Newcastle Knights star Kalyn Ponga has reopened the conversation for having player names to be printed on the back of NRL jerseys.
A photo of NBA players Lamelo Ball and Carmelo Anthony trading basketball jerseys prompted Ponga to go and state the case on social media.
“NRL put names on the back of our jerseys,” Ponga wrote on his Instagram story on Tuesday evening, further adding he wanted Roger Tuivasa-Sheck’s jersey before his retirement.
— Cleveland Rugby League (@clerugbyleague) March 2, 2021
NRL reporter Katie Brown said on SEN 1170 Mornings that she could see the league using this as a merchandising tool for the superstars of the NRL.
“Even if it is a merchandising gimmick, it’s making money,” she said.
“I’m sure there would be so many people wanting a Kalyn Ponga jersey with his name on the back.”
Andrew Voss agreed with Brown’s take, also believing that there is a lot more upside about the idea of putting player names on the back of NRL jerseys.
“We have it in Origin, they put the names on the jersey,” he said.
“It would be expensive in the NRL, that jersey would be exclusive to the player, but we’re a professional sport, I think we can cover it.”
In many sports, it’s pretty common for players to swap jerseys post-game, with the NBA and other North American organisations doing so quite frequently.
It has also been frequent in many soccer leagues around the globe and the rare occasion, it has happened in the AFL.
However, the biggest issue the NRL faces at the moment is the amount of changes in NRL teams each week because of injuries and other issues, with player numbers representing their position rather than their name.
No. Numbers are for positions to give an idea of who is playing where (I realise players sometimes move around after substitutions). You would need to have squad numbers to go with names or the clubs could be spending a small fortune on shirts.
— Ken Lillford (@sterlo1985) March 2, 2021