NRL: Clubs winning the war over international game
IT MIGHT be time for a radical step to resuscitate international league.
We always hear about the club versus country tussle but at the moment that battle is incredibly one sided. What the clubs want, they get and the Kiwis in particular often have to put on a brave face.
Not much has changed in a decade remember 2005 when Brian McClennan's team was hit by a slew of club enforced withdrawals?
Maybe league needs to have a look at Fifa's model. Sure you can pull out of the Anzac test, but that means you can't play for your club the following week. Or in the case of Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck; they'll miss four internationals, so shouldn't be available for the Roosters until round five of the 2015 NRL season.
"We need the international game you can't just throw it away," said Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens yesterday in a particularly pertinent comment.
At the moment everything is geared towards the NRL season and the international game sometimes seems like an afterthought. Player A needs surgery now to be ready in time for the all important season kick off, player B needs time out to rest body and mind because every NRL game is crucial. Well newsflash it isn't. The Roosters showed that this year when they recovered from a fairly mediocre start to the season to finish minor premiers again. Whereas test matches can define your career certainly much more than a round two NRL match in Canberra or Wollongong.
What about having surgery in November and coming back in April? Would it really be so bad?
The wider issue is the length of the season, which needs to be chopped by a month to accommodate an international calendar and give the players a chance to recover from an increasingly brutal sport. It's too long now, meaning players are often caught in the middle, needing to show loyalty to their main employer.