NRL Mailbox: allocating byes over the season
The NRL has been getting enquiries about how byes are allocated and the effect of rep selection on clubs, so here’s how the process works…
The NRL season has 32 byes (2 per club) to be allocated throughout the competition draw.
The main aim in using these byes is to reduce the impact of the representative season on NRL clubs.
The highest number of byes over one weekend is the Test/ City-Country round (which has eight byes) as this has the biggest impact in terms of representative players (with 70 players play representative football that weekend).
Each State of Origin match has six byes preceding the game, with the weekend prior to the Origin games referred to as the ‘stand-down’ weekend. The ‘stand-down’ weekend refers to the fact that players selected for Origin are unable to play for their NRL club over that weekend (preceding the Origin game). The weekend following Origin has two byes.
Clubs submit requests to the NRL as to when they want their byes to be. When there are more requests than available byes, the byes are allocated based on the teams that had the most representative players in the previous year.
The challenge for clubs is determining when they prefer to relieve their players. For example, Melbourne and St George have their two byes on Origin ‘stand-down’ weekends which means that the Test/City-Country round becomes potentially demanding with players expected to back up for their clubs that weekend.
Other teams prefer to have their bye post-Origin to give their Origin players a weekend off to recover. The Wests Tigers had six players competing in the City-Country clash and as such, they nominated to have their bye over that weekend.