By Mark Hardy - NRL Correspondent
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Eight rounds into the NRL season and it’s time to take the temperature of a few key items that caught my eye.
The first clash between Wayne Bennett and Anthony Seibold raised a lot of questions for me and left me wondering are the Broncos better off without Kodi Nikorima? (Editors note: Yes, Broncos fans will drive him to the airport and make sure he gets on the plane). Does making 2 from 28 kicks at goal make Corey Norman a 'drop goal genius' and why does a game that is struggling to create a better game experience for fans insist on playing at ANZ Stadium?
Lets start by unpacking the Anthony Seibold situation.
In his first year as head coach Seibold was praised for what he did with Souths and was awarded Coach of the year honours, so why cant he replicate that immediate success at the Broncos? The Broncos didn't do so bad themselves, finishing in 6th at the end of the regular season. I don't like to directly lay blame on a coach when a team is performing poorly but the Broncos should be doing better than 2 wins from 8 games and considering those wins came against an under performing North Queensland Cowboys side and an under strength Cronulla Sharks team I would hardly count those as marquee or strong wins.
I hate to pile on a coach, like Seibold, during a rough patch but for me it brings in to question Seibold’s coaching credentials, considering Souths hugely talented, stable roster and systems it seems like anyone could coach Souths to finals football, perhaps they were always going to successful.
Anthony Seibold has a multi-year contract so time is on his side to implement his systems and processes and play style on the Broncos. Time is on his side.
Round 4 produced three golden point victories. I’m not a fan of golden point but I’ll save that for another day, this rant field goal-centric rant starts with Penrith Panthers versus Wests Tigers. Luke Brooks and Josh Reynolds had combined four attempts at a game winning drop goal, then something magical happened, Nathan Cleary had one attempt, yes that's right, one attempt and slotted it over the black dot. I know right...INCREDIBLE, AMAZING, SPECTACULAR...If you cant tell there is a hint of sarcasm, just a hint (Editors Note: Waiting for Mark to turn in a 1000 word think piece/rant on golden point extra time). Corey Norman was labelled a 'drop goal genius' after hitting two in consecutive matches...from approximately 78 attempts mind you, give or take. My point is that these guys are professional football players, It really shouldn't be that incredible of a feat to make a drop goal during play, and if you think it is, watch a Rugby Union game, as it's a pretty common occurrence.
Read More From Mark and The Unsportsmen on NRL
Is there anything aesthetically worse in rugby league than seeing a near empty ANZ stadium on TV with no atmosphere from a poor crowd, lucky the on-screen product is good enough to keep you staying at home to watch football. The recent Souths vs Broncos fixture at ANZ allegedly had 13,000 people in attendence but in a stadium made for seating 80,000 it looks bad on TV and doesn't exactly create an energetic atmosphere. My advice to the NRL is to leave ANZ for the big spectacle matches such as State of Origin and the Grand Final. If the NRL wants fans to attend games then take the games to them. Seeing smaller grounds such as Brookvale Oval, Hunter stadium and Leichhardt Oval consistently bustling with fans makes me want to be apart of that atmosphere instead of sitting on the lounge covered in chip crumbs. I'd like to see more games taken to regional areas, recent country fixtures in Tamworth and Wagga have attracted 9000 plus and 10 000 plus fans respectively. If Rugby League is the peoples game, then take the game to the people.
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