I have to admit I am a rugby league tragic.
But one of the hardest things I had to realise in recent weeks was this season hasn’t been that memorable in my eyes.
There have been a smattering of good games and some exciting finishes but I believe the overall standard of the competition has been down on previous years.
There have been a lot of average games, even some of the games between the better teams in the premiership haven’t been up to scratch.
I have wracked my brain and there are probably a host of reasons, but one common denominator sticks in mind.
Players have become too robotic and afraid to break the shackles in attack.
And when they are interviewed it’s as though they went to political school of brainwashing with comments like; ‘‘We didn’t complete our sets,’’ or ‘‘We just worked on our kick-chase game’’ or coaches come out with rubbish like, ‘‘We didn’t stick to the game plan’’ or ‘‘Our defence was poor.’’
Except for the Bulldogs, Raiders, Wests Tigers and to a lesser extent, Souths, the remaining clubs play the same brand of footy.
The plan is for the forwards to take it ahead, then it’s kick long or when they are inside the opposing team’s quarter-line, they go for grubber kick to get a dropout or the crossfield bomb.
Swap the team jerseys and they are a mirror image of each other’s play.
Crowds are down not only because of costs and too much night footy, but the repetitious and copycat style of play from the teams.
Too many games are played the same, using a boring approach and a rigid style of play.
And many of the coaches aren’t helping either.
There is an obsession with wrestling, a mad obsession with choking the player around the neck, twisting his torso in the tackle, the ‘‘old chicken wing’’ has been back in vogue in recent weeks, where the defender twists the arm of the attacking player as he tries to get to his feet to play the ball.
Then we have the cannonball tackle, where two players hold up a ball runner and the third man in hits them at the back of their calves and they fall like chopped down trees.
Daniel Anderson as head of the referees has been lame about this tackle and done nothing. As a former coach he should come out and email every club and make it clear the cannonball tackle is illegal.
Anderson should also tell the coaches if they keep employing the tactics referees will send them off.
Dragons’ forward Trent Merrin is out of action for the season after being on the receiving end of the cannonball tackle against Brisbane. He suffered a medial knee ligament injury from the tackle.
The wrestling makes my blood boil, it’s the greatest blight on the game. It makes me sick to watch grown men, who have been trained by wrestling coaches all the moves and techniques. I don’t go to the footy to watch rock and roll wrestling, I want to see skill to thrill.
The NRL should outlaw wrestling and ban wrestling coaches. Melbourne are the worst offenders. The salary cap cheats of 2006-2010 get away with too much and the NRL is weak not to crack down on them.