SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 30: Storm captain Cameron Smith looks dejected after losing the 2018 NRL Grand Final match between the Melbourne Storm and the Sydney Roosters at ANZ Stadium on September 30, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

It seems as though the NRL is willing to at least consider any option to re-start the competition as quickly as possible.

This has included splitting the regular season into two conferences, shortening the season, pushing Origin back into the Summer, and most interestingly of all creating an NRL hub or "bubble".

For those who haven't heard the incredible idea, it would basically break the competition in two with eight teams based in Penrith, with the other eight at Olympic Park in Homebush Bay.

This would allow players and staff to be kept away from members of the public to play each week, whilst also being allowed access to gyms, training fields, food and entertainment.

The Panthers precinct looks absolutely amazing with hotels, the leagues club and training fields all within minutes walk. There's even talk of a shuttle bus taking players across the location to train saving them a short walk.

It's not foolproof but on the surface it looks as though a lot of bases have been covered.

NRL fans, myself included, are excited by the prospect of the game re-starting as soon as late May, although more likely in June.

We've all seen the damage the lock out then suspension of games has caused, with hundreds of NRL and club employees losing work, while the players themselves look set for huge paycuts.

The NRL knows it must deliver a product to receive television money which in turn will allow the game a much, MUCH better chance of survival.

Judging by social media, those players who have been vocal seem to largely support the idea.

Most seem to understand that there is a very real chance that the worst case scenario, i.e. no more games taking place in 2020 could mean the end of Rugby League as we know it.

One player however doesn't seem to keen on the ideas - 400 gamer and immortal in waiting Cameron Smith.

“To ask players to be away from their families, for an extended period of time, would be extremely difficult. It’s not what we do for a living. We’re footballers,” Smith told The Sydney Morning Herald.

“We’re not workers who fly in, fly out. We’re not away for extended periods of time from our families.

“I understand these are extraordinary times. But where do we draw the line about what’s important and what’s not?

“If we’re locked down, or in isolation, that can’t be good either; where you wake up in your hotel room, go to training and play, then back to your hotel room. That can’t be great for people’s state of mind.”

There are few players who hold the weight of opinion in the history of the competition. Smith is arguably the best player to ever step on a field. He's the game's all time record holder in points scored, games played, and pretty much every stat you can name.

That said, his comments here are WAY off the mark.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 20: Cameron Smith of the Storm calls out instructions to his players during the round seven NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Melbourne Storm at Suncorp Stadium on April 20, 2018 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Firstly, I take real issue with people referring to "prison-like" conditions.

Having spent many years working in three to five star hotels, I can guarantee that even the lowest standard of room in the lowest rated hotel presents FAR better than prison conditions.

Seeing these fashion bloggers and social influencers, whatever that is, complain re the Hilton hotel being prison-like is downright ridiculous, and Smith has lumped himself in with those with his ridiculous comments.

It's not ideal. No one wants to be kept away from their family. That said I have friends (on way less than the average NRL wage) working long hours away from their families in medical, storage, transport and hospitality.

Why? Because they need to do what they do to help others and also to provide for their families.

It's easy enough for Cameron Smith to rubbish the idea. He's reportedly on a million-dollars plus a season and I guarantee you he hasn't struggled for a crust over his NRL career.

Jokingly you can also point to the boats and gifted rings he and his family have received, but it's with no joking tone at all that I state Cameron Smith will survive, unaffected, if the NRL was to close its doors today.

Other players aren't so lucly.

Smith doesn't seem to grasp, nor care, just how dire this situation is. If the NRL doesn't provide a product, it receives NO income from TV agreements and could very well cease to exist.

Best case scenario the game returns behind closed doors, fulfills a percentage of its obligations and scrapes enough money to survive with minimal carnage. Players will have to take pay cuts, club staff will still face uncertainty, but the game survives and can rebuild.

OR the NRL throws their hands in the air, wishes everyone the best of luck and we're forced to watch that aerial ping pong garbage for our sporting fix.

OR Super League version 2.

OR players go find other work.

There's no silver lining here unless the players get back on the park.

Truthfully it's going to be difficult. It's probably, for the majority of players, going to downright suck!

You offer me a few months away from the family to ensure the future of my employment, and that of potentially thousands of others, and a positive future for my family, vs having to go find alternate work and kissing the game goodbye? Pack my bags.

Again, easy for a player with considerable wealth and with one, maybe two years left in the tank.

Not so for a young player who has spent their entire life sarcrifising everything to achieve a goal and comfortable life as an NRL footballer only to have it ripped away from them because Cam Smith doesn't want to relocate to a 5 star hotel for a few months.

If Smith doesn't want to make the very difficult decision to be away from his family for so long, I absolutely understand and respect that.

At his age and standing in the game he shouldn't need to if he doesn't want to.

Other players and league staff don't have that luxury.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Hey Dan
    Where in this article does Cameron Smith refer to conditions being prison like?
    He doesn’t. Thats all your doing.
    Another piece of anti Cameron Smith BS.

  2. Cameron Smith can stay home, he will still relieve his under the table payments, and maybe the games will start looking like they are played fairly.
    I’m all for the whole Melbourne team and Bellamy keeping out of the game, they have turned what was once a free flowing game of skill and attrition into wrestle mania.

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