General Players who have the ability to change league-union codes

sebastian_old

Guest
Graham Lowe: Sonny side up

Friday July 28, 2006


In a rugby crazy country like New Zealand it's hard not to escape the hype and controversy surrounding the rotation policy being employed by All Black coach Graham Henry.

I'd be surprised if all the players were happy with it. I remember suggesting to the Wigan squad I coached that I was considering rotating a group of about 20 players.

It nearly caused a strike because at that time players were paid for each winning game they played. No play, no pay.

I clearly remember being aggressively questioned about the policy by Great Britain international Andy Goodway, one of our back rowers. Shyness wasn't part of his nature, and he was as close to a union delegate as you could get.

He said if he wasn't good enough to make the team on a regular basis, he wanted a transfer to another club who would appreciate his talent.

I thought he was right and his argument was sound. After considering it for about 30 seconds, I decided to stick with the timeless method of picking the best each week.

While I never got the chance to try the rotation system, the threat of it took the team to plenty of trophies.

The other obvious factor was if we didn't put the best team on the park each week we were leaving ourselves open to get smashed.

At international level, I found that some players were happy just to get a jersey. Others, because of their competitive nature preferred (and expected) to be in every test side. It's the nature of the beast. Being second or third in line for any position can bring out the best in a player but it can also cause a hidden resentment.

Rugby players are no different to league players when it comes to knowing who is the best player in a particular position.

Rotating professional players would never work in an NRL side or any international league team because there are simply not enough players to work with. In this country the NZRFU owns all the professional players so they can do with them as they please.

The upside of the system is you do create depth. The down side is the lack of tough match play that you can give each player.

Some would also argue that not picking your best for each game is downgrading the importance of international fixtures.

We're constantly reminded by the rugby fans that Henry's challenge is to win the World Cup next year.

If he succeeds the argument for rotation may be answered.

If he doesn't it will go down as the biggest balls up since Dunkirk.

But we must always remember its ultimately the coach's call.

Looking at the All Blacks this year and taking into consideration the rotation system used by Henry I believe there is something missing.

His success rate as All Blacks coach is very impressive. So why haven't the rugby public fallen in love with the team's style of play And method of winning? And why, even among diehard fans, are there doubts about their performances?

I'll tell you why. Because the All Blacks' football looks too much like the predictable type of play we are seeing too often in the NRL. The flair has been coached out of these players.

I reckon one player could change all that in an instant. He is a Bulldog by the name of Sonny Bill Williams. Imagine him as a loose forward in the 15-man game.

Kiwi sensation Sonny Bill has the ability, like Mark Graham had, to comfortably make the change to rugby and become the next (with due respect to Richie McCaw) Michael Jones.

He's probably lacking the bulk we have become accustomed to in the All Black jersey but, when it comes to talent, he'd fit like a glove.

I'd find it difficult to accept that he shouldn't be on their radar, even if he is tied up with the Dogs at present.

The All Blacks are winning but are in danger of being very easily read, by Australia in particular, when it comes to the World Cup next year.

The Bulldogs could never hope to compete in a bidding war, if it ever came to that, with the rugby union for a player like Sonny Bill. Because, although they are one of the wealthiest clubs in Australia their hands are tied by the salary cap.

If I was Henry, I'd be saying to Chris Moller: "That's the player I need to make sure we win this World Cup - get him for me."

I know, it will never happen because this is New Zealand. But I'll tell you what. If he was an Aussie, they'd be doing everything to recruit him. And wouldn't he look great in their attacking style of play?

My mail tells me there is still at least one more NRL player the ARU are going to have a crack at, and that must be making the clubs a little edgy.

I'd like to see the NRL come up with a rule that exempts rugby players who are signed by NRL clubs, for the term of their contract from the salary cap.

There are some exciting rugby players around who would go very well in the 13-man game. All Black half Piri Weepu is one example. And the mobility of Keven Mealamu would make him a very useful league forward also. But when you look at players from either code there are only a few who could handle the switch comfortably.

Lote Tuqiri, Wendell Sailor and Mat Rogers seem to have done okay moving to rugby, and big Brad Thorn has proved he could do both, although his rugby sojourn has made him terminally slow this year.

Mathew Ridge and former Australian dual-international Michael O'Connor handled the change, no problem - but there are two other former All Blacks who would have been exceptional.

Michael Jones would have been as good as Mark Graham had he played league.

The other bloke is Zinzan Brooke, who we actually signed for Manly when we signed Ridge.

Zinny had a change of heart and I tore his contract up in a fit of compassion that frightened even me as a ruthless league coach. I sometimes wonder just how good he would have been - and what effect his defection to league would have meant to Auckland and All Black rugby in the early 1990s.

Brooke could have been the best of all time. But that is what makes the whole debate interesting.

We will never know ...

The Fox Memorial match of the round this week will be a terrific contest between Papakura and Northcote. Both teams are tied on 12 points, four behind Mt Albert. Northcote, with livewire fullback Kevin Locke in great form, should win - but Papakura have the home advantage and the top goalkicker, Tristan Waipouri.

At Walter Massey Park, Mangere East takes on Otahuhu in what is another even go. I think Otahuhu have the edge here. Home advantage should ensure Te Atatu beat East Coast Bays.

Mt Albert face a walk in the park against Marist, but their form has been patchy. So if the Marist magicians can perform for 80 minutes, they could pull the two points - and the Roope Rooster - out of the hat.
 

sebastian_old

Guest
Which players do you guys think could change from league to Union succsefully?? Would Ruben Wiki succeed at Union??

Steve Price
Ruben Wiki
Ali Lautiti
Sonny bill
Willie Mason

Which players do you guys reckon?
 

Skinny_Ravs82

Guest
I don't like that whole league/union swapping thing. takes the fun out of things because lets face it money wise union has it all over the leagues boys. And I'd prefer people played their natural game for the love of it, not because one pays better.
 

2big2strong_old

Guest
i doubt many specialist league forwards could even make NPC in Union. a few good ball handling backrowers (ali and SBW) might be able to cut it at number 8. I don't think Price would cut it at all, he's just a catch the ball and run straight kinda forward. Willie Mason would be able to make it as a second rower. Wiki wouldn't make a bad Flanker, i think he'd have great scrummaging skills. I actually think Awen would make a great lock! he plays league somewhat like a union lock.

But i think for league to Union Converts, unless you've played union as a kid, you'll only cut it if you're a big fast back.
 

warriorfaithful*_old

Guest
2black2strong said:
i doubt many specialist league forwards could even make NPC in Union. a few good ball handling backrowers (ali and SBW) might be able to cut it at number 8. I don't think Price would cut it at all, he's just a catch the ball and run straight kinda forward. Willie Mason would be able to make it as a second rower. Wiki wouldn't make a bad Flanker, i think he'd have great scrummaging skills. I actually think Awen would make a great lock! he plays league somewhat like a union lock.

But i think for league to Union Converts, unless you've played union as a kid, you'll only cut it if you're a big fast back.

Yeah good points 2black2strong. At the end of the day they are two different sports and it is hard to tell what league player would be a good union player.
 

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