By STEVE MASCORD
CANTERBURY chief executive Raelene Castle has blasted the 11th hour call-up of Josh Morris as “not very reasonable” and suggested split rounds now operate as a de facto salary cap.
Nineteen-year-old Reimis Smith – with an entire match the day before under his belt – had to drive to Canberra to make his debut on Sunday when Blues centre Josh Dugan pulled himself out of last night’s opening interstate match due to an elbow complaint.
“The etiquette in place at the moment is we just have to release our players for Kangaroos and Origin,” Castle tells League Week.
“But in reality, when you’re running a professional competition, to expect us to do that on the morning of a game when we’re 300 km away and our NSW Cup team has played yesterday is not very reasonable.
“If we played (Saturday), they would still have called J Moz up (Sunday).
“The rules need to be documented, they need to be looked at and thought about … the impacts for all parts of the competition, not just Origin.”
Smith may now go doing in league history as the man who ended an era when the game punished clubs in order to keep Origin in a commercial advantageous television time slot.
“The three teams who have lost the most players all lost this weekend,” Castle said.
“The Broncos, the Cowboys and the Bulldogs – five, five and three (players), four for us on the morning, have all lost.
“So you’ve got to question: is this another form of salary capping? The teams that don’t have many players involved in Origin end up with points they may not have otherwise got.
“You’ve got to question the impact for the credibility of the NRL.
“Origin’s amazing. Everyone knows that. Commercially it’s really beneficial. We all know that. But when you look at the actually integrity and credibility of the NRL competition over 26 weeks, you have to question whether this is the right outcome.”
Interstate football was put in midweek some 45 years ago to minimise impact on clubs. With the advent of Origin, it was discovered to be a ratings bonanza.
By the late eighties, players were being stood down from the previous weekend’s club round – defeating the entire purpose of the games being played on Wednesdays in the first place.
“Maybe we have (re-examined it) but not enough,” said Castle. “The fact is we’ve tried to under the new TV deal in 2018.
“But I think we’ve got to ask the question again.”
Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK