Roosters' Cooper Cronk and James Tedesco tackle Bulldog's Aaron Woods during NRL match between the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs and Sydney Roosters at ANZ Stadium. Picture. Phil Hillyard
Roosters' Cooper Cronk and James Tedesco tackle Bulldog's Aaron Woods during NRL match between the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs and Sydney Roosters at ANZ Stadium. Picture. Phil Hillyard

Ritchie: League must end the boredom

It's time to end the boredom.

I love rugby league but I'm tired of completion rates, five tackles and kick, possession, defensive structures, ruck control, coach talk, lead runners, second-man sweep play, obstruction, 'shut the gate', inside shoulder.

All very structured but hardly appealing.

The NRL has every right to encourage clubs to consider implementing attacking and expansive game plans.

The governing body is well aware that the game essentially operates from the hefty finances generated through match attendances and broadcasting rights.

The game has to offer entertainment.

The NRL has a plethora of athletic, talented footballers, who are forced to play like robots rather than spontaneously because of the obsession with completion rates and rigid rules.

Rugby union has become the biggest switch-off in Australian sport - rugby league cannot be allowed to follow union into the abyss.

The NRL must try everything it can to ensure rugby league remains a powerful, attractive and vibrant product.

And allowing referees to show some latitude will no doubt help.

NRL head of football, Graham Annesley, will lead the charge. He has a wonderful football brain - a true rugby league man.

But there should be a warning.

Coaches will try and manipulate any advantage that comes their way through refereeing leniency.

The NRL must chase more attacking play. AAP Image/Joe Castro.
The NRL must chase more attacking play. AAP Image/Joe Castro.

If there is a rule change cunning coaches can use, they will. It could become a battle between the coaches, referees and Annesley.

But there is one sure element in all this. Annesley knows what he wants - and it's what the fans want. More attack, the ball in play more often and limited stoppages.

Let's see if the coaches agree.

Will they put self-interest over the good of the game? Will their playing roster and game plans allow such footy?

Will they offer up some exhilarating footy - or flout the rules to slow down play?

I hope they jump on board - but I have my doubts.

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