1991: 6th, 13 wins, 8 losses, 1 draw
1990: 7th, 12 wins, 9 losses, 1 draw
Canterbury improved to tie for fifth place with Western Suburbs before
losing a memorable play-off 19-14.
They were aided by playing in the weaker half of the draw, but still had a
highly meritorious season and an attractive style after losing experienced and
effective contributors such as Andrew Farrar, Paul Langmack, David Gillespie,
Paul Dunn and Joe Thomas.
Looking good, as illustrated by a high finish in the club championship.
Chief executive Peter Moore has scoured - will scour - the countryside, and his
renowned eye for talent could produce another Ewan McGrady. Experienced, skilful
forwards are a priority.
Chris Anderson in charge again.
Some culling possible but no bloodbaths. Jonathan Davies will retire from
international football, and Canterbury are favoured to retain him. Inevitably
there are some country additions and, inevitably, a big-name surprise or two.
Bruce McGuire is a winner and accepting the responsibility is commensurate
with his representative status. Terry Lamb is still tops and McGrady is a great
attacker. Further improvement from the likes of Steve Reardon and Darren Smith
When a club loses Langmack and company, it's weakened. A couple of pacey
three-quarters and, more importantly, a 1974 vintage Arthur Beetson or Brad
Clyde would help. Neither are options, but a couple of forwards approaching that
standard would be handy.
Barry Nelson, the president of the Canterbury club, says: "It's been a
great year, a rebuilding year, and we've done better than anyone expected.
Suspensions cost us dearly but we played attractive football and the support in
the last few weeks was unbelievable.
"The success of the President's and Flegg Cup teams shows the future's
1991: 10th, 8 wins, 11 losses, 3 draws
1990: 10th, 11 wins, 11 losses
Cronulla lost their last five matches in 1990 to forfeit a certain
semi-final place, but were confidently expected to do better in 1991. Some even
predicted they could win the premiership, such was the on-paper strength of
their top 13.
A lack of player depth, absences through representative commitments and
injuries were reasons for the disappointment, but they don't fully explain it
Uncertain because of the internal strife illustrated by chief executive
Ron Massey's departure and player unrest. Arthur Beetson is an unknown commodity
after a three-season absence and will need autonomy in the conduct of football
for the club to revive.
Beetson's first year of two-year term.
Prominent players Jonathan Docking, Alan Wilson, Matthew Corkery, Arthur
Pappas, Mal Wheeler and Craig Teevan have been culled. Dan Stains is an expected
departee and more might follow after the retention committee completes its
Gavin Miller remains, and so do Michael Speechley, Andrew Ettingshausen
and Mark McGaw. It's not a bad base from which to rebuild.
On their good days, Cronulla still have the strikepower to match it with
Cronulla must get its house in order to attract the confidence of fans and
sponsors. A top-class, rugged, uncompromising hooker would be nice.
So would a scheming halfback and a penetrative fullback.
Massey says: We started badly but towards the end were as competitive as
any team. We came from 12 behind to draw with Manly, from 10 behind against St
George, beat Penrith and were beaten in the last seven seconds by Wests. It's
given Arthur something to work on. The nucleus is there to be competitive and
there are plenty of good young players coming through."
1991: 11th, 9 wins, 12 losses, 1 draw
1990: 14th, 6 wins, 15 loses, 1 draw
The re-re-return of Jack Gibson has ressurected loyalty and players from
other clubs no longer look on Bondi Junction as a place where they can be highly
paid for nothing. Similarly, with the elevation of local boy Craig Salvatori to
the international ranks, Easts' players know they don't have to go elsewhere
for recognition. But there is a "holding pattern" feeling about Easts: they are
in the competition but seem unlikely to take off.
"Que sera, sera," says Gibson. But he then checks himself: "We found out a
lot of good things this year. We're lacking in a couple of areas but we don't
need much more to up our tally of wins. But you can't just go down to the
7-Eleven and buy four players."
Mark Murray will enter his second year.
Experienced players Hugh McGahan and Paul Vautin have retired while David
Trewhella and David Smith have left. Terry Hill is also expected to leave for
"We're hopeful of scoring a couple of high-profile players," Murray says.
Gibson says: "Of the players coach Murray had, none slipped in '91, yet
Hill was our only addition. We produced (Mark) Protheroe (winger), Dennis
Beecraft, who had been sitting on the bench for reserve grade with an arse
bigger than Beetson's, and Jason Tassell."
