How do you fix a game that doesn’t acknowledge it requires fixing?
Joined August 2019
I’ve got some better ideas that don’t just recycle the same old rhetoric….how much time do you have?
In a nutshell, it would include but not be limited to:
1. Change to interchange rules to reduce number of players on first grade roster (reduce financial burden to teams) and increase fatigue = reduced injuries, more open non structured play etc. Have 4 on the interchange, 2 spare for head injuries (non team NRL Doctor must approve only). This sideline doctor will decide by watching replays. This could also help develop the ‘Captains Call’ system with the refs reviewing critical calls – but this would have to be done without removing fatigue.
2. Weight limits for forward pack and backs. E.g. You could say that there should be an average weight of 107.5 kgs per forward, so a pack total of 645kgs, with a maximum single player weight at 115kgs. This way, you can’t just stack a team full of giant young islanders with zero skills and no longevity once they run into their first large seasoned man. The backs could have an average weight of 97.5 kgs per player. I get the impression that some ‘amazing’ plays we all crap on about aren’t actually that amazing at all – its just that we aren’t used to seeing that stuff happen in first grade these days. Many players made it into first grade because they were bigger when they were teenagers, not necessarily better players per se. This would open the door to proper coach tactics and allow pathways for smaller, physically slower developing players (who are usually more skillful, but don’t mature until they are in their early 20s), to establish themselves in the NRL and remain competitive. Lets be honest, i want to see more Billy Slaters, Thurstons, Langers, Tooveys, Peachy’s, Murray’s, Sterlings, Johns’s, Lewis’s etc….at the moment we lose our minds over Ponga when there are 70-80 kg guys in Toronto and Coffs Harbour doing what he does week in week out, but they were never considered for NRL because they weren’t 100kgs at 13 years old. Rubbish! Especially for the Indigenous players – they are usually small until they hit their 20’s. Look at Brian Kelly! He’s a great example, but he was bigger when he was young too. There are so many Thurston’s out there – they just need to see a way forward.
3. Players MUST play in their numbered positions – unless the captain informs the ref of positional changes. This means that in a scrum, forwards must play their positions. Rugby League will continue to be a joke until this is at least fixed. The Hooker must take taps after a kick for touch. The Halfback must feed the scrum. Like Union – make it more professional. Learn from Rugby’s mistakes, but learn from their international appeal (and I don’t mean the ARU lol).
4. Scrums – don’t make them more complicated, just make them a competition. And once we fix my next point, there will be much less scrums anyway…
5. Knock ons and forward passes. Seriously NRL. You’re having a laugh. It’s almost a joke now. Actually, it’s been a joke for years now. THE BALL MUST LEAVE THE HANDS FORWARDS OR TOWARDS THE OPPONENTS TOUCH LINE!!!! FFS NRL!!! Let the game flow, let fatigue build, let open unstructured play! LET TRYS BE SCORED! This is what fans come to see! They come to see Ponga and Tedesco jink and step and wrap around and step and sprint and then pick out a tired larger forward and BOOM! Try time, amazing TV, amazing entertainment, everyone happy. HOW F*ING HARD IS IT!!??? Also, its 2019 – I know this is Australia and we are 10 years behind the rest of the world, but I’m sure there were GPS trackers in 2009 that could be put in a ball to track exactly everything in real time. Its 2019. Get with the program NRL. SMFH…..
Such a great product – such idiocy running the game.
6. Complete and comprehensive external audit of all aspects of the game NRL and state games, by an American NFL affiliated sports organisation. The NRL is like a bunch of smart dumb academics who have only sat in the same room with the same old mates for decades. It’s time to clean out the old heads and get some outside influence into the running of the game, without losing the core spirit of what Rugby League is – or should be; which is, a game that everyone should be able to play and be good at. The NRL needs a ‘standards’ department that demands teams conduct their business in the certain way to maintain a minimum standard – like the AFL.
7. Complete restructure of junior pathways. Weight classes. Not for the small kids, for the bigger kids. They need it badly. Look at the All Blacks. Their problems is that everyone is massive and can run over everyone, so they make sure they focus on skills and development as opposed to just picking the biggest players (granting them quick citizenship), then throwing them to the wolves. Also if you haven’t noticed, many of the AB’s players are not giant Fijians or Islanders – they are a mix – who is there best player? A small white guy who would have been overlooked in Australia for some Fijian who has been an ‘Aussie’ since breakfast time. They understand that certain ethnicities develop later in life, and that doesn’t mean if they aren’t good enough by the age of 16 then they are done and may as well go be a builder etc. The NRL is missing out on so much talent because of the obsession with these kids who we throw all this money at when they are 18, but once these kids can’t run over grown men like they did kids, they have no answers because they were never tested as kids. Then you get the little white kid who all the larger islanders just ran over each time, and now this kid is grown up, bigger, smarter, has build and developed faculties to beat these bigger kids – but now he’s the same size and is in much better condition due to not being flogged since the age of 18 in first grade – case and point: Reuben Garrick for Manly – then look at Taufua. If Taufua wasn’t a brick on legs, he wouldn’t be in first grade at all. He has basic skill now he’s been in the NRL for ages, but he’s only good because he’s big and picked young. Garrick is in his first year in NRL at 24. He’s playing like a veteran with absolute confidence and has skills Taufua can only dream of. We need to change the paradigm around what age players should start. 18 is too young and its making it hard for families to justify sending their kids to the slaughter each weekend at the hands of 100kg, 8 year old Tongan ‘kids’. It’s killing the game slowly but surely.
