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Why David Gallop changed his mind about external draft for NRL


Steve Mascord

Set of Six

Origin hang-over? Josh Reynolds of the Bulldogs.

Origin hang-over? Josh Reynolds of the Bulldogs. Photo: Getty Images

Draft of change

David Gallop was originally a fan of an external player draft. But during his time as NRL chief executive, he came to see players representing their local town and city as a point of difference for rugby league in Australia. In practice, a rookie draft doesn’t just help the teams who finish down the bottom; it helps the teams whose junior pool is small. Clubs with huge junior leagues know it can save them a shedload of money by centralising development. But an external draft is at its best if the competition takes in truly virgin territory and the NRL only has one of those, Melbourne. Bottom line: are we happy for players representing their local area to become a coincidence, a statistical anomaly, as it is in the US?

It’s no try

Disrespectful?: Cowboys star Jonathan Thurston.

Disrespectful?: Cowboys star Jonathan Thurston. Photo: Getty Images

It’s heresy to suggest professional rugby league players aren’t trying. But the evidence is powerful that sometimes they try harder than at others. Newcastle started poorly against Melbourne and look how that ended. Wests Tigers let a kick-off go dead against North Queensland and never recovered. Most compellingly, in the fortnight after Bradford were relegated from Super League and their players’ futures left in jeopardy, they beat Wigan and Leeds! It doesn’t matter who’s verbally or politically undermining who, if influential people believe players aren’t trying for a coach, the coach is on borrowed time.  Michael Potter and his supporters don’t believe he should be judged on the last three weeks or the next four – but he will be.

Origin is innocent

Teammate Josh Morris says Josh Reynolds can’t blame an Origin hang-over for his bizarre performance on Friday night. The Canterbury and Blues half was reported for tripping and kicking and sent to the sin bin for a high tackle in a 41-10 pizzling by Brisbane.  “Grub had three weeks off – that freshened him up and he was ready to play,” said Morris, who made his own comeback from injury at Suncorp. “He always competes well; sometimes he hands himself in hot water. If we just hold onto the ball instead of trying to off-load it, and work for that quick play-the-ball, it can make a massive difference. We’re pushing passes because we probably need to win off every play.”

Sad times

A double dose of sadness now. Cronulla wore black arm bands at Mt Smart Stadium for Alex Daleo, a 24-year-old Australian who died in Croatia a week ago. It was reported he struck his head while jumping between two boats. “He’s a Sutherland Shire resident, he’s close to a number of the boys and the club thought it fitting to wear that armband for him.” Still in New Zealand, Lieutenant Sam Scott, 21, died from injuries sustained in a nines tournament last week at Linton Military Camp near Palmerston North. No information about the nature of his injuries has yet been made public.

Better left unsaid

Some rather earnest types thought Johnathan Thurston was “disrespectful” shooting for goal with his left foot at the end of the North Queensland-Wests Tigers rout. Well, blame the referees too. “Shayne Hayne told me he’d give me the two points even if I missed,” Thurston said. Next day, Penrith’s Jamie Soward seemed to be making a bunny ears sign as he left the field after starring against his former club. Some sort of ‘‘up yours’’? No, the symbol was a scorpion – an in-joke with hospitalised clubmate Bryce Cartwright, he said. Finally, crowds are not an issue in Toronto, where 7356 saw Canada beat the US 52-14 in the Colonial Cup on Sunday.

Hear all about it

To Australian eyes and ears, one of the best aspects of the Challenge Cup semi-finals at the weekend was the live broadcast of video referees checking would-be tries. There was none of this sanitised explanation after a call; the video ref asks the director live on air for replays and explains his thoughts as they enter his head. It’s compelling stuff. What do our referees have to hide? Could it be that some things they do – like “rocking and rolling”, or moving between one frame and the next repeatedly – are merely a charade to placate angry club coaches each Monday morning when they have long since made up their minds about what call they are going to give?

