TRAVELS: XV

TravelsBy STEVE MASCORD

ROYCE Simmons is worried about British game and thinks it’s time the Australian Rugby League Commission puts its hands in its pockets.

Royce and your correspondent discussed this informally before we spoke on the record, and the former Hull and St Helens coach called friends in England in the meantime to make sure what he had to say was not going to be taken the wrong way.

That is: he didn’t want to look like a big noting Aussie telling the English how to run their game.

“I was lucky enough to go to England on a Kangaroo Tour and the crowds over there really opened my eyes with the singing and all their passion,” says Roycie.

“Since then I got to coach Hull and I got to coach Saints and I really like everything about English rugby league and think the world of the players, fans and administrators. Nothing can replace the enjoyment they’ve given me.”

But Simmons says the financial pressures being borne by clubs and the player drain to the NRL are big causes for concern.

“When you look at all the players going to the NRL, at first I think there will be some benefit,” he said.

“But after 24 months, I think you’ll see the damage caused by the drain will become too strong. If they take too many players, the Super League will really suffer.

“We’re finally starting to develop our game in new countries and it would be a real shame if we got to the point where there were fears one of our only two professional competitions would fall over.”

Simmons said he wasn’t sure what could be done but officials in Australia needed to start talking about helping the British game as one of its priorities.

“I get the impression at the moment that Australia does their thing, England does theirs’ and New Zealand does theirs’,” he said.

“There is no-one looking at strategy for the whole of the game.

“If they’re having tough times in England now, it’s up to us to help them. The NRL has just had a big infusion of cash, maybe they could invest in the English game or maybe some of our successful clubs could.

“I’d also like to see players shared around a lot more, with youngsters loaned in either direction. Living away from home can help a rugby league player grow up.

“I just think we need to do more. There are smarter blokes than me who can figure out what.”

Simmons is currently assistant coach at Wests Tigers and hasn’t ruled out being a head coach again. “I don’t want to be sticking my nose in where it’s not wanted but I thought it was important to raise this as an issue,” he said.

Has Roycie got a point, dear reader? Or are we being patronising again? Would you like the NRL to invest in the English game? I know what you think of dual registration with Aussie clubs..

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THANKS for the comments on last week’s column, which was basically about the Crusaders’ debts.

read on

Simmons Accuses Refs Of Changing The Rules

Wests Tigers - Royce SimmonsBy STEVE MASCORD

PENRITH great and Wests Tigers assistant coach Royce Simmons has accused NRL referees boss Daniel Anderson of changing the rules of rugby league without authorisation in his controversial obstruction interpretation.

The debate over the  edict that any collision with a defender initiated by a decoy runner would result in a disallowed try affected almost every game at the weekend and has just about usurped the ASADA investigation as the game’s number one talking point.

Rugby League Week understands players at one leading club have discussed contacting their rivals over the next week to form a united lobby against the crackdown.

Simmons says: “Generally when you change the rules in the game, you have to go through the International Federation or something to change them.

“To me, it seems like a rule change has been made. Referees, in my opinion, are there to interpret the rules and not make the rules.

“Tries are being rubbed out that haven’t been rubbed out in all the time I’ve been involved in the game, since I was in under sixes.

“Second-man plays have been in the game a long time. I’m not saying it’s going to make the game better or worse or anything but this is fact.

“Some of the calls, I think, have been too far from where the action’s taken place. I’m all for getting it right and I guess we’ve got to go through a procedure where we’re getting it right because it certainly wasn’t right last year.

“But we seem to have gone from one extreme to another.”

Anderson admits the issue is likely to be discussed by the NRL competition committee later this month – but the interpretation will stay at least until then.

He hinted on radio last Sunday that he will give video referees back their discretion when he is confident there are enough ex-players in the box with enough experience in their new roles.

Speaking on the ABC on Sunday, he said referees had “done well” this year but that obstruction represented “the bull in the china shop knocking everything off the shelves”.

He admitted that Cooper Cronk’s disallowed round three touchdown in round three was a “definite try” under the previous interpretation.

“We want the Cooper Cronk try to be allowed – but how do we do that without compromising other components?” he said.

“It cannot change right now … we need a bigger sample (of incidents).”

Anderson said “this is not just my game in my backyard”.

He said criticism from Parramatta coach Ricky Stuart at the weekend didn’t “reflect accurately what has gone on since November last year”.

* NB: video referees were subsequently given permission to award tries, at their discretion, when a collision between a decoy runner and a defender did not obstruct the defence.

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK