Frustrated Canterbury coach Des Hasler has joined the growing chorus of influential voices calling for dramatic NRL scheduling changes to limit the impact upon clubs during the State of Origin period.
Without their NSW halves the Bulldogs crashed to their third straight loss on Sunday, a 22-12 defeat to Parramatta, to fall from the top of the NRL ladder.
After seven straight wins, the Dogs have had to play two games without Josh Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson, losing to Manly in the other fixture over the interstate period, and their season momentum has stalled significantly.
Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy has been criticising the heavy toll Origin takes on the game’s superstars and NRL clubs during the interstate series for years and earlier this month Wayne Bennett put forward an alternative scheduling plan which includes three stand alone Origin matches in successive weeks to minimise disruption.
Hasler has floated the idea of games being played on Mondays and flexible NRL scheduling to deal with the growing problem.
After watching his makeshift side, which included hooker Michael Ennis playing halfback, fall to an Eels outfit without Jarryd Hayne, Hasler said something had to give.
“It is not an excuse, other clubs are going through the same experience and it has happened year after year after year, but it is something the NRL or the (ARL) Commission or whoever is running the show have to look at.
“We need State of Origin; there is no doubt about that. It is a wonderful product, we all know that. It is a great game and it is not going to go away.
“But you ask the Dallas Cowboys or something like that to go into a game without a quarterback because you have State of Origin, what do you think your answer would be?
“The rugby league clubs are franchises and it is about the franchises making money.
“At no stage am I using it as an excuse but they have got to do better.
“I don’t want to whinge about it, but for all the clubs who are battling for financial stability, the Commission have to do something about it.
The Dogs’ loss drops them to sixth spot on percentages on a congested NRL ladder, with the Eels behind them on seventh, but equal on 18 points alongside third-placed South Sydney.
The Rabbitohs’ 32-10 win over Wests Tigers on Friday was their sixth victory in seven matches, with young winger Alex Johnston scoring two tries.
Playmaker Jamie Soward was instrumental in Penrith’s 18-14 win over his former club St George Illawarra on Saturday,
It was the Panthers’ fifth successive win and puts them top of the NRL ladder after 14 rounds.
Premiers the Sydney Roosters overcame a shocking first half to dispose of Newcastle 29-12.
A truncated round ends on Monday night with Gold Coast hosting Melbourne ahead of Wednesday’s second Origin match in Sydney.
Manly, North Queensland, Cronulla, Brisbane, the Warriors and Canberra all enjoyed a bye weekend.