21 hours ago
Off the Wall
There is one consequence from the range of penalties imposed on the Melbourne Storm that needs to be watched very carefully - and may well have been largely overlooked when the penalties were fixed last Thursday.
The greatest deterrent to foul play, and dangerous play, is the suspensions that offenders are liable to.
There are those - such as Tommy Raudonikis - who argue that the reporting/judiciary/suspension process has resulted in matches being too tame and that players, especially forwards, are being turned into "cream puffs".
It has also being argued, with some validity, that State of Origin matches are no longer the "no holds barred" encounters they used to be - because of the impact a suspension, or even the accumulation of demerit points, has on players taking part in premiership games.
Well, as far as the Melbourne Storm played are concerned, the "deterrent" factor is diminished, if not removed completely!
The consequence of the prospective loss of all points for the remainder of the 2010 season is that Storm players really don't have to fear a suspension impacting on the team's finals prospects. The Storm has no finals prospects fullstop!
Up to half a dozen Storm players will be chosen in the test and origin teams in the coming weeks - maybe even one or two more if their current form is a guide.
We saw on Sunday night the Storm forward, Brett White, reported twice for incidents on Sunday night. Reporting a player twice in the one game is fairly rare.
White is a serious test and origin contender, if not a certainty.
The problem the NRL has created for itself by denying the Storm players the chance to actually gain points from winning matches need to be examined more closely.
The opportunity for Storm players to engage in foul play and incur a lesser penalty than any other player is a reality.
The NRL dismisses the issue. But it has to protect and defend the one aspect of the Storm suite of penalties that has attracted wide criticism - prospective loss of points.
The way the judiciary process works it would be impossible to penalise Storm players more than any other for the same offence. But the reality is that any premiership match suspensions imposed on Storm players have a lesser impact than on players from the other 15 clubs.
Now I may be wide of the mark, and Storm players, whether it be in representative matches or weekly fixtures will behave no differently to any other players.
But the temptation must surely be there not to?
Time will tell...