Dave Craven: Media blackout may help focus players’ minds at Hull KR

Hull KR's Shaun Lunt is tackled by Catalans defence.
Hull KR's Shaun Lunt is tackled by Catalans defence.
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FROM my days at the Telegraph & Argus I remember all too clearly what it was like reporting on Bradford Bulls in the week after a particularly painful defeat.

There were plenty of those. The first game I covered may have been their 2006 World Club Challenge vanquishing of Wests Tigers when colossal prop Stuart Fielden was irresistible.

Indeed, I think he gained my only 10 out of 10 in four years of delivering player ratings.

However, from thereon in, my T&A tenure coincided with the Super League champions’ slide which has, eventually, continued to where they are now – in the Championship.

I bring all this up now not because I long for the chance to rate 34 players individually in The Yorkshire Post – a futile chore – but because I can understand what it must be like on the Hull KR beat this week.

The Rovers board – in their wisdom – have opted to gag their players in the build-up to tomorrow’s game with Castleford.

Their decision is based on the fact that they were embarrassed so badly against part-timers Oldham in a shocking Challenge Cup defeat last Saturday and would rather them now just do their talking on the pitch.

The club has come in for some criticism for this media blackout as, for all the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup draw was made live during BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Thursday, the sport does still generally need all the exposure it can get.

It can ill-afford to do without publicity and, therefore, the argument is Rovers should allow those players to speak.

However, given it is just for one week, I actually think it is the correct way to go.

Harking back to those T&A days, I recollect how, inevitably, you could end up with four or five players during the course of a week saying how they will quickly “right the wrongs” or “get back on the horse” or “produce a performance” to atone for the previous weekend’s failure.

More often than not, it was sincere enough but, for those Bulls fans picking up the paper, it must have been a little monotonous reading such similar comments each night especially when, on some occasions, those players then failed to deliver on those promises.

Therefore, I understand where Rovers are coming from; rather than reading the local paper to see, or listening to Hull’s radio stations to hear, players given the platform to repeat their platitudes, why not silence them and bring the matter to a head?

Admittedly, it makes life a little more difficult for the media over there but I understand some of them agree with Rovers’ stance, too.

Rugby league has always enjoyed open access to players especially compared to football – I remember almost doing cartwheels when once gaining about 80 seconds with Leeds United’s Eirik Bakke all to myself.

Things may have tightened a little in recent seasons and it is to be hoped clubs do not venture towards some of football’s strict and unhelpful policies. Certainly, the advent of social media plus, more worryingly, some standard weekly press conferences even being ‘Periscoped’ live, does make it more difficult to get fresh copy.

Nevertheless, clubs do, in theory, have the power to dictate.

In this instance, it might not necessarily secure Rovers the result they desire but it does allow their players to concentrate on the matter in hand.

Let us not forget that it is their job to win matches, not satisfy media requirements.