The National Rugby League looked at whether there was a need to change the number of interchanges, in a week where Jack Wighton was sentenced in Canberra.
NRL looking at rule changes for the 2019 season
The NRL has told us that the current interchange format will stay the same next season, with eight per game. There was a suspicion that it could be lowered to six for 2019, however that is not the case. It may be on the cards for the 2020 season as it will be a great way to bring the fatigue back into the game.
On the subject of fatigue, the NRL has announced that there will be a crackdown on players “taking the piss” and wasting time leaving the field after being sin binned. This will be welcome news for fans as it was very frustrating to watch a player walk slowly across the field and stopping to tie their shoes before leaving the field to give their team a chance to catch their breath and set their defensive line. While nothing has been set in stone yet, the initial report on NRL.com suggested that if there was any time taken longer than 20 seconds that the extra time would be added onto the 10 minutes and additional fines may also be introduced.
Todd Greenberg has announced that the NRL is also cracking down on the problem of back ended contracts effective immediately after the practice has come back to hurt the clubs like the Sea Eagles and the Bulldogs who had taken advantage of it. The NRL Boss has also hinted that by 2020 we might finally have a transfer window period around the Rep Weekend and at the end of the season. Hopefully this stops the problem of players signing for a club a full season before they go there, which is unfair on their teammates, coaches and fans.
Archer departs NRL HQ
Last season with Tony Archer in charge had most of us fans extremely frustrated at the “penalty crackdown” which did nothing except slow the flow of the game and rid any chance of fatigue being a factor. The amount of stoppages in the 2018 season made the game very hard to watch sometimes and seemed to accomplish very little. A report from Fox Sports revealed a shocking eight hours of game time were lost due to the crackdown. Archer has now been demoted to another role in the NRL while ex Titans boss Graham Annesley has taken the role of Head Of Football. Bernard Sutton is still the referee in charge, however he reports to Annesley, who also oversees the Women’s Competition.
Coaching Circus not over yet
Wayne Bennett and Anthony Seibold are apparently going to coach the Broncos and Rabbitohs respectively next season before swapping over in 2020. It hasn’t been revealed if this is an issue with money or stubbornness from Bennett, but the whole situation seems very messy and complicated. Surely it puts both clubs in a terrible position for 2019 with doubts over whether the coaches will be putting 100% effort into recruitment and retention for their current clubs when they know they will be leaving at seasons end. Seems like the logical solution that would be best for everyone would be an immediate swap, but it may even be too late with pre-season already underway. If the swap is going to happen it needs to happen ASAP, especially with the rumours that at least one of the coaches is already recruiting for his new club while being paid by his current club.
More NRL players calling Super League home
The biggest shock of a move has undoubtedly been Trent Merrin signing a long term deal with the Leeds Rhinos. While it has been rumoured earlier in the year, fans were left confused after Phil Gould publicly said on Twitter that Trent was staying at the Panthers, only for the Leeds announcement to be made eight days later. Confusing, but par for the course with Gus Gould, who also said that Anthony Griffin would see out the year, Matt Moylan would see out his contract, Peachey wasn’t leaving and they weren’t talking to Ivan Cleary about coaching the Panthers. Seems insulting to fans and members to flat out lie to them.
Kane Linnett has signed with Hull KR, Lachlan Coote is off to St Helens, Ken Sio to Salford, Darcy Lussick to Toronto, Akuila Uate to Huddersfield, Jason Clark to Warrington and Tui Lolohea to join Trent Merrin in Leeds.
Wighton learns his fate
Jack Wighton finally got his day in court and received a $3,500AU fine (out of his ~800k salary) and two month suspended jail sentence for his assault charges while on the drink. His legal team tried to stop the footage from getting out but were unsuccessful, so we all got to see the drunken fullback covered in his own urine hitting random people on the street. While the assault itself wasn’t as bad as some of us thought it would be, it is disgraceful behaviour from someone who is supposed to be a role model in the community. There was screen shots of him talking about it on social media before the court case and he clearly showed no remorse so it will be interesting to see how the Raiders handle this. Luckily none of Jacks urine appeared to go near his mouth otherwise he may have got a life ban like Todd Carney.
I won’t go too in depth as there is a lot of speculation and it’s an ongoing police matter, but Jarryd Hayne has been accused of sexual assault on a Hunter Valley woman on Grand Final night. This comes at a very bad time for Hayne as he is struggling to get another contract for 2019 and he is still dealing with more sexual assault charges from his time in the NFL. I’m sure we will hear a lot more about this in the near future, but if there is any truth to it then there is a good chance that Haynes professional sporting career is over.