NRL’s half-hearted trainer ban labelled a sham
THIS week's decision to limit blue-shirt trainers on the field shows the NRL is finally listening to the fans - and finally getting a little much-needed footy sense in their thinking.
"The fans hate it," NRL head of football Graham Annesley said, telling us what we all knew already, and have for years.
Yet if the NRL understands the fans hate it, why allow it at all?
Allowing three "tactical" entries to the field, for injury stoppages, just alleviates the irritation without actually stopping it. Besides, clubs are already working on ways to exploit it.
This is one of many small grievances fans have with the way the game is being administered at the moment.
The NRL's problem is there is no one in head office, besides Annesley, who has been around long enough to see how clubs created some of the problems in the game, and why they should be dealt with.
The environment for blue shirts to get unrestricted access to the field and slowly transform medical aid into full-blown coaching, for example, began with fears "someone will die in this heat" after Easts' Danny Shepherd was hospitalised for heat stroke in the early 1990s and actually did almost die.
Clubs quickly exploited the new access to have trainers deliver messages before they began full-blown coaching, all under the pretence of delivering water to dehydrated players.
If marathon runners can get through 42km with a 180-beat heart rate in the heat of an Olympic summer then surely the modern NRL player can make it until half-time.