Bennett renews calls for NRL conferences

·1-min read

Wayne Bennett has renewed calls for the NRL to introduce a conference system, claiming the game needs to make more of all-Sydney rivalries.

Competition structure became a talking point during last year's shutdown, where the potential of a conference system was discussed to suit the shortened season.

That was eventually abandoned well before the 20-round draw was released, but not before sparking significant debate over its value.

Under such a system, a season could be shortened to 22 rounds with teams playing in their own conference twice and those from the other half once.

One of the main sticking points remains that there are nine teams from Sydney and seven from outside the city, but that issue would be solved if the NRL eventually expanded to 18 teams.

Regardless, Bennett has long been a fan of the idea.

"I think they should play in conferences, I've always argued for conferences," Bennett said.

"I think Sydney do themselves a great disservice by not playing each other on a regular basis home-and-away because that's what the fans want in Sydney."

Bennett's comments came ahead of South Sydney's clash with the Sydney Roosters, which has long been one of the most-watched and attended matches on the calendar.

This year for instance rivals Canterbury and the Roosters only play once, as do Manly and Cronulla among a host of singular Sydney match ups.

"(Sydney fans) embrace the national league but they also embrace the club rivalry and unless you're living in Sydney you don't realise how strong it is," Bennett said.

"It's what people outside of Sydney don't get about Sydney is the genuine rivalry between the clubs here.

"It makes the game, I love it."