Off the Wall

This weekend's semi finals should be ratings winners for Nine and the NRL.

Last weekend's figures could hardly have been better - and simply confirm how valuable live free to air, and live pay, coverage are.

The era of replays an hour or two after the game has finished ought to be coming to an end. We can but live in hope!

While there is good news on the NRL coverage front, you have to worry about coverage of the second level competition, and the Queensland Cup in particular.

Fans in NSW don't get coverage of the second level competition, but for the last fifteen years Queensland has had live coverage on the ABC of the Queensland Cup competition each Saturday afternoon.

The Queensland Cup is a very effective feeder competition for a number of NRL Clubs - and not just the Broncos, Titans and Cowboys.

It has had its problems financially, but it remains one of the best links with country football with teams from centres such as Cairns, Mackay, Rockhampton, Sunshine Coast and Ipswich taking part.

The leading team this season was the Tweed Heads Seagulls, with the Northern Pride and Souths Logan Magpies closely following. The grand final will be played at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday week.

It will probably draw a crowd of 20,000.

The two semi finals will be shown live this weekend by the ABC on Saturday and Sunday afternoon. The ABC coverage is an incentive for sponsors.

There must now be some doubt whether ABC coverage will continue in the future.

The ABC has dropped bowls coverage, and I recently read where live coverage in South Australia of the SANFL competition is also in doubt.

One of the first tasks of the Independent Commission must be to ensure the Queensland Cup coverage continues - and look at coverage for the NSWRL second level competition as well.

This Sunday the semi finals of the NSW Cup are being played at Leichhardt Oval. The 2GB Continuous Call Team will be broadcasting the games live. I hope ABC radio does so as well.

The NSW Cup, which includes historic clubs such as Newtown and North Sydney (both have made the semi finals) deserves greater media prominence.

Like the Queensland Cup, the NSW Cup has a key role in the overall development of the game, and the NRL premiership.

It needs greater coverage...and the coverage the Queensland Cup has benefited from must be protected.