The Draw: Things We Noticed

BY DAN

The other day I wrote a very critical piece on the NRL’s (and Channel 9’s) ongoing reluctance to support successful, but small TV market, teams like the Raiders.

Well, turns out we were wrong. Today the NRL draw was released, and the Raiders have a gob-smacking 8 games on Free-To-Air, including a whole bunch of ‘game of the round’ Sunday afternoon efforts (I think it’s six, is it six?). This is a massive boon for the Green Machine. It gives better value to sponsors, so Huawei will be happier with their exposure in 2019 than they got in any year previous. It can also mean more money for individual players, who get exposure to a wider audience, making them more attractive to individual endorsements.

I mean it’s still not as many as the Broncos which is closer to 12 (update: The Greenhouse have helpfully corrected that it’s 18 which is amazing) but it’s such an improvement from the five or lower or previous years.

And let’s be selfish for a second. It’s great for Raiders’ fans. More games on free-to-air means more people who love the Milk get to see them on their TVs. This really matters for people who don’t live in Canberra, and/or aren’t privileged enough to have Foxtel.

So kudos to the NRL for once. Our sincerest apologies. We’ll try to give you the benefit of the doubt in the future.

That wasn’t all we found of interest in the draw.

Only one 6pm game

We joked the other day that the NRL was doubling-down on ‘six again’ by making the Raiders start the season in the relative dead-zone of Friday night at 6pm. I truly hate this timeslot. On Friday’s it’s hard to get home in time to watch the game, and Sunday’s you can pretty much guarantee a near-empty stadium and a relatively

We thought it was going to be the start of a trend. But this is the only time the Raiders have to play in this time-slot. Compare this to 2019, when four of their first five games, and seven in total, had 6pm kick-offs on Friday or Sunday.

The Raiders are everywhere, man.

Canberra is going to a bunch of non-traditional NRL places. Tamworth (Tigers in round 9), Wagga Wagga (Knights in round 6), Perth (Roosters in round 11) and Gosford (Souths in round 23).

This is awesome for people in regional areas. Personally I’m hoping to get back to Wagga again, if only for the sweet chicken and chips.

As I said last year, this chicken and chips joint has no affiliation or relationship with the Sportress other than I eat all the chicken and chips whenever I’m in Wagga.

Only 1 short turn around

And it’s early (round 3 v Warriors). It’s a particularly gruelling one too, with the Raiders traversing countries and time zones in order to get back to Canberra for Thursday night game against the Dragons. The Raiders had two such turnarounds in 2019, so again, it’s another improvement.

The Raiders have to start fast

They play the Titans, Warriors and Dragons in the first three rounds. Now it’s virtually impossible to predict who’s going to be good from year to year (except the Storm and the Roosters), but it looks like the Green Machine have a good chance to start the season with a few wins.

The crosssport double header

Brumbies and Raiders playing in Auckland on back to back nights! It’s exciting until I think about how it’s probably happened a bunch in Canberra so…I guess it’s a fun trip if you’re into both teams?

An easyish draw?

Speaking of impossible to predict, NRL.com has already done a strength of schedule as the Raiders have the 11th hardest draw in the league. Foxsports rated the Milk’s as the easiest road. But we do get the Roosters and Storm twice each, as well as the Bunnies, Panthers and Manly. So you know, it could be a rotten draw. Only time will tell.


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