The next time you look into the mirror, ask yourself what you have in common with these well known NRL players, who have all at one time represented at either state or international level.
There is Josh Reynolds, Tim Lafai, Nathan Peats, Ryan Hall, Sione Mata’utia and Gerard Beale. Or even Bryson Goodwin, Russell Packer, Will Smith or Brodie Croft?
Well, the answer is that just like you and I, these players will all be watching the Round 18 games from the sidelines rather than running out onto the field to do battle. Each of these ten players – along with 54 others – have been named in their club’s 21-man squads for this round, but didn’t make the cut to the final 17.
When you look through these reserves for reserves, there’s a mixture of experienced players including those already mentioned above, and a host of potential future stars, including Matt Burton, Charlie Staines, Braydon Trindall, Poasa Faamausili, Freddy Lussick, and Tui Kamikamica.
The players listed with numbers 18 to 21 on their backs are either on the rise and waiting for an opportunity, returning from injury and trying to force their way back into the squads, or on the downward slide, and possibly looking for new opportunities elsewhere.
And excluding those players currently unavailable with with injury, there’s another 80 or so players who couldn’t even make the 21-man squads for this round.
When you consider that 17 players are selected each week from a 30-man squad, there’s almost as many players sitting it out as pulling their jerseys on. That’s an awful lot of talent just sitting around looking for a game, and without Canterbury Cup this year, they may not get on the playing field anytime soon. It’s also a lot of salary cap being spent for little result.
With the perennially proposed expansion of the NRL, and the usual commentary that there just aren’t enough players of first-grade ability going around, I think you could field a team of ghost-squad players that would be competitive.
Here’s my ghost team.
1. Ben Hampton 2. Charlie Staines 3. Tim Lafai 4. Tautau Moga 5. Ryan Hall 6. Matt Burton 7. Braydon Trindall 8. Max King 9. Jake Granville 10. Poasa Faamausili 11. Tom Eisenhuth 12. Sione Mata’utia 13. Tui Kamikamica 14. Scott Sorenson 15. Russell Packer 16. Dean Britt 17. Brodie Croft
Come to think of it, they’d probably give the ESL a real shake!