Long season drags on for Cronulla
An agitated Cronulla Sharks stand-in skipper Jeff Robson has just about had enough of rugby league for this season.
Leading the injury-depleted Sharks into battle mere days after four of their own were suspended for the remainder of the year through ASADA bans, Robson said this season has felt like an "eternity".
With the Sharks going down to the Canberra Raiders 22-12 on Sunday, in a loss that will likely see them finish the season with the wooden spoon, Robson seemed to be sick of the tumultuous season his side had endured.
"It has been a long year. We don't really have any closure [with the ASADA bans]. I just think it has been a long year and there are still two games to go," Robson said after the game.
"I feel like the season has been dragging on for a long time. When the team isn't winning it seems that it is going a lot longer.
"I have never seen a season like it and I've been around for a while. I'd say the injuries throughout the year have impacted more than anything. I've never seen that many injuries in the one team in the one season.
"I think that's probably been the disappointing thing for the whole year. We haven't been able to get a full team on the field for more than two or three games in a row."
With Paul Gallen and Anthony Tupou having to withdraw from the team after accepting their ASADA bans, Robson said it was difficult to prepare for the game – although it provided silver linings in solid performances from debutants Sione Masima and Scott Sorenson.
"It was pretty difficult to prepare with everything that was going on but the young boys came in with a lot of enthusiasm," Robson said. "They were all ready to go while everyone else was upbeat which made it a lot easier."
Interim Cronulla coach James Shepherd agreed with his halfback.
"The decision came down on Friday that the boys decided to go down that path [with ASADA] so obviously Paul and Anthony were named and had to withdraw but in saying that the boys that had to come in, it is their dreams to play NRL, so they were ready to go," Shepherd told reporters.
"As far as the other guys go we didn't talk about it. When we were at training or doing video or any of the field sessions we went on with the job so I wouldn't say it was [an] overly difficult [week]. Obviously away from here who knows how much it was weighing on their mind but while they're at training and preparing I couldn't fault them."
With another tough afternoon chalked up for the Sharks, after falling to their 17th loss of the season, Shepherd said it was a good effort from an inexperienced team but regretted that they didn't take they chances.
"The second half was disappointing because we didn't complete as well when you need to so the team is disappointed after that, certainly."