Revealed: the playmakers in trouble under new NRL rules
The cream rises to the top.
The more the game loosens up and speeds up, the more it suits the exceptional.
The exceptional playmaker who is able to read a defence, spot a weakness, communicate it quickly and make decisions at speed.
The exceptional big man, who although he may be pushing 120kg, can play long minutes, has speed and footwork and not be a liability in defence.
And the exceptional grinder, not the most talented, not the most athletic, but the player who keeps pushing through the pain barrier, he gets whacked and keeps getting up, he's the bloke all his teammates respect. He's the bloke who would have had a poster of Ray Price or Gary Larson on his wall.
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The game has been sped up and there's lots of winners and losers.
From a player point of view the Raiders' latest English lad George Williams was right at home playing fast and reactive, that's how the British players are brought up.
They aren't overcoached, they are trusted to play to their instincts.
George's first two performances were good but it's no coincidence that after the pause and the readjustment of rules his third performance was great.
The playmakers who really shone first up were smart, instinctive, old fashioned footballers. Footballers who probably only ever wanted to be footballers.
They grew up with the game, they see something in the defensive line that doesn't look right, they call the football and investigate - instinctive.
How they play is they simply tell their forwards, "get me a quick play-the-ball", and they observe and explode into gear when they see something they can exploit.
The playmaker who needs structure is in trouble.
The half who's only been taught and fed structure is a huge disadvantage to their team.
Those block to block formations which have been almost as uniformed as blokes wearing silver suits with a red V in sci-fi movies, aren't just slow and predictable, but they take time to set up and they are too deep to pose any real threat anymore.
The exceptional big man is worth his weight in Picasso paintings.
The Jason Taumalolos, the Payne Haases, the Viliame Kikaus, the Josh Papaliis, have enjoyed plenty of applause for their talents, but now that talent is going to be accentuated.
Haas' Broncos were under the pump for the entire 80 minutes against Parramatta but he still managed to be great.
Taumalolo spent 20 minutes on the bench but still ran for a smidgen under 300 metres.
The slower tempo of the game shortened the gap between the good middle man and the great ones … you could place a three lane highway through the gap now.
The tough guys, the grinders who punch above their weight are a beneficiary.
They do things the public admire the most.
The fan in the cheap seats don't cheer loudest for the superstar, they wear the jersey with the number that Victor Radley wears, Cameron Murray, James Graham, Dale Finucane, Adam Elliot.
Blokes who turn up every week and punch above their weight.
They look like blokes who could be going down mineshafts or toiling away on a building site.
I played with a bloke called Billy Peden.
Billy was a publican's son who didn't play first grade until he was 24.
Billy wasn't big, fast or particularly skilful, but he had desire and he went from being a fringe player to a man you built your culture and success around.
The Billy Pedens win in this new, fast, fatigue-centric game because they thrive in fatigue.
Yes they are hurting, but they take great delight in knowing you're probably hurting more.
In rugby league there's still a place for every body type, just make sure whatever you do, you do it exceptionally well.
Originally published as Revealed: The playmakers in trouble under new NRL rules