Leeds Rhinos: Interchange reduction by NRL sets the benchmark - Danny McGuire Column

Brian McDermott and Daryl Powell

Brian McDermott and Daryl Powell

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WHERE THE NRL leads, we usually follow and if that’s the case with interchanges I’ll be pleased.

The Aussie competition is cutting the number of substitutions from 10 to eight next season. That’s something that’s been talked about for a few years and I think 10 is too many.

I know it was 12 a few years ago, but I think six or eight is better. If that happens you are going to get an element of fatigue with forwards not being able to roll on and off as much.

There’ll have to be more tactical use of substitutions, so coaches will have to plan what they are going to do and I think that makes it more interesting.

The idea of the game is to try and wear the opposition down and exploit gaps and weaknesses in the other team.

If interchanges were cut over here I think you’d see a bit more of that. To be honest, I think it would suit us as a team, we are a fit group and we always seem to come on strong towards the end of games.

That’s obviously a back talking. The forwards might have a bit of a different view on things, but it would be boring if we all agreed.

It would be nice to see forwards tiring in the middle, so us backs can try and exploit that. As a spectacle it will make the game tougher and more open and that’s a good thing.

We don’t do everything the NRL does and they don’t always follow our lead, but it makes sense to have the same rules in the two competitions and that makes things a lot more straightforward when it comes to Test matches and the World Club Challenge.

I am pleased to see my mate Lee Smith back in the game, at Wakefield.

I have kept in contact with Lee during his journeys, when he went to union and then Wakefield and back to union again.

It is great he’s back in league now. I know he wants an opportunity to show what he can do and he has got that now at Wakey.

He has got eight games to show what he is capable of and hopefully get a contract for next year, either somewhere else or still at Wakey, depending on what happens there.

I am happy for him and I have a soft spot for Wakey as well, so I hope he can go well for them and help them stay in Super League.

It’s unfortunate that Kevin Locke got a bad injury last week. He will have been wanting to make an impression there and I know they saw him as an important player for their middle-eights campaign, but it comes with the territory with our game. I am sure he will come back stronger, but Lee can play full-back so they have got quality cover there.

We had our sponsors’ morning this week, when sponsors and their families get the chance to come to Headingley and watch us train and go through a few drills as well.

It’s always a good event and something the Rhinos are brilliant at. They make a real effort to engage with sponsors and people who are important to the club.

There were a lot of kids there, we did a bit of coaching with them and I think everybody enjoyed it – even the sponsor who broke his thumb trying to catch a high kick! He had the consolation of winning the raffle, so it wasn’t all bad news. We are back into the serious business on Sunday at home to Catalans, which is our final game in the regular season.

If we win we’ll be top, so it’s a big game for us. We want to be No 1 and we also want to go into next week’s Cup semi-final and the Super-8s in good form. We’ve not looked at who we’ll be playings in the 8s yet, we’ll study that when it’s nailed down. We are just focused on playing well against a tough Catalans team and making sure we get the job done.

Whenever we play Catalans it’s a tough, physical encounter. We know we need to turn up and play well and that’s what we’ll be trying to do.

Alex Walmsley.

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