Phil Gould has renewed his criticism of what he believes is a “stupid” top-30 rule, amid the NRL’s investigation into Rabbitohs player Trent Peoples debuting in the clash with the Broncos.
Despite a technicality that states a player outside a club’s top 30 isn’t allowed to debut in the NRL until round 11, South Sydney blooded Peoples in last Thursday’s match against Brisbane.
If the Rabbitohs had played by the law book, they would have upgraded Peoples from a train-and-trial contract to a top-30 deal before picking him to debut.
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Gould blasted the rule when Eels youngster Jakob Arthur was forced to be elevated to Parramatta’s top 30 in order to debut in last season’s Magic Round.
The latest top-30 controversy reignited Gould’s tirade on Nine’s 100% Footy.
“It should never be a rule. It should never, ever, ever, ever be a rule to deny any player at any time an opportunity to play in the NRL, whether he’s player 300… who cares if a player outside the top 30 debuts in the NRL?” Gould said.
“Why isn’t that something to celebrate? Why do we stop kids (debuting)?
“And all this rubbish about, ‘you can’t use people outside the top 30 until round 10 or 11’… Why? Why? Why?
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“You’ve got to apply, you’ve got to get exemptions, you’ve got to prove that other people are out and other people have got COVID and other people are going to a funeral or something. They’ve got to have a thousand reasons to rule everyone out to get someone into the squad. Why do we stop kids from having a debut in the NRL?
“And why would the opposition care about having someone outside the top 30 debuting for their club? Why?
“The rule doesn’t mean anything. It’s there for no reason whatsoever. No reason whatsoever. No one put any thought into that whatsoever.”
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The NRL’s investigation has soured what was a special moment in Peoples’ life.
He was presented his Rabbitohs jumper by captain Cameron Murray in the sheds ahead of the Sydney Olympic Park game.
Paul Gallen regularly disagrees with Gould, but on this occasion the former Sharks captain sided with the rugby league guru.
“We’ve got some really stupid rules, but that’s one of the most stupid rules we’ve got,” Gould said.
“And there’s no reason for it. They can’t even justify it. No one can come up with a reason why that rule is in place.”
Brisbane defeated South Sydney 32-12 in one of the biggest upsets of the season yet.
Peoples started on the bench and played 64 minutes, finishing with 11 hit-ups, 110 running metres, a linebreak and 24 tackles.
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