Off the Wall

At long last NRL team trainers and "water boys" are on notice - their days as the "14th man" on the field are numbered.

For years the on-field presence of trainers has been growing, so much so that it has become a joke.

They get in the road of play, and recently I saw one who was almost packed down in a scrum!

The NRL, responding to complaints from fans, has ordered a crack down on trainers who "loiter" on the field of play. Apparently fines totalling $6,000 have been issued in the first four rounds, more than for the whole season.

It seems that the NRL ground managers are responsible for enforcing the tougher line.

Perhaps one of the two on-field referees could do so, or the touch judges could make themselves somewhat useful? Certainly more useful than they currently are!

The whole issue has been allowed to get out of hand in recent years - the clean up now under way is long overdue.

And now for a brief update on Wayne Bennett's future plans.

His son-in-law, Ben Ikin, was on TV this week discounting the reports in the Brisbane media that he had made a decision to return to the Broncos.

His comments have to be taken at face value. But they run counter to the interview with sacked Broncos coach, Ivan Henjak, who left not much doubt in the mind of readers that his demise was linked to Bennett's return to the Broncos.

But Wayne's brother, Bob, who is the new CEO of the Men of League entity, has also said this week that he is undecided.

But the plot may well be thickening. I am not so sure Wayne Bennett would have been entirely happy with the Brisbane media's assertion that he is "definitely" returning to the Broncos.

A few years ago, Bennett abandoned plans to switch to the Roosters when it was leaked to the media.

Today the "Australian", (which is owned by News Limited as is the Brisbane daily, as is the Broncos) reports that the Rabbitohs and the Knights remain in contention.

All the evidence points to a return to the Broncos being his pick. But have they over-played their hand? There may yet be another twist in this saga before it is, mercifully, resolved the next week or so.

As they say - watch this space.

PS: A reader raised the issue of "restraint on trade" when it comes to a possible banning of a return to the NRL by Karmichael Hunt and Israel Folau. Someone much better versed in the law than I am assures me that if the NRL declines to register them, "restraint of trade" issues won't be a problem at all!

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