Jamie Soward with the Dragons in a game against Canterbury Bulldogs on May 31, 2013. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty ImagesST George Illawarra Dragons fans are the most unforgiving in the NRL.
Benji Marshall is finding that out even before he’s played a game.
But Jamie Soward is enjoying life without them.
The Penrith five-eighth revealed he was made to feel alone in his final years in the Red V and, until now, hadn’t enjoyed his football since Wayne Bennett left the Dragons back in 2011.
After parting ways with the Dragons midway through last year, Soward had a brief stint with the London Broncos.
Results were poor but a more low-key experience in the English Super League allowed him to release the pressure valve and appreciate how trying life had been at the Dragons.
After he recruited Soward, Penrith boss Phil Gould described the 30-year-old as a marquee signing and general manager Phil Moss made him feel as though he was joining a family.
Ready to rock: Jamie Soward in action at the Panthers vs Knights game on May 11, 2014. Picture: Ryan Osland
Soward was back to his classy best in Sunday’s comprehensive win over Newcastle, and said the more supportive Penrith fan base has also played a role in reigniting his career.
“I’m really enjoying my football and I haven’t enjoyed it since … Wayne left,” Soward said.
“I loved the playing group I was with [at the Dragons] but I wasn’t enjoying my footy.
“The best thing is I don’t feel alone any more. I feel the whole [Panthers] club is with me and they’ll help protect me.
“I just love going out to Penrith. The whole community really respects the effort you put in every week and the club is moving forward in a nice direction.”
Soward was a central figure in the Dragons’ landmark premiership win in 2010 and had several impressive seasons for the club, yet fans never seemed to appreciate the playmaker and ultimately rejoiced when he walked out the door last year.
Returning from his failed venture in rugby union, New Zealand great Marshall is now experiencing a similarly harsh reaction, even though the Dragons are languishing near the bottom of the table and have chopped and changed halfbacks on a regular basis all season.
Marshall hasn’t strapped on a boot but he’s already under enormous pressure to perform.
Soward said criticism won’t affect Marshall.
Do you agree with Soward?
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.