The gap between the best and the rest will only become greater after the coronavirus pandemic unless the NRL adopts a 12-team model, Andrew Johns has warned.
The rugby league Immortal said the shutdown may force the NRL to reassess the competition, claiming the “strong will get stronger” if all 16 teams were still standing when it resumed.
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“The worrying thing for me ... is this year I could see a bigger difference between the elite and the poor clubs, the ones that were struggling,” he said on his Nine Network show Freddy and the Eighth.
“When we come back the gap is going to get bigger and bigger between the wealthy, stronger clubs with the best players and the rest.
“It's going to be even more extreme. The strong will get stronger, and the weak will get weaker.”
Departing South Sydney football boss Shane Richardson and Broncos CEO Paul White have this week backed calls for the NRL to “re-set” the collective bargaining agreement after the pandemic to curb spending at clubs.
But Johns believed the NRL should go one step further and cull financially battling clubs to ensure a more competitive competition.
“Only the strong survive,” Johns said.
“Maybe this (shutdown) forces their (NRL's) hand.
“And if you have a look at the juniors there are less kids playing for whatever reason. There's less numbers so I think 12 (clubs) is the best number.
“But how that happens I don't know.”
Fittler calls for Bunker to go
However, his former NSW teammate and current Blues coach Brad Fittler believed there may be other ways to curb spending after the competition's resumption, saying the Bunker should be a major casualty.
“The thing that is going to come out of it is footy clubs will be reduced (financially),” he said.
“There will be less people analysing video, less trainers and less medical staff.
“And I think what you are going to find is the game will change a little bit. I think the Bunker has got to go.
“I think if you take out the Bunker, that's a huge cost which isn't necessary.”