They're the big NRL issues generating discussion on the socials and in the fan forums this week, and everyone has an opinion. So let's dive right in.
Cameras in the Dressing Rooms
Roosters' gun Victor Radley has been slugged with a $5,000 suspended fine for 'a lewd act' captured while commentators were speaking over footage beamed from the NSW State of Origin dressing sheds.
Whether or not Radley knew the cameras were rolling when he was mucking around with Joseph Suaalii, several things that fans have pointed out in recent days:
1. In what way does *live* footage in the dressing sheds improve coverage of the game? Surely if there is a coach blow-up or similar incident that goes some way to adding context to a match, it can be edited and replayed?
2. In what universe would it be even mildly tolerated to film female dressing sheds with players walking around in a state of undress?
3. If networks insist on beaming live footage through, they need to take the good with the bad. It's the same as with having microphones on the field: every now and then some vile language is going to reach the ears of the kids watching at home.
If any one entity should be fined for beaming 'lewd' images onto our screens, it's surely the editors of the broadcast.
How is Victor Radley being fined for what he did?
He didn't know that he was on camera at the same time and there really is no need to have cameras because this is a personal space of the players.
You need to take the bad with the good if you want to allow cameras into places
— Joshy (@the_joshy_boy) July 28, 2022
What's going on with the Match Review Committee?
Per the 'Judiciary Code of Procedure' (the NRL-implemented 130-page manual on how to adjudicate and issue penalties on players for on-field misdemeanours), it exists to 'provide a system of largely pre-determined penalties so as to... promote uniformity and consistency of approach in sentencing'.
But if there's one aspect of the game that has lacked consistency, at least in the eyes of the players, coaches, commentators, columnists and fans, it's the lottery of the MRC.
Just a week ago, The Bulldogs' Corey Waddell had his season ended with a five week ban for an eye-gouge on Tino Fa'asuamaleaui that was more a face massage than anything else, yet this week, the Melbourne Storm's Josh King went unpunished for an almost identical act.
Other acts that went unpunished were Nelson Asofa-Solomona's full weight channeling through his elbow into Wayde Egan's jaw, breaking several of his teeth, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves similar elbow into Manly debutant Zac Fulton's face, and The Titans' Aaron Booth cannonballing Joe Tapine's legs from behind.
I'd argue the Match Review Committee is a bigger embarrassment to the game than the Bunker! #NRL
— Adam Hayward (@Hayward_AdamK) July 30, 2022
A number of questions arise as the game struggles to reign in the blaring criticism of the adjudicating body.
First is the issue of how a team is affected when (a) one of their players is guilty of an offence; and (b) when one of their players is victim to an offence.
It's difficult to say that if a player is rubbed out of the game, the player who caused it should also be removed. Coaches would undoubtedly figure out ways in which to exploit advantage in the rule.
But if a player is unable to continue due to their injury, and their team's bench is reduced in number, is that not a small victory and advantage to the team whose antagonist may only cop a monetary fine?
Second, when subjective assessments of grading and 'intent' are brought into a review system that is supposedly geared towards objectivity, surely there can never be consistency.
It's time to disband the Match Review Committee and instead, entrust the process of handing out suspensions and fines to the referees that oversaw the game in question.
For surely, there is no better party positioned to consider intent, malice, force, and grading than the person with the whistle who is privy to on-field chatter, and who is there to witness the incident first-hand; to hear the contact and to witness the aftermath.
How should fans react to loaning out their players?
Short on stocks, the finals-bound Storm initially reached out to the Canterbury Bulldogs, requesting the services of former Melbourne player Josh Addo-Carr. The plea was declined, and so another team that will be missing in September was contacted.
The Wests Tigers were only too happy to lend recently demoted Nofoaluma so that he could experience finals footy.
There are benefits to the loaning team, in that the player is then deducted from the salary cap for the duration away, but it also means that the player's contract needs to be cancelled and re-negotiated for the next calendar year.
Over on the Wests Tigers fan forum, 'clontarfkid' lamented that Nofoaluma now had "...an opportunity to showcase his considerable attacking talents, with a for-sale sign hanging on his back...".
However a number of other Tigers supporters were okay with the move, citing that he was taking up too much cap space and that he was potentially the cause of much player disharmony at the club.
But what to make of the other clubs competing with the Storm for the title? Is it fair that they're able to bolster their stocks with a first grader who has scored nearly 100 NRL tries, provided it occurs prior to August 1st?
Losing Xavier Coates, Reimis Smith, Ryan Papenhuyzen and George Jennings has certainly weakened the back stocks of the Storm, but they still boast a formidable forward pack and a spine containing New Zealand International Jahrome Hughes, and big game reps Cameron Munster and Harry Grant.
The NRL loan system was introduced in the early stages of the pandemic when no lower grade football was being played, and the New Zealand Warriors were camped a long way from home.
Now it seemingly can be utilised by top teams vying for the premiership at the expense of teams who apparently don't care about getting their fans wins once the finals are out of reach.