Monday Buzz: Pathetic performance sums up Knights
Newcastle's capitulation to the Wests Tigers at Campbelltown on Saturday night confirmed what we all suspected - that the players have given up on coach Nathan Brown.
This was a pathetic performance from a once proud football club that had its season on the line.
There were five highly paid State of Origin players - Mitchell Pearce, Kalyn Ponga, Tim Glasby, Dave Klemmer and Daniel Saifiti - in a team that was still in contention to play finals football.
Take nothing away from the Tigers and a vintage Benji Marshall performance but Newcastle just didn't turn up and some of their players didn't have a go. They threw in the towel.
The body language and reaction from senior Knights players last week showed there was little if any disappointment around the announcement of Brown's departure.
It would just be business as usual.
This was a woeful performance, flogged 46-4. They had no pride in the jersey.
Glasby ran 39m. Pearce had one run, nine metres and three missed tackles. Saifiti ran 69m. Ponga was miles below his best.
Afterwards, Brown looked perplexed on the Super Saturday TV camera inside the Newcastle dressing room. A helpless look and acceptance that he'd lost the shed.
At full-time, he didn't even sit down with the players. It was just a 60-second debrief on his feet. No tongue-lashing required. Off to the press conference then the team bus for the long ride home.
"The first half was a reflection of why the boss (chief executive Phil Gardner) and I came to the decision we did," Brown told the media.
Brown said he was "very proud of where we took things at the Knights from where we started".
The Knights missed 36 tackles on Saturday night, and only three players got through the match without a missed tackle.
The performance was so bad and so depressing that league Immortal and the club's greatest player Joey Johns couldn't watch.
"It was pretty bad, so I turned it off," Johns told me. "That's not how Newcastle teams play. I couldn't believe what I was watching.
"Who knows what's happening up there. They were playing for a finals spot. They had everything to play for. It was shocking."
You had to feel for Knights fans in a city where the footy team means so much to them.
This is the home of the most parochial and passionate fan base in rugby league.
Hard blue-collar workers who have stuck solid and kept turning up through tough times year after year. They deserve so much better.
Their heroes earn $1 million a year. Yet Ponga's manager isn't happy and demands $1.5 million. It would take the average Newcastle supporter 20 years to earn that amount of money.
Ponga's reaction to Brown's departure was telling: "I was at lunch having a nice strawberry thickshake, so I wasn't too sad."
You think back to round 11 in late May and the night this football side flogged the Roosters 38-12.
You know what they are capable of producing when they bring their boots and have a go.
Your columnist sat with their members that night and saw their pride and what it meant to them.
I sent Pearce a text message yesterday morning: "It's Buzz mate. Could you please ring. Doing a story on last night and wanted to know if you had a message for the fans."
There was no reply.
And that probably sums up the Knights right now.
They just don't care.
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