EVERY year Leeds play in the World Club Challenge, their CEO Gary Hetherington offers to play it in Australia and calls for the concept to be expanded.
Every year, nothing of the sort happens.
But things are different this time. In the middle of last season, South Sydney chief executive Shane Richardson flew to England for talks with Hetherington, Warrington ‘pop impresario’ Simon Moran and Wigan’s Ian Lenagan.
They agreed to play the WCC in the opposite hemisphere to internationals in each season for the next five, and to trial an expanded competition every second year.
The six-team comp in 2015 does not mean six teams have a chance of being crowned world champions. It means the game will be played as part of a Super League v NRL ‘Test’ series.
On a single weekend in February, 2015, Super League will be paused and on Friday night the third-finishing teams in each comp will meet, followed by the second-finishing on Saturday – with the WCC on Sunday.
This concept has the backing of NRL clubs – but they key is selling it as a separate television produce and building it up to the point that states and cities bid to host it.
Playing the WCC in Australia next year will have no impact at all on the All Stars or the planned Auckland Nines – instead the pre-season will start to generate some real momentum (throw in the Charity Shield as well).
Although the clubs support these ideas, they still need to be signed off on by the ARLC and the RFL.
THE Australian Crime Commission report was tabled at a media conference just as the last Discord was being posted.
That was unfortunate timing for readers of this column but my initial thoughts on what does seem to be somewhat of a mess right now appear in Wednesday’s Rugby League Week.
Colleague Richard Hinds has cautioned officials against shooting the messenger but a few league officials – North Queensland coach Neil Henry and South Sydney chief executive Shane Richardson come to mind – have broken ranks and lashed out at the process so far.
If we break things down into how the various parties acted and how we think they should have acted, the difficulties involved become clearer.
Richardson’s argument that the report should have been tabled in parliament instead of at a press conference appear sound – although knowing how the media works, the chaos surrounding “named names” would have dwarfed what we have already seen.
Can you imagine player X showing up for training after his name was mentioned in parliament? Even though he has tested positive to nothing, he would have become a victim in his own house.
Should the NRL have sought permission from the ACC to contact individuals instead of clubs, even if such permission had been longer coming? I think so. That way clubs would not have been slighted, as they clearly believe they have.
But individuals would not put out press releases saying they had been contacted, would they? And this is the key – the imperative that progress SEEMS to be being made, as opposed to it actually occurring.
If the NRL had said “we contacted 24 individuals who have been mentioned in the report” and then none of them said boo, it would not have gone close to feed the hungry media beast and criticism would have rained down on League Central.
The clubs, in the main, have reacted well. Cronulla, in particular, should be congratulated for going into some detail about the allegations concerning them.
But saying “no-one at our club has tested positive” is just PR spin – if they had, we’d have heard about it by now!
What people in rugby league perhaps don’t realise is that they are seen as mere cogs in a massive government operation. The government isn’t worried about hurting our feelings.
It’s going to go on all year. At this stage, it may look like a grandstanding over-reaction. God forbid we one day look back at it all as an under-reaction to what was really taking place below the surface in our game.
MELBOURNE’s WCC jaunt didn’t start off so well.