NRL.com Players' Poll: Preferred clubs, timeslots, expansion, Nines
Brisbane is the most preferred destination of NRL players, with 20 per cent of the participates in the NRL.com Players' Poll declaring the Broncos as the club they would like to join if they had to leave their own.
The top three teams are hardly a surprise, with most players opting to join three of the most successful clubs of the modern era (Broncos, Storm and Roosters)
Also in the final part of the poll, which was filled out by 117 players across 16 clubs before this year's representative matches, Leichhardt Oval has been deemed the most loved Sydney Suburban ground ahead of Panthers Stadium.
The players have also largely voted in favour of staging a competition game in the United States. The majority of players also believe there is a place in the NRL calendar for a Nines tournament.
Perth and Brisbane are the favoured cities for expansion, while surprisingly the Friday 6pm time slot has been deemed as the players' favourite to play.
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The verdict: The three teams with arguably the most consistent record of success over the past decade have all featured in the top three. No doubt some players voted for the team they supported growing up, but clearly some based on an appetite for success. The Gold Coast Titans have traditionally struggled to attract big name players but they’ve finished fourth of all clubs. Perhaps the lifestyle and weather is an attraction to players. Some of the Sydney competition giants didn’t even feature in the top 10.
Others that polled well: Newcastle Knights, North Queensland Cowboys, Wests Tigers
The verdict: It turns out Sydney suburban grounds have a place in the game according to the players, with only two of the 117 players polled voting against playing matches at suburban grounds. Leichhardt Oval was deemed the best to play at, with Campbelltown Sports Stadium, Lottoland and Belmore receiving the least amount of votes. Kogarah coming in behind Penrith and Cronulla would have surprised a few.
The verdict: The Friday 6pm time slot has divided opinion since its inception last year but it turns out the players love it. Perhaps because they don’t have to wait around so long for a late kick off and still be able to go out or spend time with friends and family after full time. Maybe it’s the fact they get the whole weekend to enjoy themselves. Surprisingly the Sunday, 4pm time slot only received nine per cent of votes. The least liked time slot was the Thursday night match, presumably because of the shorter turnarounds leading in.
The verdict: With the NRL still exploring the possibility of bringing back the Nines competition next year, it’s been heavily endorsed by the players. A total of 73.5 per cent of players want it back as part of the calendar. While the first four years were played in Auckland, next year will be played at a different location. The players have traditionally enjoyed the short-form tournament not just because of the open-style football, but because of the opportunity to socialise and mingle with all 16 teams in the one city.
The verdict: If it was up to the players the next two expansion teams would be based in Perth and Brisbane. Nine per cent of players voted against the idea of expansion. ARLC chairman Peter Beattie has indicated the expansion discussion is back on the table but where and how many teams is up in the air. Fiji, on the back of a successful world cup campaign, surprisingly polled well.
Others that polled: NSW Central Coast, Central Queensland, Papua New Guinea.
The verdict: With the NRL exploring the possibility of starting next season in California, likely between South Sydney and Melbourne, there seems to be no lack of support from the playing group to take a game to the United States. Almost 90 per cent of players have backed the idea of an NRL competition game being staged on US soil in the future.
The NRL.com Players' Poll is independent of the National Rugby League. The survey was undertaken by 117 NRL players across all 16 clubs. The survey questions and results have not been designed or endorsed by the NRL or the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA).