Warriors players are seen during the round 2 NRL match between New Zealand Warriors and Canberra Raiders at CBUs Super Stadium in the Gold Coast, Saturday, March 21, 2020. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Warriors players are seen during the round 2 NRL match between New Zealand Warriors and Canberra Raiders at CBUs Super Stadium in the Gold Coast, Saturday, March 21, 2020. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

NRL’s bush retreat doesn’t make sense

The first person I thought of when it was revealed rugby league was thinking of taking its entire competition to Calliope in central Queensland was Joe Ofahengaue.

The Broncos forward is set to become a father for the first time in May with partner Sofi Leota, who is a breast cancer survivor.

How do you reckon Ofahengaue would handle being in camp at Calliope while his first child is born? And if you let him out would you let him back in?

And what about Michael Morgan and Anthony Milford who are also set to welcome children during this time?

You may say there are bigger issues at play here but not for those men there wouldn't be.

Joe Ofahengaue with his pregnant partner Sofi Leota at this year’s Broncos season launch. Picture: Steve Pohlner.
Joe Ofahengaue with his pregnant partner Sofi Leota at this year’s Broncos season launch. Picture: Steve Pohlner.

There would be scores of players with similar issues.

The New Zealand Warriors have been in Australia for a fortnight and are already showing signs of the strain of being isolated from their families.

How do you reckon the entire 16-team competition would fare if they had to do it for 20 weeks?

And how do you reckon the Gladstone ground would cope with eight games a weekend, not that that is the prime issue?

On the same day that Rugby Australia announces its new local derby competition has been postponed with its players instructed to "stop training, go home and self-isolate'' the NRL confirms it is thinking of taking everyone to Calliope. It just does not make sense.

For all their toughness there is one trait about rugby league fans which would expose the Calliope project - they are home bodies, not nomads.

Cricketers become citizens of the world through their travels but rugby league players are not conditioned to lengthy stints on the road.

 

Warriors players during their Round 2 NRL match against the Canberra Raiders. Picture: AAP Image/Dave Hunt.
Warriors players during their Round 2 NRL match against the Canberra Raiders. Picture: AAP Image/Dave Hunt.

Rugby league is down and financially desperate and is treading on very dangerous territory by moving out of step with the rest of society.

Punters are asking how can it be that the government has shut down restaurants, bars and churches yet rugby league players are allowed to pack a scrum, collide with each other for 80 minutes and even share a communal water bottle like the Rabbitohs did at Suncorp Stadium?

How can it be that a concerned anonymous doctor made a desperate plea to the Today Show today for people to stay at home with their families yet rugby league wants to move 16 teams into camp together?

The world is heading in one direction and rugby league, seemingly, in another. It does not make a lot of sense.

As much as we love rugby league's warrior spirit and we respect the way rugby league is trying to save itself from financial oblivion it must be said that playing on is not a badge of honour and a sign of toughness. It's a calculated gamble.

Rugby league has always been the sport you cannot kill.

No matter what happens with the coronavirus, it will rise again.

Originally published as NRL's bush retreat doesn't make sense



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