Conference system could fix NRL's scheduling farce

Luke Brooks and Mitchell Moses are the face of an exciting future for the Wests Tigers. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

Luke Brooks and Mitchell Moses are the face of an exciting future for the Wests Tigers. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

RUGBY LEAGUE

The time has come for the NRL to do something about scheduling.

At the moment the draw is a jigsaw puzzle attempting to make everyone happy but leaving most mystified as to why some clubs will play one team twice in four weeks but not meet another until the very end of the season.

Obviously television rights and the money behind them dictate the length of the season, so at 26 rounds - 24 games for each team plus two byes - what can be done?

It's difficult to come up with a perfect solution.

This columnist isn't pretending to be an expert on the matter but the answer is probably moving towards a conference system.

For example, teams play each other once - 15 games - then play the teams in their own conference again, allowing for more consistency in the draw and formalising the process.

Presently, we're facing the farcical situation where the Bulldogs played Manly twice in the month.

Even after the Tigers put plenty of points on the Dogs on Sunday, Canterbury could conceivably play the Sea Eagles again in the grand final, yet they've only seen each other during the Origin period.

In contrast, the Dogs play the Gold Coast once, in round 26.

The 22-week schedule plus byes would cater for State of Origin being played on stand-alone weekends, if supporters of the move away from mid-week NSW-Queensland games ever had their way.

It would also allow for more flexibility in the draw if the NRL ever approves expansion of the competition to 18 teams.

The conference system would help the NRL develop "derby" games and other rivalries, because teams who have history - for instance Souths and the Roosters, or Manly and Parramatta - could be grouped in the same conference so they played twice every year. It's debatable whether two conferences of eight teams - or nine after expansion - with four from each playing a finals series is the best option, but something certainly needs to change.

Overall, it would help simplify the system and remove some of the frustration fans feel by the current nature of the draw.

Tigers looking good

THIS old Balmain player might be a little bit biased but gee there's plenty to like about the future of the Wests Tigers team.

Imagine how impressive some of these kids - Luke Brooks, Mitchell Moses and Curtis Sironen - will be in a few years time.

The coaching staff had been conscious of taking their time with Moses, before introducing him into the NRL last Sunday against the Bulldogs and wow, the result spoke for itself.

Moses turns 20 in September, while Brooks is still 19 and Sironen will be 21 next week.

NSW prop Aaron Woods is still only 23, so there's plenty of belief that they'll help the Tigers be a force in years to come.

Of course, being young blokes, they've still got to develop to be consistent performers in the competition but there's no doubting their potential.

It's a really important game against the Dragons on Sunday. It will certainly be a boost for the winner's finals hopes.

The Tigers have already beaten Souths, Bulldogs and Manly this year so if they can make it to September, they could do some damage.

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop