Inglis in or Inglis Out?
Mystery or misleading?
I reckon everyone at Souths likely knows if the Giant Genius is making his comeback against the Storm. Do you? Maybe if you happen to know someone close to the Rabbits camp. But no-one else does.
Now before you start on me let me tell you the practice of “last minute drop ins” started way before yours truly started coaching.
The “best one” I think I ever saw was in 1977. If I remember rightly Harry Bath, coach of that young Saints premiership winning team in the first ever Grand Final Replay, pulled the biggest “swifty” over Parramatta.
All week long – yes the replay was fought out a week after the drawn GF – the papers carried stories of St George being beat up and may have to rush injured diminutive half back Mark Shulman back into their team. On match day they even walked him out onto the SCG to sit on the bench in full marching gear!
Did it really play any part in effecting the oppositions thinking? Was he ever really going to play or did old Harry not need to use him because the Dragons smashed the Eels? I am not sure but it was theatre and may have distracted the opponents – that and Rod Reddy creating mayhem! Rocket still to this day says that he was only cautioned 5 times not 6 (but then offers that referee Gary Cook gave him at least another 3 cautions on the run). There have literally been thousands of others like this.
I am getting carried away as I love to reminisce about those fantastic footy days of my youth.
This weekend’s matches for round 22 contain more “sophisticated” mysteries. Greg Inglis may or may not play in Melbourne tomorrow night – although not named. He may carry his little toilet bag (players carried all their playing kit in much bigger bags in the old days) when he climbs off the team bus as another little attempt to keep the prying eyes of Storm spies guessing until that team sheet is officially lodged at the mandatory 60 minutes before kick-off.
I will not be surprised if the Raiders lineup versus the Roosters has some “last minute adjustments” and that could also be the case for the Dragons in Brisbane like many other Monday night teams backing up from a loss.
There have been countless examples this season and every other season, of this type of activity. Coaches trying to create any sort of edge that may (or may not) assist a team to a win. An injured player back unannounced a week or two before the “expected” comeback as Wayne Bennett pulled with Danny Buderus recently. A switch of positions as Des Hasler did last Monday night when Perrett in jersey #1 played right wing and Josh Morris in #3 played full back. Morris offered to us all in a post-match interview that his coach had spoken to him early in the week about the “surprise plan”.
I reckon it’s well and truly time for a new system.
Other sports have severe penalties for “drop ins”. Anyone who might play must be named in their squad at the nominated day of the week. More reasonably in those sports, this squad list is required later in the week than the ridiculous Tuesday that every NRL club must declare its “team” (or another group of players who may not closely resemble the team by match day). Clubs in those other sports face considerable financial penalty if they nominate on match day a non-disclosed player from the “eligible squad”.
But unlike our footy they don’t care about positional issues because they all have player numbering systems rather than positional numbering – no other sport except the ultra-conservative rugby union retains this 100 year old practice.
As a coach I am as guilty as any other in taking advantage of what I feel is an outdated process. But I honestly have no idea what the general public think about this.
Do you feel its ok for Michael Maguire to ask his players to keep secret the playing status of Greg Inglis? Was it also ok for Des Hasler to not declare the switch of Morris and Perrett? Should every team every week be more accountable to fans about the team line-up? Does it annoy you when teams run out with #26 is in the front row without being named in Big League and number 12 playing centre because #8 is now playing in the second row?
Let me know!