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Eight burning questions

Discussion in 'Rugby League Forum' started by Berkeley_Eagle, Feb 22, 2009.

  1. Berkeley_Eagle

    Berkeley_Eagle Current Status: 24/7 Manly Fan 2016 Tipping Competitor

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    Eight burning questions

    February 22, 2009 - 9:17AM
    http://www.leaguehq.com.au/news/news/eight-burning-questions/2009/02/22/1235237420164.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap1



    With the kick-off of the NRL fast approaching, Adrian Proszenko grills the biggest names on all the pressing issues.

    THE PANEL
    WALLY LEWIS (Immortal)
    PETER STERLING (Channel Nine)
    BRAITH ANASTA (Player)
    MATTHEW ELLIOTT (Coach)
    SHANE WEBCKE (Former International)

    WILL THE DRAGONS WIN A PREMIERSHIP UNDER WAYNE BENNETT?

    Matthew Elliott: He certainly doesn't diminish their chances.

    Peter Sterling: I'd just say that this year is a very winnable competition, maybe more so than the last couple of seasons, where Melbourne and Manly have been so dominant ... The Dragons have recruited quite well. In a very winnable competition, the Dragons would have high hopes.

    Wally Lewis: They probably will, but I don't think it will be in his debut year. They're in for a massive improvement on what they've done over the past couple of years. They will be treated with far more respect than they have been in previous seasons by opposing teams.

    Braith Anasta: They're a good chance.

    Shane Webcke: He's got that X-factor. If they're going to win one, they'll win one under him. I say that with all due respect to [former coach Nathan Brown].

    SHOULD THE NRL ALLOW BENJI MARSHALL TO PLAY IN JAPAN?

    Matthew Elliott: It's either Benji's decision or the Tigers' decision ... I did the same thing with Robbie Paul in England between the 1997-98 seasons. He went and had a certain amount of games for [rugby club] Harlequins and we allowed him to do that as a precursor to getting a contract extension with him. It didn't hurt our club. It put Robbie at risk and insurance had to be taken out, but he got a good sum of money for playing about eight games. If we don't want players to do that, we have to pay them more. I don't know any player who went just because they wanted to play rugby ...

    Peter Sterling: I think it's more a club matter. If I were at the Wests Tigers, there'd be no way I'd let him do it. But I also got a leave of absence from Parramatta to play with Hull for a short stint. I'm not sure it's an NRL concern, it's something between club and player. If I was the Wests Tiger, especially given he's missed so much football for them, I wouldn't allow the possibility of getting hurt, if not in our colours.

    Wally Lewis: From my point of view, you play rugby league, you're contracted to the club and that's it, full stop. If you want to play [rugby union] and want to go somewhere else, get out of the game.

    Braith Anasta: Yes. It's an opportunity for him to play both codes instead of leaving league altogether.

    Shane Webcke: No. If you want to be league player, be a league player. If you want to play rugby union, go play rugby union. I'm not anti-rugby union, but we're a game in competition with them. I had the great fortune of making a great living from rugby league and sometimes players selfishly forget that. You owe the game something for that. Going to another code shows a tremendous amount of disloyalty. I can't see past that. I think you owe the game more than just thinking, 'I'm going to go and have a crack at something else'. You need to make a decision one way or another. If somebody made the decision to play rugby union, they should stay there and not come back. You need to make a choice and live with it. [Laughing] My mate Wendell [Sailor] won't like reading that, but I'll make an exception for him because he's a good bloke.

    WILL THE TWO REFEREES SYSTEM BE A SUCCESS?

    ME: Definitely ... the game has sped up to such a level, to have the expectation that one ref can make all those decisions is unrealistic. Equally, we don't want to have to go to the video refs all the time to make decisions.

    PS: I'll sit on the fence on this one. I used to be totally against it, but I've almost come full circle. Our game has undergone a lot of changes, especially in the past decade. This is up there with any of the biggest ones we've ever seen. Wayne Bennett has endorsed it, while another eminent mind in Phil Gould is totally against it. I'm in the middle at the moment.

    WL: There will be the normal [teething] problems ... but I'm sure it will come through comfortably.

    BA: Unsure. The best way to find out is to see how it goes on the field. Let's see how it works under pressure.

    SW: I have my reservations. [It's OK] as long as they get rid of it and don't persevere with it if it doesn't work. If the players like it and it helps the referees ... it's good for everyone.

    SHOULD THE BEARS RETURN TO THE NRL ON THE CENTRAL COAST?

    ME: I don't know if the Bears should, but there's no doubt a team should be on the Central Coast. I don't think it should be on top of a Sydney team.

