Former Captain Braith Anasta reckons Roosters fans saw him in a different light following his signing with the Tigers during the middle of last season.
….But after securing his future across the Anzac Bridge, Anasta had to negotiate a mentally testing period to complete his seven-year stint at the Roosters.
He often felt like a “target” for Tricolours fans, who could willingly misrepresent below-par performances.
“It’s hard – I wouldn’t recommend it,” he said. “It depends on the person you are and the player you are. I’m an extremely passionate player who wears my heart on my chest.
“When times are tough and you’re moving clubs, it’s very hard.
“It puts a target on you. Fans are looking at you. It’s like they don’t see you in the same light. You are an easy target and it can play on your mind.
“I think there’s definitely a strong case for having a transfer window.”
I can certainly see where he’s coming from: I know that personally I noticed his poor performances much more than I had in previous seasons. But I reckon I noticed them more because of at least two reasons.
1) He was the five-eighth option following the sacking of Todd Carney — quite a tough act to follow exspecially after the miracle run of 2010; and
2) His performance had dropped off considerably and made it easier to notice his shittier games, which were happening much more often than normal.
I was always one of Braith’s biggest supporters. I thought he was criticised unfairly, mostly because of jealousy over his contract, the women he rooted and his success despite an unorthodox game.
His natural playmaking instincts aren’t of the same class of, say, a Benji Marshall, his kicking is not necessarily the most accurate and a front-rower could outrun him.
But despite this, he found a way to win and be successful.
He had a clever short kicking game before it was coached out of him by Smithy, a good cutout (see Grand Final, 2004) and a pretty solid running game for someone who wasn’t fleet of foot.
He’d already won a premiership before heading to the Roosters, played Origin and for Australia and had already bedded Candice Falzon, Erin McNaught and (rumour has it) Mimi MacPherson.
He left us with several magical memories: that run at the end of the 2007 season when he almost scraped the Roosters into the top eight single-handedly following the appointment of God as interim coach, leading the Roosters to the finals in 2010 and that incredible field goal which should go down in history as one of the greatest plays in the history of the NRL.
Even at the end of 2011 he stood up following the sacking of Carney, leading the Roosters to four straight wins to finsih a tough season and help everyone forget that we’d just sacked the reigning Dally M player of the year.
But 2012? Ugh.
Such a shitty season shouldn’t be placed on the shoulders of one man, and as Braith mentions in the Telegraph article, there were several players who weren’t enjoying their footy.
However, the captain stood out in particular because he was both an old player in a young side, his performances had dropped of considerably, and he was the CAPTAIN.
He was throwing intercepts, choosing the wrong options regularly, he showed a distinct lack of imagination in attack and just looked past it.
Any Roosters fan last year would agree that the best thing for both parties was to part ways, which even Braith alluded to in the Telegraph article.
He will still live on in the memories of many a Chook fan, if only for that field goal.
But I don’t think he was unfairly targeted.
We are honest and usually pretty smart about this stuff. Many Roosters fans (myself included) also gave Mini, a club legend, plenty of shit regarding his performances towards the end of the year.
Last season was BY FAR Anasta’s worst year as a Rooster, and fans I believe were entitled to feel a little aggrieved at his performances. We saw him in the exact same light, but after years of glare he started to wilt under the heat.