Ivan Cleary: We need fewer international matches

Penrith coach Ivan Cleary wants fewer end-of-season international matches to stop players being overworked.

The Panthers boss doesn’t think there should be representative tournaments at the end of every season, an attitude that was echoed during last year’s World Cup when most Australian journalists slated the international competition and claimed they’d rather watch State of Origin. In sharp contrast, us Brits can’t get enough, and it is really disheartening to hear a key figure in the NRL pressuring for fewer tests.

“I think, personally, we shouldn’t have representative tournaments every year at the end of the year,” Cleary said.

“Maybe a one-off game with Australia and New Zealand straight after the grand final pretty much. Basically, if you are going to have one it needs to finish a lot earlier. It will give people some rest and time to prepare. We’re just squeezing the lemon dry. The game is getting harder and we’re playing more.”

There is a Four Nations in Australia and New Zealand in October and November this year, with the possibility of the Auckland Nines being played in January 2015. There are also three State of Origin matches, a City-Country Origin match, the Anzac Test and a Pacific nations Test.

Cleary added: “I’m all for structure in the pre-season, but everyone has got to finish a bit earlier. We can’t have all our best players dragging on. You don’t want to take away from the international game, but having something every year, I think that takes a little bit away from it.

“It’s very hard to expect guys year, on year, on year, to play all the way through, play rep footy then come back.

“We’re giving them longer rest but it means they are getting shorter pre-seasons. All our World Cup guys started in January. Some of the clubs had a few World Cup guys come back a few weeks later. It’s hard because you want these guys playing trial games, but it’s a long year and you don’t want those guys getting busted early either.”

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