Are these the Trends of Footy 2014

30/03/2014

Are these the Trends of Footy 2014

Are these the NEW FOOTY TRENDS of 2014?

Its early days still, however I think I can see the following trends beginning:

1)      Coaches will need to re-examine philosophies in weekly team selections very soon. Those philosophies many have stuck by solidly may no longer work (and as a result serious changes in recruitment policy will become a feature in longer term player personnel selection). The smartest will also adjust their actual skills coaching plans as well.

Due to the concussion ruling we have already seen successful plans, proven many seasons over, fail badly. One example was Souths loss of Greg Inglis early in that big loss to Wests Tigers. Now the loss of such a capable player on its own could be assessed as a significant reason for the loss. That on its own is a concern for the coaching staff.

The bigger worry is that when that disruption to team functioning occurred it sent the positions of players on the field into chaos. A variety of players were then forced to play in very unfamiliar positions  and in some cases those guys appeared incapable of even making a reasonable fist of an important role.

Ben Lowe playing right centre was a scary thing especially in D. Did it cost them the game? Possibly and certainly the team looked inefficient.

The policy Souths have profited from over the past couple of seasons of selecting 4 powerful forwards has re-inforced the game plan of gaining physical dominance through “bashing down the front door” relentlessly, play after play, set after set,  week after week, season on season.

As Melbourne Storm has done for many seasons now, some teams will continue roll the dice. Melbourne has not at any stage developed a quality back-up dummy half to Cam Smith. That long plane flight to Perth may have caused them a re-think; along with the scoreboard post Bulldogs bashing them and the frequency with which players are being removed from matches due to concussion.

It’s quite remarkable just how many players are being taken off and teams are going to have to face that increased probability of major disruption by selecting a more varied positional coverage on NRL benches.

2)       Conversely, without any inclusion of the concussion rule, as it started to become apparent last season, those clubs choosing 2 specialist dummy halves are giving up considerable advantages that ohers are profiting from.

Roosters fans will quickly point out that they won the comp with Friend and Mortimer but I will counter by suggesting that the dominance the other 15 Rooster players exerted on almost all opponents and the extended great run without injuries allowed them such a luxury. Let’s see if they can sustain that throughout the new season.

I am seeing the #9 duo at Penrith differently this season. As effective as Segayaro has been, lighting it up from his late entry, it’s beginning to appear like that converts to wins only when the team is already in a strong position.

Weekly 80 minute specialists Smith, Luke, Farah, Ballin and Ennis are being joined this season by Peats and McCullough and certainly could be by Jake Friend and Kurt Gidley, when fit again.

The differences have always been there in how coaches go about selecting managing interchanges. Perhaps the new demands of the game will see this 80 minute job description become a more common trend, so that the team can benefit in other ways with a more varied bench.

3)       I have only seen a few so far but kicking for field position from close to tryline situations might become a trend because of the new seven tackle re-start from 20 metre line.

In 2013 we saw the Roosters trend towards long range kicks (around half way) like bombs to fullbacks and wingers on the full. They did this using the “hang time” to chase hard to capture those backs inside their own 10-20 metre area rather than kick it dead for the re-start at 20m.

Now we are seeing this done from 30m range with accurate bombing near to but short of the tryline to “catch and bum-rush” as Matai did to Minichiello in round 4 with magnificent chase and tackle. Even if it results in the kick catcher not being pushed in-goal the likely start position of the set is way better than kicking it dead for that 20m re-start.

4)      The success of this extra-play set from the 20m re-start has captured so much positive comment I am wondering if we will shortly have a huge trend pushing for Rugby League to convert totally to SEVEN TACKLE FOOTY.