"We have to do something about our defence which is not standing
up,"Gibson says. But the Roosters lack depth. After 17 weeks they were in
contention for the final five, but in the last few weeks, drained of their top
playing talent, became feather dusters.
"Overall, for 17 of 22 weeks we were competitive.
"I was disappointed with the scorelines in the last five weeks. But we
lacked experience in leadership to hold our game together at the end.
"We will continue to recruit young talent and a couple of high-profile
players to blend in.
"Next year can only be a step forward."
1991: 16th, 2 wins, 19 losses, 1 draw
1990: 15th, 4 wins, 18 losses
The statistics tell all, or almost all. Despite the arrival of Wally
Lewis, the chances of not so much a revival as a happy adolescence departed.
They started promisingly enough but withered as the season progressed. There
were rumblings about the relationship between Wally Lewis and coach Malcolm
Clift. The reserve-grade team became the first Seagulls to make the semi-finals.
They need only look at Canberra and Penrith.
Canberra struggled through, suffering bigger hidings than the Gold Coast,
until they got Mal Meninga and built from there. Penrith suffered years of not
being able to attract dedicated, high-profile players.
Lewis as captain-coach. Playing uncertain.
Phil Daley returns to Manly, and other culling is likely. The attitude to
the Gold Coast was well expressed by Steve Roach, Paul Sironen, Brad Clyde,
Laurie Daley etc. Gary Belcher, Brent Todd, Dale Shearer and Gary Freeman are
among the names linked with the club.
Wally Lewis, Wally Lewis, Wally Lewis, Wally Lewis, Wally Lewis, Wally
Lewis, Wally Lewis.
The Seagulls showed they had the skill to score tries and the likes of
Brett Horsnell aren't lacking in the ability to translate potential into
Wally Lewis, Wally Lewis, Wally Lewis, Wally Lewis, Wally Lewis, Wally
Lewis, Wally Lewis.
A lack of good players in depth to complement the potential. The lack of a
tradition and spirit to call on. These sort of things have to be earned.
Clift says: "It was a frustrating year but we were more competitive. We
lost eight games by six points or less and the top sides had to struggle to beat
us up here.
"More high-profile players are obviously needed to be more competitive but
it's hard for a young club.
"There is plenty of young talent in the district and given time, they'll
1991: 8th, 12 wins, 9 losses, 1 draw
1990: 9th, 11 wins, 10 losses, 1 draw
Illawarra enjoyed its best season since entering the competition in '82.
With a strong home following, energetic and dedicated officials and a
nucleus of young players, Illawarra is no longer the team everyone beats up.
Illawarra's traditional weakness - money - is also subsiding as a problem. As
all clubs move toward the same salary cap, Illawarra will retain their talent,
rather than see it in reserve grade at Manly.
A university town, set on the sea, is a big attraction for young,
intelligent, country talent.
The Wollongong district will rise to its former eminence but, ironically,
it will be with the talent of other country regions.
Graham Murray will begin his second year.
Some of the aged reserve grade players, such as Michael Carberry and Dean
Hanson, will probably retire. "We are looking to buy blokes who have played a
little bit of first grade and know they are not going to a dud club," Murray
The Steelers were fourth best in attack and second best in defence.
They have enormous strike power on the flanks with Alan McIndoe and Rod
McIndoe was the season's leading try scorer (19) and broke the club record
Illawarra's dismal away record is their biggest problem. They didn't win a
Saturday game away from home.
When the Steelers lost prop Chris Walsh after seven games it showed that
they lacked experienced leadership up front.
"Our goal in '91 was to improve from 9th and, as minor as it was, we did
that. We will improve again.
"We will continue to play a brand of football where, if the opportunity is
there, the player must throw it. When a movement breaks down, I often don't
blame a player for throwing a desperate pass. I blame someone else for not being
1991: 4th, 14 wins, 7 losses, 1 draw
Semis: 2 losses
1990: 4th, 15 wins, 7 losses. Semis: 1 win, 1 loss
The Sea Eagles were premiership contenders until irreplaceable players-Ian
Roberts, Des Hasler and Michael O'Connor-suffered injuries at the season's
Finished second but did the dreaded one-two-out in the semis. Even with a
decimated combination they almost upset Canberra in the exhilarating minor
semi-final, won 36-24 by the Raiders.
A premiership is within the capabilities of the present assembly. Depth
has to be improved, and a better overall club performance will be an objective
for next year. "But the success of first grade has to be the paramount
thing,"coach Graham Lowe says.
Lowe to fulfil last year of three-year contract.
