Not feeling pressure
By MITCHELL DALE
THAT little cynic inside every local football fan had to question the reason behind NRL CEO David Gallop's appearance at this weekend's Orara Valley Sevens tournament.
Without taking anything away from organisers of the weekend's outstanding event, people could be forgiven for asking why the head of the National Rugby League came to town for what was a country tournament with a few star teams.
Was Gallop only here as a means of smoothing things over with the Coffs Coast after the alleged incident surrounding Canterbury Bulldogs last year?
The answer is no, according to Gallop.
On Saturday, Gallop claimed he did not feel any pressure to produce a public display of peace with Coffs Harbour.
"I don't think so, I was just excited about coming to town and watching football," he said.
"The fact that it was at Coffs Harbour had no impact on my decision to come here.
"The pleasing thing about this event is that it is something that has grown from within.
"The NRL didn't come to town wanting to put a game on."
Gallop said he felt the game had made a strong recovery from last year's incident.
"We (the NRL) don't purport to have all the answers in terms of off-field issues, but we certainly have our foot on the pedal," he said.
"I think the game has bounced back pretty well.
"The turn-out here shows that people have faith in the sport, but that is not to say that significant damage was not caused (last February).
"Hopefully this will leave a good taste in everyone's mouths and I congratulate the people involved."
The NRL did not have an official pre-season sevens competition this year and Gallop said there was a possibility the Orara Valley tournament could one day fill the void.
"Anything is a possibility," he said.
"I certainly would not want to discourage an event like this ."
Gallop also indicated the NRL would re-look into expanding the competition to 16 teams this year.
With Football Australia already making big strides and Perth recently announced as Australia's fourth Provincial rugby union franchise, Gallop said the NRL must keep it's finger on the pulse.
"I think there is competition from everywhere, not only from other codes," Gallop said.
"People are always looking for something exciting to do in their leisure time, so we have to make sure we are getting under people's skin."