Before blaming his squad for their lacklustre performance this NRL season, Bulldogs coach Cameron Ciraldo might want to take a deep look at himself. When will Ciraldo admit that during his tenure, the Bulldogs‘ performance has regressed?
Willie Mason‘s derogatory comments about some players voicing concerns over rigorous training regimens were sheer disregard for professionalism. His words were not only hurtful but also highlighted the coaching staff’s evasion of accountability for the team’s disastrous on-field performances. Given Mason’s role within the Bulldogs, his conduct was utterly disgraceful.
Should an assistant from any other NRL team dare disrespect their own players in such a manner, they’d likely end up jobless by day’s end. However, it seems that under the current Bulldogs‘ management, such behaviour is surprisingly tolerated.
The alarming issue of a young player punished for being late, by wrestling the entire top-30 squad excluding the injured, exacerbates the concern. Such a punishment in modern times raises serious concerns at every level of the management. This player has since not rejoined training amid concerns for his mental wellbeing.
An anonymous player who witnessed the incident expressed their shock and disgust. While the player’s identity remains undisclosed, unsubstantiated speculations are rife on social media. How this event impacts the young man’s future is yet to be seen.
The NRL must ensure a thorough investigation into these claims. On verification of these assertions, severe consequences should be meted out to the relevant parties. Even seasoned professionals within the sport are left dumbfounded by these accusations.
Physical and emotional cruelty is intolerable in any workplace, including the NRL. This kind of discipline is humiliating and would be abhorrent to any parent whose child might suffer such treatment. Will this incident deter parents from sending their children to the Bulldogs?
Moreover, would Ciraldo have the same composed demeanour if his own child endured similar treatment? Both Ciraldo and Bulldogs’ general manager of football, Phil Gould, have failed to comment on these accusations, citing sensitivity. Nonetheless, both continue to endorse Ciraldo’s tough training and the need for an enhanced Bulldogs’ culture.
Even though Gould revealed the player trained for an additional week, it was implied the incident was not as significant as being portrayed. In his podcast, Gould dismissed some accounts as “exaggerations and embellishments”, yet never once questioned Ciraldo’s performance this year.
The undeniable truth is that the Bulldogs‘ current performance is even more disappointing than last year, despite Ciraldo having a superior roster than interim coach Mick Potter. Despite not being the worst team this season, many would argue that the Bulldogs are in poor form based on their current performance.
The appalling average of 32 points conceded per game and showing limited enthusiasm and commitment are blatant indicators of Ciraldo and his coaching team’s ineffective methods. Even if a premiership is unreachable, fans at least expect spirited performances.
Ciraldo moving from the Panthers, back-to-back champions, incorrectly assumed the same standards would work with the Bulldogs. It doesn’t work like this as it takes time for a team to reach a certain standard. In the meantime, coaches must find ways to maximize their squad’s existing potential. Consequentially, Ciraldo must acknowledge his share of the blame for the Bulldogs‘ dismal year.