8 Jul 2022
3 min read
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Annie Emmerson is the manager – but here we have the great unknown of 2022, because the Cheetahs are now a Fan Team, owned by supporters, and it is they who will guide her choices.
And while the likes of Macca and Tim Don might be easier to read because of all we know about them, a collective of fans is much more difficult to judge and therefore far more unpredictable.
The Cheetahs owners are likely to want to see better from their team in 2021. In truth, Emmerson’s team really disappointed last time out.
Emmerson’s bold first female pick of Sophie Coldwell didn’t really pay off and her only two consistent performers over the course of the Series were Leonie Periault – who was actually third draft pick – and Jonny Brownlee, who proved as reliable as ever.
What have the Fan Team owners learned is a better question? Do they stick or twist on retention? Do they just vote for their favourite athletes, or do they actually seek to assemble a genuine title contending team by trying to blend together the different competing elements required?
It’s not an easy pick in many ways, and there are sure to be competing views. But there is little doubt that the winning team is likely to be one that gets the balance between overall contenders, Short Chute winners and discipline leaders correct. Can the Fans do it?
It would take a very brave Fan Team member to vote against retaining Jonny Brownlee. Not only is he incredibly consistent in Super League but with the likes of Wilde, Yee and Luis all likely to be retained, other favourites are also highly likely to be out of the question.
Brownlee also offers a genuine figurehead for the team and an experienced on course leader, and is easy to root for as a Fan Team owner.
The women’s is harder. Of the athletes so far announced, Periault is the only option to retain. Despite being third pick last time out, she has been on great form over the past 12 months, including finishing seventh overall in last year’s Championship Series, ahead of Cassandre Beaugrand.
Would you stick with her or take a punt? It’s a decision for Fan Team owners, but don’t be surprised to see them chuck their hand in and gamble. The thing that will go against that is that big favorites such as Potter and Taylor-Brown will be tied up elsewhere, so again it is not straightforward.
Vote for what you think is right, but also don’t just vote on your favourite athletes. Read the other articles in this series, think about what the other managers are likely to do and try and balance the team. It may or may not pay off, but all managers face that issue.
The aim has to be to make the Cheetahs competitive again this year. That will not be easy, but in some ways their struggles in 2022 have created a bit of a blank canvas. Michelle Dillon proved last time out that picking based on your gut can reap rewards, so trust your instincts and give Emmerson all the ammunition the team needs.
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