Off the Wall

The dailies are focussing on the agreement for an independent commission to run the game as a great start to the NRL season tonight.

As I wrote yesterday it is a welcome and long overdue move - but the devil will be in the detail. I think an even more welcome start is the fact that both games tonight will attract sell out attendances.

The Eels v Dragons game at Parramatta Stadium will draw a full house - and one has to wonder how many more the game would have attracted had it been played at the Olympic Stadium as the Eels wanted?

And the Broncos v Cowboys game at Lang Park will almost certainly be a sell out. Late yesterday there were only a couple of thousand tickets left to be sold. That means a crowd in excess of 50,000!

Readers may recall it is not long ago that we were told we could not have Friday night football live on free to air television - or have live radio broadcasts - because it would seriously damage attendances!

It is interesting to note that while we now have live Friday night free to air coverage, yet the AFL does not! But the AFL does have live Saturday and Sunday afternoon telecasts.

The 50,000 plus attendance augurs well for the Broncos season - attendance wise at least.

The Queensland Reds stellar match at Lang Park is the Reds v NSW Waratahs game...played a couple of weeks ago. And played on a Saturday night which in many ways is better than Friday night at an inner-city stadium where the usual traffic and commuter chaos becomes bedlam!

The Reds main home game drew a crowd of 22,000. The same match in 2004 drew 42,000, in 2008 it was down to 27,000.

Meanwhile the Broncos home game crowds for their matches against the Cowboys, and now the Titans, have grown to the extent that the "full house" sign is usually put up before kick-off. And they draw crowds in the 40,000 range when they play teams such as the Dragons, the Bulldogs and the Eels which have traditional strong followings in Brisbane.

The fact the Eels will kick off with a full house confirms the club is going ahead in leaps and bounds under its new management, and coach. More good news for the Eels is revealed today with the licensed club converting a $9 million loss in 2008 into a $1 million profit last year - and football club members has increased several fold.

And the great start to the season who extend right through until Monday night when the Tigers - almost certainly with Lote Tuqiri to make his return to rugby league - and the Sea Eagles play.

All we need now is eight good contests - and sixteen referees who realise they are at their best when they are seen and heard less!