Draw: 5 questions for the NRL
To coincide with the release of the 2014 NRL Telstra Premiership Draw, NRL general manager of football operations Nathan McGuirk fielded some tough questions from fans in a live chat on NRL.com.
Here are the five best questions and McGuirk's response to the fans and their perception of the Draw's effect on their team:
1. Micka asked: "How on earth do you justify not having the Eels v Raiders game at Parramatta Stadium? Also why so late in the season?"
Nathan McGuirk replied: "The Eels' main focus regarding their draw was to maximise opportunities for big matches against other Western Sydney clubs.
"I'm sure you will agree on seeing the Eels' draw that that has been achieved. I'm sure the 'Ricky v Eels' rivalry will be a huge talking point leading up to the match in Darwin."
2. Ian asked: "How can this be called a draw when it's heavily weighted towards what Channel 9 want? I mean the first 10 rounds see Friday night Broncos on Free To Air television. Come on!"
McGuirk replied: "I'm sure you would agree that Channel 9's financial commitment to the game over the next four years should allow them to select match-ups that maximise their commercial return on investment. 2014 will see the Broncos appear a maximum of 18 times on FTA."
3. Izaac asked: "How are the choices made as to which teams play each other twice? Is there essentially a conference system hidden within the draw?"
McGuirk replied: "We don't use a 'Conference' system. We use a number of different methods including significant input from clubs on their preferred home opponents that their fans want to see.
"We try to maximise things such as local derbies and traditional rivalries as much as possible throughout the Draw."
4. Unknown guest asked: "When is the NRL going to put Origin matches on their own without club matches being made to suffer?"
McGuirk replied: "We won't be moving to stand-alone Origins in the near future. It's been tried, and failed."
5. Andrew Darnell asked: "Why have you forced Parramatta, the team with the wooden spoon the last two years, to play the grand finalists twice each, and three times in the first six rounds? Bit of a harsh start for any team, let alone a team that is trying to rebuild?
McGuirk replied: "We don't put any weighting within the Draw that takes into account a team's previous year performance. We have seen many teams in the past turn around performance within a year, from the bottom of the ladder to then make the finals."