Players not impressed with 32-week season proposal

It may have received support from NRL and club officials but a proposal by Wests Tigers boss Stephen Humphreys to extend the season by six weeks doesn’t sit too well with the players.<br><br>Humphreys has submitted a proposal to NRL chief executive David Gallop for a 32-week home-and-away season that would see every side play each other twice and, ultimately, boost the game’s potential for increased revenue from television broadcasters and sponsors.<br><br>It comes as leading players begin crisis talks with Gallop over concerns more players could be lost to rugby league because of the huge money on offer overseas and from rival codes.<br><br>Humphreys’ plan is one of a number being considered but players contacted by NRL.com today were quick to knock the idea of a longer season on the head.<br><br>They included Rugby League Players’ Association board member Ben Hannant, who when asked his thoughts on the proposal replied: “You serious?”<br><br>While players have universally agreed that more revenue streams need to be found, they said that adding more games to an already exhausting season wasn’t in the best interests of the players or the fans.<br><br>“It would bring some more money into the game but whether the football would be the same standard – I’m not sure that would be the best thing for the players,” Melbourne back-rower Ryan Hoffman said. <br><br>“You can add another six weeks on… but what about guys like Billy Slater and Cameron Smith?<br><br>“They’ve played pretty much every single game of the season for the past four years plus the Four Nations, World Cup and State of Origin. <br><br>“If you put another six weeks onto that I just don’t think the quality of the football and the welfare of the player will be kept.”<br><br>Veteran Warriors prop Steve Price said he was a fan of having full home-and-away fixtures where everyone plays other sides twice but insisted that asking players to play 32 rounds was unworkable.<br><br>“It’s good that someone is thinking outside of the square a bit, but all it’s going to do is reduce the lifespan of a first-grader and hinder the quality of our product,” he said.<br><br>“Your best players are going to be injured a lot more and they’ll be worn out after two or three seasons straight.<br><br>“You’ll also have a lot more players pulling out of tours at the end of the year because the clubs will want them ready for the start of the season.<br><br>“Thirty two weeks plus finals, Test matches and State of Origin? Something would have to give.”<br><br>Price said the fairest option was to either reduce the number of clubs and play each other twice or increase the number of clubs and play each other once, although both ideas have their obvious drawbacks.<br><br>The concept isn’t dead in the water just yet though, with some coaches and officials lending their support.<br><br>Eels coach Daniel Anderson told NRL.com this week that it was at least worth considering.<br><br>“I think anything should be investigated,” he said. “I mean, we played three trials this year – if no clubs played trials that would help. <br><br>“People are going to investigate ways to generate more income and to increase the salary cap.<br><br>“Everything should be considered – nothing should be discounted until it has been properly looked into. <br><br>“To be honest, I don’t think (a longer season) is a horrible idea.”<br><br>But Hoffman said players simply wouldn’t be able to last any longer than they already do each season.<br><br>“It already takes it out of you,” he said. “I suppose it really comes down to the club and how they manage a player throughout the season.<br><br>“In 2008 we were absolutely knackered by the time we got to the grand final, whereas last year we were really fresh. <br><br>“But the fact is that it does take it out of you and we need that good break at the end of the season.”<br><br><b>Late NRL news:</b><br>•&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;The Dragons have lost centre Matt Cooper for tonight’s clash with Parramatta after he injured his hip early in Wednesday night’s Origin opener. Prop Michael Weyman is also in doubt.<br>•&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Queensland star Greg Inglis is in doubt for Melbourne’s clash with the Bulldogs with a hamstring strain.<br>•&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Micheal Luck and James Maloney have both been ruled out of tonight’s clash with Wests Tigers, with Ian Henderson and Joel Moon coming into the squad.<br>