Bondi Beat: December 2015

RLW DecemberAFTER the snorefest that doubled as the Second Test in London, maybe it’s time to rethink our approach to tinkering with the rules of rugby league.
Instead of asking ourselves how we can make our game more exciting, maybe we really need to look at how we can make it less boring.
The NRL is our peak club competition and many of the rule changes and interpretation adjustments come from that part of the world.
But the NRL has supreme athletes who can rise above the mundanity of a pre-programmed style of play to entertain us. Without them, we just get the pre-programmed style of play.
I am not trying to be disrespectful to the Kiwis who took the field at Stratford when I say it may have actually been possible to fit them into an NRL team salary cap.
Without Waerea-Hargreaves, Foran, Johnson, Mannering and Vatuvei they lacked the sort of players I spoke about – those who can rise above sheer athleticism with their skill and flair.
Should we be tailoring our whole sport for these few players who transcend what can often be monotony?
Or should we be making games that do not boast these stars better to watch, and leave the NRL to do what it wants? Should we be rewarding tries scored through the hands by awarding bonus points according to the number of passes in the movement?
God forbid, should we ban hit-ups or drives in junior matches?
At the start of the series, Steve McNamara said England and New Zealand would play with more flair than an NRL game. Clearly, that only applies when the series is not on the line.
To see them both play like Australian club teams, minus the superstars, was very disappointing indeed.
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WE finally have a strategic plan for the game worldwide and, as always, the interesting stuff is in the fine print.

The document released after an RLIF meeting in Paris was big on ideas and short on detail but here’s a few things that stood out to me (both within the document and whispers around the edges):

1. The expression “Rugby World Cup Nines” appeared several times, Are we about fight for the use of the word “rugby”? That would be great;

2. Target two G20 nations. These must surely be the United States and South Africa, although Canada will be fighting hard to be included;

3. The new tournaments, to be known variously as Federation Cups, Intercontinental Cups, Continental Cups and Confederation Cups, are unlikely to involve Australia UNLESS they are nines;

4. By 2025 the RLIF wants half the teams in the World Cup to be capable of making the final. You can bet that they won’t be repeating only half the teams can make the final when the 2025 tournament kicks off;

5. Somehow, 30 more rugby league-playing countries have appeared on the map overnight, including Burundi.
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Of course events on the field in London paled by comparison with the shock we all felt regarding the attack on our colleague Gary Carter.

I was not aware of what had happened until I arrived at the Olympic Stadium on match eve for the respective captain’s runs.

Gary was supposed to be there. The Press Association’s Ian Laybourn broke the news to me and it was hours before I could properly process it.

In these situations you always read about what a nice person someone is but Gary is possibly the most generous man in our trade on either side of the world.

I have lost count of the number of times he has dropped me at my hotel after matches, going miles out of his way.

amazonBefore I did my most recent NRL 360 appearance, I called him for some background and he ended up giving me about three stories!

In some ways it’s still difficult to process. I’m looking forward to visiting him when the series is over and I’ve got some time in London.

I’m sure I speak for everyone reading this when I say I’d do anything necessary to help Gary and his brave wife Gemma during his recovery.

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ONE thing that has really stood out during the Anglo-New Zealand series has been the quality of the pre-match entertainment.

Sure, one wag had a point when he said using choirs of local schoolkids in London cost little or nothing and sold a shedload of tickets to their parents.

But the use of fireworks, marching bands, anthem singers and the mic’ing up of the haka have all been first rate. Understated and classy.

A FEW days before the Third Test, England back rower Brett Ferres sat down with at few of us for what is known in the biz as an “All-in”.

No punches were thrown.

donate2Phil Thomas of The Sun, filling in for our stricken Gaz, asked if there was a sense of a missed opportunity with the loss in London in the wake of the poor performance of the England rugby union team.

“I’ve no interest in rugby union,” he replied, “especially after recent events”

When I pressed him if he was talking about that sport’s treatment of Sam Burgess, he replied: “You can read into that what you want”.

I’m with Brett. I honestly don’t care who is to blame for what when Sam Burgess was playing rugby union.

I’ve no interest in the sport. He’s a league player again so I’m interested in him again.

Filed for RUGBY LEAGUE WORLD 

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Nigel Wood: We Should Never Have Let Union Call Itself ‘Rugby’

Wood, NigelBy STEVE MASCORD

RUGBY league’s most senior official says the sport made a grave mistake by surrendering the word “rugby” to the 15 man game.

