By: Nigel Yalden | Saturday, July 07, 2012 10:12 AM
The third State of Origin game on Wednesday night was everything that an origin game should be.
It was hard, fast, intense, niggly and was not overtly influenced by the officials. Though New South Wales supporters will no doubt challenge me about the legality of Justin Hodges try just before halftime, the last point about the match controllers is significant.
No fan wants anyone other than the 34 designated players chosen to decide the ultimate outcome of any game in any sport.
That’s why rugby league has got to rid itself of the irritating on-field intruders commonly known as “trainers”.
These day-glow clad seagulls lurk behind the attacking line, holding a bottle of water in one hand, maybe a towel in the other or slung over the shoulder, all the while barking out instructions, revealing their true vocation – in game coaches.
As players, the sight of Allan Langer, Trevor Gillmeister and Jim Dymock on the football field always brought a smile to the face, because on the way they played the game.
Different execution but driven by the same desire.
Wednesday night at Suncorp Stadium, the constant sight of Queenslanders Langer and Gillmeister and New South Welshman Jim Dymock and the moustachioed Ron Palmer on the hallowed turf, along with others in ill fitting polo shirts, became more and more of an impediment to true appreciation of the game as it progressed to it climax.
This isn’t a Playstation game.
This is a game between the two best rugby league teams in the world.
They don’t need their buttons pushed for them, especially as they seem more than capable of doing that for each other quite nicely.
So how about we let the two best rugby league teams in the world fend for themselves and not rely on a former great to orchestrate from behind like a sheep dog corralling merino ewes to the shearing shed.
Get the trainers off the field.
And before you rugby league fanatics accuse me of picking on your sport, yes, it is also an issue in rugby union as well.
Every time there is a break in play, a minimum of three support members gallop on to dish out liquid refreshment, which is bearable late in either half, but after three minutes which has been seen on more than one occasion this Super Rugby season, well that’s just laughable.
How much fluid do you lose in three minutes?
And is it that critical that you must replace that just utilised fluid then and there?
And finally in this whinge session, can we please lose the “shore to ship” communication devices from both codes.
A coach gets to speak to his player’s throughout the week and right up until they walk out the dressing room and onto the field if they so desire, in preparation for the game.
A coach gets to speak to them for ten minutes at the half way point of the game.
But while they are on the field, let the players play the game.
Let them make the decisions that influence the outcome of the game and let them learn to handle the consequences, good, bad or indifference, from those choices.
The athletes, the coaches, the game and the fans will all benefit greatly from doing so.
** As published in the Waikato Times on Saturday July 7 2012 **