Sam Thaiday of the Broncos
Sam Thaiday of the Broncos Ian Hitchcock

Play it again Sam and don’t moan

ON THE surface, disagreeing with Sam Thaiday on the scheduling of Broncos NRL matches over the next few weeks would be senseless.

The programing is, as Sam says, ridiculous.

But big Sam will receive empathy from only his Broncos fans. Most others will say ‘suck it up mate’. And, with good reason.

To suggest the Broncos have had a charmed match-scheduling run through the first 11 rounds of season 2016 would be a gross understatement.

Their shortest turnaround between games has been six days, they are yet to appear in the unpopular Monday night timeslot and have even played an away game at home. And, seven of their 11 matches to date have been on the top-billing Thursday or Friday night.

But after tomorrow night’s grand final rematch against the Cowboys in Townsville, things certainly heat up for Thaiday and his teammates. In fact, the next eight weeks could well define whether the Broncos are the champions as the bookmakers have billed them.

Their next match is against the Tigers, at home, a week from tonight. And they will take them on minus their Origin players – possibly as many as seven.

Nine days later – and with those Origin players having only three days recuperation – the Broncos head across the ditch to play the Warriors. Five days later they are back home, against the Raiders.

While on the surface that scheduling may look okay, doubts on how the Broncos will handle the anomaly are cast by the fact the Tigers, Warriors and Raiders will, in all probability, be barely affected by Origin.

After the Raiders clash things start to settle down with the Broncos receiving a bye before Origins II and III, but they play three nights after both. As Wayne Bennett did last year and Anthony Griffin the two seasons before, the coach expected to rest some of his Origin players from club games over this taxing period.

But if Broncos fans think they are about to have it tough, the Sea Eagles have had four five-day turnarounds already this season and the Roosters and the Tigers have had three.

And if fans believe having up to seven players backing up after Origin is a big ask, six times in the past the Broncos have had 11 players on Origin duty.

The long and short of this scheduling issue is that no simple solution exists. State of Origin is the pinnacle of the game and while the NRL and the Players’ Association are apparently working towards solving the short turnarounds issue, while the broadcasters continue to demand value for the massive dollars they pay, a quick fix appears a long way off.

The answer, in reality, is simple. Suck it up.

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