OPINION

No problem with selling the grand final

If the grand final can't be in Sydney, we might as well recoup some costs. Photo: James D. Morgan/Getty Images
If the grand final can't be in Sydney, we might as well recoup some costs. Photo: James D. Morgan/Getty Images

Take it to the highest bidder. That would be my advice to Peter V'landys and the NRL when a decision has to be made on where this season's grand final is held.

Tradition says Sydney. Our competition showpiece has never been held anywhere else.

But that doesn't mean it can't be. And in these extraordinary times, as has already been shown, you have to be flexible and think outside the square.

I would have thought the first consideration is staging the decider at a venue where you can have a crowd.

If it was held next week, Melbourne would win out for that reason.

But who knows what the COVID landscape will look like in early October.

I'm certainly open to the grand final being played outside of Sydney.

And given the financial strain that's been put on the NRL and the clubs by relocating the competition to Queensland without crowds, why not let the prospective state governments fight over it in a bidding war and recoup as much of that lost money as possible.

If it ends up being held in Melbourne or Brisbane, I for one won't have a problem with that.

LEAD THE WAY

You can't force people to vaccinate, but if I'm the NRL I'm strongly encouraging every player in the competition to lead the way and get the jab unless they have a medical reason.

If we are talking about vaccine passports and telling fans they won't be allowed into venues next year if they are not fully vaccinated, it's difficult for the same rules not to apply to players and officials.

This is a virus that kills. There should be no argument there.

If we are going to get back to something like normality in our lives without quarantining, lockdowns and footy games being played with no crowds, the key is getting as many people vaccinated as possible including those involved in our game.

WORLD CUP DELAY

The whole debate around the World Cup and whether it should be going ahead is a tough one.

I can see both sides of the argument.

I'm sure a lot of planning has already been done in England, and financially they will take a massive hit.

They also point out quite rightly that international sport is still being played, with the Tokyo Olympics the obvious example.

And yes, we should be doing everything possible to promote the game internationally.

But at the same time, I can also see why the ARL and the Kiwis were not keen to commit and opted to pull out.

Given what the players from both countries and their families have been through this season, it's a huge ask.

While there have been some players publicly willing to put their hands up and say they are happy to play, all 16 clubs are understandably against the idea from a welfare perspective.

Like I said, it's a tough one.

But at the end of the day, postponing the tournament for 12 months until, hopefully, we are in a much better and safer environment is the smart call.

THE GAMES

RAIDERS v DRAGONS

Both last-start losers and desperate for a win to keep their finals hopes alive in this one.

After a tough game against the Eels the previous week, the Raiders were flat against the Knights and couldn't handle Newcastle's up-tempo attack last weekend.

But I'm expecting a response in this one.

The Dragons just didn't have the firepower to foot it with Souths and won't have their best and most in-form player in Ben Hunt. My tip: Raiders

EELS v RABBITOHS

This is a huge game for Parramatta. They are in a rut and confidence is down, but the return of Mitchell Moses with his long kicking game and attacking flair will make a difference.

I'm just not sure it will be enough to get them home against the lethal attack of Souths, with Cody Walker in superb touch and Latrell Mitchell a huge threat to any defence.

The Eels will give themselves a chance if they can shut down Walker and Mitchell and turn it into a grinding affair. A big ask on recent form. My tip: Souths

WARRIORS v SHARKS

The Warriors' win over the Tigers last weekend was a great backs-to-the-wall performance from a patched-up side who will get a few big men back this week.

But the Sharks are in a dogfight for a finals berth and this is simply a game they must win. On paper, they have the better side. My tip: Sharks

ROOSTERS v PANTHERS

It's no surprise the Panthers have lacked rhythm in attack without Nathan Cleary.

This will be a great contest against a side that is one of the most professional in the competition who have been savagely hit by injury but just won't lie down.

The Roosters have genuine match-winners in the likes of James Tedesco and Joey Manu who will keep coming and they have great belief.

Penrith do get a few players back and won't be lacking in effort. That might just get them home in a tight one. My tip: Panthers

EAGLES v STORM

This will be a cracker and I won't be at all surprised if the Eagles cause an upset here.

The form of Tom Trbojevic has been breathtaking and you can bet your life Dessy Hasler will have his side right up for this one.

But it's a brave man to tip against Melbourne. My tip: Storm

BULLDOGS v TIGERS

How do you tip either of these teams with confidence? Forced to, I'm going with the Tigers. My tip: Tigers

TITANS v COWBOYS

The Titans' attack will be too potent for the Cowboys at home in this one. My tip: Titans

This story No problem with selling the grand final first appeared on The Canberra Times.