Rugby League fans, the new season is upon us and it is expected to be one of the best in the code’s 104-year history.
In their first major decision the Independent Commission announced at the season launch that the NRL will no longer use their McIntyre system and will instead return back to the system used in the mid-90’s.
Make no qualms about it, John Grant and the Commission are the real decision makers of the game. David Gallop has been a stern supporter of the McIntyre system, used since 1999, and he has said multiple times over his 10 year tenure that “this is a system that suits our game better”.
But come season launch, he now toes the company line saying “It’s a fairer system for the top four clubs”.
The flaw of the McIntyre system was really felt in 2008 when the Warriors (8th) defeated the Storm (1st) 18-15 at Olympic Park. The Storm then had to travel away for the rest of the finals system and the Warriors received a home game the next week.
While most have criticised the fact that third and fourth could be knocked out in the first week, it has never happened.
Nevertheless, the recalled system rewards teams who finish in the top four, making it harder for teams finishing fifth to eight to make the grand final, as all their games are knock-out.
The season launch was a special event, held at the new headquarters of Rugby League. It featured the second instalment of the Bon Jovi ad campaign and the official season launch by two of the young stars of the game in Daly Cherry-Evans and Kieran Foran. Some hate it, but I personally think the Bon Jovi ad is a great campaign.
Round one starts with a blockbuster Thursday night, most likely a full house, in Newcastle. It promises to be a great opening night. The round ends on Monday night with another blockbuster with the Rabbitohs – Roosters derby, although this game should have been scheduled on a Sunday afternoon.
My tips for round 1 are: Knights, Broncos, Storm, Cowboys, Bulldogs, Warriors, Tigers and Roosters.