Rugby League Immortal Andrew Johns recently spoke on Channel Nine’s show “Freddy and the Eighth” about the current finals structure and how he would prefer to see a top six rather than a top eight.
Many fans have been calling for the finals places to be reduced, as they believe the current system rewards mediocrity, which can be backed up by the fact that for the first time in history two teams with a negative for and against will make the finals this year.
While reducing the number of teams that make the finals would likely lead to closer games between teams who deserve to be there, the fact is that removing teams from the finals and therefore games means that the NRL lose money that they would have made from said games, meaning that from a business standpoint, it would be a poor decision and one that the NRL would likely not make, unless they found a way to still put on the same amount of games as they do with the right team set up; however, that would likely lead to a convoluted and hard to understand finals system.
The introduction of a 17th and likely 18th team would at least mean that half the competition is not making the finals yearly, although the NRL could see this as a money-making opportunity and add finals spots so that they can put on more games.
It is hard to argue though that the standard of the finals has dropped in recent years, with blowout score lines such as Parramatta’s 58-0 destruction of the Broncos in 2019 becoming more prominent, so something must be done.
Reducing the number of teams in the finals is unlikely to ever happen, so another way of fixing this could be a reconfiguration of which teams play each other in the finals and the repercussions for teams following a win or loss.
This would allow the NRL to keep their profitable eight-team finals system, whilst also possibly making the postseason that bit more interesting with fewer dead rubbers, and hopefully a more enthralling product for fans all around.