David Fifita (left) and Payne Haas (right) of the Broncos celebrate winning the round two NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and South Sydney Rabbitohs at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Friday, March 20, 2020. (AAP Image/Darren England)
David Fifita (left) and Payne Haas (right) of the Broncos celebrate winning the round two NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and South Sydney Rabbitohs at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Friday, March 20, 2020. (AAP Image/Darren England)

From the Grandstand: NRL Apollo mission in motion

WELL the NRL has certainly got people talking with their proposed start of the season in late May – and why not?

Surely it is good to have a goal in mind and give clubs and staff time to make their preparations. What is the worst thing that can happen?

They may have to delay by a week or two then play some midweek games to catch up. So what? They play extra games in England all the time. The alternative is no better. Wait till the government gives you the OK and then start preparations. That wouldn’t work. How well clubs adapt to this could decide the premiers.

Those in AFL territory are miffed the NRL got the jump on them. It’s wrong to say it is irresponsible if in fact they are not flouting the rules. They may be bending them by saying the league is a workplace, but with so many full-time workers engaged it’s a fair point. I think southern sports writers don’t like Peter V’landys much ever since he made the Everest the richest horse race and took some limelight from the Melbourne spring carnival. He is a hard man for sure, but just what the NRL needed. He looks straight out of a production line of people in the Godfather series. I wouldn’t want to cross him.

Back to the Apollo mission. I like the name. Wayne Pearce leads it and that’s appropriate because 1969 when the landing took place was also the year Balmain (Pearce’s old club) last won the premiership in that famous upset which has been written about in a book because of the ‘lay down often’ tactics employed. It certainly stopped Souths who were red hot favourites getting any momentum. When you think about it, those tactics were the forerunner to todays ‘wrestle’ at the ruck.

The NRL is desperate for money and time is running out – thus the haste to get started. When the Apollo lunar module actually landed on the moon it only had 25 seconds of fuel left. It’s getting like that at NRL headquarters too. Similarly the planning and implementation for this season needs a lot of time. The Apollo mission took almost 200 hours from lift off to splashdown and yet only two hours were spent on the moon. I see some similarities with this season. What to do with the interstate teams and NZ Warriors will take some co-operation and compromise.

Whatever happens and whenever it does, Pearce needs to know that rules and protocols still have to be followed. When the astronauts returned from the moon did you know they had to go into quarantine, so even in ‘once in a lifetime’ cases, rules are to be followed.

What I don’t want to hear is Pearce making a call to his boss and saying those immortal words, “Peter (Houston) we have a problem”.



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