On the Road: Scar tissue exposed

“SCAR tissue that I wish you saw, sarcastic Mr Know-It-All” - “Scar Tissue”, Red Hot Chili Peppers

In Monday Night Football, the scar tissue of two rugby league sides was brutally laid bare for all the Know-It-Alls in the stands, lounge rooms, press boxes and TABs of Australasia.

For South Sydney, record 56-6 victors over Parramatta at ANZ Stadium, it was a sign that the scars of a struggling decade had begun to heal. Coach John Lang saw what the sarcastic know-it-alls could not.

“At every club I’ve been to, when you’re down, the hardest thing to be believe is that you can win,” said Lang after seeing fullback Nathan Merritt post five tries.

“Souths, a lot of the people who’ve been here a long time, they’ve had that many tough times, it leaves a mark on you.

“And I don’t think you can turn it around overnight.

“And I think some of the boys are really starting to believe in themselves.”

For Parramatta, the opposite is true. Over the past 10 weeks, deep, fresh wounds have been gouged into their flesh. They lost two golden point games and were run down by Melbourne from 18-0 in the space of three weeks.

The wounds, on top of scars from narrow losses to Brisbane and Manly and a draw with St George Illawarra, prompted Triple M commentator Matthew Johns to say the Eels “spirits are broken”.

“Whether the last 10 weeks has taken its toll, I’m not too sure,” said coach Stephen Kearney.

“I’ve made the players very aware that’s not good enough, that’s not acceptable for the footy club and the footy team.

“And I’d hate to think they were using that as an excuse for what happened tonight, the way they’ve put in the last 10 or so weeks.”

Captain Nathan Hindmarsh had no sympathy for the scar tissue theory. But Wests Tigers prop Bryce Gibbs said he felt he “owed one” towards St George Illawarra on Friday night, when his side got up by two, because of a loss in last year’s finals.

Warriors coach Ivan Cleary reckoned Darren Lockyer “deserved” the luck that went Brisbane’s way in a 21-20 win on Saturday.

And as they stared up at 15 teams above, Gold Coast’s official Twitter account boasted after Saturday’s win against Cronulla that they were “the first Gold Coast side to ever win at Shark Park”.

The past matters.

“We’ve had a cleanout of our roster after winning wooden spoons,” said Souths chief executive Shane Richardson.

“People like John Sutton and Nathan Merritt have won wooden spoons. We’ve now got a competitive football team but we have to become dominant.

“Mental scars in the past have had an effect.

“But I think we’re getting over it.”