Player’s welfare v $$$
“The players welfare comes first” – Todd Greenberg NRL Head of Football. That’s the same rhetoric that gets played out, with monotonous regularity, every time a rule change is implemented to clean up the game. Whether it be the new concussion rule, eliminating the punch, the shoulder charge or the “cannonball” tackle, the NRL reverts to the player welfare argument to justify every relevant change. And quite rightly so, I might add. However, when CEO Dave Smith was asked whether the NRL would consider stand alone origin games on consecutive weekends, his response was a swift and blunt “NO!”. No pause. No “we’ll consider it”. No thought for player welfare because, at the forefront of Mr Smith’s mind was the lucrative TV broadcast deal. Suddenly, player welfare no longer came first. In fact, it wasn’t even in the picture. Surely, when people like Cam Smith and Wayne Bennett speak out strongly about an issue, it must be worth, at very least, strong consideration. I have written several times about the need to schedule our most lucrative concept, State of Origin, as a stand alone competition over 3 consecutive weekends for two important reasons: (1) to preserve player welfare and (2) because the current system compromises the integrity of the NRL competition given that teams like Melbourne Storm and North Queensland Cowboys are severely affected during origin period. Obviously, TV Broadcast is important but I think a compromise can be reached which satisfies all parties. Under my proposal, the competition is extending by just 1 week. Surely, broadcasters are not going to forgo lost revenue if the competition is restructured! If anything, the NRL competition can only be enhanced. Most fans want the change. Players want the change. Coaches want the change. The groundswell of support for stand alone Origin has been overwhelming. It’s time to actually put player welfare over money Mr Smith.
I listened, with interest, to Peter Sterling saying that, in days gone by, a handshake agreement was sufficient to secure a players commitment to a club. In fact, I understand that Wayne Bennett still operates under this method. Forget handshakes, a written contract (or memo of understanding), nowadays, does not even constitute a binding agreement. So, when James Tedesco reneged on an agreement to play with the Raiders over the next 3 years and stay with his mates at the Tigers, it was hardly surprising given the occurrence of similar incidents in recent history. Why is it happening? Because the NRL, in its infinite wisdom, allows a “cooling off period” which expires after round 13. Now, it may come as a surprise to some of you, but I’m actually a graduate from the School of Common Sense. In fact, I’m even a follower of the Church of Simplicity. My upbringing tells me the logical solution is to get rid of this stupid cooling off period. Once a contract is signed and registered with the NRL, that’s it! Any change of mind, heart or other anatomical part results in a breach of contract and consequences thereof. Of course, what gets lost in all this farce is the sinister involvement of player managers! More on this topic another time.
Eighteen months after former Federal Justice Minister Jason Clare declared it as the “blackest day in Australian sport”, the ASADA investigation took a strange twist when suspended NRL player Sandor Earl was, last week, acquitted of peptide trafficking charges. The whole ASADA investigation has been a complete farce to date and still no further infraction notice has been issued. Surely, it’s time to either put up or shut up and leave our shores for good? I’m sick to death of hearing any news about the ASADA investigation. No more said!
Who is the best player in the game?
At this very moment, who is the best player in the game? Inglis? Thurston? Cam Smith? Gallen? SBW? The way he is playing at the moment, you would have to say it’s Jarryd Hayne. He is untouchable at the moment. I believe he’s playing even better now than he did in 2009 when he cleaned up the Dally M awards. Having said that, if I were to start a new team from scratch, the first player I would pick is Daley Cherry-Evans. The way he destroyed the Bulldogs on one leg last Friday night is testimony to his credentials.
Is Benji Back?
Benji Marshall was back to his brilliant best against the Cronulla Sharks on Saturday night. The Dragons won 30-0 but it was Benji Marshall who did the damage. Before we get too excited, bare in mind that the Sharks had 11 regular first graders AND a coach out of action. Let’s wait until Benji plays a decent side before we pass judgement. On the positive side, he was finally running at line AND he didn’t throw one “no-look-cut-out-pass-to-the-grandstand”! That’s a good sign for Dragons fans.