Is live coverage damaging rugby league?

Penrith are playing Brisbane tonight at CUA Stadium (about 10 minutes away from where I live), and I’m staying inside my cosy warm house to watch it live on Channel 9. This is as opposed to paying around $20 and whatever else I’d require for food and drink, and rugging up in pretty cold temperatures.

As I type this I’ve been listening to 2GB’s preview of the game, and apparently the crowd at the ground is rather small with a few minutes left until kickoff. The Continuous Call Team is discussing why, and one such reason is the structure of Friday night games, with a live game shown on Nine at around 7:30pm and another one on delay at 9:30pm. One game used to be played on Fridays up until last year, and was shown on a 1 hour delay at 8:30pm.

Would such reversion to one game on Friday nights, with possibly an extra game played during the day, help bring crowds out of their houses and local watering holes to the grounds? I used to like Saturday afternoon footy back in the days of the State Bank Big Game on Channel 10 in the late 80s/early 90s. Kickoff at 3pm, enough daylight to make it not too cold for spectators, and it could even be restricted to radio broadcasting if desired.

Some may argue that Saturday is the domain of kids’ sport, but I don’t think that it would be detrimental to kids and their own recreational pursuits if planned appropriately. All I know is that if clubs are lamenting small crowds at their games, they should lobby the NRL to consider shifting more games to Saturday afternoons just like the AFL does. Playing up to 5 out of the 8 games each week when the sun’s down just seems a bit old hat, and daytime footy would in my opinion be a bit more conducive to better quality of play, since you wouldn’t have to worry about dew making the ball and the grass slippery.

Go the Panthers!!

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Iemmic

The Blues’ performance tonight up at Suncorp Stadium, losing 30-0, was totally and utterly Iemmic.

Would you let Willie Mason skipper the Blues next year?

With Danny Buderus heading to England next year, the captaincy of the NSW State of Origin team will be up for grabs, and Willie Mason (unsurprisingly) has said that he would relish the chance to lead his state.

Looking back at the list of greats who have led the Blues into battle, Willie doesn’t really stand out as one who would continue the legacy. But part of me thinks he may actually make a good job of it, despite the fact that I’m by no means a fan of him. He does lift in big matches such as Origin, and whilst his leadership qualities may be a bit sub-standard, he stands out as a player with a wealth of experience in these matches.

Of the current squad, I can only think of Mark Gasnier who comes close in terms of experience, and he’s probably been a bit more more consistent when it comes to his image in the game (albeit with a blip on the radar when he was dropped from the Blues side in 2004 for a lewd phone message he left on a womans’ phone). Also, Gasnier is the Dragons’ current skipper, which will count for a little bit.

Source: Livenews

Darren Lockyer ruled out of Origin II

Ray Hadley’s just made the announcement on the Continuous Call Team. NSW’s quest to win the series up at Suncorp has just become only slightly easier, because I’m sure Scott Prince (who thoroughly deserves his opportunity to come into the starting side) will do enough to fill the gap. I’ll be watching the game with the men from church at our traditional Origin night and it will be a classic.

Source: Livenews

$$$onny Bill William$$$

The continuing story of Bungalow Bill Sonny Bill Williams is surely tiring Bulldogs fans and destabilising the club to the nth degree (as evidenced by the poor recent form of the team on the field). As is usually the case with these tense conflicts between player and club, Sonny Bill believes that at $525000 per year, he is being undervalued. An interesting observation made by Bec and Buzz in the Sunday Telegraph is that during an interview with New Zealand’s NZTV, he sported a jacket with a shiny dollar sign emblazoned on his chest – pretty much where his heart would be.

I don’t like the Dogs all that much – almost solely because of where I live, but in the midst of modest club heroes such as Steve Mortimer, Daryl Halligan and Hazem el Masri, they’ve had a history of players whose minds haven’t been with showing loyalty and passion for the jumper that they wear. When Willie Mason left the club last year, Sonny Bill came out and criticised his former teammate for his lack of loyalty. Now the boot’s on the other foot and I can hardly imagine that his teammates would not be wondering what’s at the heart of his grumbles – genuine discomfort or selfish greed.

I don’t care what happens with this whole saga. But it is very disappointing to say the least that people like Sonny Bill Williams are so wrapped up in money in a time where most working class people are struggling to afford the costs of life. Seems like he doesn’t deserve a hundredth of what the Dogs are giving him, let alone the whole lot.

Whatever the outcome is, he needs to pull his head in and stop showing the rampant and unrepentant greed that is all too often associated with high paid sports stars. It’s nothing that children should be aspiring to.

Read this News Limited story for more information on his interview with TVNZ.

Nodding Dog

I spoke about the need for teams to be solid and steady in their retention of halfbacks a couple of days ago. Today comes news that Brett Kimmorley will be playing with the Bulldogs next year – the sixth club of his career (having spent time at Newcastle, the Hunter Mariners, Melbourne, Northern Eagles and Cronulla since his debut in 1995). After 6 reasonably solid years at the Sharks, it appears that the Dogs are hoping to finally fill the void that Brent Sherwin left when he moved to the English Super League last year.

Source: Fox Sports

Another halfback leaves Penrith

It’s perhaps not as crucial a letting go as NSW halfback Peter Wallace last year, but Joe Williams has been released and has joined the Bulldogs. It’s true that in the current scheme of things he probably looks as if he’d be waiting an eternity for a run on start, but he’s at least the 5th number 7 that has exited from the club in the past year or so (Craig Gower, Wallace, Brett Firman, Richie Williams and now Joe Williams). Add to that the fact that Luke Lewis is tied with Souths for next year, and it just looks like a revolving door of halfbacks at CUA Stadium.

Which, of course, is no good for Penrith considering the well known and proven belief that premiership winning teams require top shelf halfbacks who control the play, provide solid leadership and vision, and prove a class above their opposite number in almost every game. Jarrod Sammut’s form has been a bit unsteady over the past month and he may be showing that he’s not a long term option as a 7, so one would have to be wondering whether or not it’s wise for Matt Elliott to use the left over money from the moving on of Lewis and Tony Puletua at the end of the year to try to lure a top class specialist half and solve the problem that’s existed ever since Craig Gower’s form started dropping off around 2005/6.

Put simply, we can’t win a premiership, let alone prove ourselves as genuine contenders, until we realise that there’s no merit in part time halfbacks. If only Gower had been a bit more open in letting people know that he was itching for a code switch earlier than this time last year so that he could have been released and the money left over used to keep Wallace in a Panthers jersey.

Source: Fox Sports