With the Intrust Super Cup finals on the horizon it was interesting news to say the least when the Courier Mail broke the story that the PNG Hunters will not get a televised home final in this years 2017 Finals series.
The first thought is that it was an ordinary decision, and the more time there is to mull over it, the angrier it makes you.
It means that the PNG Hunters will not have their first home final televised minimum. Same as last year in the first week of the finals, as that was week one and the games were 3rd v 6th and 4th v 5th. But those games were on equal billing and a much more geographically pleasing match for the powers that be was selected.
This followed the appalling decision in 2015 not to allow the PNG Hunters decision play their deserved home final in the week before the Grand Final. They had only finished second and lost first game of the finals. Unfortunately the same excuses for that occurrence look likely to happen again as the QRL say it is up to the Hunters to pay for the broadcast costs.
Reading the article below, the same arguments are made for this year’s finals series for the PNG Hunters, worse this year is the fact that the PNG Hunters are minor premiers.
One of many sticking points came out of the QRL’s statement. The quote below.
“If I have an option, I always try to televise a knockout game anyway.”
Hmmmm, let’s see about that one. The first week of the finals always sees two knockout finals games, so the selection in the first week comes down to a preference, and closer to Brisbane the better it seems. The second week is the where to quote comes unstuck.
The preference for knockout may have been true in 2015 when the major semi Final was between the Blackhawks and the Hunters in Townsville. The alternative game was conveniently closer to town.
So last year, week two of the finals, and the TV game was played at Dolphin Oval between Redcliffe and Burleigh.
Which was 1st v 2nd. The knockout game limited to the website. So the argument of favouring knock out games doesn’t look quite correct.
The real problem will be if the PNG Hunters lose their first game in week two of the finals. They have been told to pay up for the privilege or come down to a neutral Brisbane venue. With the unlikely scenario of the PNG Hunters and governing body coming up with $200K in that short a time, everyone (especially the QRL) will be hoping that the Hunters can go straight through to the Grand Final, so the situation of a team who finished in the top two not getting a home final won’t happen two years in three.
Hopefully, the QRL will let the Hunters decide which Brisbane ground they play at, and hopefully that is Ipswich where they’ve had some success in the past two seasons. Or even better Davies Park where they are undefeated. But as if they’ll have a choice.
It is pretty ordinary to say the least to let the Hunters into the competition and treat them like this. Again.
I have been lucky enough to attend a few Intrust Super Cup Games every year, and have been to a number of PNG Hunters games in SEQ since their arrival in 2014. Even their first game ever at Dolphin Oval. One thing that is common for every PNG Hunters game I’ve attended is that the PNG supporters provide a significant bump in patronage for every game. So add all that up over the past 4 years and see if it adds up. 5000 extra patrons per year for 4 seasons @ $10 is $200,000. That 5000 per season works out at less than 500 extra people a game. Comfortably within the range for games I have attended in SEQ.
So there’s some of your extra money.
Surely there’s a nice wad of cash somewhere in the QRL from having two State of Origin clashes in Brisbane this year. Or what about the NRL and any passion to develop the game in the Pacific to cover it.
A shame we’re already going to miss out on the first final, as it would be a great general rugby league interest story to see a big game on TV up there. Hopefully we can get some live stream, but with the PNG Pay TV broadcasters at the game that may not happen.
But the real worry is week three if the Hunters lose the first game, forcing the next game to be at a neutral venue or forcing the Hunters to pay the costs of sending TV crews up there is very ordinary, and poor reward for finishing first.
Worst thing is I’m sure the QRL and anyone higher up at the NRL will pat themselves on the back as Champions of rugby league development if the Hunters make the Grand Final, win the big game and impress in the State Championship.
Silver lining is that the PNG Hunters form in 2017 is actually better on the road than in Port Moresby, but they will have to overcome their poor finals record of 0-3.
For everyone’s sake let’s hope the PNG Hunters win their first finals game in Port Moresby to save the QRL embarrassment, and the completely unfair situation. Although it’s hard not to take offence at the way the whole thing has played out, again. As ever a sporting governing body that is happy to take and not give.
History awaits the PNG Hunters in 2017, as they appear to be fulfilling our pre-season prediction of success this season.
All that’s left to say is Go Hunters.