The Roar
The Roar

Riley Pettigrew

Roar Guru

Joined December 2014

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Rugby league, NFL and Tennis enthusiast. International and women's rugby league advocate.

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The good thing about Brothers is that it will be embraced by all of Queensland. From what I have heard, the plan is eight games at Suncorp plus one at each of Cairns, Mackay, Toowoomba and either Rockhampton, Bundaberg, Wagga Wagga or Darwin.

Perth and Queensland 4 have to be the next two clubs in the NRL. Beyond that, the expansion plan should probably be, in order:
1. New Zealand 2 (South Pacific Cyclones – Christchurch/Wellington combined)
2. Central Coast
3. Papua New Guinea
4. Central Queensland
5. Adelaide
6. Victoria 2 (Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo combined)
7. Brisbane 3 and 4 (Redcliffe Dolphins/Jagera Jets)

My 2019 NRL wishlist

40+ rugby league clubs across NSW, QLD, NT and PNG, and 12,000 juniors. Seven leagues clubs with over 20,000 members and another two with over 10,000.

The Brothers really are the anti-Broncos. Rivalries with Titans and Cowboys as well. I’m sure that would be a lot of vitriole toward the Sydney clubs. The brand itself rivals Souths and St George in terms of how well-known it is.

At last count I believe there were 31 NRL players from the Confraternity last year, among them names such as Slater, Smith and Cherry-Evans. That’s more juniors than some other NRL clubs are currently producing.

My 2019 NRL wishlist

Great piece AJ. Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe there was a tinge of blue in the Raiders’ jersey during their glory days.

My wishlist is as follows:
1. Anyone to win but the Roosters or Storm: The NRL needs a grand final hero that doesn’t have a name like Cronk. It looks like Souths could be a good chance to win, so too the Panthers but we will have to wait and see.
2. Success for the Warriors and Knights: 2018 was a good start for the Warriors and Knights, and they will both hope to improve on their performances. A top four for the Warriors and top eight for the Knights is feasible.
3. NRL announce expansion: Two new teams – Brothers and West Coast Pirates (or Bears). Make the announcement now so they can start developing merchandise, building sponsorship, membership, etc in anticipation for the 2022 season.
4. NRL announce women’s expansion: six rounds (four teams) in 2019, six teams in 2020. Add two of the Raiders, Knights, Cowboys, Sharks or Rabbitohs. The talent is definitely there, you need only watch grassroots women’s rugby league to see just how much talent there is out there.
5. NRL and NZRL lock in Pacific Tri-Series from 2020 onwards: Build off the success of Tonga and push a Pacific Tri-Series with New Zealand and Samoa to be played in Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington.

A lot of pie in the sky stuff but I’d hope that at least three of my five can come true. Here’s hoping.

My 2019 NRL wishlist

I understand that you are trying to deny that international rugby league exists, but your point in saying that “there arent the player numbers in Australia and Northern England to fill all the Countries teams” makes zero sense whatsoever. All I did was take the existing RLIF properties and added U20s World Cup and Nines World Cup. I can’t see how there would be any player shortage given that most of these tournaments exist right now and have no issues in filling teams.

The RLIF needs to embrace its scrappy, start-up status

The biggest problem for the RLIF has always been that the NRL and RFL have infinitely more resources and thus more pulling power. I think the RLIF need to start doing some bullying and ask for X million dollars a year from the respective domestic governing bodies as an ‘investment’ into standardising international rugby league around the world, at least for the next 5-10 years while they establish their footing.

This ‘investment’ would ensure that the RLIF have enough moolah to properly organise international tournaments and develop their own brand that can help develop international rugby league around the world.

The RLIF’s properties would include: Rugby League World Cup (Men’s, Women’s, Wheelchair, Defence Forces), Emerging Nations World Championship, Nines World Cup, Four Nations (held in expansion markets not heartlands), U20s World Cup. Then funnel funds back to RLEF, APRLC and a newly formed RLA (Americas) branch to organise continental tournaments.

