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Rugby League used to be a 13-man game. Some say it's now a 17-man game. I say, it?s at least a 25-man game.
17 outstanding players isn't enough to guarantee success. Newcastle have a fabulous top 17, stacked with representative players. Yet, they've won one game all year. Injuries could be blamed, but that's only the surface issue. The real problem is the gulf between Newcastle's elite squad and their back-up brigade.
Thanks to the salary cap, every team has a strong best 17. The differences lie outside these top quality players. All NRL clubs have used at least 25 players this year with injuries and rep duties hurting all teams. The teams that keep winning are those with the most talented second tier of players.
Look at Brisbane. Four points clear, they possess a never-ending list of young talent they can pull out of Queensland as needed. Players like Barnes, Thaiday and Learoyd-Lahrs would be in the starting 17 at most other clubs...
'Tis no coincidence that barnstorming Broncos doth leadeth the competition.
For even when their stars do dim, new celestial supernovas alight,
And shine, so bright.
Coincidence? I do deny.
The element of plot in common, 'tis depth.
Oh the irony; playing talent that is deep, allows a team to soar so high.
Having bamboozled them with rhyme and rhythm, Shakespeare leaves the field to be replaced by renowned 'closer' Tim Shaw...
Hi! Tim Shaw here. What an argument! In 2005, depth matters!
Want proof? Here's a club I prepared earlier.
The Bulldogs. Last year's Premiers. They boasted not only a hot 17 but a host of able back-up players too. What a difference the salary cap makes. See how the Bulldogs had to offload players, hurting their depth. Now, watch what happens when we throw in some key injuries. Voila, the Premiers and now reduced to pretenders, unlikely to make the eight.
Now, here's another club, where we've increased the depth of its playing talent. The Parramatta Eels. Hopeless jokes last year, they spent up big on a massive recruitment drive while bringing along talented juniors. So, like almost every other club in the competition, you have a strong starting 17.
But that's not all!
You've also got experienced NRL players like Robinson, Henry Perenara and Petersen who can fit into the team at any moment.
But wait. There's still more!
The Eels retained almost all their young fringe players, like Ben Smith, O'Dwyer, Moimoi and Graham; all tried and tested at the elite level, now bringing their games to another level.
Call now, and yes you guessed it, there's still more.
A whole raft of young, talented juniors are coming through the ranks. Players like John Williams, Joel Reddy and Josh Cordoba, just waiting for their crack at the elite level.
So pick up the phone now! All of that, all within a salary cap of $3.3m. Unbelievable!
With the game all but in the bag, Wordsworth comes off the bench. He only needs to hold onto the ball in the closing stanza to wrap up a remarkable essay. No! He slips on a banana peel, falls and breaks his pencil.
A distress message is sent to the coaching staff: Wordsworth has broken his pencil. We need a replacement?
"You're kidding, I didn't think we'd need anyone else. Who we got as backup? What about Grisham, he can inject a bit of mystery into the essay? What do you mean he's run out of ink? Get Stephen King out there then! What? How does anyone lose keys off their keyboard? Well, who's available? Who? Who? Never heard of him. But get him out there, anyway, we've got no options."
Bill Jones runs out onto the field for Parramatta and immediately spills the pill.
So in summary then?. Ummm. Well, it's all about being deep, dudes. And I'm not talking about deep like, as in, how deep is the water because that has nothing to do with footy. And this is after all, an essay about football, right. Although, I gotta say, right, how freaky was it to see Shakespeare write about Footy. Who'd have thought, hey? Anyway, what was I saying? Nup, lost it?
What? We lost the game? The season's gone. Bummer, dudes.
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