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Six interchanges: The big pigs are to go the way of the dinosaurs

Tim Gore Columnist

By Tim Gore, Tim Gore is a Roar Expert

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    When does 120 kilograms not go into 17? When there are only six interchanges a match. The era of big pigs playing in the front row is just about over.

    There is a fair bit of disquiet down in Canberra town right now, and it isn’t just because the frosts have arrived.

    Many of the faithful who bleed green are upset about the impending departure of their behemoth front rowers, Junior Paulo and local junior Shannon Boyd, at season’s end.

    What this issue really illustrates is the different realities of the club’s key stakeholders: the administration and the fans.

    As fans, we love our club, win or lose. It isn’t a job. Our fandom starts from whenever we found a passion for our side and extends to the grave. While we understand the realities of players coming and going, we grow fond of them. We want some kept well outside of the realities of the salary cap or the realities of how a team needs to be constructed to be competitive.

    The desire of fans to retain Boyd and Paulo really highlights how the loyalties of the fans can be out of step with the harsh reality that the CEO and coach have to deal with.

    For Don Furner Jr, Peter Mulholland and Ricky Stuart, the brutal truth is that they could not justify spending over $500,000 a season for behemoth props like Paulo (123kgs) or Boyd (122kgs).

    Why? There are four factors to be considered.

    Factor 1: Heavier blokes play fewer minutes
    Big units consistently need to be rested. Hauling around that amount of bulk is hard work.

    Have a look at the average minutes played by the players who regularly feature in the front row in the NRL:

    Name Minutes Weight Name Minutes Weight
    R. James 76.4 106 D. Alvaro 46.2 108
    A. Fifita 63.4 118 S. Taukeiaho 46.1 108
    A. Blair 59.4 109 B. Matulino 45.4 107
    M. Prior 59.1 105 M. Lodge 44.4 121
    A. Woods 55.6 111 J. Paulo 43.9 123
    D. Klemmer 55.1 116 S. Bolton 43.5 112
    R. Campbell-Gillard 53.2 115 M. Scott 42.2 110
    H. Ese’ese 51.7 107 N. Asofa-Solomona 42 115
    P. Vaughan 51.3 110 M. King 41.7 105
    M. Taupau 50.8 112 J. Waerea-Hargreaves 40.1 108
    D. Napa 49.8 113 J. McLean 40 118
    P. Terepo 49.6 106 J. Tamou 40 115
    I. Soliola 49 100 K. Sims 39.8 108
    J. Graham 48.8 107 T. Glasby 38.2 106
    A. Fonua-Blake 47.9 118 T. Mannah 36.9 110
    D. Saifiti 47.2 121 C. Welch 36.4 110
    R. Packer 47 119 G. Burgess 35.8 120
    J. Wallace 46.6 109 S. Boyd 34.9 122
    T. Burgess 46.5 120 A. Paasi 34.7 111
    J. Bromwich 46.3 114 J. Lillyman 33.9 104

    While there are freaks like Andrew Fifita who can haul 118 kgs around the park effectively for three quarters of the game, as a general rule the heavier you are the fewer minutes you play.

    Factor 2: Big players always require rotation
    A coach must rotate his 17 players around to cover 1040 playing minutes per match. That works out to an average of 61 minutes and 12 seconds per player if spread evenly. However, it isn’t spread evenly. There are seven players who are rarely interchanged: the backs. Each one plays 80 minutes, or 560 minutes of combined match time.

    That leaves the remaining ten players to cover 480 minutes between them at an average of 48 minutes each. That’s not unreasonable, especially when the hooker, lock and second rowers can be expected to do 60 minutes each minimum, or 240 minutes between them.

    That leaves the remaining six players having to average 40 minutes each, which works out neatly if you want to carry two props who only do 80 minutes between them. However, the interchanges are about to be reduced.

    junior-paulo-canberra-raiders-rugby-league-nrl-2016

    Factor 3: Only six interchanges in 2019
    Eight interchanges is a neat number when you have a four-man interchange bench, but cut it to six and things get more difficult.

