Origin Month

Origin Month

I alluded to this in my previous article Reduce the Regular Season. The way to achieve this is simple, change Origin to a standalone format.

It is unfair for several teams to play without Origin players twice, while other teams play only once. That one game, can prove the difference between 8th and 9th spot come September.

The spread of representative players is also uneven with the Cowboys and Broncos providing 10 of Queensland’s 17. Both Brisbane and North Queensland lost on the weekend against opposition outside of the top 8. I fail to see why these clubs and many others before them should be penalized for their “good form”.

I’d even throw on the table ORIGIN MONTH…. The regular competition stops and Origin is played back to back over 3 weeks.

A standalone format gives clubs the opportunity to address player’s niggling injuries, injuries that are often aggravated throughout the season becoming serious injuries requiring extended time away from the field.

Kieran Foran was injured in last nights game against the Knights and will most likely be sidelined for several weeks (he has since been ruled out for the remainder of the 2016 season). He aggravated a shoulder injury that he has been carrying for several weeks. With Origin Month he potentially would not even miss a game, or better yet may have avoided the injury altogether.

Every fan wants to see their club take the field at full strength every week, presently injuries plague our competition. This mid season re-group would build a spectacular second half of the competition.

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Experience Vs. Youth

Experience Vs. Youth

Friday night saw the games greatest ever half face off against arguably 2016’s most inform half.

It was the Cowboy’s Jonathon Thurston that got the money against Brisbane’s Anthony Milford. It puts to rest the calls for youth over incumbents in the representative arenas.

Jonathon Thurston reinforced why he remains the go to half in the game when it comes to representative honours. While Mildford has been setting the game alight week in and week out, Thurston’s calmness and experience saw him get the job done once again in a tight and fast contest.

Like Thurston, Cameron Smith also removed any doubt regarding his aging ability when he kicked a 1 pointer a week earlier to put the Cowboys to the sword in another close encounter.

I wrote an article after the Anzac Test Match Culling Kangaroos for Joeys in response to Gus Gould’s comments for youth in the Australian side. And while I agree there are plenty of great and future representative stars coming through, these aging incumbents put rest to any argument over their worthiness week in and week out.

Win or Lose at the next World Cup, they deserve the opportunity to have a crack.

Origin Teams

Origin Teams

The State of Origin teams are on the verge of being announced, here is the nrlfanblog team selections.

POSITION

QUEENSLAND

1.

Darius Boyd

2.

Corey Oates

3.

Greg Inglis

4.

Justin O’Neill

5.

Kyle Feldt

6.

Jonathon Thurston

7.

Cooper Cronk

8.

Matt Scott

9.

Cameron Smith

10.

Josh McGuire

11.

Josh Papalii

12.

Matt Gillett

13.

Corey Parker

14.

Michael Morgan

15.

Sam Thaiday

16.

Nate Myles

17.

Aidan Guerra

18.

Gavin Cooper

Queensland

Not a great deal of change for the QLD with the proven incumbents selecting themselves to defend their career success in the Origin arena.

Corey Oates makes his debut outside Greg Inglis, while club teammates Justin O’Neill and Kyle Feldt make their debut on the right edge. O’Neill gets the cherry ahead of incumbent Dane Gagai purely based on club connections.

Sam Thaiday continues to play as an impact player, as he has done for Brisbane this season.

Nate Myles makes the side on a loyalty basis, leaving Gavin Cooper ready to go at 18th man.

 

 

POSITION

NEW SOUTH WALES

1.

James Tedesco (Josh Dugan while Tedesco is injured)

2.

Josh Mansour

3.

James Roberts

4.

Michael Jennings

5.

Josh Morris

6.

James Maloney

7.

Adam Reynolds

8.

Aaron Woods

9.

Mick Ennis

10.

James Tamou

11.

Beau Scott

12.

Boyd Cordner

13.

Paul Gallen

14.

Greg Bird

15.

Bryce Cartwright

16.

Andrew Fifita

17.

Trent Merrin

18.

David Klemmer

New South Wales

Tedesco gets the No.1 ahead of Dugan when he is fit, as his superior ball playing ability is a “must have” for Origin. James Roberts makes his debut squeezing Josh Morris to the wing and Blake Ferguson out of contention.

Mick Ennis gets the nod over Robbie Farah with his recent form to good to be overlooked.

Adam Reynolds gets the No.7 adding a new dimension with his superior kicking game. His defense will be tested, however Beau Scott will help tighten up Reynolds edge.

Greg Bird fills the utility role if needed, otherwise interchanging in 2nd row/lock.

Bryce Cartwright makes his debut, with David Klemmer 18th man.

Reduce the Regular Season

Reduce the Regular Season

Poor crowds, I have the solution……………..

Reduce the Regular Season!

Don’t get me wrong I love my footy, but year round footy doesn’t sell tickets.

The NFL only plays 16 regular season games giving each team 8 home games. A shorter season would condense regular season crowds and increase interest in the game.

For years rep players have raised concern over the amount of football they play when including representative games. Reducing the regular season would provide a better window for representative football, an area that needs attention. It would be great to see better quality international football that hosts the games best players.

