'Hasler clause' to protect players
CALL it the 'Hasler clause.''
The NRL will learn from the City-Country scheduling fiasco by ensuring the New Zealand Warriors are one of the two teams scheduled to play just four days after the first Sunday stand-alone State of Origin game next year.
The Warriors opposition will be a team predicted to have the least amount of players involved in the Origin II Sunday night clash at the MCG.
Culminating in embarrassment across every facet of the code, Canterbury coach Des Hasler pointed to the irresponsible requirement of his players backing-up from this afternoon's Mudgee match with just three days to recover for the club's next clash with North Queensland on Thursday, as reason to deeming his player's ineligible for City-Country selection.
Not surprisingly, Cowboys coach Paul Green followed Hasler's lead, as did Canberra coach Ricky Stuart.
Privately, the Bulldogs are disappointed they've been blamed for the farce, when it was the NRL who formulated the draw last November.
However, the finger-pointing will deliver at least one positive outcome with the NRL willing to ensure next year's historic first Sunday stand-alone Origin, isn't overtaken by issues surrounding the welfare and recovery of players.
An entire bye weekend will be part of the stand-alone Origin II schedule next year, providing those players not selected by NSW or QLD a weekend of rest and recovery.
As part of the $1.8 billion broadcast deal from 2018, the NRL will have a greater influence on who and when matches are played.
It will allow the NRL to position those team's less affected by Origin to play in the Thursday night timeslot, just four days after the Sunday Origin II showdown.
The Warriors and potentially the Gold Coast Titans or Wests Tigers, who have historically provided few Origin players, would be the frontrunner to fill the Thursday slot.
The two hour time difference between Auckland and Sydney would also allow the Warriors to kick-off their home match in 'twilight' conditions.
The NRL are currently working on the 2018 NRL draw in the hope of a late-October release.