Let’s pay a Grand Final tribute to our retiring stars

Super League chief executive Robert Elstone clearly admires many things about the NRL, as we saw earlier this season when he introduced the golden point and shot-clocks to Super League, while making it obvious that he would like to go further by introducing the same refereeing system that operates in the NRL, with two referees.

I don’t know whether two referees will be introduced into Super League over time, although I suspect that Robert will probably get his way eventually.

But here’s another way in which we could copy something the NRL does extremely well.

Let’s say goodbye to all our retiring Super League stars at Old Trafford on Grand Final day, before the big game kicks off.

The NRL does it, and in my view it’s great to see players who have graced the game getting the chance to say goodbye to the fans in front of a massive audience.

At the NRL Grand Final the retirees are escorted individually around the pitch behind the flag of the last club they represented. It’s actually quite a moving spectacle and it’s one we could very easily copy in this country. In fact it’s so obvious I’m only surprised we haven’t done it before.

Think of the players who have announced their retirement so far this season. Ben Westwood, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Danny McGuire, Mark Minichiello, Craig Huby, Tommy Lee, Dale Ferguson and, no doubt, plenty of other players. Wouldn’t it be great to say goodbye to them one last time at the Theatre of Dreams?

And it may well boost the attendance for the Grand Final, as some fans of the teams the retiring players represented would be encouraged to buy tickets for Old Trafford in order to say goodbye to their heroes.

Over to you, Robert!

This is an amended version of part of Martyn Sadler’s ‘Talking Rugby League’ article that appeared in Monday’s edition of League Express. You can order a copy of League Express by going to https://www.totalrl.com/league-express/