Interchange: Impact on recruitment
The Roosters are the team best positioned to make the smoothest adjustment to playing under the new system of eight interchanges per game in 2016 according to Panthers recruitment chief Mark Hughes.
The NRL announced on Wednesday afternoon that following a detailed review of the current interchange system the number of interchanges will be reduced from 10 to eight and a 'shot clock' introduced for drop-outs and scrums from next season.
The changes are designed to reward endurance and deliver a more continuous and free-flowing spectacle for fans and have been welcomed by Hughes.
Having stuck solid with a philosophy to recruit footballers over athletes that has seen him deliver the likes of Johnathan Thurston, Nate Myles and Issac Luke into NRL systems, Hughes believes the current Roosters roster boasts the best mix of size and skill in the game today.
"The Roosters have got good footy players and they happen to be big too," Hughes told NRL.com. "Without examining every roster they, at the minute to me, I'd recruit most of the Roosters personnel.
"Jared Waerea-Hagreaves, young Dylan Napa, he's as good as any big young front-rower coming through in the game for 10 years; young Kane Evans.
"They've got size, they've got skill, they've got speed, they've got big edge-runners, they've got as good a halves as there is in the comp, strike outside that. You've probably got the best combination of size and footy player in their roster.
"There's no one there that's going to suffer by having to play a few more minutes. Jared is probably their only really big dude that's probably carrying a bit but he'll squeeze out another five or eight minutes if you ask him to."
Having spent the best part of the past two decades identifying young rugby league talent Hughes admitted that there has been a shift towards the recruitment of bigger athletes over traditional footballers, a trend he has resisted himself.
Arguably the greatest athlete in the game in that time, Sonny Bill Williams, was brought to the Bulldogs by Hughes but he said there have been many other Sonny Bill clones who have failed to measure up.
"Without criticising any clubs I think the recruitment of the athlete has failed from what I've observed. I've seen plenty of so-called good athletes fail," said Hughes. "They look like Sonny Bill; they're 6-foot-1 as kids and you think they're going to be 6'3" and 6'4"but they can't pass and they don't last more than 20 minutes and they don't get offloads.
"I'll still recruit a good footy player who's 6-foot-1 and got all the toughness versus the 6-foot-3 who might be a slightly better athlete. I'm still recruiting the 6-foot-1 guy and I've probably been criticised for it.
"There are a few sides at the minute – such as the Broncos – who are showing the best footy sides are winning games."
As for players on the endangered list as a result of the changes, Hughes suggested that endurance, and not necessarily size, will be the key physical trait of the NRL player in 2016.
"The footy players will still survive, they have forever," he said.
"The blokes who don't have the endurance are on the endangered list, and you don't have to be big to not have endurance."