In recent times, the NRL has copped a bad wrap from almost all angles. Whether it be player walkouts, salary cap cheating, coaching drama, or State of Origin it seems to have changed, and not for the better.
Wind the clock back a few years and the NRL was being talked about as the most exciting competition and code in the world. The competition ladder was so close that teams were missing out on the eight by way of their points differential. The salary cap was doing it’s job and the fans were engaged.
So what has changed? Their are quite clearly two or three teams that in in contention to win the competition this year and equally as many that are in the running for the wooden spoon, while the rest seem to be going through the motions and just filling in the gaps.
Is it the players? This argument is null and void before it even begins. The NRL is now a breeding ground for extreme athletes that can do almost anything they want.
Marty Tapau is a great example of this. Jump on Instagram and have a look at the type of tin he is lifting in the gym. He has power, speed and agility, all prerequisites to be an NRL star.
Then there is the guys like James Tedesco, Greg Inglis, Kalyn Ponga, Cam Smith etc who are all freaks with the ball in hand. They all entertain the crowds and will continue to do so.
Is it the exodus of players? Again, this argument isn’t really an argument. Players leave the game, we all cry about it for a week then realise just how good the second stringer or debutant taking their place is.
Sonny-Bill Williams changed the game forever with his abilities to adapt back and forth to different codes. Jarryd Hayne defected to the NFL and then to Rugby Sevens in a bid to add a gold medal to his CV, Valentine Holmes has now set his sights on the NFL too and then there is Sam Burgess and Will Chambers who all gave union a crack, but in the end they all came back.
Is it State of Origin? Well, now we are getting closer. Origin is not ruining the NRL, in fact Origin is probably what is keeping so many interested during this part of the season. The excitement from the beginning of a new year is over, teams are starting to separate on the ladder and the end of the season still seems like a long way away. But Origin is a factor.
Is it the calendar? Now we are getting even closer again. Along with Origin the calendar is putting a damper on the game. The competition has its best players stripped for the best part of 12 weeks and rest of us are left to watch our teams crumble, unless of course you support the Warriors.
It has been talked about by so many ex-players and greats of the game, why can we not have a three week stand alone period where Origin is played along with some emerging nation tests.
The NRL is put on hold and the fans get three weeks of pure entertainment. Origin itself will be an even bigger spectacle with the teams spending all three weeks together and the fans aren’t left wondering where their team could be had their stars been playing.
Along with the calendar and Origin, the bunker needs some tweaking too. But before we get to that, surely a slight tweak of the calendar could go a long way in helping the fans come back and the talk of losing interest stop.