NRL Expansion

NRL Expansion

The addition of one or two more teams has been a popular topic in recent years, with many buying into team expansion.

Splitting Brisbane

While Brisbane has the population to support another team, I’m not so sure it would be the best move. The Gold Coast is only a drive or train ride away from Brisbane and crowds are an issue there. It’s hard to say whether a new team would attract new supporters or divide Bronco’s supporters, halving memberships and attendances.

Although if this blog has taught me one thing…….. it’s that there are a lot of league fans in Brisbane who hate the Broncos. I believe expansion in Brisbane has to happen, but it would not be my pick for the immediate future.

Regional QLD

In my opinion this is not an option. There is simply not enough population to support another team in Regional QLD. The North Queensland Cowboys are exactly that……… North Queensland. The Cowboys are supported by much of the North, with many of their supporters travelling several hours to attend home games.

National Expansion

I believe we need to look to expansion outside of QLD and NSW, Western Australia and South Australia may be the option. Every capital city should have a team before we look elsewhere.

I also think Darwin could successfully host a team, however I believe the heat may be an issue up there. There is also Tasmania who heavily support AFL even though they do not have a team in the competition.

While the Western Reds and Adelaide Rams were once alive in Rugby League, I think under the current leadership the NRL can make the expansion a success. Lets make National Rugby League exactly that…………NATIONAL

The Challenge

The real solution and challenge is building a team that is part of the community. Wind the clock back 20+years when the world was a smaller place. Players worked and lived in the community they represented. With players rarely changing clubs, they were a real representation of the community.

This invokes passion even from those with little interest in the sport, much the same as many people come out of the woods for Origin. How many people get behind an Olympic sport purely because the Athlete is Australian? Or barrack for a team, because a player is from their hometown?

Do We Need Expansion

Honestly do we need to expand, is it worth the capital and the risk?

I see so much room for improvement within existing clubs, should we try clean up the street or start with our own backyard. We should be investing in our existing game base and ensuring a stable platform before expanding. The NRL is already doing this with securing Stadium upgrades at Parramatta and ANZ.

We need to continue to stabilise our current clubs before going after new markets.

LOYALTY???

LOYALTY???

Every year around State of Origin the term “loyalty” gets thrown around. After last night’s loss to QLD, the NSW players are once again calling for loyalty. Blues call for stability to break stranglehold

I’m going to let NSW in on a well-kept secret. Loyalty works for QLD, because they have won 11 of the past 12 series. The players are proven and they deserve the right to defend their titles regardless of their club form.

Now to NSW, who have won 1 series in the past 12 years…………. throw loyalty out the window.

Jump on youtube and watch a video of someone trying to net a basketball from halfway. They will throw it hundreds of times, just missing and hitting the ring, saying, “oh we almost got it”. This is NSW, almost there and very competitive but never quite getting the desired result. Like the youtube video, eventually they will get a net (2014), only then for the cycle to begin again.

I could argue both ways for choosing a new team for game 3, but ultimately with the series gone it doesn’t matter. NSW selectors need to pick some new talent in 2017, not because the current players are bad, because they have had their opportunity and didn’t get the goods. There is no need to replace the whole team, but for some long term incumbents it is time to handover the jersey and give someone else the opportunity.

Semi Walks Out

Semi Walks Out

AFL players play AFL, Rugby Union players play Rugby, yet Rugby League players play AFL, Union, NFL and Rugby League. What is wrong with Rugby League Players, why do they feel a need to go and achieve something in another code?

I am beyond frustrated with the constant rumours of our best up and commers looking to leave the code, the latest I have heard is Semi Radradra. Semi Radradra has apparently walked out on his contract with the Parramatta Eels. He flew out of Australia this morning headed to Fiji and told the club he will not be returning. It is said he has a big money deal lined up to play French rugby. WHY!!!! Semi, you just played for Australia, 1 GAME!

Rugby League is a job and we all want to earn as much as we can, but surely the money is not that significant we you add the risk of failing in that code. Look at Sam Burgess, Karmichael Hunt and Jarryd Hayne. Sam saw the light, Karmichael Hunt is playing for the Reds after his AFL career tanked, and Jarryd Hayne is chasing a different dream every week. All these players represented their Country in Rugby League, how is that not enough success?

Jarryd Hayne, Israel Folau, Karmichael Hunt, Sonny Bill Williams, all left the game and are still playing today, and you can now add Semi to this list. How much better would our game be if these men were back lining up each week.

The Best NRL TV Show

The Best NRL TV Show

Nowadays there is a smorgasbord of television programmes covering all things NRL. Here is my top 5.

  1. The Footy Show

For me the show went downhill upon the departure of Peter Sterling and Matty Johns. They do alot for Rugby League, but for mine fail to break down the game on screen. It features many NRL representatives but the lack of footy talk on the show excludes me as a fan.

  1. NRL 360

This show is now on 3 nights a week so they obviously have their fare share of supporters. They talk a lot of Rugby League focusing more on the media side of the game than the technical aspect. Each night they have themed guests in Players Nights, Coaches Night and Legends Night. I cannot take to Paul Kent, frequently disagreeing with his extremist view. Paul Kent host alongside Ben Ikin, arguably the nicest guy within Rugby League. The problem is Ben Ikin is too nice, and at times compares to a 10th grade Math teacher. He gets excited but fails to instill that excitement into his audience.

  1. Sterlo On the Couch

In my opinion Peter Sterling is one of, if not the best technical caller of the game. He, in my opinion is also one of the most unbiased commentators. Sterlo on the couch addresses a good amount of footy although the show is a bit short. The highlight of the show is Peter Sterling’s interviews, where he plays to the show’s name “On the Couch”. Pete’s one on one interviews provide an unseen insight into his guest and the show is worth watching just for the weekly interview.

