If there was any doubt that Phil Gould is one of the shrewdest operators in the business, the Bulldogs general manager has proven it once again in the past week.
National Rugby League CEO Todd Greenberg has today made a shock announcement about a controversial new initiative.
The NRL came under heavy scrutiny this week after dismal crowd attendances overshadowed the competition’s opening week of finals.
The 58,000 rugby league fans that showed up across the four games paled in comparison to the AFL’s crowd total of 234,000, and the NRL CEO has taken it upon himself to get fans back to the game.
Greenberg revealed his bold and controversial plan in an exclusive interview with The Roar:
The Roar: So Todd, crowds have been nothing short of disast-
Todd Greenberg: Let me just cut you off there, mate, I know where this is going. We were as disappointed as anyone at the crowd attendance over the weekend, and it’s just not good enough.
TR: So what are you guys going to do to fix it? Slash ticket prices? Cheaper food and d-
TG: I’m wrestling a bear.
TR: Excuse me?
TG: We’re ditching the Under 20s pre-game, I’m wrestling a bear.
TR: When you say you’re wrestling a bear…
TG: We’ve got a boxing ring, we’ve got a 115 kilo fully grown East Siberian Brown Bear that arrived by ship today. Three rounds. No judges. Winner by knockout or submission only.
TR: Haha, very good. But in all seriousness, what’s the plan?
TG: I’m deadly serious. I don’t have time for jokes. The only thing I have time for is the NRL’s devoted fans *pauses*…and that’s why I’m wrestling a bear.
TR: That’s one of the most insane things I’ve ever heard.
TG: Look we’ve gotten rid of the shoulder charge, we’ve gotten rid of the fights, the most biff we’ve got is David Klemmer giving DCE a slap across the cheek, and the crowds have abandoned us. If the people want blood, then blood is what they’ll get.
TR: How did you even think of this idea?
TG: My kid was watching that movie, Amateur-Ball or Semi-Pro or something, and in the film, Will Ferrel’s character fights a bear in a cage match to get crowds to come to the big game. It doesn’t take a genius to draw the parallels there – so now here I am, about to literally wrestle a bear.
TR: Todd, I don’t know how to put this any other way…but you really shouldn’t wrestle a bear.
TG: Different strokes for different folks…
TR: And your stroke…is unregistered, inter-species wrestling matches.
TG: Look mate, the game needs a spectacle and that’s what I’m giving the people. First you media types whinge about the crowds, then you say we’re not doing enough. Now you’re saying I shouldn’t wrestle a bear. We’re rugby league players, we’re not thinkers, we’re do-ers.
TR: And what you’re doing is wrestling a bear tomorrow night at the Eels vs Cowboys game at ANZ?
TG: That is correct. See you guys there.
Our lawyers advise us to inform you that this is obviously satire, and Todd Greenberg is not actually wrestling a bear. Even though it would definitely be awesome.