Off the Wall

The NRL has made the right call on a couple of key issues this week.

Firstly, the outright rejection by David Gallop of the proposal that the Wests Tigers Benji Marshall be allowed to play rugby in Japan in the off season, and then return for the 2010 NRL season, was the only possible response.

Can you imagine the precedent that would create? If a player was allowed to switch codes and play in Japan, what would stop another player switching codes and playing in France, or England, or South Africa?

But what is really staggering about the proposal is that the club would even contemplate it. Marshall is arguably the most injury prone player in the NRL - he misses around 10 games a season. Yet the club is apparently prepared to contemplate its injury prone number one player significantly increasing an already appalling injury toll!

But the comment from David Gallop which really attracted my attention concerned the future expansion of the game.

It needs to be said that, in the prevailing economic climate, expansion is surely off the agenda for the time being. We will struggle to see the current 16 clubs survive the downturn - and evidence of that grows almost daily.

But when expansion is back on the agenda then it is apparent Perth will come under serious consideration.

The proposal for a second Melbourne team is just not on the NRL radar and nor should it be. It should not even be contemplated until the game can get a reasonable run in the Melbourne media - and until The Storm can prove its financial viability without News tipping in millions each year.

As the Dragons coach, Wayne Bennett, said when he was in Perth last weekend for the Dragons v Roosters trial game, a Perth team must be on the agenda.

That game drew a crowd of 10,000 - a number a couple of existing NRL clubs would be very happy with week in week out.

The Western Reds were one of the unfortunate victims of the peace settlement - the Reds should have been considered ahead of a couple of the clubs that survived the shake out.

And after Perth - or at the same time - the NSW Central Coast must be under consideration. A point David Gallop made this week.

Expansion is undoubtedly on