“I don’t think it is the entire reason why we lost the game on Sunday,” Graham said. “I think Friday’s verdict, although no one knew which way it was going to go, it probably did knock the wind out of a couple of people’s sails, to be honest. But I don’t attribute the performance on Sunday to that.”
Graham was still stewing when asked to explain how the team has fallen so far off the pace after reeling off four straight wins. His answer was a call to arms before the club slips out of the top eight.
“Why everyone is so frustrated and so down about the performance is because we know we are a lot better. We know that we are way better than what we dished up on the weekend,” he said.
“You have two choices, really. You can either try and make things better or you can try and make things worse. There is a lot worse that you can go to, there is. But individually and as a group we can try and make things better or we can make things worse. I doubt it is going to stay the same.”
Latimore watched Sunday’s horror show from the sidelines as he nurses a medial strain which will keep him sidelined for at least another week. He followed Graham’s lead, calling on the players to “own their season” with de Belin now out of the picture.
“[De Belin] was a massive part of how we played last year and we are missing him, out there on the field. But the court ruled in the NRL’s favour,” Latimore said. “I don’t agree with the stand down policy but he is not going to be there now so we have to move on from that. Other people get opportunities now. We need to step up and take the slack from what Jack is not doing because he’s not out there. We need to own our season.”
Latimore also revealed the belief held by senior players at the club, who insist the no-fault stand down policy is unfair despite the Federal Court challenge finding in favour of the NRL.
“It’s very frustrating because it’s not often an individual is guilty until proven innocent and in Jack’s case … obviously, it is a sensitive subject and still to go before the courts but it has never happened,” he said. “I have never seen that happen before in professional sports.”