Lowe says the club is constantly on the prowl for new talent. No names,
but eyes are fixed on young players inside and outside the premiership,
including Rugby Union ranks. "And we're not just looking at '92. We're looking a
year or two beyond," Lowe says.
Matthew Ridge is a talented goalkicker. Kevin Iro and brother Tony will
return. There will be more Cliff Lyons wizardry, while Geoff Toovey and Frank
Stokes are exciting, pre-peak match-winners. Martin Bella, Des Hasler and Ian
Roberts are great forwards.
Depth. Max Krilich's reserve grade side did not win a game.
When Hasler and Roberts succumbed to knee injuries in the penultimate
round, Lowe had to delve into seconds talent. He came up with men willing but
"We had injuries at the wrong end of the season and weren't able to build
on the good position we'd put ourselves in.
"With respect to the guys who were promoted, and who tried their hearts
out, the injuries didn't help.
"The loss of Tony Iro earlier in the year was a big blow. But it was
probably a better year than last year."
1991: 13th, 6 wins, 13 loses, 3 draws
1990: 6th, 13 wins, 7 losses, 2 draws
The Knights' downfall was both the cause and the result of coach Allan
McMahon's resignation mid-season. McMahon resigned after public mutterings about
the team's preoccupation with forward play and rumours of player discontent
with repetitive, boring training sessions. New coach David Waite came in with
eight games left, and although he lifted the team's attack by a try a game, his
tally was two wins and six losses.
Waite says: "1992 will be a year of opportunity for Newcastle youth.
"Bradley Godden, Adrian Brunker, Jason Edwards and Peter Graham all came
through to play first grade towards the end of '91 and we hope more will
Waite to begin his first full season.
Several as yet unnamed players will leave because money will not be
available after the re-signing of Mark Sargent, Marc Glanville and Paul
Harragon. "The players we recruit will be young, have the ability to create, be
good on their feet and have pace," Waite says.
Inherited forward strength, the depth of which is equal to the top clubs,
is Newcastle's foundation stone. Both halves are good organisers but lack pace.
The strike power on the flanks would make most coaches jealous. Goal kicking is
Newcastle didn't move with the other clubs in terms of increasing the rate
Waite cannot wait for his team to score 20 points a game.
The general kicking game - both short and long - also needs to improve.
"We will look at every string of our bows to see what we have. Glanville
and Harragon will be used out wide more often," says Waite. Newcastle's
season-starting centre combination of Jeff Doyle and Rob McCormack were injured
in the last eight weeks and Waite, by improvising, found his back-rowers helped
fill the void. "We will be looking for more strike from our three-quarters," he
1991: 15th, 6 wins, 16 losses
1990: 8th, 12 wins, 9 losses, 1 draw
After a competitive 1990, in which coach Mick Cronin got the absolute best
from limited resources, the Eels slid down, way down.
Beyond the obvious fact that Parramatta simply weren't good enough, the
most worrying aspect of the year was the lack of marked improvement.
Payers were still penalising themselves and the team through the same
errors committed at the season's start.
Parramatta still have the same prerequisites for success they've always
had: a sound financial base, strong and loyal support and their renowned junior
catchment area. The administration has much to atone for after seasons of
Cronin has been retained.
They have started by throwing out the babies, the bathwater, the kitchen
sink and the senior citizens, including Matt Goodwin, Ian Gately, Andrew Leeds
and Brian Jackson. In the market for Glenn Lazarus and any forward with
pretensions and a future.
Peter Sterling and Brett Kenny, Peter Sterling and Brett Kenny, Peter
Sterling and Brett Kenny and Peter Sterling and Brett Kenny. The likes of
Michael Erickson, Jason Bell, Peter Johnston and company will show further
maturity with the right guidance.
They have lots of good players but basically a shortage of smart players.
At least two top-class forwards are a necessity and an attacking three-quarter
and fullback would be handy. They need more experience and more concentration in
"A disappointing year and a very bad start which we had to turn around.
There was definitely improvement at the end of the year and some good performa
nces against the top sides like Norths, Wests and Manly.
"At least we're losing with young players so you can hope they'll benefit
from the season's experience. The performance of Kenny week-in week-out was the
1991: 9th, 11 wins, 8 losses, 3 draws
1990: 12th, 8 wins, 14 losses
The Dragons played an exciting brand of football this year and were
semi-final aspirants until they drew two and lost two of their last four games.
They missed the human football scrabble blank, Brad Mackay, the man who
can play anywhere, with three broken thumbs. Their biggest off-season buy, Jason
Alchin, from Canterbury, was sidelined for most of the season with a knee
The club needs to recruit wisely because the district is ageing, with many
people who were born in countries with no interest in Rugby League. "We have
our eyes on six talented 14-year-olds but Parramatta have 26 in their back
yard," coach Brian Smith says.
