1. Kevin Kingston - all class
Full marks to Panthers captain Kevin Kingston this week for the professional manner in which he handled his press interviews. Kevin was informed by the club a fortnight ago that there were no guarantees of a contract extension with the club beyond this season and that he should explore other opportunities. Such is the respect we have for Kevin, we wanted to give him plenty of time to secure another deal rather than waiting until the end of the season. To hear a senior player speak glowingly about the club and the coach, despite his obvious disappointment, was indeed a breath of fresh air. This only goes to highlight why Kevin was the perfect choice to lead the Panthers during this testing transition period in the club's development. The Panthers are building a club and a culture that in the coming years will make all our fans very proud. Kevin Kingston and his beautiful wife Melissa have been very important contributors to this process. We are so lucky to have them in our club.
2. Time off please, Mr Referee
Monday night’s gripping draw between the Sea Eagles and Storm made for brilliant viewing. However, a moment just before half-time of extra time confirmed the need for a rule change around referees signalling time off. I find it absolutely ridiculous why we have to go through this amateurish process of having teams rush to form half a scrum with the first six players they can muster, just to stop the clock. My view is that in the final 10 minutes of every half of football, as soon as the ball goes dead, the clock should automatically stop. When the scores are close, this is the most gripping part of the match. Yet we still have this battle between the team in front trying to waste time, while the team behind is racing to form a huddle to squeeze out the extra time to mount a challenge. If time off is signalled immediately the ball is dead, or when points are scored, I believe the referees will be under less pressure when deciding when time off should be given, and fans will get greater value for money.
3. Tigers’ dilemma is symptomatic of greater issues
Wests Tigers are struggling at the moment under a crippling injury toll. They have little in the way of experienced depth in key positions to field teams that can at least compete with the top teams in the competition. Instead, they have been forced to field youngsters in the top grade well before they are ready. This is detrimental to the development of the emerging players. It is also damaging to the brand of the NRL when the standard of matches shown on national television suffers due to a team’s injury toll. This situation could well be experienced by a number of clubs in the NRL. It is caused by the restrictive nature of second-tier salary caps, and the fact that our game has abandoned a quality reserve-grade competition as an important link in the chain of player development. The present salary cap rules and development pathways should be modernised for the needs of today’s world of professional sport.
4. Krisnan Inu’s tackle should be the last straw
Let me say from the outset, I don’t blame Krisnan Inu for the ugly tackle last Sunday that has landed him another suspension. Inu was just doing what he is trained to do; in fact, what all players are trained to do. It looked awful. It could have caused serious injury. But it could happen at any time given the way players are trained to manipulate tackles these days. This whole wrestling, gripping, grappling, leg lock, elbow lock, head lock, leg drag and ankle twist rubbish is totally out of control. It has to stop. Why can’t we just tackle the man with the ball and give defenders a reasonable amount of latitude to get up and defend the next play, while at the same time providing the attacking team with momentum if it has earned the right to a quick play-the-ball? I’ll tell you why. Because coaches will then tell players to dive on the ground in voluntary tackles to try to win quick play-the-balls so they can run from dummy half and do it over again. The game is chasing its tail on this wrestling stuff.
5. Give golden point the boot
OK, I’m convinced. No more golden point. A draw, is a draw, is a draw. I was always a fan of the golden point and believed it added to the excitement of the close finish. For some games that resulted in level scores at full-time, the only thing that added excitement to the day for the fans was the extra-time pressure and scramble for the win. However, when you witness a gladiatorial classic from two teams such as Melbourne and Manly this week, a draw and a competition point each is a fair result. It would have been criminal for Manly to walk away from that match with nothing to show for their efforts. When you think about it, if beaten by a golden-point field goal, they would have got exactly what the Tigers and Warriors got for being belted by 50 and 60 respectively. No. That can’t be allowed to happen. Give golden point the boot.
6. Women in League a bonanza for charity
This round truly brings out the best in all NRL clubs as we honour the women who help shape our game, both behind the scenes and on the field. The ladies from Panthers Women in League are still chalking up the tally, but based on the $1000 per try donated by major sponsor OAK and sleeve sponsor Hertz, and $100 from senior partner Centrebet, we’ve raised $35,000. The money will go to the Nepean Family Room in the neonatal ICU at Nepean Hospital, supporting parents of seriously ill newborns. I’m sure all clubs have achieved similar success for their own charities.
Phil Gould is general manager of the Penrith Panthers