Off the Wall

It is just three sleeps to the start of the 2012 premiership.

I cannot wait - the off season may have been a week or two shorter than normal, but it seems like an eternity. The cricket has been boring, except for the 20/20 Big Bash. And the brawls between Clive Palmer and Nathan Tinkler and Soccer Australia while interesting are no substitute for the absence of the greatest game of all.

Thursday night sees an intriguing contest between the Knights and the Dragons........the team coached by Wayne Bennett this year and the one he coached last year!

And the rest of the round will be no less interesting.

Over the weekend and today we have seen yet more distractions from the main event, principally stories about expansion. The promoters of new teams need a reality check.

At the very earliest there will be no additional NRL teams  until 2015. There may not even be expansion in 2015. The next television rights deal, to be negotiated in the coming months, will not be dependent to any great extent on expansion. The first two years of the new deal will involve 16 teams.

Expansion needs to be examined by the ARLC (the Independent Commission) in a measured and timely manner.

Part of that examination may well be the impact of expansion on television numbers. But it must also be the true financial state of the 16 NRL clubs today.

That needs to be for the future.

The priority that the games administrators  today must focus on is strengthening our position in Western Sydney and South East Queensland  AND looking closely at the true state of the game at the grass roots, and in regional and rural areas. And it must be on getting the 2012 season off to the best possible start.

Expansion not only can wait - it must wait!