Meninga's hoping revolution could change the game
KANGAROOS coach Mal Meninga has hatched a bold plan to revolutionise international rugby league in what he says could be the game's answer to Twenty20 cricket.
High level talks have already occurred for what Meninga has dubbed "International 40/40." The concept is the brainchild of the Kangaroos coach and would see an Australian side take on two international sides in two 40 minute matches. Australia tested the concept with success when the national side travelled to Fiji for the first time to play Fiji and PNG in one 80 minute match on Saturday.
Meninga is pushing for the concept to become a regular fixture on the rugby league calendar
"It is a genuine concept which we can take around the world and develop the game," Meninga said. "I like to call it a 40/40. It's our version of the Twenty20.
"It allows us to go and play in different countries around the world and encourage two other countries and you're only 40 minutes of rugby league which is fantastic.
"It makes it competitive and it doesn't give us an opportunity to rack up big scores and it keeps both teams in the contest. From a trial and warm up point of view it's ideal. It's a hard contest."
Meninga wants to take matches to PNG, Samoa and the Cook Islands before potentially exploring other international venues.
He has floated the idea of tinkering with the rules and reducing players on the field. A potential World Nines tournament has also been in the pipeline for seasons.
"Maybe we can adjust the rules and use some rules around maybe the 40/40 concept to open up the game a bit more," Meninga said. "Maybe we can go down to 11 men. It's a genuine concept that can help us expand the game and expose the game to other parts around the world.
"We're talking about it. There is a genuine desire to look at it for the future as an expansion tour. I know the players loved it. It's a bit different. It's very exciting for everyone."
The plus side of the concept is that it keeps tier-two nations from being blown away by the Kangaroos. Australia beat PNG 20-4 and Fiji 18-0 in their respective matches. Fiji and PNG also played in Suva.
"It makes it really competitive," Meninga said. "Most teams can hang in there for 40 minutes of footy and they get a lot out of it.
"There were big physical hits and we got to see some good tries as it opened up. It does keep the teams closer together.
"It's not just for us. It's a concept all nations and the international rugby league federation can use to help propagate the game in areas."
A crowd of about 3000 watched the game at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night. Meninga was critical of the cost of admission with the most expensive ticket costing about $75 (Australian).
"The only critical thing I've got about this game is the amount of money it cost to get in to watch it," Meninga said. "It's actually a genuine event that can help rugby league in developing nations. We have to expose it to all fans. We have to make sure it's accessible money wise to make sure people come and watch it."