While in Australia “rugby” almost always means rugby union, it is still used to describe both sports in England, where the split in codes was along geographical grounds and the rules were identical for the best part of a decade from 1895.

Nigel Wood, the chairman of the Rugby League International Federation, says he’s dismayed that international rugby union has now rebranded itself “world rugby”.

“I think our sport gave up the title of ‘rugby’ too cheaply long ago,” said Wood, also the Rugby Football League chief executive, in the current edition of Rugby League Week.

amazon“This (rugby league) is a sport where the first Rugby World Cup took place in 1954.

“Just to concede that ground some time ago was a tactical mistake. Do I think that there’s much that the sport can do about it now? Probably not. But I think it’s a disappointment.”

The RLIF recently appointed David Collier OBE as its new chief executive.

Wearing his RFL hat, Wood recently announced an ambitions set of goals for the sport in England – including winning the 2017 World Cup in Australia.

In our interview with Wood on page 36 he admits having held talks with the Australian rugby union over a hybrid match at Wembley – but insists it was never a serious plan.

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Filed for RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK

BONDI BEAT: December 2014

December 2014BBy STEVE MASCORD
IT’S not overstating things that there has been something of a paradigm shift in out game as a result of the recently-completed Four Nations.

I have a favourite saying about the warring factions within our game: the parochial populists and the outward-looking anoraks: if the meek are to inherit the earth, then the geeks will get rugby league.

And with Jarryd Hayne, Sonny Bill Williams and Sam Burgess walking out on us all at the same time, the non-geeks are finally starting to get it. Fencing ourselves off and resigning ourselves to always being a regional sport just isn’t an option.

It never has been, but they couldn’t see that.

It works like this: the NFL and Major League Baseball and European soccer bring their teams to our doorsteps and try to make money from us. The money we usually give them would otherwise have gone to sports that were locally traditional, like rugby league.

As globalisation steps up a gear and networked media becomes the norm. those traditional local sports will either continue to lose bigger slices of their market share, or they can go into the markets of other sports and steal something back.

There will eventually be no local sports, local music or local arts. There will just be sport, music and art. The very real long-term choice rugby league has is to be a sport, or be nothing.

That rugby union international between the United States and New Zealand recently was astonishing: 65,000 people watching something that has no history in that society was a watershed moment, up there with the NFL at Wembley.

Sonny Bill Williams went straight from our loving embraced to playing before 140,000 on successive weekends in Chicago and London. Wow.

The ignoramuses can no longer deny that expansion is essential for our game’s survival, and that international competition provides us with the best vehicle to carry us down that road.

Now. Plenty of people commenting on rugby league in Australia and New Zealand are general sports followers rather than devotees of our game. Normally, they should be summarily ignored in talking about our battles with other sports, because it’s a war in which they have invested nothing.

But even some of these cynics are finally admitting that the club season is too long, that international football has enormous potential and that – God forbid – Australia should actually be playing next year.

We have Samoa to thank for this breakthrough. We have been searching for a credible fourth nation for a generation. Eligibility laws should naturally accommodate Samoa as a result, allowing State of Origin players to represent them.

That’s the plan: for Origin players to be free to represent tier two countries, but not New Zealand or England.

Secondly, the Four Nations was on the way out with one – at most – planned between 2017 and 2021. We may have to rethink that now. And what happens when the invited country finishes above one of the big three – and we kick them out of the next Four Nations anyway?

Thirdly, it would seem we don’t need big stars to successfully promote an international series any longer. Australia were missing 12 World Cup stars and still attract great crowds in Brisbane, Melbourne and Wollongong.

The Geek Revolution has begun.

THIS column is called Bondi Beat, which means it is supposed to be about Australian rugby league. From time to time we write about how British rugby league looks from Bondi (like, you really have to squint to see it).

Taking those parameters into account, writing about England’s Four Nations campaign may seem a bit of a stretch. For a start, the closest game to Bondi was in Wollongong, which for the hipsters around the seaside suburb may as well be Sierra Leone.

But what the heck. We’re going to make some observations anyway.

England were probably the best team to watch in the tournament, just edging Samoa. They played with daring and skill and speed and seemed to create overlaps on the fringes of opposition defences with ease.