Brian Smith will enter his second year.
St George have retained all the players they want, bar one waverer. The
major culling was done at the end of '90. "We will be recruiting in the young
and large category, where large equals big. It would have made a difference if
Laurie Daley had said yes," Smith says.
St George improved with their ability to hold field position. With clever
tactical kicking and a reduced number of penalties, they played at the right end
of the field.
The two black Porsches on the wings also carried the ball for the length of
Goal kicking. The Dragons lost seven games on goal kicking. Against
Cronulla and Manly they scored more tries but lost. They scored 64 tries but
kicked only 64 goals.
The young Dragons rely heavily on centre Mick Beattie and fullback Mick
"We had a year of education and the players now understand the way the
game is required to be played," says Smith. "While we came up with good
replacements in Troy Hodges and Peter Coyne, the absence of big match players
Alchin and Mackay was vital to us. We also missed Guy Picken who did not play in
a losing game. Mackay will probably replace Ricky Walford as our goal-kicker."
1991: 14th, 7 wins, 15 losses
1990: 16th, 2 wins, 20 losses
The Rabbitohs regained credibility with a respectable season under their
new coach, Frank Curry.
The humble placing needs to be put in context. Before a Steeden was
punted, Souths were firm favourites to retain the wooden spoon on the basis of
their abysmal record in '90 and the loss of senior players Mario Fenech, Les
Davidson and Phil Blake, and young gun Terry Hill.
The season was the first step in a three-year reconstruction. Most better
players have been retained and several country youngsters have been approached.
Theory: If the club can attract outstanding unknowns it will eventually attract
outstanding established players.
Curry is signed for another year.
Approaches made to Glenn Lazarus (Canberra), Gavin Jones (North Sydney)
and Danny Lee (Cronulla). David Boyle has retired. Manoa Thompson told goodbye.
Negotiating with Darren Maroon, Charlie Saab, Jason Williams and Wayne Chisholm.
The flair and potential of halves Darrell Trindall and Rod Maybon; the
emergence of Jason Williams; the maturation and consistency of Jim Serdaris; the
controlled aggression of Mark Carroll; the nous of Craig Coleman. Watch for
potential teenage stars.
The lack of an experienced class player and old-head in the backline.
Many close defeats can be attributed to inexperience. Also, a lack of
depth, which explains the poor finish-seven losses from the last eight matches.
"We had so many discards from other clubs we could have been dubbed
the'over-the-hill gang'. We pushed all the semi-finalists, except Penrith, and
we beat Canberra," says Smith.
"Overall, I think it was a successful year and it would have been better
if we hadn't lost Charlie Saab, Manoa Thompson and Graham Lyons through injury
at different times. We didn't have the depth to cover for them."
1991: 5th, 13 wins, 8 losses, 1 draw
Semis: 1 loss
1990: 13th, 6 wins, 15 losses, 1 draw
The Magpies, with Norths, were the season's most improved team, qualifying
for their first finals series since 1982. New coach Warren Ryan achieved
instant results, implementing a forward-dominated, no-frills style. Ryan brought
several high-profile forwards with him, but injuries and representative
commitments meant results were achieved mostly with the old guard.
Coach Ryan is very optimistic. "A platform of discipline and commitment to
training has been set down, ready to build on. We can't possibly have the same
number of injuries to key players as we did this year." There are large
reservoirs of local junior talent.
Ryan to fulfil second of three-year term.
Terry Hill will make Wests home with a court case brewing. Centres,
wingers, "strike" players are priorities. Specific players have been targeted
and approached. Jamie Ainscough is leaving, Cameron Blair will probably go and
Steve Jackson is a possible.
An excellent pack drilled expertly by Ryan. Only the cruellest fortune
would prevent Paul Langmack and Bob Lindner contributing more in '92. Half Jason
Taylor will get even better. Winger Wayne Simonds was the best-performed Magpie
in the pressure games.
Wests achieved field position as effortlessly as any team, but they
couldn't use it. They had the bullocking runners and the schemers, but a dearth
of quick men to turn the breaks into tries. No-one at the club is blind to the
problem and it is being addressed.
"It's always disappointing when you don't go all the way to the
"But in view of where we came from-the first and seconds weren't sighted
last year-it wasn't a bad season.
"We made a noise.
"Other clubs know we're around. And we'll be better next year.
"Put some money on us."