Off the Wall

It was hardly a representative sample, but David Gallop deserves credit for sitting down with six fans chosen by the "Daily Telegraph" to advance suggestions to improve the game.

This should just be the start of a wider consultation process the NRL, and the 16 clubs, need to facilitate and encourage.

One of the key points advanced by the fans is one we would all embrace - how can the game encourage greater player loyalty, and encourage one-club players in particular.

The main suggestion was that salary cap concessions be given to players when they reach 50 game, 100 game, 150 game and 200 game milestones.

The present eight years starting point is just too stringent.

We need to find a way to reward players for sticking with clubs - and with the NRL premiership.

The NRL is reportedly looking at concessions kicking in after six seasons - I would be inclined to link it to games played.

The fans also asked the NRL to consider stand-alone Origin matches. That is not an easy issue to resolve, but when you look at this weekend's fixtures, you have to surely agree it deserves examining.

This Monday night the Dragons play the Panthers in a top of the table clash, and arguably the match of the season, yet both teams will be at less than full strength thanks to Origin. The important Broncos v Tigers match tomorrow night falls into the same category.

Perhaps we can have one stand alone Origin weekend and see how players, the fans, and the television audience react to it?

The fans who met with the NRL CEO also advocated some liberalisation of the salary cap.

The suggestion that each club can have two marquee players whose payments are outside the salary cap merits consideration.

The proposal to increase representative match payments is not a new one - and it is under active consideration.

And it will become a reality if we can get the independent commission up and running by the end of the year!

The game is in reasonably good shape - with the emphasis on "reasonably".

But it can be improved - and there is no harm consulting fans on how to improve it!