Smith signals showdown over scheduling
Storm captain Cameron Smith has signalled the intention of the Rugby League Players Association to put an end to five-day turnarounds in future NRL scheduling after his team fought to defeat the Broncos 15-8 on Thursday night.
Playing in their third game in 10 days, the Storm kept their top four chances alive with a win built on grit and determination and now need Manly to upset the Sharks at Remondis Stadium on Sunday to avoid sudden-death in Week One of the Finals Series.
Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy described the demands placed on his players as "criminal" and "ridiculous" and his skipper said the players hope to put an end to it prior to the 2016 season kicking off.
"I can't believe we're here playing tonight to be honest," said an obviously exhausted Smith in the post-match press conference.
"The NRL give us that draw and we've done our very best with it but hopefully we get a bit of time now to turn around into our next game.
"The players have given notice to the RLPA that we're not happy about the five-day turnarounds.
"They'll be taking that up quite strongly with the NRL before the end of this season so I'd like to think there'll be some movement or that at least the NRL will talk to the broadcasters about their scheduling of next year's draw."
Recognising the demands placed on the NRL by the game's broadcasters, Bellamy said that he hoped the potential for a better product would convince both parties to find a solution to the issue of five-day turnarounds.
"What our players have gone through over the past 10 days with two five-day turnarounds to me is ridiculous. Hopefully it will get fixed up because it's really hard on the players," Bellamy said.
"You'd think for [the broadcasters] that when they put teams on TV for the people watching at home that they're as fresh as possible so the product's better.
"Whether it's the broadcasters or the NRL or a mixture of both, we just need to find a way around this because it's not fair on the players.
"We just can't keep talking about player welfare and doing nothing about it. If we're not going to do anything about it then just don't talk about it because what's happened to these blokes over the last 10 days has been criminal.
"To have two five-day turnarounds at this time of the season, that is ridiculous. I've never seen a team as tired as they were this week and that was just grit out there tonight."