The main challenge of this approach is scheduling. With fewer rounds very few teams would play eachother twice, if any. Home ground advantage would play a vital role in which teams play footy come September. Arguably this would only further increase interest in homes games, with fans able to play a role in getting their team through to the finals.

Leave the fans wanting more!!!

Rebuilding the Knights

Rebuilding the Knights

The last 4 games for the Newcastle Knights have been nothing short of horrendous, having conceded a whopping 179 points against and a mere 10 points for.

Regardless of whether or not you are a Knights supporter, the Knights situation is bad for NRL. It has gone beyond a “bad trot” to a real concern, I feel for the Knights staff, players and fans.

Experience

While it is important to bring through younger players, having them get annihilated every week is not going to do them any favours. We only need to look at Jarrod Mullen who was selected for NSW at 20 years old. Many figures criticised the selection, concerned for his long-term career. Mullen was dropped after only one game and in my opinion he failed to ever reach his true potential in the halves. There needs to be a balance of youth and experience in the red and blue.

Leadership

The Knights not only lack experience but more importantly LEADERSHIP, this is why there is no quick fix for the Knights. Bringing in a few leaders will give them the foundation to begin developing leaders from within the club.

Hard Decisions for the Future

With Jarrod Mullen’s career riddled with injuries it is time for the Knights faithful to make way for a new halves partner. Furthermore they need to look at the rest of the spine and bring some experience to Fullback and Hooker respectively. Any remaining funds should be spent bringing in a forward or two.

Halves

If Mullen retires at the completion of this season, I would be throwing everything at Corey Norman. With the Eel’s Salary Cap dramas they may not be able to compete for Normans signature.

Hooker

After signing Corey Norman, they need to lure Nathan Peats down from the Gold Coast at then end of next season. The pair already formed a solid combination at the Eels, getting them back together would all but complete their spine. Alternatively Cameron McInnes is proving rather handy for the Rabbits, should Tyler Randall fail to stamp his name on the No. 9 by the end of next season.

Fullback

Lure Valentine Homes away from the Sharks, by offering the No.1 spot at the Knights. He is not off contract until 2017, leaving Jaelen Feeney to fulfill his current contract.

Forwards

Hunting down Dene Haletau or Elijah Taylor from the Tigers to come in at lock replacing the retiring Jeremy Smith and going after Ethan Lowe at the expense of Tariq Sims for the 2016 season. There are plenty of good options coming off contract in 2017 to further strengthen the squad.

Additionally, Lachlan Maranta may be a good pick up to replace the outgoing James McManus for next season.

With 2016 well underway, there are few pickings left for the 2017 season. The Knights need to look at a 2-3 year plan, with major changes taking place for the 2018 season and the final touches being carried out in 2019.

International Rugby League

International Rugby League

Are you interested, bored or on the fence?

Anyone who watched Samoa Vs. Tonga last Saturday night would understand how great International Football can be. Before play even commenced I had goose bumps watching the two sides death stare each other in a several minute standoff, before each team performed their native tribal dance.

A game that featured a lower completion rate than an under 9’s match, seemingly proved more entertaining than the Friday night Test Match between Australia and NZ. It was nothing short of passionate Origin like football, with a crowd singing like an English Premier League match.

International Football has ebbed and flowed like a tide throughout the 21st century. It gets a mention every couple of weeks, enough to keep the flame going, but no one seems to be adding any fuel.

The Tonga Vs. Samoa match featured 33 players with NRL experience, which shows the abundance of Pacific Island players in Rugby League.

Developing and involving more countries would only benefit the NRL with the best international players striving to play in the pinnacle code, NRL. A supply of international players, playing in Australia would allow the NRL to look more seriously at expansion.

Seperating Representative Infringements

Seperating Representative Infringements

New Zealand and Broncos prop Adam Blair will miss the NRL Telstra Premiership clash with the Sea Eagles after taking an early guilty plea for a dangerous contact charge in the Test against the Kangaroos. Blair was charged with dangerous contact over a tackle on Kangaroos forward and Broncos teammate Sam Thaiday in the 62nd minute, and will serve a one-game ban with an early guilty plea.

Contrary conduct during a regular season round can rub a player out of Representative contention and as we have seen, the opposite. I imagine both Brisbane and Sam Thaiday would much prefer to have the charges dropped, allowing Blair to line up beside his victim this weekend.

It raises the question should Representative infringements be served separately?

Representative Rugby League should incorporate a separate demerit system, where infringements are served in Representative fixtures and not back in the NRL, and vice versa. The current system only disadvantages clubs who have representative players. We have seen the consequences in years past where clubs have pulled players out of City Country duty, taking away the risk of injury and suspension.

I believe Representative infringements should receive larger fines, and slightly reduced points. These are the game’s elite players, they can afford a few extra dollars for a Representative infringement. This system would also reduce the bias that becomes apparent during the Origin period, so many times we have seen the games elite seemingly receive and unexplainable lower grading for an infringement in the regular competition allowing them to line up for their respective State.  I firmly believe the rules do change when it comes to Origin (and International Rugby League) and the separate system would only see constant Rep offenders suspended from playing Rep footy.

A separate system would ensure the games best are always selected for Representative duties, and those that perhaps get caught in the heat of the moment during Representative fixtures do not carry the penalty back to their club team. After all it is Representative footy and the stakes and the passion are much higher.