So the calendar would then look as follows:
Year 1 (2022) – Emerging Nations World Championship, U20s World Cup, Nines World Cup
Year 2 (2023) – European Championship, Pacific Cup, Americas Cup, U20s World Cup, Nines World Cup
Year 3 (2024) – Four Nations, U20s World Cup, Nines World Cup
Year 4 (2025) – Rugby League World Cup (Men’s, Women’s, Wheelchair, Defence Forces), U20s World Cup, Nines World Cup

Plug the rest of the schedule with other test series, restrict intercontinental matches to the World Cups.

The RLIF needs to embrace its scrappy, start-up status

New Zealand deserved to win that one, they were by far the better team. Just the confidence booster the Kiwis needed ahead of the Baskerville Shield. It will be a tough series against England, who despite being without a couple of big names, will put up a legitimate claim for the world No.2 spot. I’m looking forward to seeing how they come together versus France on Wednesday night.

This loss was long overdue for Meninga. Australia’s squad for this tour of New Zealand really didn’t make any sense. No Crichton, Papalii or RCG in the forwards. Probably three of the best throughout the 2018 season yet McLean and Woods were selected. Same goes for no Addo-Carr in the backline, easily one of the top three wingers for 2018. Australia will have it tough against a big Tongan forward pack next week. Hard to see them competing in the middle which could spell back-to-back losses.

Kiwis pip Kangaroos 26-24 in Test thriller

Manly and Cronulla have a combined 50,000 members do they, they’re hardly even close to 30,000 combined. In what world does Battle of the Beaches get below 10,000 at Brookvale. A rainy winter Friday 6pm possibly, but I’d suggest the SCG (or a refurbished SFS) wouldn’t get much better.

2019 NRL draw: How it should be scheduled

I really don’t think people are going to turn up to the SCG to watch Manly vs Cronulla, there is no need to be push Sydney teams toward the big stadiums for derbies. You’re more likely to get a 20,000 crowd for Sharks vs Dragons at Shark Park than you are at the SCG or WSS. I do like the premise of each team taking two games to regional/interstate locations and believe that the NRL should encourage and incentivise it, maybe they should make it part of the next TV rights deal that each team has to take at least one home game on the road.

2019 NRL draw: How it should be scheduled

You’re not wrong there Justin, it wasn’t the most entertaining game. Lots of drop ball throughout the game, it felt like that first half lasted about 55 minutes, so many stoppages. Regardless it is a good result for rugby league. London have come a long way in the last few years in terms of junior development, I’m looking forward to seeing how they go next year.

NRL retiree Luke Lewis involved in UFC debacle

But who would want to read about London beating Toronto for a place in the Super League, France vs Serbia in Belgrade or Turkey going on a dream-run at the Emerging Nations World Championship? Why read about the result of the PM’s XIII vs PNG or discuss Daly Cherry-Evans’ MOTM performance when you can talk about fans invading the field. Rugby league will always manage to find a headline when the focus should be where the action really is.

NRL retiree Luke Lewis involved in UFC debacle

2018 was a brilliant year for so many reasons. Not only did we see the closest season in years but we were introduced to a number of young stars including Kalyn Ponga, Victor Radley, Jamayne Isaako and Lachlan Lewis to name a few. The future is in safe hands and I must say that the 2018 retiring class was outstanding – Luke Lewis, Johnathan Thurston, Ryan Hoffman, Billy Slater, Simon Mannering, Jason Nightingale, Jason Clark. So much class.

The greatest part of 2018 however has been the rise of women’s rugby league. The Women’s State of Origin was a great experience to be apart of. The on-field product was outstanding and it was great to see so many young girls representing their junior clubs in the 7,000+ crowd. The NRLW exhibited just how far the game has come. Four weeks of tough football, every game was extremely close. I must also comment on the way the girls act off the field. There has not been one negative story. They are extremely well-spoken and willing to chat, very approachable whether after a game or attending a grassroots rugby league game and professional. The NRL women’s players are wonderful role models for girls and boys alike, it is having a knock-on effect and will be evidenced by positive growth in junior participation over the coming years.

Not only that but also some of the other events around the game. The PDRL World Club Challenge was a nice touch. Junior participation numbers are up. The NSW Cup Grand Final was outstanding. Media coverage was mostly positive.

And there is plenty more to come – this weekend’s Koori Knockout has been a stand-out. The Emerging Nations World Championship kicked off earlier today and will continue until the end of October. Australia play New Zealand and Tonga. New Zealand tour Europe versus England/France. Rugby League World Cup qualifiers take place. France play Serbia in Belgrade. England A tour PNG. And either Toronto or London will enter the Super League in 2019, decided by next week’s MPG in Canada.

