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Anthony Griffin says radical Wildcard Weekend ‘not good for the game’

It’s the radical proposal which has sent the NRL world into hysterics and now Anthony Griffin has joined the chorus of critics on the proposal of a ‘Wildcard Weekend’ to decide the competition’s finalists.

Under the proposed finals revamp, the seventh-placed team would play the 10th-placed team on top of eight and nine also battling it out.

This would then be followed by the traditional finals series with two qualifying finals between the top four – as well as the two elimination finals consisting of fifth, sixth and the two ‘Wildcard Weekend’ winners.

The NRL’s Head of Elite Football Operations Graham Annesley announced the proposal on Monday informing club CEOs on Monday about the new format.

The potential shake-up has come under heavy fire from the likes of experts, former players and current players including the likes of Paul Kent, Mark Riddell and Chad Townsend.

Former Penrith coach Anthony Griffin told Halftime with James Willis the concept isn’t good for the game.

“My initial impression is I’m not in favour of it,” Griffin said.

“After giving it some thought since it first came out just as someone who’s involved with the game, I don’t think it’s good for the game.

“I can understand where they’re going, they’re trying to increase fan engagement and monetise the television revenue a little bit more, (but) I’m not a fan.

“They’ve obviously derived it from the US Leagues and the NFL and NBA.

“There’s 32 and 30 teams in those competitions, so if you’re number 12 over there you’re still part of the elite top third tier of the competition – which in our instance we’ve roared someone who’s come 10th and in the bottom half of the competition.

“So I know where they’re going and where they’ve seen it work from the US point of view, but I don’t think it’s relevant for our competition.”

If the ‘Wildcard Weekend’ had been in place in 2018, it would have seen the Dragons (7th, 32 points) play Canberra (10th, 22 points) and the Warriors (8th, 32 points) play Wests Tigers (9th, 26 points).

It highlighted a major gap between the top eight teams and bottom eight teams in 2018 and the potential to reward “mediocrity” is the underlying reason behind the heavy criticism of the proposal.

The new concept is trying to spark interest levels in games involving teams in the bottom half of the ladder, while it would also have financial benefits for clubs and the NRL with greater crowds and television ratings.

Last season there were over 30 “dead games” – games which have no impact on the finals outcome.

Annesley told Halftime that the proposal is aimed at addressing this alarming trend of “dead games”.

“I think generally everyone’s happy with the current format of the finals,” Annesley said.

“There was a change from the McIntyre system some years ago and we went to the system that was in place at the AFL at the time and it was intended to give you closer games in the preliminary final matches.

“I think everyone’s reasonably happy with that.

“It’s simply a matter of are we able to breathe some more life into the back end of the competition rounds by having more games with more meaning rather than having dead games.

“The number of dead games is increasing, so it’s becoming more of an issue for us.”


Click ‘play’ to hear the full interview below.