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I have say it irks me to see people in the Rugby League “media” and I use the term loosely in some cases, treating the Cougar World Sevens with such contempt that they continue to denigrate the event to a point where the negative coverage could be mistaken for Rugby Union bias, but alas, it's the people who supposedly care about the greatest game of all.
Bulldogs coach Steve Folkes has slammed the event saying he doesn't think he should play his first grade players because of the risk of injury and ARL chairman Colin Love rightfully hit back saying if you don't play your best side, you run the risk of not being invited back. Let's hope Mr Love follows through with his rhetoric for the sake of the Sevens and the fans that look forward to the event.
I have also read on the forums how the Bulldogs fans are writing off the event and saving themselves for the real thing, that being the NRL Telstra Premiership. That's all well and good but at the same time, the Bulldogs fans were heckling the Eels for taking the event seriously and at the end of the day, I have to congratulate Brian Smith, as the Eels are defending champions and are keen to make it a treble. They are even mounting a legal challenge to make sure their trump card Nathan Hindmarsh is available for the event. That's what I call commitment.
One trophy is better than none at all in my books and I'm sure the $100,000 prize money wouldn't go astray either. Why not give the players the right to choose whether or not they would like to participate as I'm sure many players would love to have a crack at the game in it's shortened format.
Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheens is taking the Sevens seriously and has named a side full of NRL experience and includes Panthers grand final hero Scott Sattler while some of their new acquisitions in Brett Hodgson, Pat Richards and Nick Graham will also take part in the tournament. The experience could prove invaluable for a team with many new recruits and we also get the chance to see rising star Benji Marshall strut his stuff.
Manly are another team taking the event seriously and have named speedsters Scott Donald and Kevin Mcguinness in their squad and the cash strapped club could loom as the dark horses for the event. Manly also realise the potential of a $100,000 windfall and it could solve some problems within the club in the short term.
Personally, I hope the event is an overwhelming success but there will always be barriers to success in Rugby League because many people with vested interests are mainly self-serving and this is no more evident that with Channel Nine. All we get is a shortened highlights package on Sunday evening which is a slap in the face for the game and the event because Nine has rights to telecast the event live if they so choose.
Long live the Cougar World Sevens and best of luck to all teams participating, even the ones who are half hearted in their commitment.