In the ire of the Storm
No appetite for relocation
THERE’S a new team NRL fans love to hate.
For so long Manly and Brisbane have been the top two teams in the crosshairs, but the Melbourne Storm have overtaken them to become public enemy No.1.
The Daily Telegraph’s annual NRL Fan Survey today reveals the Victorian wrestlers top the poll at 25 per cent, with the Sea Eagles in second at 15 per cent.
Former playmaker Brett Finch said the criticism levelled at the side was “complete rubbish”.
In an indication the Storm’s unpopularity may have more to do with their sustained success, Craig Bellamy was by far the top pick for the coach rival fans would love to see lead their club.
The survey also reveals the game’s best player, where the game should expand to next, and who is the most popular commentator.
FORGET relocating a Sydney club, NRL fans have spoken and they want to see the competition expand to 18 teams.
The Daily Telegraph asked fans about the biggest and most pressing issues in the game in our annual NRL survey. In regards to expansion, 31 per cent of supporters want to see the competition grow to 18 teams within five years.
But 28 per cent of people are happy with the current structure and don’t want to see any changes made.
Last week, The Daily Telegraph’s Sports Editor at Large, Phil Rothfield, revealed Channel 9 wanted to kill off an existing club to introduce a new Brisbane team and a Sydney club was in the broadcaster’s crosshairs.
After an immediate backlash to the proposal, Channel 9 backed down from the comments and our survey results further validate the lack of an appetite in the league community for such a move.
Brisbane (29 per cent) and Perth (25 per cent) are the most popular locations to introduce the two new clubs.
The NSW central coast (23 per cent) was also a popular choice.
Fans also took aim at the video bunker’s inability to rule on forward passes. An overwhelming majority (71 per cent) want to see forward passes referred to the bunker.
But this is one issue where people power might not be enough to force a change. The NRL’s head of football, Graham Annesley, has maintained the bunker won’t be called on to rule on forward passes.
“Under current technology, I am [opposed to the video referee ruling on forward passes],” Annesley said. “While you will see the occasional one that is clear, you see many more that you look at and say ‘how do you tell?’
“That’s what happened last time it was used. There were many referred to the video referee for a decision and that created more controversy than the pass itself.”
But relief might be on the way for fed-up fans.
The NRL is still actively seeking a company which can create forward-pass technology, which it is open to introducing as early as 2021.
“It’s not an option for next year but we are still talking to technology providers to see whether that is a reasonable option for us as early as 2021,” Annesley said.
“The software capable of doing that hasn’t been developed. There are a number of different parties that have contacted us and have told us they believe that they can develop that using a number of different techniques available.
“We are looking for someone to demonstrate that they have the capability to do it and that it is reliable and has credibility.”
But Annesley will need to be satisfied that any new technology won’t have a negative impact on the overall product of the NRL.
“We need to take into consideration all of the other factors, which are how many more additional stoppages will we have and what does it do to the continuity of the game,” he said. “It all has to be considered as part of the overall outcome.”
Rabbitohs fans at a match on the Central Coast, which is a popular choice for expansion. Picture: Getty Images