The Cronulla Sharks were challenged to complete the fairytale by chairman Damien Keogh, with the promise of an end of season trip to Las Vegas if the miracle came true.
Seeing the players chant, ‘Vegas, Vegas’, after the game was humorous, yet I’m sure that it wasn’t the only incentive that ultimately drove them to premiership success.
The infamous end of season footy trip and the differing moods that teams must take away with them, depending on how successful the season has been, got me thinking.
What if the quality or nature of the trip was dependent upon the on-field success of the team?
The Sharks have been rewarded with a popular, exciting and rock star city in which to revel. Those adjectives and the city itself, will suit them well.
However, as easy a match as this is for the Premiers, some other clubs provide a much bigger challenge in terms of the celebration they deserve after season 2016.
I have been lucky enough, through some fellow writers at The Roar, to acquire some of the details of the trips planned for the various squads over the coming weeks.
We received correspondence from fifteen clubs, only the Titans failed to provide details. Except for a brief media release that simply stated, ‘All players are currently on Bird watch and will be so over the entire off-season.’
The Newcastle Knights will try to forget the majority of the season and may in fact attempt to remove it altogether from the club records. It was, frankly, awful. At times players appeared low on effort and despite some youthful hope for the future, any trip is probably underserved.
Therefore, the Knights will be taking a short trip by car down to the Hexham bridge, car-pooling to save some cash, for a spot of fishing, a pie and flavoured milk at the Oak Milk Bar.
The Warriors present an interesting proposition and after some intense research, a perfect location cropped up that might have the added benefit of correcting some of their issues ahead of 2017.
There is a lovely little clinic on the South Island specialising in personality disorders. A nice weekend having a think about exactly who they are and why they play footy will help them a lot.
Letting the coach know which games they are going to be trying in and those in which they are planning on impersonating first-grade footballers, will also help him prepare them well for next year.
The Bulldogs have a riotous week ahead in – wait for it – Canberra. Daily attendance at House of Representative sittings will be the most appropriate way for the blue and whites to bond ahead of the upcoming season.
Why, you may ask? Because the boredom the squad will feel sitting and listening to mind numbing politicians will be perfectly reflective of the utterly banal and bland football that they produced throughout the season. Sorry Dogs, but we were all so bored.
The Wests Tigers’ willingness to move the ball, their bumbling and un-coordinated captain and the expansive play of the two young halves, Luke Brooks and Mitchell Moses, saw them entertain to the very end. Unfortunately, this was at the expense of grinding a little more and learning how to win ugly; win period in fact.
Therefore the Tigers are heading out to the Petersham R.S.L on a Sunday afternoon to catch the monthly performance of Back to the Tivoli.
Sipping on drinks with little umbrellas in them and experiencing a ‘show tune’ atmosphere will have a beautiful synchronicity with their season.
Melbourne Storm were once again, well, the Melbourne Storm. Craig Bellamy had them at their strategical best with what was one of the less star-studded squads he has had for a while.
The players will celebrate with their mentor at a local chess tournament. It should be a blast.
The coach will let them loose during the day to watch the matches in the Melbourne Convention Centre and then run feedback and analysis sessions back at the hotel in the evening.
Rumour has it that Bellamy’s sense of humour has already come to the fore and players have been instructed to call each other comrade throughout the week.
There was much chat about the nature of the Parramatta Eels’ end of season adventure.
The club has made a rather astute and prudent move by insisting that all players and club officials remain locked in their bedrooms over the break, wearing ankle bracelets monitored by the police.
The Roosters pride themselves on being around the mark each and every year. For this reason 2016 was a disgrace. Injury and pre-season losses hit them hard, yet even at near full strength, certain players played as imposters and poor impersonations of their former selves.
As a result, the club has booked a visit to Madame Tussauds as a perfect accompaniment to the plasticity and fake nature of their performances throughout the season.
St George Illawarra failed to fire a bullet in 2016. Their lack of potency in attack restricted their results despite some strong defensive efforts.
The club has searched far and wide and taken the unique approach with the booking of a guest speaker from the Parris Manufacturing Company in the states, that specialises in the manufacture of pop guns and other impotent weapons.
The players will get the opportunity to point the useless objects at each other, say ‘bang’, and run away giggling, much like their play throughout the season.
The Canberra Raiders went within moments of the big dance and fell at the last hurdle. Season 2017 could see their continued climb or a somewhat predictable flat year after the ride of a lifetime they have just experienced.
The club has organised a ten-day drinking binge with Doctors on standby. The intention is to monitor the players each morning and address the symptoms of hangover. This, it is hoped will prepare the squad well for what will be a challenging year.
The Manly Sea Eagles are booked into a unit block in, where else? Manly. No information other than this is available due to the, ‘no one comes in, no one gets out policy.’ Hopefully the players will share some of the shenanigans via social media as footballers usually do this so well.
A Cowboys squad without Johnathan Thurston were threatened mid-season. Once again, the master returned and carried them on his back throughout the finals series.
As a result, North Queensland has been booked into J.T’s place for a week where he and his wife will serve food, make beds and organise activities for the entire squad. It is hoped that by season 2017, a few other players might emulate his efforts and begin to take more responsibility.
The Penrith Panthers played with youthful exuberance and flair and could quite possibly be the most entertaining side to watch in full flight. It is important to remember just how young this team is.
As reward for a great season of improvement the cute little fellas will be attending a Wiggles concert at Panthers and all receiving individualised comical face painting. The chance to frolic on the car park jumping castle to celebrate their achievements is on the cards if they are ‘good’ during the concert.
The Brisbane Broncos rarely do anything special; an invite to Wayne Bennett’s farm; nibbles and nightly popcorn and beer sessions, watching tapes of all of Brisbane’s finals appearances.
Apparently Bennett says little, eats a party pie or two, and mutters, ‘Same again next year boys.’
South Sydney thought long and hard about the year just passed and reflected on a team that didn’t seem to play for the first half of the season. Sure they stormed home and were as good as anybody for the final eight weeks yet the horse had well and truly bolted.
The club, in their wisdom, felt that an activity outlining the dangers of competing only for half of the allotted time and leaving their run too late would be most prudent.
This sees the Bunnies off to Hobe Sound Florida for a week with ‘The Shark’, our very own, Greg Norman.
The variety of different trips that clubs are undertaking just shows how professional they have become in their planning.
Hopefully your team takes away some valuable lessons from their trip and its impact on the squad is obvious to all as 2017 begins.