Thursday night games are back for the run to the finals, and naturally enough the Brisbane Broncos feature again. In 2018 they played on Thursday eight times, this year it’s seven.
The NRL will introduce a shot clock for sloppy coach swaps, aligning the practice with the game’s other time-restricted aspects like scrums, dropouts and being CEO at Manly.
The rule was drafted in response to the Wayne Bennett/Brisbane Broncos/Anthony Seibold/South Sydney melodrama, a four-pronged tornado of self-interest impelled by the prehistoric lunacy of pre-agreed conditions.
The saga – rumoured to have begun midway through the Kevin Rudd administration – reached a stunning crescendo on Sunday, bringing to a close weeks of role-swapping between the man purported as the greatest coach of recent times, and Bennett.
Such was the length of the negotiation process, even Cronulla had enough time to go broke before recovering to afford an international halfback’s wages for three years.
The agreement was revealed in unceremonious fashion for Bennett, who had to learn of his transfer to South Sydney via an emotional social media post from Darius Boyd.
This was a picture of the Brisbane fullback with his never-before-seen collection of the works of Russell Crowe, up to and including all albums by 30 Odd Foot of Grunt, in sepia.
While the convenient display of affection for the Romper Stomper star was perceived as a naked attempt to maintain his tether to Bennett, Boyd claimed his peculiar display of long-time adoration was genuine, despite the Crowe memorabilia remaining shrink-wrapped and the caption claiming he “loved Russell in Forgetting Sarah Marshall“.
Bennett’s tantric-like demise followed the comical scenes from earlier in the pre-season when Ivan Cleary’s inevitable move to Penrith was scuppered by ethics.
Angry and embarrassed, NRL bosses met immediately afterwards to determine how the Panthers bullying of Wests Tigers could be wrapped up more neatly in future.
Following a torrid 18-minute talk, the league decided a shot clock was the only way to expedite the farcical scenes of clubs and players being unfairly inconvenienced from breaking contracts.
While an appropriate timeframe is yet to be determined, officials will deem a swap to be in motion at the first sight of an unauthorised press conference and/or an assertion from Phil Gould.
Then at the expiry of the allotted time, all entities will be stuck with the lying backstabber they are collaborating with at the time. Additional penalties could include a fine, or for major breaches, Jason Taylor.
By restricting time on the process of bald-face lying, the NRL are confident it will not only accelerate the leaked emails, hiding in cafes, and recruiting and retaining for a club different to that on your polo shirt, it will also attract fresh sponsorship opportunities with the watchmaking industry.
Responses from clubs has been negative, with most agreeing the rule impinges on their right under the Fair Work Act to upheave everything bar themselves without fear of penalty.
While coaches are concerned a shot clock restricts their right to “do their jobs” and “lie without accountability in their own time”, they are said to be encouraged by the rule leaving them one ad-break away from a payout.