    To rest both props and then bring them back uses two-thirds of your interchanges, allowing only two changes for the rest of the team for the remainder of the game. That’s a big risk.

    A risk that’s compounded when you get the inevitable injuries.

    So the value of the big pig’s impact on the line is drastically counteracted by their inability to cover more positions if required. While the likes of Ryan James, Matt Prior, Paul Vaughan and Marty Taupau could cover most spots in the pack and do big minutes, the likes of Paulo and Boyd can’t as easily. They have little utility value and could be defensive liabilities if played for too long or out of position.

    Factor 4: Balancing the salary cap
    The current salary cap is $9,400,000 per club a season, to cover the 30 players each squad is required by the NRL to have. Averaged out across all 30 players – and assuming no bonuses for such things as players making rep teams – that comes to $313,333 apiece.

    What does that sort of money buy you? I’m taking a guess, but I reckon that’d get you the likes of a Nelson Asofa-Solomona, or a Luke Bateman, or an Isaah Yeo, or a Peter Hiku. A good, solid player. Perhaps not a star, but very capable.

    However, as we know from Josh Dugan’s desire to get ‘fullback money’, different positions get bigger salaries than others.

    It is generally expected that the spine players will get the most money, while those on the least ($85,000 is the NRL minimum wage) will be fringe members of the squad, who play in the feeder club – either up-and-coming prospects or ageing players who can be called on to play a role.

    Consider this team make up:

    Hooker: $1,000,000
    Second Row 1: $500,000 Second Row 2: $450,000
    Lock: $500,000
    Halfback: $675,000
    Five Eighth: $575,000
    Winger 1: $350,000 Centre 1: $500,000 Centre 2: $400,000 Winger 2: $375,000
    Fullback: $750,000
    Bench reserve one: $275,000 Bench Reserve two: $250,000 Bench reserve three: $175,000 Bench reserve four: $175,000

    That’s $6,950,000 of your cap spent on just 15 of your 17 game-day players, leaving only $2,450,000 to get the last 15 players. That’s an average of $163,000 apiece.

    However, add two props to that at $600,000 each and then you’ve got just $1,250,000 for the remaining 13 players in your squad – an average of $96,153.

    That’s not the sort of money that can get you any great depth for when the injury or bad form fairy visits.

    So, given a roster manager has to consider the need for players to do big minutes and have some utility value, as well as the impending change to six interchanges, along with the emphasis on spending your cap to achieve these first three factors, if you then pay over $500,000 for a prop, it needs to be for a Ryan James, Paul Vaughan or Andrew Fifita, who can cover lots of positions, do big minutes and have impact.

    Gold Coast Titans player Ryan James

    So while lots of Raiders supporters are lamenting the loss of Paulo and Boyd, you can see that there is method in the administration’s madness. They just couldn’t justify spending huge money on low-minute, impact players with no utility value – no matter how much they loved them.

    It’s business. And if it isn’t managed well by you, then you’ll be replaced.

    So the sad truth is that, with the institution of the six interchange rule, the big pigs of rugby league are about to become extinct.

    While we will still remember with fondness the likes of Dallas Donnelly, Stan Jurd, Bob O’Reilly, George Rose and the footballer formerly known as ‘DogZilla’ smashing their generously endowed frames into the defensive lines, soon the legends are all that will be left.

    Tim Gore
    Tim Gore

    Tim has been an NRL statistician for ABC Radio Grandstand since 1999, primarily as part of their Canberra coverage. Tim has loved rugby league since Sterlo was a kid with lots of hair but was cursed with having no personal sporting ability whatsoever. He couldn't take a hit in footy, was a third division soccer player making up numbers, plays off 41 in golf and is possibly the world's worst cricketer ever. He has always been good at arguing the point though and he has a great memory of what happened. Follow Tim on Twitter.

