Watmough questions interchange debate
Eels and New South Wales Origin back-rower Anthony Watmough has questioned the need to review a reduction in the number of interchanges, suggesting a lower allowance could shorten the careers of some players.
In his column for the Round 5 issue of Big League this week, Watmough says he is bewildered by such attention being placed on reducing the number of interchanges from 10 down to eight or even six, insisting it will only add to delaying tactics in the ruck and not eliminate them.
Preparing to play his 291st game in the NRL this weekend, Watmough said the longevity of players' careers will be in jeopardy should the review into the interchanges each team is permitted recommends a drop in number.
"It's a tough game and you've only got a 10-14-year career if you're lucky. If you increase the workload on the body you could potentially shave a few years off a player's career," Watmough says in Big League.
"That may be entertaining for the people at home, but what do you do for the families when their father or husband can't put food on the table anymore?
"Every action has a reaction and I think it's something we need to think about more carefully.
We're already pushing bodies to their breaking point at the moment, given the length of the regular season plus representative games.
"If the changes are introduced it will increase the workload on the bigger bodies and I don't know if that's what we want the game to be about.
"There are so many different parts of the game that reducing the interchange could affect. But I don't see the point in any of it when we have a game as great as we do now. It's close to perfect. "
A reduction in the number of interchanges is seen by many as a way of limiting the influence that wrestling currently has on the game but Watmough is of the opinion that it will have the exact opposite effect as tiring players fight to slow the game down.
"To be honest, I don't really understand what we're trying to achieve here," says Watmough. "On one hand we're trying to get rid of the wrestle and we're all about player welfare, but both of these ideas will be at risk if the interchange is reduced. People are going to hold on in tackles, they'll try any tactic to slow the game down.
"I know if I was a coach and if the interchanges were reduced suddenly to six, I would be having my big guys and my backs do double the amount of wrestling to try and slow them down. Simply because if they didn't, the extra work would take its toll and they would be on the back foot the whole time anyway.
"We have just come off one of the best seasons in rugby league history and we're a few rounds into another. Why are we trying to fix things that aren't broken?"
The Round 5 issue of Big League is on sale now from newsagents and at the grounds. The digital version is also available on www.zinio.com.