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NRL teams should care about the minor premiership

WHEN interviewed after the Roosters had hammered the Sea Eagles two weekends ago, prop Sam Moa dropped the throwaway line 'we don't care about the minor premiership'.

And therein lies an anomaly within the NRL structure.

Players should care about the minor premiership, as should coaches and administrators.

In fact, they ought to regard it as a greater feat than winning the grand final.

For the third successive season the Roosters have been crowned NRL minor premiers.

That is an outstanding feat, especially as it has been achieved under a rookie coach.

And that coach, Trent Robinson, certainly does regard the minor premiership as important.

He understands fully what it takes to be the best and most consistent team over 26 rounds, and he says being first past the post is under-valued in the NRL.

The last club to win three successive minor premierships was Melbourne (2006, 07, 08) under Craig Bellamy.

But, because of salary cap breaches, two of the three were subsequently stripped.

Before that it was Manly, twice, from 1995-97 and 1971-73, and the Rabbitohs 1968-70.

And, of course, the mighty St George, from 1956 to 1967, won 10 minor premierships in 11 years.

The introduction and subsequent stringent policing of the salary cap has resulted in a much more competitive premiership in the modern era, which is highlighted by the fact no team has won back-to-back NRL premierships since the Broncos 22 years ago.

And that statistic further adds to the outstanding achievement of the Roosters in 2015.

In a season where they had 11 players involved in rep football, injuries and suspensions to key players, the Roosters scored more points than any other team, and had less scored against them.

Their season - to date - has been extraordinary.

Yet, if they are knocked out of the premiership race between now and October 4 as they were last year, or are beaten on grand final day, few will remember their magnificent season.

And what is their reward for this iron-man type consistency?

The prestigious JJ Giltinan Shield, and a meagre $100,000 in prizemoney.

What do the premiers receive?

The Provan-Summons Trophy, five months of adulation and four times the prizemoney, for winning what is virtually a four-week knockout competition.

As Trent Robinson - who cut his coaching teeth in the English Super League - rightly points out, the minor premiership is greatly valued in almost every league around the world.

But in the NRL, our culture dictates it is not viewed as the pinnacle.

Since 1926 a grand final has decided the premiers, and I don't have an issue with that.

My beef is that more prestige, and more prizemoney, needs to be allied to winning the minor premiership.



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