In his first article for NRL News, we’re joined by passionate NRL fan and pro punter, Chris Ryan. He debates whether the notion of Teamlist Tuesday should change and how it compares with other codes, both national and international.

NRL Team Lists – The Ducks and Drakes

Why does the NRL foster a ducks and drakes attitude with team lists and player availability? This is the question I constantly find myself asking as I follow the reporters, rumour mongers and ‘inside info’ men on Twitter who provide me with the best information regarding which players are in and out of NRL line-ups each week. Why do I need to use this dodgy, 2nd hand information, rather than hear it reported from the NRL or clubs themselves?

At present, NRL clubs are required to submit a team list on Tuesday each week and in the days that follow leading up to the game, nothing is required of them until 1 hour prior to kick off. There are many problems with this but let’s start at, well, the start. Tuesday rolls around, your team may have had one training session for the week or if you played Monday night, none. Many players have niggling injuries from the weekend’s game or previous rounds, and it is not known at this point whether said players will be able to play in 3,4, 5, and sometimes 6 days’ time. But what does the NRL do? Make you name your team on Tuesday anyway. It’s ludicrous and it leads to coaches just putting in a Clayton’s team and indeed if they played Monday night, the coaches typically write the same 17 down as the previous evening, regardless of form or injury. That’ll suit the suits at NRL HQ they say.

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So it’s pretty clear that naming a team on a Tuesday is far too early and impractical. So how about only updating this team list 1 hour prior to kick-off? All teams know their final line-up far in advance of this, in part because Under 20’s/NSW Cup/Qld Cup is usually played directly before the 1st grade fixture so if a player is playing in one of the lead up games, it’s pretty obvious he will not be suiting up in top grade.

If we look to comparisons for the NRL, the AFL lists teams on Thursdays, a full 2 days after the NRL does and it’s not to the detriment of the game. The NFL, which runs similar to the NRL in terms of brutality, types of injuries and playing schedule (1 game a week each weekend), requires teams to report on any injury to a player and list them as probable (more likely to play than not), questionable (50-50), doubtful (less than 25% chance of playing) and OUT (definitely will not play). These lists are required each Friday and also to be updated where necessary leading up the game over the weekend. Fines apply for non-compliance. Other major codes through the USA (NBA, MLB, NHL) work on similar principles.

With the lack of reporting of injury news/team changes in the NRL, it leads to the aforementioned rumour mongering to the detriment of the game, and frustrates many of its supporters. Shouldn’t the game be doing the best it can to meet supporters’ needs? There are many ways this lack of free flow of information affects supporters. Hundreds of thousands of people are in tipping competitions across the country and look to see who’s in and out prior to submitting tips, and I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard people bemoan with lines like, ‘I wouldn’t have tipped Parra if I knew Hayne wasn’t playing!’. But the tipsters are just the start – have you heard how passionate people are about Fantasy comps and Supercoach these days??? You’d swear people were more interested in how many tackles Corey Parker made or hit ups accredited to Paul Gallen than who won a game between Brisbane and Cronulla! And the NRL is a willing participant in this, running their own comp, earning advertising dollars from it and engaging with their fans. Don’t these fans deserve be treated better?

If the Super coaches on the couch get angry, how about the punters? When you part with your own cash, it hurts losing money from a lack of info more than a Cherry-Evans try assist being given to Brett Stewart and costing you fantasy points! In recent games, it was mooted that Thurston was out of the North Qld side against Newcastle in Round 15 and betting markets reacted. Thurston played. Same round, Hodkinson was supposed to be out for Canterbury as the rumours swept rugby league circles on Friday afternoon. Canterbury went from -3.5 point favourite, to -2 favourite (which is a larger move than it sounds). Hodkinson played. And the punters who lumped on Canberra thinking Hodkinson was out felt dudded as the Dogs won 22-14. 2 weeks prior, Josh Reynolds was purportedly ruled out hours before kick-off v Manly. Massive market changes. He played. And on and on it goes. Perhaps this wouldn’t be such a problem, but the NRL also earns dollars from bookmakers from money bet on the game as well as advertising revenue. And aren’t they looking for a bit more integrity in the game? And perhaps if information was more publically available, it would de-incentivise players’ desire to bet on NRL games with inside info, or pass that info on to friends and family to bet. Seems pertinent considering the NRL’s actions around player gambling in recent weeks.

So if you can establish a problem, see the causes it has on the supporter base that you are attempting to grow and easily reconcile better alternatives out there, shouldn’t it be easy to fix? Given all my bleating thus far, it would only be fair for me to do a little more than that and actually present a solution. And here it is. Team lists required Thursday. Final starting line-ups issued 3 hours before the game and promptly updated on the NRL website and their social media channels. Any team changes or players ruled out through injury required to be reported to the NRL as promptly as possible, otherwise fines/sanctions issued. Done. Easy. Thoughts Dave Smith?

Do you agree with a possible change to Teamlist Tuesday?

Chris Ryan

@imdabomb82

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