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Geoff Toovey is right: minor premiership should carry a major reward

Date

Phil Gould

Losing its sheen: The winners of this year's minor premiership will pick up just $100,000 - as the Roosters did last year.

Losing its sheen: The winners of this year's minor premiership will pick up just $100,000 - as the Roosters did last year. Photo: Anthony Johnson

Manly coach Geoff Toovey is 100 per cent correct in his criticism concerning the lack of reward given to teams who win the minor premiership.  As has been publicised, clubs receive more prizemoney just for turning up for the Auckland Nines than for finishing on top of the ladder at the end of the home and away season.  How is the prizemoney for the minor premiership still $100,000?  It seems to have been stuck on that figure for years.  It is like the NYC salary cap, which is stuck on its 2008 level of $250,000.  Don’t our administrators understand that adjustments to figures such as these are required on a regular basis? We shouldn’t just be waiting for a public outcry before taking action.  The current top-eight system does not reward the minor premiers to the degree that previous finals systems did, which is both unfortunate and unfair. But at least we should have prizemoney for the minor premiers commensurate with the significant achievement of finishing first after 26 gruelling rounds of the NRL. 

 2. Premiers’ credentials on the line

The Sydney Roosters, on the back of three consecutive wins, have consolidated their spot in the top four. However, their clash this Sunday with the Warriors in Auckland is sure to tell us plenty more about their 2014 premiership credentials than we’ve learned over the past three weeks.  Their last three wins have been against teams outside of the top eight. This Sunday is the first of three successive matches against other top-eight opponents.  In eight matches against top-eight opponents this year, the Roosters have won just three, while the Warriors have won three of their seven against other top-eight sides.  The Roosters’ performance against the Tigers on Saturday night, in which they scored 40 second-half points in the wet away from home, could well be an indication they are approaching their 2013 form. The expected return on Sunday of their two most influential players, Sonny Bill Williams and Jake Friend, should ensure the club fields its strongest line-up of the year.  It will be just the Roosters’ fourth day game of the season but they have won their previous three, scoring at least 32 points in each.  The Warriors, though, are a most formidable opponent, particularly at home, and, as a result, we will surely learn on Sunday how realistic are the chances of the Roosters going back to back. 

3. Club championship title race hots up

The NRL club championship race is on in earnest with just three rounds remaining.  The Sydney Roosters, who won their 11th club championship last year with 78 points, have taken the outright lead on 61 points, but are just one point clear of Penrith (60), who are chasing their first ever title, and nine-time champion Parramatta (60).  Manly (57), Brisbane (57), Souths (56) and St George/Illawarra (56) are all within five points of the lead and remain very much in contention.  The club championship will be awarded to the strongest NRL club from the NRL and Holden Cup seasons, with equal points awarded for wins and byes in both competitions.  Four points are up for grabs for every club each weekend, so a possible 12 points could be obtained by a club in the final three weeks of the championship.  

 4. Is Jamie Soward the game’s greatest thinker?

Jamie Soward’s explanation of his thinking during the final minutes of Monday night’s gripping finish between the Panthers and Cowboys was absolutely extraordinary. With just over two minutes left on the clock, the Panthers were seemingly working into position to kick the ‘‘go-ahead’’ field goal. Soward looked at the timepiece and decided against drop-kicking for goal at this time. Instead, he neatly placed a strategic kick into the Cowboy’s in-goal to gain a repeat set of six. From the line-drop-out reception, Soward marshalled his troops before positioning fullback Matt Moylan for the game-winning field goal. Soward explained that if he went for the field goal the first time, and missed the kick, the Cowboys would then have a seven-tackle set from the 20m tap restart with two minutes still left on the game clock. Soward said, ‘‘I didn’t want to give a great player like Jonathan Thurston that much time and that many tackles to come down our end of the field and take the game away from us’’. I find this incredible. Running down the clock to deny his opponent a chance of winning, while at the same time manoeuvring play to give his own team one last shot at glory, is a stroke of genius.  I don’t know of too many players in history who would’ve been so cool and calculating under the pressure of such a tight finish in such a big game. Jamie Soward, take a bow. 

 5. Laurie Daley the man to lead Blues

I think the NSWRL has done the right thing in extending the contract of Blues State of Origin coach Laurie Daley for the next two years. My only issue is that they have not signed him for long enough. They should’ve signed Laurie for the next ten years. It has always been my belief that NSW will never enjoy a high level consistency of performance over a long period of time until  one person is put in charge of NSW Origin for at least a decade. No one knows the Origin landscape better than Laurie. He should be responsible for setting the systems and culture of NSW Origin football  both  now and for future generations. Laurie may choose not to coach the team for the whole decade. He can always bring in new coaching staff. But he should always be in charge of how NSW goes about its Origin campaigns. Whenever new players, coaches or staff come into the NSW Origin camp for the first time, Laurie is there to explain to them, ‘‘This is how we do Origin’’. Maybe then we can start reeling in the big Queensland lead in series won. 