They have solved their problems in the halves. Matty Smith and Gareth Widdop are an accomplished pairing. Kallum Watkins is all class, Josh Charnley and Ryan Hall were outstanding and the Burgess boys plus Jason Graham make for a ferocious pack.

Daryl Clark enhanced his reputation.

They lost for the same reasons all emerging teams at any level do so. You have to pay your dues to rugby league karma. Good, emerging teams, always hit a “luck wall”. If they stick at what they’re doing, they burst through the other side.

With Josh Hodgson in mind, maybe we should call it a “luck door”.

I’ve thought long and hard about Steve McNamara’s claims to keep his post. I’ve come to this conclusion: they had want to have someone very good lined up as a replacement if they are going to punt him.

I didn’t agree with much of what he did from a PR point of view at the World Cup but there is ample evidence his team is building up to something very worthwhile on the pitch.

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SO just who is Mike Miller, the American rugby union official who turned down our top job – the CEO of the Rugby League International Federation?

Before he was at the IRB, Miller was head of sport at the BBC. That did not go well – complaints against him from his own staff were leaked to the Mirror.

In rugby union he seemed to do well. He got the sport back into the Olympics, expanded the Sevens, boosted the women’s game and introduced a strategic investments programme.

The World Olympians Association, where he is now CEO, seems a rather cushy job. The man who had the casting vote in offering the job to him was an outside consultant, with Australia’s David Smith and the RFL’s Nigel Wood deadlocked on the issue.

To say it was a blow to Wood that Miller took his time responding, and then declined, is a gross understatement.

Members of the appointments committee were so busy with their own backyards during the interview process that they repeatedly broke appointments.

So when they finally got around to offering Miller the job, he took his time in responding. And presumably, he was not overly impressed with what he was being asked to get involved in.

But the committee doesn’t seem to have its act together since, either. You would have thought they would have gone to the second best candidate, offered it to him, and got on with things. If that did happen, then things have since ground to a halt again.

Rugby league is not a member of Sports Accord and it does not have tax exempt status. Given that it doesn’t even have a CEO, you could argue it doesn’t deserve either.

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WORLD

BONDI BEAT: January 2015

December 2014By STEVE MASCORD

ROB Peter to pay Paul. Give with the left hand and take with the right. Better the devil you know.

Rugby league has always loved clichés and as the Australian authorities belatedly look at rationalising their fixture list and recognising the importance of international football, Bondi Beat is put in mind of these three in particular.

The NRL believes it can attract more than A$2 billion for its next television deal, if it offers networks the same thing it currently peddles.

One problem though: it wants to change what it is flogging. Six weeks of the club season are wrecked by State of Origin, with clubs not having access to their own players and the great flowing rapids of NRL interest slowing to a trickling stream which is not easily replenished when it’s all over. Attendances are a worry.

Players are so concerned about burnout they told Great Britain to stay home in 2015, as any reader of this column would be all too aware.

On the other hand, the Auckland Nines make a fortune and the Rugby League International Federation wants to set up its own equivalent to make money between World Cups.

The World Club Challenge has become the World Club Series. The Four Nations were an unexpected success, with the highest aggregate attendance despite there being no games in Sydney or Auckland.

Samoa have emerged to such an extent that the “Pacific Test” on the representative weekend next year is likely to be a double-header.

State of Origin continues to be a universe unto itself, smashing television, sponsorship and attendance records. In 2015, it returns to Melbourne.

But the club season, and the endless churn of programming over 30 weeks, pays the bills. Rugby league is art; broadcasting is commerce. And if the season is going to be shortened to make space for new offshoots of our game to grow, then it won’t be worth A$4 billion anymore.

amazonSo the NRL needs to make what games are on offer more lucrative. They have a very specific formula for how much the rights are worth – and these figures are based on audience size and the asking price of advertising.

Some of the ideas for making the existing NRL matches more valuable, so we can make as much money from fewer of them, have been around for a while.

One has been to insert a 30 second pause before line dropouts are taken, giving us another advert. Another is to revert to the mid-week cup format of four-quarter football (Ian Heads’ excellent new book The Night The Music Died outlines how the 1974 Western Division side made the most of the extra two breaks).

These ideas have been around for a while.

Colleague Phil Rothfield of the Daily Telegraph recently uncovered a couple of other kites flow inside the Competitions Committee room. One was making each quarter go for 25 minutes, lengthening the entire TV programme as well as the opportunity to insert commercials.

