11 Aug 40/20 Vision with Scott Prince
There was a pivotal moment last weekend that made me question retirement.
JT (Johnathan Thurston) takes a quick tap in the 35th minute of the Cowboys clash against the Raiders. He catches a tired, retreating Canberra defence off-guard and scoots through for a match-defining try.
For me that summed up the rule changes that have made this great game even better. The changes have resulted in quicker play-the-balls, faster tap penalties and a more free-flowing game.
My game was based around attack. Fast plays. Finding gaps. Show and go. Making big, tired forwards pay. Cut-out passes. Hitting runners.
All this was geared at rugby league’s ultimate aim – try-time.
Right across last weekend, from that first kick-off in the Rabbits v Roosters clash I watched on in awe.
This was my type of footy. And the fans loved it. The crowd numbers may have been down, but watch as they rise on the back of a winning formula
For too long defence, in particular the wrestle, has ruled our game. That reign ended last weekend. And of course who were the first to start whinging – big, slow forwards.
‘It’s not supposed to be touch footy’, they bleated this week. Well, it’s not fellas, so get fitter and faster.
For me the changes are back to the future, where the emphasis is on the traditional one-on-one tackle with the attacker being cut down and put on his bum in a good, clean dominant tackle. In this scenario the play-the-ball speed will benefit the defending team.
Look, it will take time to get used to. The wrestle component has been drilled into players for years and dominants pre season sessions – two men wrestle up top, a third defender around the legs, then gradually peel off to slow the play right down.
To quote an old girlfriend: “It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.”
I have to admit the competitive juices did start to flow last weekend and there was a little question mark at the back of my head – ‘Did I make the right call’.
However that question was answered when I decided to run up Townsville’s Castle Hill, the morning of my debut commentary gig. About half way up I decided that ‘yep’ retirement was the perfect place for me. Who was I kidding?!
The Ben Barba racial slur on Instagram, frustrates me more than it angers me.
Unfortunately most indigenous people have lived with this sort of rubbish all our lives.
For me it started when I was in primary school in Mt Isa. At first I was confused by it, then deeply hurt by it, now it is just frustration.
I believe we have come a long way as a society in relation to racism, but as this latest incident shows, we still have a long way to go.
There is still a lot that can be done on both sides. One thing, I believe, is that there should be a far greater emphasis placed on teaching about Indigenous culture to all students in our schools.
There is great deal taught about European culture and history, but how much is taught about the original people who inhabited our country?
I believe that would go a long way towards creating respect and knowledge, which is obviously still lacking.
I want my children, and young indigenous people, to be proud of their heritage without the uneducated remarks, especially in the social media arena.
There is a very simple solution to the shoulder charge debate. Allow it, but impose a heavy ban if it goes wrong, because in the action of making a regular tackle or a lazy arm, contact to the head can occur.
I think it is a sensational part of our game and that’s why it dominates highlights reels. When it comes off it is a big boost to the defending team.
But if it doesn’t and the defender connects with the head of the ball carrier it can have serious injury repercussions.
So, if the defender wants to roll the dice and have a crack at a shoulder charge, let him. But if he connects with the head it’s an immediate eight-week suspension. No ifs, no buts.
The NRL’s Safeplay Code has become an increasingly important part of our game, with the number one priority being on player safety with a strong focus on the management of head injuries.