THE NRL listens: in response to club anger at player burn-out the NRL has proposed stand-alone test and country origin games and will move Origin to Mondays.
Source: The Daily Telegraph
NRL boss David Gallop has finally acted on the growing anger over player burnout by switching next year's Anzac Test match and City-Country to a stand-alone weekend.
And from 2013, Origin matches will be switched to Monday nights to give players at least four days to recover for their club games.
The Sunday Telegraph has learned senior NRL staff have been working on a major scheduling overhaul for weeks after an avalanche of complaints from players and coaches about the workload on rep stars.
Gallop will meet Channel Nine boss David Gyngell and Fox Sports executives next week to brief them on the proposed changes before the clubs are informed at next month’s chief executives’ meeting.
From next year, the Australia-New Zealand Test will be played on a Friday night with City-County to follow on Sunday afternoon. All clubs will have a bye that weekend.
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It will be the first stand-alone weekend of rep matches since 2001, when Origin was played on a Sunday night. The break from club football for the Test match and City-Country will be welcomed by senior players, who are constantly being asked to back up for their clubs either 24 hours after an international or 48 hours after an Origin.
But it won’t prevent the unfairness of last weekend’s round, when the Dragons played the Titans without 10 of their stars and the Broncos played the Raiders without 11 regulars, while other clubs like the Tigers and Warriors had no rep players.
Still, it’s a major improvement by playing on Monday night and giving the stars at least four days to prepare for their next match.
And in a further change to programming, the NRL is planning a blockbuster weekend of rugby league early in the season with a double-header and two triple-headers.
On the Friday night, two games will be played at Eden Park, the super stadium in Auckland that holds a crowd of 55,000.
On the Saturday afternoon and evening, a triple-header will be played at Suncorp in Brisbane involving the Broncos, Titans and the Cowboys.
And on the Sunday afternoon and evening, ANZ Stadium at Homebush will stage a triple-header involving six traditional Sydney rivals.
The gate takings from the estimated combined crowds of 180,000 will be split evenly among the 16 clubs. All the matches will be shown live on both Nine and Fox Sports.