League legend Norm Provan with the NRL Premiership Trophy at Caloundra RSL. Cade Mooney/cm178784
League legend Norm Provan with the NRL Premiership Trophy at Caloundra RSL. Cade Mooney/cm178784

'Hit-ups stifling NRL game,'' says Norm Provan

DRAGONS legend Norm Provan believes attacking football is being stifled because modern day players do not know how to use support play.

The 10-time premiership winner, who lives on the Sunshine Coast, played with and coached some of the game's greatest support players and he believes the art is being lost among today's stars.

"A lot of the time the man with the ball is not looking for his support before he runs into the defence," Provan said.

"He's just running straight in; head down, arse up."

Provan, who won 10 consecutive premierships with St George and was captain-coach of four of those teams, said the lack of support play made league structured and boring.

"There's too much hit-up, hit-up, hit-up," Provan said.

"They need to move the ball, but they need to know where their supports are.

"If they did that we would get a tremendously different game."

The ARL Team of the Century second-rower said inviting more attractive play would bring in more fans.

The image of Provan and his Western Suburbs opponent Arthur Summons embracing after the 1963 grand final is immortalised in the NRL's premiership trophy.

Some of his fondest rugby league memories were watching Australian-born "Wing Wizard" Brian Bevan play for Warrington in a career that produced a rugby league-record 796 tries.

Bevan was also named in the ARL Team of the Century, but Provan believes the tryscoring phenomenon would not have been the same player if he was forced to adapt to today's style.

"He was a winger, but he would score just as many tries on the other wing as he did on his own wing," Provan said.

"He knew how to play support and he was - I hate to use this term - a freak.

"That's what he was, he was just everywhere."

Provan said the game would be a lot more entertaining if modern players were given the opportunity to shine.

"The game would be a lot better for a quicker movement of the ball and more backing up of the player with the ball," Provan said.

"The player with the ball has got to know where his backup is coming from, but the majority of them are not looking where the backup is coming from.

"Without that, it produces a game in which the ball-handler runs into the defence without a thought of doing otherwise.

"There's not enough movement - the ball is not alive for long enough. It's not in the air, it's not going from player to player."


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