8. Contract limits. Players can’t sign contracts more than 4 years and its illegal for clubs, managers or players to talk about contracts until the end of the season in the last year of their contract. Players can only break contract under very strict circumstances. And the NRL determines the maximum yearly salary a club can pay a player in their first 4 years. So instead of players just choosing based on who can throw the most money at them, clubs will have to compete with facilities, trainers, coaches, opportunities, third party income, housing, etc etc et all. Or, if a contract is over a certain amount, its held in abeyance until the player has played over a certain amount of games or reaches a certain time period playing NRL. A full trade window would also work. How is it fair that a player on 100k per year lives in Brisbane with a cost of living much lower than a player on 100k living in Manly or Bondi or Melbourne? It’s a joke. HOW HARD IS IT NRL!!!???
9. Loyalty program. Once a player has been at a club for more than 10 years, including junior development time (e.g. Tom & Jake Trbojevic), they have a salary cap discount. This would help keep home grown players at clubs who developed them (considerations made for clubs with little or no junior programs) and there should also be a players swap or trial program like the EPL where you can send your young talent to another club for first grade EXP if an opportunity opens up. If you look at how the EPL does it, it works and helps foster good players getting in and crap ones not. Look at how the AFL does this – it works and the NRL are so stupid for not indulging in this. This way, Ponga could have stayed with NQ, but spent 2 years developing at Newcastle whist Thurston finished up (this is just an example) his career, then Ponga comes back with 2 years EXP under his belt and must finish off his contract at NQ; or, there is a buyout option where Newcastle would pay a huge tranfer fee etc. I think a ‘player manager code of conduct’ that is upheld and policed would stop lots of the contract issues we have in the NRL. Its a joke….
10. Dangerous contact. ANY contact with the head is carded – like Rugby Union. It has to stop. All the commentators crap on about it, contradict themselves and then are outraged when a ref bins someone. ANY Contact with the head is illegal contact – whether you’re a tackler or taking a hit up. If you raise your elbow and it makes contact with the neck or head in ANY way, its a penalty. Obviously the ref can use discretion – if its a cynical foul, then its an automatic yellow or red card (5 or 10 in the bin). This also goes for the ugly spectacle that is the collar fling. Again, its bloody dangerous and teaches poor technique. In Rugby Union, its illegal because its considered a part of the neck – and they are right. The NRL needs to end collar grabs NOW! They also need to ban entering a tackle by diving at legs, or back once a player is already bound by other players. Again, like Rugby, the NRL needs to bring in a ‘Cynical Foul’ rule so refs have discretion to give penalties based on if they think a player deliberately caused an injury etc or not. It works really well in Rugby and we see it exploited week in week out in the NRL and it’s a joke. HOW HARD IS IT?? Protect smaller players. Idiots who like to ‘smash’ smaller players with no repercussions should be automatically binned for 10. If they cause that player to have to leave the field for a HIA, they too, must be replaced for the 15 minutes at the expense of 1 of their interchanges – of which there are only 6. This will stop coaches training this crap. And again, if it keeps up, it’s the captain who will get 10 minutes also. What responsibility does a captain of a team have? None. He gets to jaw off to the ref with impunity. This has to change.
11. Professional fouls. Imagine this: Melbourne have already given away 2-3 penalties on their try line and the attacking team needs more than 2 points to win – and Cam Smith is getting away with murder and is instructing his team to lay in the ruck and keep getting penalties. The ref has warned Melbourne, but they keep on doing it. This time, Solomona comes out early and whacks someone and is called offside. The ref calls over Smith and Solomona and gives Solomona 5 in the bin for a professional foul. Then he gives Smith 10 in the bin for a team ‘Captain Penalty’ or ‘Team Foul’. If you keep stuffing up and playing negative footy, the Captain gets binned. Simple. THAT WILL STOP THIS CRAP. Trust me. HOW HARD IS IT??!!!
12. Professional conduct. Players should have to call the ref ‘Sir’. No exception. If ANYONE besides the captain gives lip to the ref, the ref is within his/her rights to bin them without a need to explain themselves. This goes both ways. Refs and officials (video refs et all), need to start using the players numbers when conducting official business in game. E.g., if the ref was calling out a player to red card them, like Rugby, they would say – ‘Melbourne Captain and your number 10’. They would approach the ref, not argue, the ref would explain what happened, then pull out the red card and send the ‘number 10’ on his way. Simple. The captain has the right to ask for clarification, if he’s respectful, but the ref also has the right to say ‘go away’ and get on with the game – many a time, captains just argue to waste time and let their team rest – so the refs discretion will be important if this is to work. But, It’s respectful. Its professional. It’s how the rest of the world does it for those reasons. The NRL sits there and complains about how the refs are so hard done by and cop so much crap – well, empower them!!! HOW HARD IS IT??!!!
13. 2 more clubs! We need a combined country NSW team based out of 4 NSW country towns; and, a club in Perth – this would probably run at a loss, but like the AFL, if you are prepared to stick to your guns and have a solid plan in place, you can have a team like the Melbourne Storm; Or….you can have a team like the Titans. I’d also move the Titans to Toowoomba/Ipswitch and call them the Western QLD Bulls. Another team could be in Gosford NSW as it’s a huge rugby league area. They should play home games in Norther Rivers also (Ballina, Byron etc).
14. Sack every person involved in NRL marketing et all, and hire a completely new team from the USA. After decades of poor ads, very poor professionalism on air, really bad missed opportunities, embarrassing media gaffes, pathetic grand final and SOO entertainment amongst other things, I think its time for the NRL to scrap the old ideas and bring in something fresh, new and global – again, get the AFL or NFL people to show you how to do it. Or me. I’ll help the NRL get to where were all want it to be.
15. Make the NRL Great Again!!!!
Seven steps to save the NRL