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Thursday, 22 August 2013

#NRL 2013: 10 Things I Think... September's on my mind

10 Things I Think... entering September

2013 NRL Premiership

By W D Nicolson - August 22, 2013



SEPTEMBER'S ON MY MIND...

 ONE 
Friday Night Footy needs to be one game... 
Especially at the end of the season when we get the following 'flex schedule' from Channel 9:
Round 22 - Storm/Rabbitohs and Eels/Tigers
Round 23 - Rabbitohs/Sea Eagles and Broncos/Eels
Round 24 - Rabbitohs/Bulldogs and Panthers/Broncos
Round 25 - Broncos/Knights and Tigers/Rabbitohs (initially Bulldogs/Panthers)
Round 26 - Thursday: Broncos/Bulldogs. Friday: Rabbitohs/Roosters.
Round 22, 23 and 25 have a dud as their second game and even Round 24's Penrith/Brisbane game isn't that appealing... but more than anything it screams - why have Channel 9 stuck with the Friday Night doubleheader when playing that other game on Thursday would be a far bigger ratings winner as a stand-alone match?
Round 26 goes back to the Thu/Fri split and it helps that both games should have Top 8/Minor Premiership implications but the split just makes the 'lesser' game that much more palatable.
A few years ago when the ski-double-up Friday night schedule was adopted it felt like footy could handle (if not screamed out for) the double-header... but has felt very very played out for most of the last two seasons and the introduction of Thursday night football at the start of the year was a big winner. There's no doubt it isn't 100% ideal to attract crowds on a Thursday but that's not the biggest obstacle to regular Thursday night footy - it's not getting teams play on the night but choosing which teams play on the night instead of Friday... after all you can't play Brisbane exclusively on every Friday night can you?

 TWO 
The McIntyre System is not missed...
All you've heard for the last ten weeks is how there are only 'four teams who can win the comp'... and let's be honest - that's pretty much spot on. Easts, Souths, Melbourne and Manly will fill out positions 1-4 and will get two bites at the cherry in the semis... do you think any of the teams who can finish 5-8 are that disappointed about missing a week one matchup with any of those four? Course not, they'll back themselves to play some quality footy in their elimination semi and take that into the second week - against a Top 4 team that just suffered a loss. How anyone thought that McIntyre was a fairer system is beyond me... if you have a good enough season to finish Top 4 - you deserve to be rewarded!

 THREE 
Canberra did the right thing going in a new direction...
But why wait til 3 rounds to go to punt David Furner?
Furner's best chance at winning a comp at the helm of the Raiders ended when Terry Campese wrecked his knee in the semi final loss to the Tigers in 2010 but his preferred game plan had never utilised Canberra's assets after taking over in 2009 from Neil Henry.
For whatever reason Furner wanted his teams to grind away at their opponents by 'building pressure' when they were inside the attacking 20m zone - rather than actually attacking while inside the 20m zone... yet his teams never had the defensive gumption to resist that same pressure at the other end of the field. There's about 5,000 or so more words that can be written on this game plan and how it never suited the Raiders but the real proof of whether or not rest of the staff were in love with that theory will be seen in how new interim coach Andrew Dunemann approaches his 3 match game plan starting on Sunday against Manly...
But back to the initial question - how could the Canberra board have ever been sure Furner was their guy before the start of the season if they were willing to punt him with his team still in playoff contention? ... the answer appears to be no.
 FOUR 
Sydney is about to be Semi Final Heaven again...
Some of us remember the glorious spring days of yesteryear... heading down to the SFS to watch a game of semi final football with a 3pm kick-off and the promise of two great teams going at it.
And the most beautiful part of the mix was - your team didn't have to be playing for it to be worth every cent of the admission price.
Sydney will get a blast from the past this September with the Roosters and Souths set to finish in the Top 2 and Canterbury and Cronulla likely to finish in 5th/6th. That will mean the SFS and Homebush will host all four games in the 1st Week of the Finals - with only Melbourne shaping up as a non-Sydney destination throughout the three week playoff series leading into the Grand Final which is set in stone at Homebush.
So do yourself a favour - get over the fact your team may not be playing in the semis this year and go and enjoy Semi Final Footy at the best time of year... who knows - you might just remember why you love Rugby League?

 FIVE 
Channel Nine would be smart to have a week-nightly NRL show throughout the Finals...
Put it on GEM and make it short but to the point, don't get too clever and overcomplicate it - make it simply about what's happened/happening/about to happen in footy... and with respect, do not get Tim Gilbert to host it if you want it to rate (ie have people watch it).

 SIX 
'Building for next year'...
Saw this headline on a club website summing up the approach to his team's football by a winger from a Sydney club for the next few weeks and I'm not sure what to make of it... yeah, your team might not be set for a September extension of your 2013 season but what about just enjoying your footy for the final three weeks instead of thinking too far ahead?
Especially when the roster that plays Round 1 next year will be rather different to the team that will play the final few weeks of this season...
So why not just play with some enjoyment, have a crack and see what you can take forward with you for next season? It might be more beneficial than putting the weight of next season over the next 3 relatively meaningfulness games....

 SEVEN 
Is it worth trialling the 'time off' concept when the ball is dead in a NRL game before the end of the year?
If it works for a club circumventing the Salary Cap... but being serious for a second - is it worth getting say the Parra-Saints game in Round 25 to 'save time' when the ball is dead or at least 'out of play'?
Or failing that - the same approach in perhaps even one half of an NYC game where neither team can feature in the semi finals?

 EIGHT 
Andrew Voss has been a welcome re-addition to the Commentary ranks this year...
He's done the Warriors home games and has been sensational... he's not everyone's cup of tea (and no commentator - not even Rabs is) but he's a great operator behind a play by play microphone and Fox Sports would be smart to get him on their books next season... because it doesn't appear Channel 9 are going to. Nice to have you back Vossy.

 NINE 
The Rookie of the Year qualification confusion claims another scalp...
Poor Daniel Tupou... the kid has been a real weapon for the Sydney Roosters in 2013 and deserves serious consideration as one of the best rookies of this year... but you and it appears everyone else didn't know he was still eligible.
The official Big League/Dally M criteria is 'no more than 3 games in the previous season' for a player to be eligible... so when you do the math and see that Tupou played 3 games in 2012... that means he's eligible.
Yet he didn't make the lists... and yes, we had him in the Top 5 contenders in our April Feature.
George Burgess will - quite rightly - win the Rookie of the Year gong, but hopefully Tupou's eligibility isn't forgotten.

 TEN 
Finally... there's a great number of players who can lay claim to being 'Player of the Year'.
And this is a fantastic thing to face as we play out the last 3 games of the season. In the 2013 @NRLTweet Player of the Year Awards - there are so many players still in contention for the top honour and that hasn't always been the case in recent years. Now will the Dally M follow suit with a crowded leaderboard?
Let's hope so... the better news is www.wdnicolson.com and... NOT The Footy Show will announce the winner before the Semi Finals begin - a full 3 weeks before the Dally M announcement likely copies us.

BACK FOR MORE PUNISHMENT!
PS. Yes, it looks like NOT The Footy Show is BACK for a Top 8 Special on August 29 and regularly in a different format during September - spread the word please if you are even mildly excited by that!

You can join our Facebook Page for more updates from this weekend as we unveil what we're going to be doing for your listening pleasure at this glorious time of year.

Excited?

What do you think about any of these thoughts?
Comment below or catch me via Twitter @NRLTweet

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