Lagos Rhinos captain Kelechi Ekeh says his side “will keep failing” if urgent and quality additions are not made to their playing ranks and called for better organisation of the Nigeria Rugby League.
Ekeh’s pessimism was roused after Rhinos were crushed 30-10 by Lagos Havens on Sunday in their Southern Conference opener in the 2021 Nigeria Rugby League season.
The Rhinos captain was heavily critical of his teammates and said their poor showing was exacerbated by a lack of chemistry and poor player depth.
“I will start from the players. I have very poor players,” a visibly upset Ekeh told busybuddiesng.com in his postmatch deconstruction of events. “I started this game with new players, honestly. Most of the guys that even played for my team are new players, they were not used to the game. They were not used to the system and that’s why we failed.
“To me, this game we just lost, I didn’t even see anything they played. [The reason] we lost was that we lacked players, that’s just it. Most of the guys that played for us were new guys- like five of them were all new guys. So we couldn’t even cope, communicating with them wasn’t easy. So we’ll be hoping to get the old players back so we can play the next game.”
The nature of the defeat could leave deep psychological scars capable of derailing Rhinos for the rest of the season without urgent improvements in playing personnel, Ekeh said.
“It’s going to affect us very badly. We’ll fail woefully, in fact, we will keep failing, seriously,” Ekeh said.
Ekeh’s frustrations reveal the extent of the struggles of a league not fully professional. Players are not remunerated for the efforts and players mostly for the love of the game.
This throws up a number of issues not least around organising games and ensuring a steady stream of players for the five clubs in the Southern Conference.
Some of these challenges can be overcome by better management by the powers that be, Ekeh said.
The Rhinos captain said organisers of the league must do better in ensuring the structure that will allow rugby league to flourish in Nigeria.
“I would say we need support from the top. We don’t even have a specific coach. Our coach is just off and on – he’ll come today, he won’t come the next match. No communication, no group chat, nothing.
“People from the top should just call on players, because this rugby league has a lot of players. We’ll hope to get more players and play this game.”