Excited for the rest of 2018 and next year.

My top ten moments of the 2018 NRL season

G’day kk, absolutely great day to kick back after a brilliant day of footy. The season isn’t over just yet – Koori Knockout wraps up today, Emerging Nations World Championship all month in Sydney, Super League playoffs to come and internationals. Can’t wait to see what the off-season holds though.

2018 NRL Grand Final player ratings: Sydney Roosters

The NRL is probably in the best state it has been in for a long time.

I don’t think there is a problem with the referees although scaling back the Bunker through a captain’s challenge could be worth looking at or at least giving the Bunker a time restriction to make the call.

There is a place for the Nines but not in the pre-season. Ideally, I would like the NRL to be put on hold in June for internationals/Origin, play it across two weekends. Four cities host four teams each in a one-night round-robin (Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, Wellington), then top two progress to Brisbane finals the following Saturday.

Expansion: each team takes two games to regional NSW/QLD/VIC/NZ, Adelaide, Perth, NT. West Coast Pirates + Jagera Jets 2022-23 then two of Adelaide Rams/Central Coast Bears/PNG Hunters/South Pacific Cyclones 2027-29.

Play internationals instead of Super League vs NRL. Align NRL and Super League seasons then bring forward World Club Challenge 1-2 weeks after the NRL/SL Grand Finals at a neutral venue e.g. Doha, London, New York, Denver, etc.

Problems the NRL has to fix

I don’t see how your crowd proposal boosts attendances. Moving the Sea Eagles to the SFS? Good luck getting any more than 8,000 to that one. Why do some Sydney teams get 12 games in the city (i.e. Bulldogs, Sharks, Wests Tigers) while others get eight (i.e. Roosters)?

My two cents is making NRL teams take two games on the road (except for the Broncos and Knights – consistent, strong crowds)
Broncos – 12 Brisbane
Bulldogs – 10 Sydney, 1 Coffs Harbour, 1 Perth
Raiders – 10 Canberra, 1 Griffith, 1 Wagga Wagga
Cowboys – 10 Townsville, 1 Cairns, 1 Mackay
Titans – 10 Gold Coast, 1 Rockhampton, 1 Toowoomba
Sea Eagles – 10 Sydney, 1 Albury, 1 Christchurch
Storm – 10 Melbourne, 1 Ballarat, 1 Geelong
Knights – 12 Newcastle
Eels – 10 Sydney, 1 Dubbo, 1 Darwin
Panthers – 10 Sydney, 1 Bathurst, 1 Alice Springs
Sharks – 10 Sydney, 1 Orange, 1 Adelaide
Rabbitohs – 10 Sydney, 1 Central Coast, 1 Perth
Dragons – 6 Wollongong, 4 Sydney, 1 Mudgee, 1 Dunedin
Roosters – 10 Sydney, 1 Central Coast, 1 Adelaide
Warriors – 10 Auckland, 1 Hamilton, 1 New Plymouth
Wests Tigers – 10 Sydney, 1 Tamworth, 1 Wellington

Far from a perfect model, but make it fair on all teams (hypocritical based on the above I know). Bring games to the regional centres, affiliated states and major NZ cities. Ten Sydney games each, in theory reduced supply should lead to increased demand. 18,000 crowd average should be what the NRL are aiming for. Each team has between 3-4 FTA home games and 3-4 away, at least one must be Thursday/Friday night (NZ excepted) and another must be Sunday afternoon.

All of the NRL's problems - and how to solve them

G’day kk, thanks for reading and commenting throughout the year. Woods was a tough one, he came extremely close to a spot on the bench but I had to give it to Brandon Smith for his super-sub role. Woods filled the gap left by Gallen effectively, had some great runs and was strong in defence around the ruck. Looking forward to seeing how he goes for Cronulla in 2019.

NRL team of the week: Preliminary finals

I agree that there may not be enough elite talent to sustain expansion in the short-term however, I would argue that a six-team should be considered in either 2020 or 2021.

