Hull Kingston Rovers are in a sadly sorry state.
The manner of their defeat to Salford in Saturday’s Million Pound Game was the perfect metaphor for the state of the club: looking strong and confident, having worked hard to build something, only to discover – too late – that the foundations are made from sand.
To throw away an eight point lead with two minutes remaining is just not professional. It betrays an essential softness, a lack of ruthlessness and belief which is deletrious to any individual athlete’s chances of success.
When an entire squad, and seemingly a whole club, seems paralysed with the same condition then it really is a recipe for disaster.
It is not the first or only time that Rovers have lost after looking secure in victory.
To lose to Hull FC after leading 20-0 was poor, but this frailty has been around at Rovers for longer than this season.
Structures around the club have not looked robust since Justin Morgan left.
Morgan was the kind of brash, charismatic character who suits Hull KR. A man with the cofidence to deal with the club’s high expectations and the goldfish bowl that is rugby league in Hull.
Craig Sandercock, a technocratic and highly skilled coach, who played an important role in the development of Josh Hodgson, was Morgan’s replacement, and he was not a good fit.
Rumours of squad indisicpline dogged his time at the club, with players rumoured to be highly indisciplined and disrespectful of his methods.
Expectations at Rovers are massive. People may look at the club’s recent modest achievements and wonder why, but it was not that long ago that KR were one of the game’s big names.
Fans at the Robins see themselves as supporting a club which is temporarily embarrassed, which is only one good season away from the glory days of the early 80s returning.
As a result, any coach faces a measure of dissonance between his reality and where the fans think the club should be.
This can be tough for coaches to deal with, and they need resilience as well as ability to manage at the KC Lightstream Stadium.
They need the charisma to win over a demanding set of supporters, and the ego to keep the club on track when the tough times start.
Successors to Morgan have been sadly lacking in all these areas, good coaches though they are.
Chris Chester took the club to Wembley in 2015 after a fine semi-final win over Warrington, only for his team to be utterly humiliated by Leeds.
James Webster looked like he was appointed in desperation, and has looked insecure all season, almost like he’s been wondering how on earth he ended up having to deal with all this.
Players this season need to have a long look at themselves too.
Players like John Boudebza, who held out for better contracts when a sign of commitment was needed, and now find themselves without a club for next season.
Players like Albert Kelly, who seemed to think that it was up to him to decide when he could return to work.
Honourable exceptions include Shaun Lunt, Dane Tilse and Ben Cockayne, all of whom have tried their very hardest this year.
Maurice Blair has showed commendable attitude all season.
Others, like Ken Sio, have gone about their work in a highly professional manner, but the fact that Sio, a utility back, is the club’s leading try scorer, with 11, and leading metre maker, show that performance levels this season have been low generally.
Overall, it has been sloppy, undermotivated and lacking in professionalism and ruthlessness.
Director of rugby Jamie Peacock is experiencing something new, and it looks like he has struggled at times this year to fully grasp the size of the task ahead of him.
Moments of clarity and insight have struck him along the way, with the penny dropping a little further each time.
That penny should finally have dropped all the way down with a final large clunk after Saturday.
Hull Kingston Rovers are one of the game’s great clubs. They carry a name that many outside of our sport recognise. It resonates beyond the confines of East Yorkshire and the M62 corridor.
What is needed now is a complete rebulld from the bottom up. The Robins’ nest needs knocking down and rebuilding.
The reliance on overseas mercernaries has to end. There are enough good players in East Yorkshire for the club to produce its own talent.
How many more Josh Hodgsons are waiting to be honed in East Hull? Probably quite a few.
The short-term, rushed decision making needs to end. The poor recruitment also.
Misi Taulapapa was signed ahead of the 2012 season from Sheffield Eagles before being deemed surplus to requirements by new coach Craig Sandercock. That allegedly cost Rovers £9000, and achieved nothing.
Sadly, more recruitment decisions subsequently seem to have been taken with a similar lack of joined-up thinking.
Tim Sheens is a good fit as coach, though he will have to do a power of work to get the club moving forward again.
Relegation can sometimes prove to be a long-term positive for a club, the shock forcing an organisation to take stock and rebuild.
Long-term supporters will be hoping that this is the case for the Robins, and so will many fans of the sport as a whole.
Hull is a special place for rugby league, and the Robins are one of the sport’s great clubs.
Good luck Messrs Peacock, Hudgell and Sheens. You will need it.