 6. Darius Boyd is not alone 

For every star player like Darius Boyd who comes forward to admit his personal battles with depression and alcohol or drug abuse, let me tell you there are another ten young players in the system that are dealing with similar issues. The public only gets to hear about the high-profile cases. We have kids coming into the rugby league pathways as young as 15 years of age. They come to us from all walks of life. Many come to us with serious issues. Broken family life has failed them. The education system has failed them. Society in general has failed them. The biggest difference in the game’s administration at club level today, compared to say 20 years ago, or even ten years ago, is the increased investment in education and welfare. The full-time staffing in every club, of men and women dedicated to assisting the education and welfare of kids of all ages, is a credit to the game. Many young players are also involved in counselling programs to help them through difficult times. Hearing players of the status of Darius Boyd or Reni Maitua open up about their issues, really makes a difference in getting other young players to do the same.

Phil Gould is the general manager of the Penrith Panthers

11 comments so far

  • Ricky Stuart is "The Games Best Thinker". His newspaper column professed that.

    Commenter
    Bails
    Date and time
    August 19, 2014, 10:05PM
    • -It's a joke Minor-premiers are not rewarded in the NRL,unlike other sports

      -EPL soccer, minor-premiers is the pinnacle in soccer in England
      -In the A-League soccer,minor-premiers get an automatic spot in the Asian-Champion's League. Just incentive and reward in the A-League.

      NRL needs rewards: Here's a few solutions
      -Minor-Premiers should get more than 100K bonus, maybe up to 300K or even 500K
      -Maybe other salary-cap concessions eg Allowed 2 Marquee players out side cap the following season, or other concessions eg A higher salary cap, for your club following season.
      -More exposure the following seasons eg A guaranteed 3-5 Friday night games $$
      -Or in the finals series you still have "4 interchange players" but you get to have 11 interchanges, as opposed to all other teams just getting 10.
      -"Reverse back in the Grand Final" to 10 interchanges for both teams.

      But one thing's clear changes need to be made. More reward for minor-premiers.

      Commenter
      Matt
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      August 20, 2014, 1:31AM
      • Some good suggestions, but your second suggestion is silly. Minor Premiers get 2 marquee signings, then they are stronger next season and what if they win it again? eventually you have a team of superstars and its not an even competition anymore.

        Commenter
        Paul
        Location
        Sydney
        Date and time
        August 20, 2014, 3:58PM
    • Giving any money for minor premiership is ridiculous. Until every team plays each other twice, once at home and once away, we will never know which team was best over the season. The current method only indicates the unfairness of the ludicrous system used at the moment. With a proper home and away competition, you finish in the exact position you deserve. With the present set up, the NRL selects which teams you meet and don't meet in the second round, who can this be a balanced and fair competition?

      Commenter
      BIGPETE
      Location
      Bossley Park
      Date and time
      August 20, 2014, 5:29AM
      • Only Souths or Manly can realistically win the Minor Premiership in 2014.
        Manly in 2014 play every team in last years top 9 ( the 8 teams not including themselves) twice except for the Warriors and Newcastle,
        Souths play every team twice except for Cronulla, Melb, Newcastle.
        Both also played the Broncos twice.
        As opposed to Penrith who only play Manly, Souths, Roosters, Cowboys and Broncos once (also a nice little bonus of the 2 QLD teams also at their home ground). Good work GUS.
        Obviously CH9 like having Manly and or Souths on TV so the draw ensures "Blockbuster" games.
        When I looked at the draw at the start of the year I actually thought the Mighty Eagles would struggle with a horror draw which included trips to Townsville, Auckland, Melbourne Gold Coast. Congratulations to Toovey and his troops. Lets hope the referees Souths bias this season doesn't wreck the Grand Final.

        Commenter
        multi
        Location
        narrabeen
        Date and time
        August 20, 2014, 1:02PM
    • Just change the name to Premiers... Grand Final should be called Champions.... SIMPLE!

      Commenter
      Inspector Mellville
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      August 20, 2014, 6:26AM
      • Didn't know New York City (NYC) had a salary cap. Thinking of Wall St I would image the salary cap would be a lot higher. In regards to the minor premiership it means nothing as the teams don't play each other twice and it's often decide on for and against. The break up should be done like the La Liga and if team finish tied at the end of the season it goes to the results against each other. A fairer way of deciding the best team.

        Still can't believe Penrith are in the top four

        Commenter
        kellybellyfonte
        Date and time
        August 20, 2014, 8:45AM
        • Yes, the Minor Premiership winner should be lauded as the best over the whole season, ......and the rewards should reflect that.

          Commenter
          MM
          Location
          Brisbane
          Date and time
          August 20, 2014, 9:31AM
          • Yes $100,000 is a ridiculous low amount for winning the minor premiership , I`am positive the AFL would be paying the right amount. Just typical of the NRL "small thinkers, lemonade drinkers "attitude. The amount should be $250,000 at an absolute minimum .

            Commenter
            Bullsroar
            Date and time
            August 20, 2014, 10:40AM
            • Another player to open up about his own mental health issues was also Preston Campbell on Insight (SBS) recently - well worth a watch. Great to see more attention being drawn to the difficulties elite athletes who suffer from mental health issues face. Thanks Gus.

              Commenter
              Bunnies Gal
              Date and time
              August 20, 2014, 1:36PM

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