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A simple game?

Discussion in 'Rugby League Forum' started by nodd, May 4, 2008.

  1. nodd

    nodd Well-Known Member

    +105 /5

    Craze for science is out of Alfie's league

    Mike Colman | May 04, 2008 12:00am

    DON'T know if Allan Langer can coach rugby league to save himself, but I sure do like the way he talks. "Rugby league is still a very simple game," he said. "It's just been made very scientific by a lot of people."
    Hear, hear. The operative word being "scientific".
    Many of this week's headlines have centred on the comings and goings of two "performance directors". Or, as they would have been known when Alfie was in short pants, "trainers".
    Now I know they go to university these days. I know they study human movements instead of PE, and can tell you every muscle group and blood type known to man and lab rat, but hey, at the end of the day aren't they still the blokes who lay out the witches hats?
    Now please don't get me wrong. I am not in any way trying to belittle the great jobs these blokes do. Footballers these days are fitter and better prepared than they have ever been and a trainer – sorry performance director – who can wring even 1 per cent more out of a team can make all the difference. Take Dean Benton in 2006, for example.
    It's just that everything these days has to be so – what was the word Alfie used? Scientific.
    Others might use another word. Boring. Peter Sterling, a halfback who could play a bit in his day, just like Alfie, reckons the Melbourne Storm put him to sleep.
    Artie Beetson, the most creative forward ever to play the game, says the rule makers have squeezed the life out of it. The players, he says, are robots and rugby league is the only football code in the world where there is no contest for the ball.
    He's got a point. You can't strike for the ball in the play-the-ball or tap it forward any more, and any halfback not feeding the second row is likely to be penalised, but by crikey we've got some fancy titles haven't we?
    On Tuesday we heard that Wayne Bennett will be taking a little bit of Brisbane with him when he goes to the Dragons next season: Broncos performance director Jeremy Hickman. Next day the Broncos had hit back. And they weren't just getting a performance director. They were getting a high-performance director.
    Prodigal son Dean Benton, we were told, would be returning to the Broncos "sports science staff".
    I wonder if they will all be wearing white coats and mixing test tubes like Tonie Carroll in the advertisements?
    Apparently Dean and all the other sports science staff will be part of the Broncos "football department".
    As opposed to what? The Broncos' cooking department? Their gardening department?
    Not that we should be surprised. When commentators started talking about players doing "hits" instead of tackles and running the ball out of "the red zone" it was pretty obvious where things were headed.
    Last week on radio I heard a player praising his team's "dee-fence" as if they were playing against the LA Lakers.
    Pretty soon they will be talking about the "dee", mark my words.
    Actually, the announcement I'm waiting for is about who will be the Broncos' new bio-mechanist for 2009.
    I once heard the legendary All Black forward Colin Meads tell a great story about a bio-mechanist.
    Apparently a few years ago the New Zealand coaches brought in a bio-mechanist to work with hooker Anton Oliver, whose lineout throwing was as crooked as Carl Williams' tax return.
    "Hmm," said Meads when he heard this. "You know when I was playing we had a hooker who couldn't throw straight and at training before a Test our coach Grizz Wylie told him if he threw it in crooked again, he'd drop him.
    "He threw it in crooked, so Grizz dropped him. He got back in the side a few years later and you know what? He never threw it in crooked again.
    "So I guess that means old Grizz was a bio-mechanis

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