• The shortened season has been filled with injuries since resuming in Round 3, with two teams electing to rest top players in the final round before finals. (AAP)Source: AAP
One week out from finals footy, Timana Tahu looks back on the season and gives his take on the final round this weekend.
Timana Tahu

25 Sep 2020 - 3:37 PM  UPDATED 28 Sep 2020 - 5:32 PM

In a world of chaos today, how fortunate are we that footy has been an outlet for all fans during this pandemic. I commend all the players and officials who have been a part of this game and made massive sacrifices for the NRL to stay alive.

For the bottom 8, I think it will be a year that they will want to forget. Bottom teams like the Broncos, Cowboys, and the Bulldogs just could not get into a rhythm. The players were put under enormous pressure to the point where it sometimes looked like they couldn’t breathe. I guess this is a lesson that the players and clubs can learn from.

It will be a great time to personally reflect on their own performances individually and as a team. To look at some of their games and see how they performed on that day, what were they feeling emotionally and physically, how the energy felt like during the week and on game day. Also, a great time for the coaches of those bottom eight teams to reflect on their own coaching methods, what they could have done better, or to seek out well-respected professionals for advice on their own performance and what can they improve on.

For players and coaches having that reflection and self-evaluation will help them to leave this year behind them and start afresh come pre-season for 2021. I look forward to the bottom 8 coming back bigger and better for themselves, for their clubs, and most of all their fans.

Clubs resting players

Some media commentators are carrying on a bit when it comes to teams like the Raiders and the Storm deciding to rest their top players before the finals. I do not have a problem when we are in a season where we have seen more lows than highs in this game. I don’t think it will turn people away from turning up to games because the club's top line-up won’t be running out. I feel people are happy and grateful our game is still on and we are being entertained by these great athletes.

I can see the reason why coaches are resting the players. There have been major injuries this year with high profile athletes, and coaches want to have their best team available come the finals. We can look at players like Shaun Johnson snapping his achilles, Tom Trbojevic has hamstring problems all season and now a shoulder injury, and David Fifita has been struggling to stay on the field, before recently going down with a Syndesmosis injury.

Coaches want to get there best team on the field for the finals and if they have the ability to do so, good on them. It allows the coaches to reset and recover their top players. I’m looking forward to watching the players who haven’t played any football this year get to play at least one game for their club. The players are going to make their family and friends proud. I’m particularly looking forward to seeing some these young athletes getting an opportunity to showcase their skills this week. For some, it could be a life-changing experience.

Games to watch

Roosters vs Rabbitohs

The Rabbits got their pants pulled down last week by the Bulldogs in one of the biggest upsets of the year. Getting beat by the Dogs could inspire the Rabbitohs to dig deep from now and shake up the finals series. Meanwhile the Roosters' systems seem to be all in place like usual coming into the finals.

It seems that they are not taking the foot off the throttle and are looking at a 3-peat. Their strength is transitioning from defence to offence, support plays, and they have strike weapons on both edges with forwards who can both step and ball-play. And the depth on the Tricolours' bench could start in any NRL side. Playing against the Roosters at this time for the Rabbits is what they need before entering the finals. 

Bulldogs vs Panthers

Bulldogs could be the team to beat the Minor Premiers this week. If they come into this week's game with the same mentality against the Rabbitohs, we could see the last round of the season go off with a Big Bang. I’m hoping that the Bulldogs put the Panthers under pressure and to see how well the Penrith boys will handle it before the finals.

Being a young side and having big expectations to win the competition I feel they have never had to fight themselves out of a game or grind one out. Not knowing how to react under pressure might feel foreign to them. But if they can experience it this weekend it will prepare them well and can be a contender in the GF.

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