At this rate, Paul Gallen might be playing on his own in Mudgee.
The same week as Canterbury coach Des Hasler declared that Bulldogs players were off-limits for the upcoming City-Country clash, Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan has joined Canberra coach Ricky Stuart in revealing his own reservations over the event.
“The Des one, it’s obviously a four-day turnaround,” Flanagan said. “We play on the Friday night, so it’s a concern for us as well. We won’t let any players play who are carrying injuries into the game.”
“We could pull players out there as well.”
As we warned when reporting the Bulldogs’ original decision, the issue here is that inevitably someone has to play, and the Bulldogs withdrawals add to the load required of the other 15 clubs, thereby increasing the chances of them then pulling out, in turn. It necessarily need to be one in, all in; or none at all (from next year, the NRL is going with “none at all”).
Thankfully though, Flanagan does see some benefit to the game, noticing: “But I also see a bright side of it too – promote rugby league in the country.”
We’d have thought that that’s fairly obviously the purpose of the match, but at this point it’s somewhat surprising to hear it said out aloud by an NRL coach.