Geoff Toovey
Geoff Toovey

Toovey is right on Broncos' rails run

MANLY officials are renowned for their whingeing, but Sea Eagles coach Geoff Toovey was spot on with two of his weekend post-match observations.

Firstly, the premiers were as flat as tacks against the Titans on Saturday night; and the Broncos have had a rails run this season with the scheduling of Friday night matches, giving them a seven-day turnaround for the first seven weeks of the season.

But I'm not sure the five-day break between matches for the Sea Eagles last week was the chief reason for their lacklustre performance against the Titans.

Missing players of the calibre of the Stewart brothers, Kieran Foran and big Tony Williams certainly ailed their cause.

But in fairness to Toovey, the programming of matches for the defending premiers in 2012 has been a dog's breakfast.

They started out with a Sunday afternoon clash, and then went Friday night, Monday night, Saturday night, Saturday night, Monday night and Friday night.

Conversely the Broncos have played all Friday night games to date, and in fact will play 13 of their first 16 matches this season on a Friday night.

The only exceptions are round nine when they meet the Warriors in Auckland on a Saturday evening, round 13 against the Knights at home on a Sunday afternoon, and round 14 against the Roosters in Sydney, also on Sunday afternoon.

While the sequence of Friday night games for the first eight rounds of the season means Broncos coach Anthony Griffin has not needed to alter his training program for more than two months, the bottom line is that the Broncos do not seek Friday night games.

Sure it is bountiful exposure for their brand and their sponsors, but with fans the length and breadth of Queensland and in to northern NSW, the Broncos are keen for some variety to give all demographics an opportunity to attend.

With families in mind, Sunday afternoon is actually their first choice.

But of course when the last TV agreement was reached with Channel Nine, the NRL sold its soul as well as the broadcasting rights and gave the television bosses absolute control over when matches will be played.

And because the Broncos are historically successful, play an entertaining brand of football and attract massive audiences in Queensland, they are invariably first pick for Friday night games.

It is, quite simply, a commercial decision by Channel Nine and in this case the NRL is powerless to invoke any knee-jerk decision now that other clubs are complaining about Brisbane's luck of the draw.

Surely, and expectantly, when the new TV rights agreement is written later this year, season-long scheduling will be implemented.

That will appease everyone - even Manly officials.


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