Twitter - @therealsteavis

9 comments so far

  • Bottom line: "are we happy for players representing their local area to become a coincidence, a statistical anomaly, as it is in the US?"

    Yep, we couldn't care less I reckon. The average fan only cares about 1 thing winning. Maybe a few die-hards or traditionalists may care, but they are the minority percentage of fan anyway,so there wants in reality don't hold any sway.
    Look back to Manly in the 1990's with all those Souths Juniors. Jim Serdaris,Craig Field, Terry Hill,Ian Roberts, did the average Manly fan care. Or all those kiwis who came over to Manly, did the average kiwi fan care. Does the average Souths fan care about all those foreign imports at the club the 4 Burgess Brothers, and Issac Luke etc. No they don't.
    The only thing the average fan cares about is winning and star players.
    Don't think the Green Machine Raiders cared about all those star Queenslander's at there club in the 80's and 90's. Do the Roosters fans care about getting local juniors from other clubs eg SBW.
    No the days of the local junior being the heart and soul of the club are long gone, and were fading away rapidly by the 90's anyway.
    It's all about star players, and winning, all that counts to the average bandwagon fan, not losing but playing with heart as all the club are local juniors.

    Date and time
    August 10, 2014, 11:28PM
    • Kate you are spot on. Very well said.

      Date and time
      August 11, 2014, 12:40PM
  • I don't seem to remember David Gallop ever getting the NRL a $1bn TV deal.

    GWS Giant
    Western Sydney
    Date and time
    August 11, 2014, 9:44AM
    • I still have doubts about the legality of a draft and feel it isn't needed in any event .The clubs with strong juniors cannot find places for all of them and the management system is such that players are being hawked around from early football age .The clubs with strong juniors seldom have a majority of those juniors in their senior ranks.Only 3-4 juniors in the Eels run on side , Penrith did a little better(after injuries) .The current system may be one of default , but it is providing a fairly good redistribution of talent .Lots of juggling within existing drafts - I give you this one if you give me that etc .Speak to clubs about the disconnect with promising young footballers far from home and apply thought to the ethnic bases where many young men have trouble coping away from family .

      Baulkham Hills
      Date and time
      August 11, 2014, 11:19AM
      • When I was reading the article, my first thought was ' the Hills District knows a bit about sharing their young talent across the board'. If there is a log jam at the NRL club, then the 'home grown' concept will be weakened.
        Most clubs still use their development systems to get some relief from salary cap squeeze, then hope like hell they identify the right players who stick. In the US the talent follows the money trail, the dollars are huge.The salary cap will tend to keep us in the half way house, ie half way to open slather.
        If the NRL ever decided to de-regulate payments or allocate much more to players, the market would decide whether the local player becomes a rarer species. A connection to a junior development system would seem to me to still be essential as a method of community involvement and promotion of the game, but you have to accept that youre firstly prepping up NRL players and secondly club stalwarts, rather than the other way around.

        Date and time
        August 11, 2014, 5:06PM
    • A draft has been tried in League before, tested in court by Terry Hill and failed. It may work in AFL as the players have nowhere else to go, but if tested it would also fail. NRL players have other options and restricting theirs locally would only push them to European leagues. The salary cap falls into this category too and has caused many a player to leave and play elsehwere.

      Date and time
      August 11, 2014, 3:20PM
      • As has been said, clubs can't afford to keep all of their juniors anyway so what is the ppurpose of the draft. Either remove the salary cap or create a draft, I don't believe we need both.

        Date and time
        August 11, 2014, 4:56PM
        • If you remove the cap half the Sydney clubs would fold or have to relocate to stay alive.
          Tigers, Knights, Sharks, and possibly Dogs and Eels would struggle to have the financial backing needed to retain quality players on an open market.

          Date and time
          August 11, 2014, 9:36PM
      • Thanks for mentioning the Canada Game, and their record win and crowd!

        Date and time
        August 11, 2014, 6:17PM

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