The NRL has issued a please explain notice to a number of clubs following the miraculous recovery of a number of players ruled out due to injury over the representative weekend.
Injuries are part and parcel of the game and looking at punishing teams for looking after their players seems a little heavy handed.
If teams are resting players due to the representative weekend then the rep. weekend format needs to be looked at. Fining clubs will not solve the issue.
If players are deciding they’d rather spend time on the sidelines than represent City-Country then the issue clearly falls with the NRL.
The players are contracted to their club and, barring injury or suspension, are expected to play in all matches they are available for.
Scheduling extra matches in the season greatly increases the chance for injury. If, say Jarryd Hayne or Nathan Peats were to be injured in the representative weekend, Parramatta’s season would suffer.
I’ve enjoyed watching City-Country over the years but it’s no longer a trial for State of Origin as it once was. Queensland don’t have City-Country and they seem to be doing pretty well.
The NRL have also suggested that they will suspend players for one week should the player avoid representative duties due to a supposed “injury”.
However, as Tim Mannah explained on Triple M, the decision is the club doctor’s and not the player’s. Mannah was withheld from City-Country due to a burst eardrum but said he felt like he could’ve played and was disappointed to be declared unavailable.
So how does the NRL deal with this? They’re not the only competition to be interrupted by an International round. European football have international breaks around December and Super Rugby has Internationals during their season.
The issue the NRL has is they have the Origin series to deal with. A suggested idea is to have a full representative weekend. Play Origin as the marquee game on a Friday night, City-Country on Saturday night played by fringe Origin players, play a Kiwis Vs Combined Polynesian team on the Sunday afternoon and play the Under 20’s Origin on the same weekend.
Those are some ideas that would obviously need tweaking but the representative weekend in the first quarter of the season is coming to an end.