  1. The Sunday Footy Show

If you want a technical account on the weeks happenings that offers a full wrap of all things NRL, then you cannot go past the Sunday Footy Show. Like NRL 360 they address almost every rumour and happening from within Rugby League, they just do it better. Formerly hosted by Peter Sterling (1993-2015), new host Yvonne Sampson also does a great job hosting the show. If you love your Rugby League and want to stay up to date with anything and everything NRL then make sure you tune in each Sunday.

  1. Monday Night with Matty Johns

In one word HILARIOUS! Matty Johns is comically priceless on his own and with the addition of Fletch & Hindy the show delivers one of the most entertaining and humorous wraps on the NRL. Lara Pitt delivers breaking news and some great inside scoops on NRL gossip. If you prefer a laugh over non stop football insight, then this is the No.1 show for you. There is a decent amount of technical talk on matches, although it runs short making way for several comical gags. It’s not as in depth as The Sunday Footy Show but it offers up unmatched entertainment.

Team Insight – Sydney Roosters

Team Insight – Sydney Roosters

Wind the clock back only one season and the Roosters are the minor premiers for the 3rd consecutive year. They consistently boasted the best defense in the competition and led the competition despite being the most penalised team in the NRL. The Roosters lost a fair amount of talent this year in James Maloney, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Michael Jennings and despite acquiring some handy replacements their season has fallen well short of expectation.

Looking at the Rooster rosters, it is bewildering how they sit in 15th place of the Ladder. Jackson Hastings and Ryan Matterson have put up some great performances in the halves, Latrell Mitchell is a star in the making while only Dale Copley has failed to deliver in 2016. The young halves have played well, but definitely would have benefited from lining up alongside a senior half like Maloney or Pierce all season. Still I don’t believe they are the reason for the Roosters slide down the competition ladder.

Why are the Roosters looking for a new fullback? Latrell Mitchell!! He is the first since Greg Inglis to boast such size and speed, and to be fair when GI entered the competition he was much smaller than the GI we know today. I understand that the young fullback is not a ball player, having yet to register a Try Assist and only throwing up 3 Line Break Assists for the 2016 season, but it is his debut season. The Chooks have already given him a full season at the back, it seems absurd to move him aside. I don’t know if he is happy to move to the wing and learn from a more experienced fullback, but I believe if he is unwillingly moved to the wing or relegated to the lower grades he will be poached by another club that will offer the No.1 spot.

Ultimately it is the defense of the Roosters that is to blame for their ambiguous season. It seems strange that losing a 5/8, Fullback and Center would cause a deterioration of defensive culture. For mine they still possess enough talent to be top 8 competitive. The Forwards need to dominate the middle third as they did in previous years and give these young talents something to play off the back of. While Trent Robinson needs to go back to the drawing board and re-instill the defensive culture of years past.

Team Insight – Cronulla Sharks

Team Insight – Cronulla Sharks

Up until this week I had my reservations about the Sharks. They had been playing well and had managed to string together an impressive 9 straight wins, but there is a big difference between regular season form and winning a Grand Final. Monday night’s game against the in form Cowboys cemented their status as “Genuine Premiership Contenders”.

Cronulla have now beaten every team in the top 8 with the exception of the Parramatta Eels, but no game was more important than defeating the premiers. The Sharks needed to prove they could rival a top 4 team at their best, and they did so on Monday night. The Sharks stayed in the grind and matched the physicality of the Cowboys and despite not being able being able to crack the Cowboys line in the 2nd half, they stayed in the contest through their resilient defence.

The whole club is in tremendous form, reflected by the selection of Jack Bird and Wade Graham for NSW, joining Paul Gallen, Andrew Fifita and James Maloney. The challenge for the Sharks is carrying this form into a distant final series. The final test for Cronulla will be a mental test, should their form start to waiver late in the regular season.

Will 2016 be the first time the Premiership is brought to the shire?

The Voice of Rugby League

The Voice of Rugby League

For me there is only one voice of Rugby League…… Ray Warren.

Perhaps it is because I grew up with “Rabbits” commentary, but I cannot imagine anyone else calling a State of Origin.

I love his voice and I love his call, he excites me and gets me up out of my chair.

But the end is nearing for the 72 year old with speculation 2016 may be his last season, and the time will come when he disconnects the microphone for the last time.

So who will be the next voice of Rugby League?

There are many co-commentators which call the game each week alongside Ray, however I couldn’t imagine any of them taking front seat. Gus Gould, Peter Sterling, Joey Johns, Paul Vautin and many other ex-players all form parts of the commentary team but none take the lead role. Their contribution comes by providing a technical view on the happenings of the game and they do it well.

Fox Sports has Warren Smith and Andrew Voss along with many co-commentators such as Matty Johns, Braith Anasta, Greg Alexander and others. For mine Smith and Vossy would have to be inline if Rabs were to give it up. Forget the regular season, let’s talk Origin.

Watching old games and hearing Ray Warren call “Webcke” in a State of Origin still gives me goose bumps. It raises hair listening to him calling “Johns, Johns, Johns” as he often so did when the playmaker made a break.

I don’t know who else is out there to take top spot and take over the greatest job in the world, so my vote would go to Vossy. Although the Fox Sport’s commentator’s commentary sometimes dazzles more than the game itself and his outlandish comments leave you sitting there thinking what is this guy on, he does make the footy exciting.

Who’s your vote?