One look at Australia’s Four Nations casualty ward shows how burnt out players have become and why NRL pre-season games are becoming less necessary, Test forward Nate Myles says.
While happy to back the All Stars game’s return in 2015, Myles believed the calendar was already so packed for fatigued players that trials had lost their lustre.
And as the NRL debated over decreasing interchanges by 2016 which would increase burnout, Myles dreamt of a day the Rugby League Players’ Association (RLPA) became the “strongest voice in Australia”.
Eleven rookies were named in the Kangaroos’ 24-strong squad after Myles was among a host of players forced to pull out of the ill-fated Four Nations campaign.
He is still debating whether to be considered for the All Stars game which returns to the Gold Coast on February 13 as he recovers from shoulder surgery.
The match has been slotted into a pre-season that also includes the Auckland Nines, the World Club Challenge and a string of trials before the March 5 kick-off.
Asked if the need for trials had changed, Myles said: “I think it will, to be honest … (with) a few more years of the Nines and the All Stars along with another long season.
“I don’t think there is a point to having three trials especially with the Nines where you are playing against other sides.
“But to find that balance you will also have to run it by the coaches who will want a good 80 minute hitout against another club.”
He added: “For players it is all adding up – the availability of the Four Nations is probably an indication of where the players’ bodies are heading at the moment.”
Myles hoped the players had a strong voice when the NRL considered reduced interchanges – a major point to emerge from this week’s two-day Competition Committee in Sydney featuring the game’s most influential figures.
Reducing the current 10 interchanges down to eight or even six is expected to counter wrestling but increase burnout.
The measure is being considered after stats at the meeting showed if trends continued the game would be dominated by bigger players, there were would be more gang tackles and wrestling and less tries would be scored.
“I think our RLPA should be strongly involved in that,” Myles said.
“I’d like to see the RLPA become the strongest voice in Australia.”
On reducing interchanges, Myles said: “It’s a Catch 22.
“You will see less explosiveness, but you will see more footy being played, less wrestle.
“Fatigue will kick in then you will see the great players really excel.”
NRL head of football Todd Greenberg said the league would keep an “open mind” about making changes in 2016.
“As we see the balance start to be dominated more by defence we will continue to make discussions that are the best for the game,” he said.
“If that is reducing interchanges we will do it.
“But we have to consider it with our players’ workload in mind and broader issues like concussion.
“But we are very open minded about what it will look like in the future.”