This season has felt way too short though and it is important that the NRL expand to a 6-week competition next year. Kick-off the competition parallel to the men’s Round 23. I have loved every moment of the 2018 season so far however, the way it is staged to be a double-header with the men’s is flawed. The Warriors got no home games this year, to me it feels like more of a series of exhibition matches. Maybe create a separate draw next year and actually play games in Brisbane and Auckland, even if it is at Langlands Park or equivalent.

Avoid expansion or NRLW will suffer, says coach

Not to mention Raiders (Riverina), Knights (Newcastle) and Titans (Northern Rivers). I believe that Wests Tigers are also going to strike a deal with Region 2 (Greater Northern).

Excluding the Dragons and Knights, each team can play one game in a regional centre:
Bulldogs – Coffs Harbour (Region 1)
Dragons – Wollongong (Region 5)
Knights – Newcastle (Region 6)
Panthers – Bathurst (Region 4)
Raiders – Wagga Wagga (Region 3)
Roosters – Central Coast (Region 6)
Wests Tigers – Tamworth (Region 2)

Add on:
Eels – Dubbo
Rabbitohs – Mudgee
Sea Eagles – Central Coast
Sharks – Griffith OR West Wyalong

That’s seven rural NSW towns, the only other town that has the venues which can hold NRL is Orange. If you set a standard of ten

NRL expansion: How could they pull it off?

How are they disadvantaged? Wyong’s focus was never on making it into the NRL but rather supporting grassroots rugby league on the Central Coast. The Roosters screwed them over and wanted to strip away their identity. Now Wyong will be providing a $10,000 annual grant to every CCDJRL club except Woy Woy, Erina and The Entrance. Wyong were crippled by the ISP deal and now that they are out of it they can focus on genuine grassroots stability in the Central Coast region.

NRL expansion: How could they pull it off?

The NSW Government can’t afford to keep building world-class 30,000-40,000 seat stadiums in every feasible location across the state. The three stadiums being renovated will work just fine. Western Sydney Stadium is the perfect size for the Bulldogs, Eels, Rabbitohs and Wests Tigers to play regular season games and would also accommodate the Panthers come finals time. If the Berejiklian/Foley governments wanted to splash more cash on Sydney stadia it would probably come through bringing our suburban grounds into the 21st century, and it appears that Panthers Stadium may be the first to be brought up to 30,000 capacity. I just can’t see a new 40,000 stadium being built in Liverpool, at least not in the short to medium term

The NRL needs a new stadium – but not another in the city

G’day Hayek, while Manly are an absolute basket case at the moment and Perth is a ripe market ready for the picking, I don’t think relocation of a Sydney club is the right answer. I doubt that Perth fans would end up supporting a washed-up club from the east coast, the only possible exception I can think of being the Bears.

Also, a minor note to say that a) the Western Force are still well and truly alive, and b) nib Stadium is probably the ‘modern’ equivalent of Brookvale and only seats around 20,000.

In saying that, I would support relocation of the Sea Eagles’ licence to Perth in the form of the West Coast Pirates. It would be crucial that when building the club the NRL resource the Pirates well and help to build a strong support and membership base. They will need the support of the WA government to build world-class facilities. A centre of excellence should be a priority and the NRL should also consult with the WA Government, RA and FFA to build a 30,000-seat world-class rectangular venue similar to AAMI Park and the new Western Sydney Stadium.

If I was in charge of the Pirates I would be doing everything I could to build a club similar to the Melbourne Storm and try to hire Craig Bellamy as coach or else someone like Adam O’Brien. The franchise could also seriously look at sourcing players not only from the local competition, but also from South Africa, New Zealand and Europe.

Gaining support in an AFL-mad market would be the most crucial. That could mean striking a deal to air all Pirates matches on FTA, similar to what the AFL does by showing local teams in all key markets. West Coast should focus on building a strong social media brand and aim for crowds around the 15,000-18,000 mark in the first few years as well as promoting a strong, membership culture that would rival the Broncos.

Necessary expansion: Why Manly should be sent to Perth

How have the Roosters earned the right? Well they won the minor premiership and also won their qualifying final to secure a ‘home prelim final’.