    State of Origin 2 is here, with the Blues looking to wrap the 2018 series up and the Maroons hoping to keep it alive and force a decider. Follow along with our NSW vs QLD Origin 2 live scores and blog.

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    The Crowd Says (97)

    • Roar Guru

      May 24th 2018 @ 5:58am
      The Barry said | May 24th 2018 @ 5:58am | ! Report

      I don’t agree this will be the end of the big man. Looking back at it now through today’s lens it seems almost impossible to believe that guys like Steve Roach, Peter Tunks, Dallas Donnelly, Greg Dowling, etc used to play 80 minutes. But they did, week in, week out.

      There will be modifications to diet and training. Guys like Boyd and Paulo will drop a couple kegs and increase their endurance. I reckon the thought of more minutes will excite most big men.

      The patterns of interchanges will change. A lot of backrowers already play 80 minutes. That will no longer be a luxury. Rotating your dummy half through a game will become a luxury.

      For the non front row positions, we won’t see interchanges anymore. It will go back to a more traditional replacement with the player coming off at say the 60 minute mark to not return unless there’s injury.

      If you have four props capable of punching out 40 minutes each, your starting props play the first 20-25 minutes. Your bench props play the middle 30-40 minutes with the half time break in between with the starting props coming back in with 20-25 to go. Not much changes there except there’s less of a rotation.

      But most teams have props that play longer than 40. With Klemmer off the bench lately he’s been coming on at the 20 minute mark and then playing out the rest of the game. We’ll see a bit more of that.

      I think props with big motors and skills like Fifita and James that can play big minutes at high impact will become more valuable. Lumps like Paulo and Boyd will have to change (slightly) or perish.

      So out of six interchanges a coach can use:

      – a 20 minute prop plus a 60 minute prop – 1 interchange
      – 2 x 40 minute props – 2 interchanges (playing in 20, 40, 20 minute stints)
      – 1 x lock replaced at 60 minutes (by the starting 20 min prop)
      – 1 x interchange
      – 1 x backrower replaced at 60 minutes – 1 interchange

      Which leaves one extra interchange for injury or to bring on an attacking player towards the end. If both backrowers play 80 you have an additional interchange up your sleeve. If your 13 plays 80 mins as well you have three interchanges leftover.

      So your pack plays:

      8. First 20 mins plus last 20 mins replacing 13
      9. 80 mins
      10. First 20 mins plus last 20 mins
      11. 60 mins
      12. 80 mins
      13. 60 mins

      14. 20 mins before and 20 mins after halftime, interchanging with 10.
      15. Last 20 mins as a backrower
      16. Last 60 mins at prop
      17. Utility / injury replacement

      That’s not vastly different to today. It might mean carrying two low minute behemoths like Boyd and Paulo as your starting props becomes a luxury but you could easily have both in your squad rotating through one position.

      We may see a return to a lighter, better ball player at 13.

      I think it’s exciting.

      • Columnist

        May 24th 2018 @ 7:00am
        Tim Gore said | May 24th 2018 @ 7:00am | ! Report

        Strewth Baz, that’s longer than the article! All good points. But changes to diet and endurance will equate Dogzilla to Storm Kasiano or “Pig-lite”

        • Roar Guru

          May 24th 2018 @ 7:03am
          The Barry said | May 24th 2018 @ 7:03am | ! Report

          Sorry mate – it’s a really interesting subject and once I got on a roll…

          I think you can still carry a limited minutes giant just not 2-3. I think it will really shake things up from a tactical perspective.

          • Columnist

            May 24th 2018 @ 7:09am
            Tim Gore said | May 24th 2018 @ 7:09am | ! Report

            Don’t be sorry. All great stuff.
            I was a bit annoyed your blues team article – on the same day as mine – may have been better than mine.