Another would be the use of eight interchange players.

Most rugby league fans want the Australians to take international football seriously, and to expand their competition.

But is fiddling with the rules a) at all or b) to the extent detailed above a price worth paying? Tell me on Twitter at @BondiBeat what your choice would be if it was between the NRL remaining isolated and a more progressive outlook, but with big rule changes.

American Football tailored itself for television and the NFL became the biggest club competition the world has ever seen. Personally, I think four quarters is a no-brainer. It gives us more revenue, it has been successfully trialled before and its impact on the fabric of the game is, while significant, still acceptable.

A 30 second break at every break in play eliminates one of the biggest advantages we have over our rivals – continuity. A 30 second break at line dropouts gives tiring defences too much time to regroup and meddles too much.

Extra interchanges make us too much like basketball and the NFL and further erodes the element of fatigue and therefore bravery. I’m against it.

But I’m willing to accept that maybe the NRL can take a constructive leadership role in the evolution of our rules. It’s quite possible they can’t, and their actions will be mainly destructive, but I still have an open mind.

Tell me what you think.

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THE Rugby League International Federation search for a CEO is becoming a little farcical.

After being turned down by former IRB chief Mike Miller, it’s my understanding they’ve also failed in a bid for premiership-winning South Sydney chief executive Shane Richardson.

Richardson may be looking for a new challenge after being the first club chief in Premiership history to win titles at two clubs but the RLIF could not get their act together in time to convince him it was a good idea to take up the post.

Bondi Beat is hearing mutterings of financial complications in the bid to set up a fulltime office. It’s all very sad – and the NRL has clearly decided to do its own thing in the Pacific by pairing development programmes with foreign aid from the Australian government.

The RLIF has lost its tax-exempt status and wants it back

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AS usual, it’s been a poor off-season for the game when it comes to player misbehaviour.

South Sydney’s Kirisome Auva’a was banned for nine months after the court finally dealt with his domestic abuse allegations, Greg Bird was charged with urinating on a police car (which he denies) on the first day of his honeymoon, and John Hopoate’s son Jamil was jailed for a serious assault.

That’s just off the top of my head.

The NRL continues to be criticised for inconsistently dealing with the these offences – but they are all different. I’m not sure what the answer is.

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TERRY Campese is one of my favourite players and I’ll be cheering him to make a big impression at the KC Lightstream Stadium.

donateYou know what’s sad? That he missed last year’s World Cup for Italy, for whom he could have made a massive impression, to prepare for a season which finished in him being nudged towards the door in Canberra.

Last year I predicted Matt Bowen to be a sensation in Super League and it took a while for him to warm up – so I’ll be more circumspect in my predictions regarding Campo.

But he will be one of the most talented handful of players in the competition in 2015. The only question is whether injury allows him to show it.

Please check out my podcast, White Line Fever, by searching that title on itunes.

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WORLD

THE JOY OF SIX: International Season Week Seven

The Joy Of SixBy STEVE MASCORD
McNAMARA STAYS
ENGLAND coach Steve McNamara has been retained. When asked by Set of Six what process would determine who has the job next year, Rugby Football League chief executive Nigel Wood told us: “There is no process because there is no vacancy. Steve is 12 months into a two year contract.” When McNamara joined Sydney Roosters at the start of the year and his RFL contract was renegotiated, no term was made public. What of Australia’s Tim Sheens? He would no doubt be seeking a three year extension to take him though to the next World Cup. His old protege Mal Meninga could be an alternative candidate. Sheens said Australia only had one Test next year – even though the TV contract demands two

amazonSIONE SHATTERED
THERE was a touching moment on the field at fulltime on Saturday night when some Australian team staff had a whisper in the ear of captain Cameron Smith to let him know winger Sione Matautia was doing it tough. Matautia could easily have been the hero with a last-ditch try that was called back for a forward pass but was no doubt upset at the performance of opposite number Manu Vatuvei. Smith comforted Matautia in concert with some team-mates. We can’t remember Australia ever fielding a player with fewer than 10 games experience against a man with almost 200 – with the foreigner plying his trade in what was once the “Sydney premiership”!

