North Queensland Cowboys star Johnathan Thurston has flagged the idea that the NRL Grand Final should be played two weeks after the semi finals, with the NRL All Star Game played during the week off.
This is a similar set up to the one the NFL uses where the Superbowl is played two weeks after the Conference Finals and the NFL All Star Game is played during that weeks break over in Hawaii.
The NRL’s season schedule has become very crowded in recent years. The addition of the NRL All Star game was a big step for administrators who are always dealing with players complaining about burnout.
The introduction of the Auckland 9’s was always going to put pressure on the NRL All Star Game. As expected, the Auckland 9’s were locked into a long term deal and the NRL All Star Game was punted.
Rugby League administrators used the NRL All Star Game to show their commitment to the Indigenous community. It was an event that was used as a fundraiser for a number of Indigenous programs and it was very successful in many different areas.
I felt that it was a cynical cop out by administrators when they decided to “rest” the event in 2014 for the money spinner that is the Auckland 9’s. While there is talk that the World Cup and fears of player burn out knocked the event on the head, I think that was more of an excuse.
We now have a situation where the Auckland 9’s are locked in and the NRL All Star Game will find it hard to force its way back into the calender.
While Thurston’s idea does have some merit, I don’t think it would work in Rugby League.
The traditional NRL Grand Final week has been set in stone for a long time now. It works well too! I don’t think you’d find a single team that would want to wait two weeks between winning their semi final and playing in the Grand Final.
I also think you need to look at the “success” of the NFL All Star game…which barely rates a mention among NFL fans, is played almost as a game of touch football with the minimum amount of contact possible, and that has had so many gimmicks used to try and bring some interest to it that even Super League administrators would think things have gone too far!
I think a better idea would be to play the NRL All Star game on the Friday Night leading into the Grand Final. The only question mark you would have then is whether the build up to the All Star Game would take away from the Grand Final.
I loved the NRL All Star game. I thought it was fantastic to see our best Indigenous players lining up and representing their culture. I would have loved to have seen the Indigenous All Star team playing a Polynesian All Stars side as the event matured.
As it stands, it will be a hard fight to get the NRL All Star Game back on the calender. I think Thurston understands that and it is probably why he has put forward an alternative time for the game to be played.
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