          • Roar Guru

            May 24th 2018 @ 7:20am
            Emcie said | May 24th 2018 @ 7:20am | ! Report

            Does it signal the end of the little impact player coming on at the back end of each half?

            • Columnist

              May 24th 2018 @ 7:37am
              Tim Gore said | May 24th 2018 @ 7:37am | ! Report

              Not if they can cover multiple positions and do decent minutes.

            • May 24th 2018 @ 7:47am
              jimmmy said | May 24th 2018 @ 7:47am | ! Report

              Emcie, you bring up an interesting point. People point out what will happen when the rules of the game change and what effect it will have on how the game looks.
              Both predictions are usually wrong . The law of unintended consequences applies everywhere in rules based systems. What we seek we may not necessarily get.

            • Roar Guru

              May 24th 2018 @ 8:02am
              The Barry said | May 24th 2018 @ 8:02am | ! Report

              It changes it emcie…

              You wont be able to rotate those guys on and off like now but you can certainly carry someone like that as a) injury cover or b) play the last 20 minutes.

              The need for these guys probably decreases a bit as the little men you already have on the field are running at tired big blokes instead of players fresh off the bench.

              • Roar Guru

                May 24th 2018 @ 8:27am
                Emcie said | May 24th 2018 @ 8:27am | ! Report

                Yeah, I mean obviously there will still be a need for a genuine utility. Just that the tactical insertion of a small attacking player in ten minute stints to change momentum or put the foot down will become less feasible. Guys like Granville, Hunt and Nikorima all got their start as small impact players.

                Further reducing the interchange will definately benefit the smaller guys on the field over the course of the game, but it’ll also probably make it less viable to carry a smaller guy on the bench in favour of medium build players capable of covering more positions, meaning that smaller guys may be more effective but there will be fewer smaller guys in the competition as a whole.

                I’ve got nothing against further reducing the interchange, I just think that doing so in pursuit of a specific objective opens yourself up to many unintended conssequences which may counter your original goal

              • Roar Rookie

                May 24th 2018 @ 9:55am
                Don said | May 24th 2018 @ 9:55am | ! Report

                The end target is to reintroduce the fatigue element into the game of course.
                Interesting on NRL360 last night there was a clip of Alan Langer back in the early 90s Broncos and Greg Alexander made the comment that there was no one better than Alf at spotting a tired forward moving slow in the line and targeting him.

              • Roar Guru

                May 24th 2018 @ 11:17am
                Emcie said | May 24th 2018 @ 11:17am | ! Report

                I don’t think there’s any doubt that it will bring more fatigue into the game, I just don’t think that will result in what some seem to expect. People are focusing bringing fatigue into the game on the assumption that more fatigue will result in other outcomes they desire (less of a defensive focus, less structure, more opportunities for smaller players). But is that what’s going to happen? Will we still see instances where teams can field three smaller attacking players at certain times of the match that the current interchange system allows?

                If you focus on introducing fatigue that’s what you’ll get, but there’s no guarantee you’ll get what you want out of that. It’s like working your ass off to get rich so you’ll be happy, all you will get out of it is rich, happiness is dependent on a lot of other things. If you want to be happy then pursue happiness, you’ll have a much better chance then if you pursue something else in the hopes of recieving that as well. Similarly, if you want to introduce more smaller players into the game then pursue a course to ensure that (reduce the amount of interchanges in the forwards while keep the total amount of interchanges the same or a similar strategy) rather then pursuing something entirely different in the hoope that it will be a result as well.

                Reducing the interchange just seems to be a very broad strategy to be using to accomplish a very specific task.

          • Roar Rookie

            May 24th 2018 @ 8:01am
            Don said | May 24th 2018 @ 8:01am | ! Report

            Multiple really big men will still have a place in each team.
            Strength and conditioning for big men will change to suit and the only difference we will notice is some guys who can’t cop the fitness requirements will end up in Super League.

