Mannah not sold on reduced interchange
Eels club captain Tim Mannah says after two weeks of the new reduced interchange era he's not convinced the changes are having the desired effect.
Already in the first two games plenty of coaches – including Parramatta's Brad Arthur – have been thrown curveballs with their bench management due to game-ending injuries to halves or outside backs early in games.
Mannah said while the reduction will probably make the game harder, he's not convinced about suggestions the increased fatigue will open games up and lead to more exciting play, nor that it will help reduce injuries.
The hypothesis that more tired forwards will lead to fewer contact injuries is countered by the fact that injuries happen when tackling techniques get sloppy under fatigue or when muscles are more stressed late in games, according to Mannah.
"I don't think it's going to reach the objectives the NRL wanted. I don't think games are as exciting the last 20 minutes as they probably hoped for," Mannah told NRL.com.
"I don't know how it's going to help injury-wise either. I think the two things they brought it in for aren't really panning out."
Mannah said it looked like games have been getting scrappier towards the end rather than more exciting with more open spaces for smaller players to take advantage of tiring forwards.
"I think when fatigue kicks in instead of seeing a bit more flair you're seeing a lot of guys taking it one-out and trudging the ball forward and there's a lot less energy," he said.
"They thought it would have the reverse effect where it'd be a lot more flair but it hasn't had that effect."
Mannah's main concern when the changes were announced was around a possible increased injury risk.
"Muscular injuries and strains, a lot of that happens when your technique goes out the window and it happens when you're tired so I thought those two reasons were why they brought it in and those two reasons aren't really valid at the moment," he said.
The Eels this weekend face the side that has arguably dealt with the reduced interchange the best in Canterbury. Despite having a big forward pack, those players have stripped down over the odd-season and worked on their fitness and they already boasted some big-minute props in James Graham and Aiden Tolman.
Even last week when they lost Tolman for the game with a concussion early on coach Des Hasler managed his bench well enough for the Bulldogs to pinch victory at the death, with Graham one of the team's best.
"They're a very dynamic pack and I think they've been the best so far this year in terms of handling the interchange. They've been very good and it's going to be a good challenge for us," Mannah said.