Yes, Sydney teams have lost the right to host finals at suburban grounds however they have the agency to choose where they host their finals matches between the SFS and ANZ Stadium. Case in point, the Panthers vs Bulldogs 2016 final: Penrith CHOSE to play at the SFS so as not to give the Bulldogs home-field advantage. I understand that neither ANZ Stadium nor the SFS are necessarily ‘home’ grounds for the Panthers but within the confines of the NRL’s finals venues policy they do have the choice of where they wish to play.

Finals week one/two venues:
Suncorp Stadium – Broncos
Cbus Super Stadium – Titans
1300Smiles Stadium – Cowboys
Allianz/ANZ Stadium, Sydney – Bulldogs, Sea Eagles, Eels, Panthers, Sharks, Rabbitohs, Dragons, Roosters, Wests Tigers
GIO Stadium – Raiders
McDonald Jones Stadium – Knights
AAMI Park – Storm
Mt Smart Stadium – Warriors

Finals week three venues:
Suncorp Stadium – Broncos, Titans
1300Smiles Stadium – Cowboys
Allianz/ANZ Stadium, Sydney – Bulldogs, Sea Eagles, Eels, Panthers, Sharks, Rabbitohs, Dragons, Roosters, Wests Tigers, Raiders, Knights
AAMI Park – Storm
Mt Smart Stadium – Warriors

The smaller NRL crowds confirm the AFL is the superior code? Rubbish!

100% agree with you there spruce. It seems the same people advocating for the Roosters vs Rabbitohs clash to be moved to ANZ Stadium are also calling for qualifying/elimination finals to be moved to suburban grounds. The 2014 prelim only drew 52,000 in a year that Souths were hunting their first premiership victory in an eternity. Past metrics aren’t necessarily the greatest indicator but those assuming that 65,000 fans will turn up are well off the mark. The Roosters earned the right to host a home semi and should have the choice whether they want to play it at ANZ or Allianz stadium, the NRL are not in the wrong here at all.

The smaller NRL crowds confirm the AFL is the superior code? Rubbish!

The NRL have genuine marketable stars. I don’t understand why they can’t use that to their advantage. Why not help guys like Ponga, RTS, etc. establish strong social media brands. It’s something you see in the US and Europe, Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the biggest social media stars in the world! Players can use their profiles to promote games, community events, etc. The only good example I have seen of it is Johnny Tuivasa-Sheck, Jordan Kahu and Isaac John creating YouTube content. What’s more, adopting American-style squad numbers with player names on jerseys would be awesome for merchandising. Sure it gets a bit annoying when you’re watching Super League sides with numbers 31, 22 and 27 but no 1, 6 or 9, but watch the $$$ roll in for all the people buying Ponga #1 and Cook #9 jerseys.

One thing the NRL is doing well at the moment in terms of promotion is street art. It’s something minor but has a great impact on showing a sense of community. When you drive into Redfern you’re greeted by a giant Greg Inglis mural. I understand there is a Slater one in Richmond and one in the Shire of Gallen/ET embracing. Something they should do more of across Sydney – how about a nice mural of Artie being carried from the field on his teammates shoulders in Bondi or Provan and Summons embracing near League Central, Johnathan Thurston wagging a victorious finger in the air in Townsville, etc.

The NAB AFL ads remind me a bit of the NRL’s 2009 season promo where Greg Inglis grew from a 6-year-old to a 14-year-old Alex Johnston and then an NRL star.

The smaller NRL crowds confirm the AFL is the superior code? Rubbish!

While I think it would be awesome having a stadium serviced by a railway hub that doesn’t involve walking half an hour through Surry Hills, the idea of Central being shut down for months on end will only breed protest from the lovely people of Sydney and surrounds. If the SCG trust deal hadn’t been signed, sealed and delivered then Prince Alfred Park may have been a nice option but I doubt the Berejiklian government have the guts nor the resources to pull out of the Moore Park contract at this stage.

The smaller NRL crowds confirm the AFL is the superior code? Rubbish!

2018 has been a great year for French rugby league. Catalans win the Challenge Cup, Toulouse Olympique reach the Qualifiers, France win the U19 European Championship and SO Avignon won in an entertaining Elite One Championship. It is a small step forward but one which will have a major impact in regaining a foothold in France. Very excited to see how Les Chanticleers fair in the end-of-year internationals. Five matches versus England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and New Zealand.

Catalans triumph: Rugby league takes another tentative couple of steps forward