Brian McDermott's plan for 60 minute matches comes from his own personal pain

BRIAN McDERMOTT has revealed his plan to cut matches to 60 minutes is born out of his own pain.

Clubs are likely to face playing midweek matches to get the 2020 campaign completed once the Covid-19 shutdown ends.

And Toronto coach McDermott, Super League's most successful ever, feels knocking 20 minutes of each match because of the unique circumstances would help players through the congestion.

Having done a similar thing himself as a player, only with 80 minute games, he knows how much toll a packed schedule can take.

Leeds Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington believes the season could roll into 2021, citing what happened in 1996, when rugby league switched from winter to summer, as an example of the game overcoming obstacles.

Back then, the winter season finished in January and the summer one in March, but McDermott, who played for Bradford then, feels copying that may not be wise.

He added: “I essentially had four weeks off, February, which was meant to let our bodies recover.

“But at the end of that season, I remember my body being absolutely spent.

“The bursas around my joints, which protect them, were all inflamed – everyone’s was and because the groundsmen had not had time, all the pitches were rock hard!”

McDermott's idea has certainly raised eyebrows all over the world.

But he is adamant it is all to protect players and adapt to the current situation.

He added: "It sounds leftfield but this is a unique period and we’ve got to do something unique – 60 minute games is something I’d look at.

“We’re going to have midweek matches and it’s one of the oldest sayings going that it’s not the two Easter games when the effects are felt, it’s the game after.

“That’s with one Easter period. If we’re going to have to do it four or five times then something needs to be looked at as players wouldn’t be able to do it.

“To put it in NFL terms, we’d be pushing players into the red zone and just starting again may put them at risk of injury.

“Whenever I take off our 80 minute players after 60 or 65 minutes because I want them to be fresh, they say they feel great and they train well too.

“They’re often really surprised how not playing for the last 15 minutes has helped them recover. Yes, this is a leftfield suggestion but this is a leftfield situation.”

The City of Toronto authority extended the ban on mass gatherings in the Canadian metropolis until June 30 this week, meaning five Wolfpack games scheduled for Lamport Stadium were off.

However, McDermott feels it may be a case of flipping home and away fixtures or them playing home games away, with the gate money being shared.

And as he is unable to do nothing in terms of game plans while the likes of Sonny Bill Williams are at home, he is using something resembling his time in the Royal Marines.

For he suspects that once playing gets the green light, it will be straight back into matches.

He said: “In the military, Marines were on a notice to move, where units would go into wherever there’s trouble.

“That meant you could have 45 minutes or a couple of hours to pack up and go.

“So I’ve sent a similar sort of thing to our players, effectively putting them on seven days’ notice to move when we’re told we can go again.

“The most important thing in the country is everybody’s health, the second most important is the economy – in rugby league that’s a major dynamic.

“As soon as the advice comes from the Government that we can be in large groups again, we’ll play.

“I can’t imagine a scenario where we’re told we can and the Rugby Football League says, ‘We’re going to have an extra couple of weeks out while everyone goes through a pre-season.’

“All the players have their own programs but some of our overseas boys are used to it as they train on their own until January anyway.

“They have certain targets and they’re hitting them at the moment, even doing extras.

“Rugby league players see a bit of adversity as a challenge.”

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