Leadership, experience key in NRL hub life

·2-min read

Leadership, experience and accountability are poised to become the determining factors in the most unique race for the NRL title.

Almost 500 players and staff descended on Queensland on Wednesday afternoon, after boarding chartered flights out of NSW and the ACT.

Their stay is tentatively booked for a month, but there is every belief it could last the rest of the season.

It makes the NRL the fifth major domestic competition to be played largely out of hubs in the past year, following the AFL, A-League, BBL and WBBL.

In almost all cases the sides with sound leadership on and off the field took out the titles, with most also having a strong younger group free of family stresses.

Likewise, a Melbourne Storm side led by Cameron Smith and Dale Finucane took out last year's NRL crown after four months in a Sunshine Coast hub.

"You need that (leadership), that's an expectation. And you will find that players will step up into the roles," Manly coach Des Hasler said.

"I think it's the experience too. Most squads have a range of experience across their roster and no doubt they will lean on that."

Hasler has Kangaroos captain and players' union general president Daly Cherry-Evans as his senior leader.

Table-toppers Melbourne remain at home during the outbreak, while Penrith lack the experience of any other sides but their close-knit nature after growing up playing together should help.

Among the other genuine contenders, South Sydney have the likes of Damien Cook and Adam Reynolds to lead them while Parramatta will lean on Clint Gutherson and Mitch Moses.

Sydney Roosters have had the experienced leadership of Boyd Cordner, Jake Friend and Brett Morris ripped from them this year, but still have James Tedesco.

The other key ingredient among most hub winners has been previous prolonged success.

Melbourne's title came after their fourth grand final in five years, with Smith and Craig Bellamy arguably the best leaders in the NRL.

Sydney FC had players' union president Alex Wilkinson as captain for their six weeks in the hub, while now managing director of the APL Danny Townsend was CEO.

Richmond had numerous off-field issues during the AFL hub life, but skipper Trent Cotchin is one of the most experienced and best captains in the game.

Likewise, Tigers' CEO Brendon Gale and president Peggy O'Neal were applauded for their handling of the club's bubble issues en route to a third flag in four years.

And in the Big Bash, Sydney Sixers won a second straight title with senior players Moises Henriques and Dan Christian, while Australia's vice-captain Rachael Haynes led the Thunder to the women's title.

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