            Squads will still have 4 big props. You just won’t see back rowers who can easily play 80 effective minutes being given a rest because, well, they can…

            Andrew Fifita isn’t a freak. Plenty of the blokes playing 45 minutes can play at least 60.

            Even the example of Josh Papalii at Tim’s Raiders in the past few weeks shows how a guy previously viewed as an impact player capable of bursts of effort before resting is now playing 80 minutes of late.

            • May 24th 2018 @ 10:17am
              Geoff Foley said | May 24th 2018 @ 10:17am | ! Report

              Re Papalii, I’d say the coaches at The Raiders saw this change coming, looked at the big boppers on the roster and identified Papa as the one amongst them capable of changing into an 80 minute man. Boyd and Paulo may be able to upgrade to 50 effective minutes but I doubt much more than that; hence, they were happy to see both gone as opposed to just one. Am expecting a very different forward setup and playing style next year at the Raiders.

              • May 25th 2018 @ 9:01am
                Geoff from Bruce Stadium said | May 25th 2018 @ 9:01am | ! Report

                Spot on guys. I disagree with Tim’s assessment that Raiders supporters are upset about the loss of Paulo and Boyd next season. After the initial disappointment at letting go big boppers that can have a short term impact I think the fans can recognise the reality that they don’t have a big enough impact over 80 minutes as Tim’s stats show. Plus they have been found out in defence due to their lack of mobility.

                Boyd only punching out 34 minutes a match is pretty ordinary so you can understand why the club did not want to match the $650 K offered by the Titans. I would have thought hard about keeping Junior and upping his fitness levels to 50 minutes plus but I can understand their reluctance to match $700 K per season offered by the Eels. I think they’ve made the right decision in targeting Papalii as a keeper and letting the two big blokes go.

                Tim’s stats also highlight that the Raiders decision to let Vaughan go lat the end of 2016 and keep Boyd and Paulo was a mistake. Keeping two big boppers in the squad and letting go a more mobile forward has hurt their performances. Vaughan seemed to really fall out of favour in 2016 when the team was performing well but he’s certainly taken all before him since moving to the Dragons.

      • May 24th 2018 @ 11:43am
        Mushi said | May 24th 2018 @ 11:43am | ! Report

        Agree I think it’s the zippy little guy (second hooked usually) that is done.

        The third middle forward will need a rethink perhaps back to a high motor tackling machine of years gone by or the play maker you describe.

        • Roar Guru

          May 24th 2018 @ 11:53am
          Rellum said | May 24th 2018 @ 11:53am | ! Report

          If lock forwards go back to being lock forwards who are an extra ball player on either side then that would be a win.

          • May 24th 2018 @ 12:35pm
            Mushi said | May 24th 2018 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

            I think you get a mix. Which is great in and of itself as I think a sport is better with stylistic clashes.

            You’ll get the play maker on some and the workhorse tackler (who helps keep the other two behemoths fresh which is being left out in this analysis).

            I don’t think it stops having 4 big middle forwards though in the 17. If anything I think they become more important as winning the early field position battle will give a bigger advantage later on.

            Side note: Honestly I don’t know why we still use prop, lock, hooker, second row nomenclature.

            The “hooker” isn’t a forward, he’s a half and the lock is a middle forward. We’re clinging on to this like Americans with imperial.

            • Roar Guru

              May 24th 2018 @ 3:06pm
              Rellum said | May 24th 2018 @ 3:06pm | ! Report

              I would love it some coaches went with a tackling lock and others a ball playing lock. NRL coaches are not know for their originality or creativity though.

              • May 24th 2018 @ 4:07pm
                Mushi said | May 24th 2018 @ 4:07pm | ! Report

                There is not going to be enough playmaking locks so they’ll have to.

              • Roar Guru

                May 24th 2018 @ 5:21pm
                Rellum said | May 24th 2018 @ 5:21pm | ! Report

                No there isn’t. What does that say about the development of the modern league player. They are supposed to be more skill-full now than ever yet the skillf-ull ball playing lock forward is basically gone.

