Have your say on State of Origin payments
Former Australia, New South Wales and Newcastle Knights champion halfback Andrew Johns is part of the Wide World of Sport commentary team and he will write exclusively for us in 2012.
It's time for the ARL to act, plain and simple. Amid all of the great talking points from State of Origin I, it seems a shame that we're now focussing on player payments. We shouldn't be. Queensland and NSW representatives simply deserve a bigger slice of the pie.
At present, players receive $20,000 per Origin match, half of which is put into a fund that they can't touch until retirement. The Rugby League Players Association wants that figure increased to $50,000 and while it may appear a hefty jump, when put into perspective, it's not.
In the United States, NBA players get around 50 per cent of the revenue the game generates, which includes ticket sales, television contracts and advertising. At the moment State of Origin player payments amount to about 10 per cent of revenue.
The players are acutely aware that they are the ones providing the entertainment and they should be compensated accordingly. They're now threatening to strike over the issue and while that's the last thing that fans want to see, I'm sure most supporters would also sympathise with the players.
The start of the Origin series has also re-affirmed my view that there needs to be a system implemented where clubs get compensated if their players get injured while on representative duty. Manly's Tony Williams will be out for six to eight weeks with a back injury suffered during Origin I. That hampers the Sea Eagles no end. If the Storm lost Billy Slater and Cameron Smith to injury for any length of time it would certainly ruin their NRL chances.
I made some pretty harsh comments on radio about my old club, Newcastle Knights, earlier this week, but I actually feel I held back a bit.
The Knights' attack is so one-out and it's up to the coaching staff to implement some changes. At the moment they’re boring to watch. The options they are taking and the brand of footy they are playing is not working for them.
The game of rugby league has become more attacking in the past few years and teams need to adapt. The way Melbourne Storm has evolved is a perfect example. Three years ago the Storm would grind teams out of the game by backing their defence. Now it's the other way around and they are backing their attack.
At the moment, the Knights are very defence oriented. They are down on confidence, but they need to put more energy into their attack.
It seems the Knights are planning for one big shot in attack each set of six. They are putting all their eggs in one basket, thinking that on tackle four they will get Darius Boyd running on the edge of the ruck to create on overlap for him to put someone away down the wing. But everyone is defending that play so well now and it is getting very predictable.
They need to mix it up by running off their forwards, playing some second phase with some offloads and supporting their ball carriers.
The Newcastle squad needs time to gel, but the guys who can hold their head up at the moment are winger James McManus and forwards Chris Houston, Willie Mason and Alex McKinnon. McKinnon has been the shining light for the Knights off the bench so far this season.
I have no doubt we will see a different Knights style this week against the Broncos, but the big test will come after 20 minutes when everyone gets tired and there are a few errors. If things don't go their way it will be interesting to see how they respond.
I couldn't believe the Sam Kasiano no-try call in Monday night's game between the Roosters and the Bulldogs. Video referees should be able to use some sort of discretion in making their decision as there was no way in the world any of the Roosters were going to stop Kasiano that close to the tryline.
Following that decision Canterbury captain Mick Ennis gave the referee a verbal spray, with Roosters skipper Braith Anasta doing something similar in the second half.
Players need to be really careful with what they say and do when dealing with referees as it sets an example for young players watching. It's hard enough to get referees in junior grades and if they see their heroes abusing refs in the NRL, it rubs off.
It's not a good look, but that said, I shouldn't pass judgement. I look back at the way I carried on sometimes and still shake my head. I was terrible when I'd get frustrated and I'd say things in the heat of the moment that I wish I hadn't.
Should State of Origin players be paid more?
What would you do to fix the Knights?
Should captains be allowed to berate referees?