If the NRL are fair dinkum about giving the fans the best quality rugby league, then they must immediately look to another free to air carrier next year and beyond after the latest snubbing of the Canberra Raiders.
In what can only be described as an astounding decision by Channel Nine, they have opted not to show the Raiders v Roosters clash in round 26 on free to air television. Currently both teams occupy the top two spots on the NRL ladder and if results go in their favour, the teams may well be playing for the minor premiership.
It?s bad enough we (the Raiders) were snubbed in round 24 for our match against the Newcastle Knights but this latest debacle takes the cake. Channel Nine in all their wisdom have decided to televise the Friday night match between the Broncos and the Dragons. And while both sides will figure in the finals, there is nowhere near as much at stake as two teams possibly playing out the last match of the regular season for the minor premiership.
The round 26 Sunday match of the day will be played between the Panthers and Eels and it is highly probable the Eels may already be out of finals contention by then, effectively making the game a nothing match, while the Raiders and Roosters may be playing off for the right to hoist the J J Giltinan Shield.
If I am not mistaken, the Roosters and Raiders played one of the toughest games of the season last Friday night both mentally and physically and the commentators were united in their praise of both sides and the level of effort they put in.
Simon Hawkins, the Raiders CEO must take this issue up with David Gallop and the NRL to ensure the Raiders fans are not treated like second class citizens after some absolutely disgusting treatment from Channel Nine. All the while, the NRL sit back and twiddle their collective thumbs in favour of Sydney sides hogging the coverage. Not really a positive way to expand the game into other areas by continuing with the Sydney centric attitude that all fans want to see Sydney clubs free to air.
Let?s see what happens if Parramatta drop a game between now and round 26. A loss would almost certainly rule them out of finals contention. Will they (nine) run to the NRL and Fox like they did earlier in the season when the Raiders played the Bulldogs trying to get the Raiders on free to air?
Memo to nine, you can't have your cake and eat it too.