              • May 25th 2018 @ 8:04am
                mushi said | May 25th 2018 @ 8:04am | ! Report

                To be fair though hookers and fullbacks are better ball players now.

              • Roar Guru

                May 25th 2018 @ 12:55pm
                Rellum said | May 25th 2018 @ 12:55pm | ! Report

                I am not so sure about that.

    • May 24th 2018 @ 6:34am
      Simon Murray said | May 24th 2018 @ 6:34am | ! Report

      Is this just because the nrl can’t figure out how to use the in game rules to try and diminish wrestle and slow play the ball? Keep blowing the whistle, more cards please. Show the players the rules written down are the rules.

      • May 24th 2018 @ 12:06pm
        Michael Gannon said | May 24th 2018 @ 12:06pm | ! Report

        This reduction in interchanges will fail. They have forgotten that before interchanges started in the mid 1990s the game used to be played under a 5m rule not 10m. What will happen now is heaps more fatigued players getting penalised for not being back 10m and plenty more dummy half runs. Boring. Boring Boring footy is coming.

        • Roar Guru

          May 24th 2018 @ 1:56pm
          Matt H said | May 24th 2018 @ 1:56pm | ! Report

          That is definitely a risk

        • May 24th 2018 @ 4:14pm
          bbt said | May 24th 2018 @ 4:14pm | ! Report

          Agree with these comments. Defense will fall away in the last 1/4 of the game, which will be pretty boring as well. Tired players will make mistakes as well – anyone for a heap of scrums from dropped balls?

        • May 24th 2018 @ 6:19pm
          Jacko said | May 24th 2018 @ 6:19pm | ! Report

          Just leave the last 20 to the backs then…..they play 80 every week so are very used to it

        • Roar Guru

          May 24th 2018 @ 8:07pm
          Cadfael said | May 24th 2018 @ 8:07pm | ! Report

          Don’t forget it actually was a 10 metere rule. The defending AND attacking sides had to be each back 5 metres from ther play the ball. The coaches stuffed this up.

    • May 24th 2018 @ 6:44am
      Griffo said | May 24th 2018 @ 6:44am | ! Report

      I’m all for reducing interchange. It will give more space to crafty little guys at the back end and it will encourage forwards with a few more ball playing skills. Last I heard though, there were no plans to reduce the interchange further. What has changed lately?

      • Columnist

        May 24th 2018 @ 7:01am
        Tim Gore said | May 24th 2018 @ 7:01am | ! Report

        It’s still on the table. And not just about the wrestle, also to do with reducing injuries.

    • May 24th 2018 @ 7:21am
      3 recalcitrant monkeys said | May 24th 2018 @ 7:21am | ! Report

      There’s a great list of 80 minute beomoth pigs in rugby league history .what they are hoping will happen is they will pace themselves like the ol fellas did so lesson defenceive impact injuries .Remember the 1st 10 minute softening up period I think it goes for 80 minutes now . But the downside will be teams doing what they can to slow the game down to catch their breaths .

      • Columnist

        May 24th 2018 @ 7:38am
        Tim Gore said | May 24th 2018 @ 7:38am | ! Report

        Possibly. But perhaps not with the come back of the bin.

      • May 24th 2018 @ 10:19am
        Geoff Foley said | May 24th 2018 @ 10:19am | ! Report

        The game is so much faster than back in the day though. The game will possibly slow a little, but not enough to allow the big pigs to pace themselves for 80 minutes.

        • Roar Guru

          May 24th 2018 @ 10:24am
          Rellum said | May 24th 2018 @ 10:24am | ! Report

          Disagree, the game is much slower now. The is so many stoppages that the players can rest then rip into their hit ups again. The defensive line is much faster, which makes the game look faster but the players don’t nearly do as much running time wise, or I would guess distance wise.

