Rammo's rant

We?ve reached the business end of the season and this is when the footy should be firing up, but unfortunately I have to jest with that statement.

I managed to catch three games last weekend, the Bulldogs vs. Roosters clash, the Knights/Rabbitohs encounter and Sunday?s local derby between the Wests Tigers and the Parramatta Eels.

Each and every one of these games was a yawn. In particular, the game I watched first hand, the Bulldogs and Roosters.

The Bulldogs looked like they were having a training run against their own Premier League side. They never moved out of second gear and the scary thing was that they didn?t need to.

The performance by the Roosters on the weekend was without doubt the worst I can recall in my time following the game. Never have I watched a game where it was painfully obvious that a side were never going to put points on the board.

It would no doubt pain Roosters fans to think what the score-line would have been, had the Bulldogs moved up into third gear.

Adrian Morley?s knee to Corey Hughes? chest was no doubt a sign of frustration from a side which has been pathetic in 2006. Back in 2002, Morley would have used his physical presence in the right way ? to lift his side and inspire them. Now I?m afraid the time has come for Morley to leave the NRL. He still has a big hit on him but he?s now become more of a liability than an asset. Thankfully, the judiciary will make that decision for him. He has made one wise decision over the past month, and that was when he decided to sign with Warrington on a three-year deal.

Some would think that because South Sydney came to within six points of the Newcastle Knights on the weekend, that they?re moving closer to a second victory in season 2006. Unfortunately the reality is that Newcastle took their foot off the pedal (not that they?re in the position to mind you) in the second half and decided to just scrape home with the victory. Another very slow and dull encounter which are becoming more and more frequent, making our game look like rugby union.

And yesterday?s battle between the Wests Tigers and Parramatta was almost as dour and predictable as the Bulldogs/Roosters clash at the same venue the night before. Thankfully Jarryd Hayne woke us up a couple of times, showing off his almost Olympic-like speed and threw in a couple of intercept tries for good measure.

It begs the question as to why games are like this. I think there are two main reasons. One is the lack of depth in the competition. In years gone by we?d have at least six or seven sides which were consistent and were very good football teams. Realistically, this season we only have four. The Storm, Bulldogs, Dragons and Broncos are the only ones we could throw into that category. The other sides wouldn?t look out of place in a lower tier competition. Manly could maybe be included in that upper echelon but the scary thing is, the 6th placed side, the Cronulla Sharks, have won as many games as they have lost, further illustrating the depth problem in the NRL. I cannot recall a season where the top four or five sides are in another league to all the other sides in the competition.

The other problem is the length of the season. I think if you want to have 26 rounds in a season you would definitely need to scrap the Tri-Nations tour at the end of the year. If you wanted to continue with the Tri-Nations tour, then the season would need to be restricted to 22 rounds. You simply can?t have it both ways but the NRL are at the moment. This is rugby league, the players aren?t robots, and it is a heavy contact sport. Eventually something has to give with such a grueling schedule.

Ask any of the players at the moment and they are just counting the days to the semi-finals. A season of this length can not only affect the standard of football week-in week-out, but it can also affect the standard of the showpiece games in the finals. It is no surprise that the Bulldogs decided to rest Mark O?Meley on the weekend and the Dragons have talked about resting Mark Gasnier. The season is simply too long and injuries will continue plague the game if the NRL takes no action.

I must say the new proposal for a youth competition is a terrific idea and it?s good to see that the NRL are looking to change things.

But Memo to Mr. Gallop: The last four rounds of the NRL or the Tri-Nations tour must go. Take your pick.

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