DONT GET CARRIED AWAY WITH SAMOA
WOOD is also the chairman of the Rugby League International Federation and he has warned against getting carried away with the performance of Samoa in the Four Nations. There are calls for an annual New Zealand-Samoa three-Test series at Origin time. “Our priority must be to construct a clear, fair fixture calendar for all member countries,” Wood said, “Sometimes it is tempting to a react to a good one-off Test performance but only 12 months ago we all thought Fiji were clearly our number four country. We have to look beyond knee jerk reactions, our priority is to build countries four to eight,” Wood gave little away regarding the quest for an RLIF CEO, aside from saying the search was “on-going”. He said the much-vaunted 12-year calendar would be from 2018 to 2029, with the next two seasons already settled,

COMICAL STRIP
THE aftermath of the final was something of a strip show, with some Australian players throwing everything into the crowd by their jocks, Sam Thaiday emerged for the dressingrooms with his entire kit back and began flinging its contents into the terraces like an automatic sprinkler. Cameron Smith, Greg Bird and Greg Inglis were also very generous, The Kiwis performed a post-game hake and then returned to the ground when it was empty to reflect on the victory, as is now customary. They must have got a shock when the cleaning staff started shouting and applauding them as they stood in a circle some time around midnight.
JOHNSON STANDS UP
donate2SHAUN Johnson was so excited at fulltime he dropped the F-bomb on Triple M. The former touch footballer was probably man of the tournament and really came of age over the last month and a bit. He also made an interesting statement at the media conference: it was the first time he had been part of a team that had set a goal and them achieved it. That realisation will mean a lot for the Warriors in 2015 – Johnson could become an all time great. It was the first of the Kiwis’ four tournament victories over the last nine years to be registered in front of a home crowd and the first back-to-back wins against Australia since 1953.

2014 AND ALL THAT

THIS is the last Set of Six for 2014, although Discord will continue during the break. Where has the year left us? Some of rugby league’s problems can be solved, others can’t. Young men will always misbehave. Bigger, more wealthy sports will always poach players. Most of our solvable problems are a result of parochialism and self-interest. There are signs that these flaws are finally being addressed: the game is becoming more inclusive, there is a growing realisation there are too many teams in Sydney and the importance of international competition is finally dawning on even the most conservative commentators and administrators. We are getting more people of influence who don’t rely on the game as a meal ticket and who can therefore act with a greater degree of altruism. Onwards and upwards. See you in 2015.

Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

Richo: I Have A Dream

South Sydney - Shane RichardsonBy STEVE MASCORD

SOUTH Sydney chief executive Shane Richardson lost a house trying to expand rugby league.

That was back in 1999, when the former Cronulla boss risked it all to start a club in Newcastle, England, called the Gateshead Thunder. They lost Stg700,000 and only lasted one year.

But a decade and a half on, “Richo” hasn’t given up. With the Bunnies’ first premiership in 43 years beckoning, he’s committed Souths to the 2015 World Club Series.

Richardson’s friend, Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington, has been pushing for a re-expansion of the World Club Challenge for years. The 1997 version was such a disaster that until now, Australian clubs have baulked.

But it’s Richardson who pushed the negotiations, involving the likes of St George Illawarra’s Peter Doust, Wigan’s Ian Lenagan and Warrington’s Simon Moran, to the point where next February 20 to 22, the World Club Challenge between the winners of the NRL and Super League will be preceded by two other games.

St Helens, as winners of the League Leaders Shield, will take on either Souths or Brisbane at a venue to be determined. The other NRL team will play the beaten Super League grand finalists. One game Friday night, one game Saturday.

The Rugby Football League’s chief executive, Blake Solly, has confirmed that two trophies will be awarded. The WCC trophy goes to the winner of the main match, the WCS shield for the country with the most wins from three matches.

There is a hope that – despite the fact existing TV deals include the WCC so there is no appreciable profit from that area – the concept could be taken on the road, to places like Dubai and Hong Kong, and become at least as big as the Auckland Nines.

But this is not a preview of next year’s World Club Challenge.

In an increasingly globalised world, rugby league cannot survive forever as a local powerhouse and an international oddity. It needs to get on the information superhighway and get up to speed quickly, or risk being swamped.

American and European sports are increasingly marketing themselves to Australians, playing games here and increasing their TV reach. The shrinking resources of newspapers make it easier for them to give these competitions more space.

Richo wants to fight back. Here’s his warplan.