          • Roar Guru

            May 24th 2018 @ 10:46am
            The Barry said | May 24th 2018 @ 10:46am | ! Report

            They certainly get more breathers these days than in days gone by…

            • May 24th 2018 @ 2:24pm
              Gray-Hand said | May 24th 2018 @ 2:24pm | ! Report

              My memory of rugby league only goes back to the mid-late 80’s, but I think if you did an analysis of games from that era to this era, you would find that the ball would be in play for longer these days.
              Back then, scrum restarts and kicks into touch took longer than they do today. Conversions took longer too. Also, fights were a lot more common and they are always good for a breather.

              • Roar Guru

                May 24th 2018 @ 4:52pm
                The Barry said | May 24th 2018 @ 4:52pm | ! Report

                Maybe…

                In the off-season I watched the four games of the Bulldogs 1995 semi final campaign.

                There was certainly the appearance that the game was faster.

                It surprised me how willing teams were to throw the ball around early in the tackle count regardless of field position. There were some errors that would get played sacked nowadays.

                So you could probably lol at tackle counts and say “back then they had 30 sets per half, now we have 38 sets per half” but there was definitely more play in each set.

                There was wrestling in the tackle – wrestling certainly isn’t new to the game. But it was different. Players would wrestle for position in the tackle but once the tackle was done players got up and into position. There wasn’t the constant lying on the ruck and wrestling on the ground that we see these days.

                I don’t know that scrums, penalties, goal kicks took longer. Generally speaking on a penalty they’d throw the ball to their half who’d belt it into touch and they’d get on with the game. No committee meetings.

                Same with dropouts and scrums. There’d be times teams would be dragging so they could get a breather but there wasn’t thestanding around doing nothing for 40 seconds at every scrum.

                I don’t have objective ball in play time evidence and you may very well be right but there was definitely the impression that more footy was being played.

              • Roar Guru

                May 24th 2018 @ 5:08pm
                Rellum said | May 24th 2018 @ 5:08pm | ! Report

                What Barry said.

                The current stat doing the rounds is the ball is currently in play for 47 mins out of 80.

    • May 24th 2018 @ 7:50am
      Paul said | May 24th 2018 @ 7:50am | ! Report

      Tim, not all dinosaurs were made extinct, many adapted and survived, which is exactly what will happen with big forwards. Sure there’s going to be a period of attrition, where the Paulos and Boyds might become extinct, but you’ve already pointed out a number of other players who will adapt to play at least 60 or 70 minutes, if not the full game. What we’re more likely to get are big guys with lots of ball skills, playing significant minutes, similar to a Beetson, Reddy, etc. Each side will aim to have one and some might have two, but you’re right, the days of having 8 guys who’s primary job is to make metres only, will disappear.

      We’re still going to have our 100kg plus backs, especially wingers, and I can see these guys having way more hitups, especially at the back end of halves. If sides have a couple of backs capable of taking on this role, then that side could afford more bigger guys, knowing they were covered when the big guys have a rest.

      I agree with TB, it’s going to really interesting to see how coaches plot and plan to use this change to best advantage. It certainly promises to make for more exciting football.

      • May 24th 2018 @ 3:03pm
        Mike Gordon said | May 24th 2018 @ 3:03pm | ! Report

        The Great Man known as “one-arf Artie” before he laid off the meat pies?

    • Roar Guru

      May 24th 2018 @ 7:53am
      Jason Hosken said | May 24th 2018 @ 7:53am | ! Report

      Sounds good in theory but fails to consider the ever increasing amount of time off during a match. Every try that goes to the bunker gives the boppers another few minutes to recover and therefore another few minutes of playing time.

      Seriously, 10 to 8, 8-6…does it really matter? I’d say it’s counterbalanced by the NRLs constant use of the bunker and needless referee showboating while handing out cautions to captains that are under the cosh.

      I don’t mean to sound like a sad sack Tim but there is at-least one upside, the NRL only has to teach its employees to count to 6…stop watches at the ready!!

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