    PS: The bottom line for me is we need a team on the Central Coast, whatever shape or form that takes. I'm not a huge fan of relocation. The people here still feel burnt by the Northern Eagles. As I've said a thousand times, if there is to be a team out of the Central Coast, the community have to feel an affinity with them. I saw Canterbury mooted at one stage as possibly coming up here - I don't think that would work ... They want their own team up here, whatever it's called. The Bears rings true to me. The bottom line is that we need a team up here but it needs to be done the right way. They need to mirror what the Mariners have done with the soccer, get into the schools, training up here. If rugby league is to succeed we have to do it in the same way.

    WL: I never understood why they were pushed out, to be honest. I'd be in full support of that. They were a wonderful club.

    BA: Any new team which brings more supporters to the comp is a good thing.

    SW: Someone should be on the Central Coast, most definitely. If there's enough groundswell for it to be the Bears, then so be it. I'm a huge fan of well-planned expansion.

    SHOULD THE PLAYERS AGREE TO A PAY CUT IF IT MEANS ENSURING THE FUTURE OF THEIR CLUB AND THE GAME?

    ME: That's not something for the players to address. We did this in the Super League war, we held the players responsible for being greedy, which is a complete furphy. It's not a question for players to answer, it's for the sport and the clubs to answer. At the end of the day the players at the bottom of the food chain, they get paid what's available. We should be doing more as a sport and as clubs to generate more money into the sport and having a better opinion of ourselves as entertainment.

    PS: They may not have a choice. If it's a matter of not being able to play at all or be able to be a professional rugby league player, there may be that prospect. With unemployment going skyward off the playing field, it may just be a case of the financial pressures forcing players to bite the bullet to some degree. All areas of life are doing it. I don't see professional rugby league players as being [immune].

    WL: I think the players wouldn't mind taking a minor pay cut, but that's something that would be controlled by player management - something that's costing the league another 6 or 8 or 10 per cent ...

    BA: It's a difficult situation. Players are asked to take pay cuts all the time. There's only so many pay cuts you can take. You can see the threat of other codes. You can't keep taking pay cuts when there's opportunities to get more money elsewhere. Any player would be silly not to look at overseas, with the economic crisis.

    SW: The easy and quickfire answer to that is of course they should. But I'm not a player who has to do it. You have to consider it from their point after they've signed a contract. But we've just had the biggest financial crisis the world has seen because, if people haven't lived beyond their means, it's to the length of their means. For those coming off contracts, they might not have a choice. There might be a reality check ... because the money isn't there. League will survive this but I hope it doesn't come to that.

    WHO WILL BE THE GAMES BEST PLAYER IN 2009?

    ME: The talent is so thin on the ground, its almost impossible to answer that question.

    PS: Brett Stewart.

    WL: Cameron Smith.

    BA: Billy Slater.

    SW: It will be a young player, without putting a name to it.

    WHO WILL BE THE PREMIERS IN 2009?

    ME: Other than Penrith?

    PS: Manly are deserved favourites again ... as much as i hate to say it.

    WL: Theres no reason Manly shouldnt back up.

    BA: Roosters.

    SW: The Broncos, but I think that every year! Manly will be hard to beat.

    WHO SHOULD BE APPOINTED AS KANGAROOS COACH?

    ME: People have spruiked Tim Sheens. Along with Wayne (Bennett), hes the most experienced coach in the comp. Hes had experience at rep level before and is still coaching City-Country. Im certainly not spruiking for Tim, but somebody in that mould certainly fits.

    PS: Mal Meninga. Its propably more advantageous to have someone who isnt a club coach. He has the necessary respect and shown in what hes done with Queensland that he knows how to work with a group of players for a short period of time as a coach. Those results speak for themselves. All boxes are ticked, apart from overcoming this (state-national debate). He is an ideal candidate.

    WL: If the rules remain the way they are, John Cartwright hes been on board (as assistant) for the last couple of years. Hes probably done an apprenticeship there. Whether its accepted by the league or not, time will tell. It would be him first. But if the league changed their mind, Id point the finger at Mal.

    BA: Mal Meninga or Craig Bellamy. Bellamy has proven hes one of the best coaches of the game for a number of years and Mal is great at rep level.

    SW: The Australian job should go to someone without club affiliation. They need to be a big enough personality not only to coach the Kangaroos, but somebody who can be an ambassador to further the cause of the international game. I see it as a full-time position. Mal Meninga would be an excellent choice hes the most prominent figure who has coaching credibility. But that would mean he couldnt coach Origin, which is not a good thing for Queensland.
    Source: The Sun-Herald
     

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