STOP BEING EMBARASSED

FOR some reason rugby league fans are embarrassed about how small the sport is internationally and think trying to expand is pointless. AFL has no such self-doubt – they’ve played many exhibition games in the major capitals of the world. “It’s expectations which are lower than they should be that stop us growing the game,” says Richardson. “We have to change the way we think about the game … young people today don’t think that way. With the internet and social media … every time people are exposed to this game, they like it. We keep thinking within the boundaries of where we are now, not where we could be in five years. Sometimes we limit ourselves in our thinking as administrators but the players don’t have the same view.”

BE INNOVATIVE

“My main thought is we have to think outside of the box,” he says. “You can’t keep doing the same things and expect to get different results. I think we proved, at Souths, with Perth and Cairns that you can expand the brand. I know ‘brand’ is a terrible word…. The World Club Challenge is about the English clubs trying to build some momentum in Europe and compete with the (rugby union) Heiniken Cup, etc. We’ve been working for the last two years to try and support that. Our sponsors, Delonghi, Fujitsu, Alcitel and Crown have all got a presence in Europe so it’s showing the game has got a greater reach.”

STANDARDISE RULES

OUR game is splintering; different rules at international, NRL and Super League level make it bewildering for anyone considering taking up the sport. Local bodies change the laws and interpretations without consulting anyone. “We’ve got to have central control, we can’t have different rules in different hemispheres,” says Richo. “We’re trying to make the game more attractive for television – I get that. But we also have to make the rules so that new people understand them. I’m not against changing the rules. I’m against changing them only in the NRL.”

A FIVE YEAR STRATEGY FOR THE WHOLE GAME: INTERNATIONAL, PROFESSIONAL AND GRASSROOTS

RUGBY league had a 100 year head start on rugby union, during which it paid players and union didn’t, but self-interest allowed the 15-man game to dominate globally. “This has been spoken about at CEOs conferences for a while – we’ve got to have a five year plan of where we want to take the game, not just the NRL. We lock in the World Club Challenge, we lock in Nines, whether it’s World Nines or the nines we’re doing now. But it’s whole-of-game.”

FEWER CLUB GAMES

RICHARDSON is one of the few NRL club supremos to publically declare the NRL season too long. “We may have to restrict the number of club games, NRL games, we play to expand beyond those boundaries. I’ve always said – I don’t see the need to play 24 fixtures. One of the challenges we’ve got with the scheduling is that it’s locked into the television deal so we need X number of games. That’s presupposing we can’t have other games to fill those slots. I’m not sure that, if we have an expanded view of the game, Tonga v Samoa wouldn’t be a better game for people to watch on a Saturday afternoon than Souths v Cronulla.’

CONSULT PLAYERS OVER ELIGIBILITY

BRAD Takairangi and Aiden Guerra are just two of the players set to be “poached” from the sides they represented in the World Cup for this year’s Four Nations. Should they be allowed to return to Cook Islands and Italy respectively? “The players want the game to go onto another stage and expand,” says Richardson. “The article with Jarryd Hayne, where he talks about players’ IP … players might be concerned about the number of games they play but they’ll always be involved in matches that expand their IP because they understand the importance of it. Are we listening to what they want? Does Jarryd Hayne, if he doesn’t play for NSW, not want to play for Fiji?”

GET RUGBY LEAGUE ON TV IN MORE PLACES

THE NFL flooded British television with cheap broadcasts before attempting exhibition games at Wembley. “Where do we want to be? If people in the Czech Republic want to watch rugby league, should we charge them when they can watch ice hockey, basketball, soccer … those sports are part of their culture? If we want to have an impact on that culture, then we have to give them some sort of bonus. Making them pay for it is not much of a bonus. You have to get to the point where the US wants to pay big money, not charge them straight off the bat.”

USE NRL PLAYERS TO PROMOTE RUGBY LEAGUE WORLDWIDE IN AN AGE OF NICHE INTERESTS

“THE NFL don’t promote their game in the UK with local players. They bring stars from the US. Why aren’t we doing the same with the Greg Inglises and the Sam Tomkins’ of the world? It promotes the game and sets them up on the world stage. People are sitting on their computers in Moldova and Minnesota taking an interest in all sorts of unusual things that their local media ignores. We need to be one of those things and from my experiences at Souths, I know we already are one of those things because people in those places contact me. Whenever administrators stuff up, a great game like the Roosters-Panthers final compensates for it. The game itself saves the people running it, over and over again.”

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK