Off the Wall

It is not often that rugby league and rugby union go head to head on free to air television so tomorrow night is a significant occasion for both codes.

It provides the NRL with a unique opportunity to deliver a strong message to commercial and pay television that it deserves a better deal when the next rights agreement is negotiated.

Channel Nine will show two finals matches live starting from 6.30pm in New South Wales and Queensland. Channel Seven will show the Bledisloe Cup match between the Wallabies and the All Blacks live from 7.30pm.

The two NRL matches ought to rate very highly in Sydney as they involve the Sea Eagles, Dragons, Sharks, and the out of town Raiders But they should also rate well in Brisbane where the Dragons in particular have a very strong following.

While the Sea Eagles and the Sharks are short price favourites, you simply cannot dismiss the chances of the Raiders - who are played a very attractive brand of football - and even the Dragons.

Last weekend was a public relations disaster for the AFL. They Sydney final match involving the Swans was a ratings disaster, and added to what has been a very bad season for the AFL when it comes to television audiences in Sydney and Brisbane.

It was so bad that a legion of Aussie Rules club officials and commentators spent the first couple of days this week slamming the AFL