From the Grandstand by Col Hennessy


Most of us in the grandstand cannot wait till this Saturday when the football on show will cater for all tastes and be great matches to boot if you will pardon the pun.

I speak of course of the AFL grand final, the NRL preliminary finals and another test match for the Wallabies. All this in the hours after 4pm. If that’s not enough you can watch the All Blacks play the Springboks for title of world champions, that same day.

In a contest of telecast brinkmanship, the NRL blinked first and actually changed the time of Saturday’s match so the Victorians who support the Storm can cheer their side on before changing channels (compulsory down there) and watch their grand final, which ironically features two inner suburban sides from Melbourne playing in Perth.

The thing that has got my attention is how significant is the break or rest some sides have before these big games. How much juice did Penrith use up in that epic game against Parramatta while the Storm sat back and watched them belt each other?

Master coach Wayne Bennett sees it as an advantage only in the first fifteen minutes of a match. However, that can be the most significant fifteen minutes of the game. All sides stress the importance of getting off to a good start. When Storm beat Penrith in last years GF and when they belted Manly two weeks ago the match was virtually over after fifteen minutes wasn’t it.

As to the rest period, some coaches I know always favoured being match hardened and provided there were no injuries actually preferred the extra game. That was old school thinking though and I’m not sure it would apply in today’s game, which is far more taxing.

Look at the AFL grand final. The two best teams will contest the trophy but one of them (Demons) will only have only played one game in a month leading into the big decider. In week one they won their qualifying final to earn the weeks rest and now the authorities decided in their wisdom (Covid related quarantines) to have two weeks between the last two games of the year. It won’t happen again this way I don’t think.

The Wallabies have come good on home soil particularly on their favourite ground (Suncorp) in Brisbane. They have defeated South Africa in consecutive games which is no mean feat considering the Springboks are the current World Cup holders. They are improving every game and will do well in the forthcoming series as long as the opposition don’t wear black.

So, my advice is to get the lawns done on Saturday morning. Tell the lady of the house you will organise tea (takeaway at half time or between matches) and sit back and enjoy.