My version of heaven is an entire day of footy, and it’s fair to say that within two minutes of the Auckland Nines last weekend, I was hooked.
The weekend overall was fantastic with brilliant tries, outstanding defence and a game played in the right spirit.
But when there are winners there are always losers, and the big losers were the All
Stars and the possibility of an expanded World Club Challenge. Add the All Stars to the calendar and a world club challenge in England next year and the pre season schedule becomes a dog’s breakfast.
That’s too much footy according to some, with players already complaining that the schedule is too packed and the typical commentators are already trashing the tournament thanks to the mounting injury toll.
So the spanner is in the works, but there a few options the game can do to prevent a #crisis.
The time has come for the NRL to welcome Australia Day to the calendar, and the WCC (wherever it’s played) is a perfect game for it. This would result in far less interruption for the Super League and far less travel impact for the NRL club.
If the All Stars match is to continue in some form, it needs to be taken around the country — Gold Coast and Brisbane have had their time — and if the NRL wants to expand there’s no better advertisement for the game than some of the best players being on showcase.
[The NBA moves its All Star Game around the US, as does the NFL with the Superbowl. It keeps the format fresh and the crowds coming back every year, because it’s always a different crowd — JJ.]
Whether the All Stars match happens every two or so years, a Polynesian All Stars team could be introduced and all three teams could play each other over a three-year period. That could open up the possibility of Greg Inglis playing for both the Indigenous and NRL All stars.
The concept isn’t dead by any reach, but it does need some type of reinvention.
Now with reports of a NFL-style build up to the Grand Final, we could even see the All Stars match played a week before the final game of the season (http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-league/league-news/nrl-considers-grand-final-shakeup-20140216-32u15.html).
It shows I’m not alone in thinking a couple of adjustments need to be made.
At the very least, trial games should be scraped bar one weekend before the regular season. In a perfect world there would be no trial games but to ensure the country fans are not forgotten we would have more NRL games taken to these areas mid-season — but the NRL and clubs must work together.
The Nines has certainly put a spanner in the works though, because simply put: it’s the best thing to happen to the pre season schedule in a long, long time.
I’m simply obsessed.