St Helens and Tonga head coach Kristian Woolf believes the sport could have been smarter with its scheduling in a World Cup year.
Players in the Super League competition will have played 27 league games upon the season’s completion – before adding in Challenge Cup fixtures and the play-offs.
If Wigan or Huddersfield were to make the Grand Final – for example – players would have been involved in 33 games – and that’s excluding the eliminations in the play-offs.
Then to ask those star players to represent their countries at this year’s World Cup is a huge ask both mentally and physically.
One man in agreement is Tonga boss Woolf, who says the sport should have limited the amount of games and short turnarounds in a hectic year.
“If we look at this competition [Super League] in particular, I do think we could have been a bit smarter and limited the number of games we play and the number of short turnarounds we have in there as well,” Woolf told Love Rugby League.
“What I think we get wrong here sometimes is we know how many games we have in the season, with the Challenge Cup and internationals as well and rather than a bit of give and take, we just tend to add.
Kristian Woolf: ‘We definitely need to be a lot smarter for the sake of our players’
“What we end up with is players that will go into a World Cup from this competition, some are going to have played 35 or 36 games, then play trial games then go into a World Cup.
“If they play in the World Cup final, it’ll be somewhere in the vicinity of 42 or 43 games. It’s way too many and madness really when you look at it with what we know nowadays about our game.
“I think we could have been smarter but the horse has bolted there. We can’t go back and change that unfortunately.
“It’s not just the volume of games, it’s the Easter weekend and we have another one of them coming up. We have to somehow navigate through that then go into finals and then go into a World Cup.
“We definitely need to be a lot smarter for the sake of our players and for the sake of having our best players playing big games going forward. But they’re all different conversations for a different year now.”