Pundits? What are they good for?

In his League Express column this week, former player Garry Schofield decided the time was right to criticise current Lance Todd award winner, Marc Sneyd after his performance for Hull FC against Catalan Dragons.

Now, there has been a bit of a backlash against Schooy, not only on social media, but Hull coach Lee Radford has challenged him to pop along to their training ground and put his skills to the test against his half back.

We have a fine history in journalism of using former players as pundits, in almost every sport.

But why?

Former players may well have an insight into the mind of the professional, but given how long some of them have been out of the game, perhaps it’s no surprise that their opinions and views are not in line with the player of today.

There are some very good rugby league pundits, across all areas of the media, but some appear to be trying to be outrageous just for the sake of it.

OK, it might shift a couple of extra copies, or garner an extra hundred views on YouTube, but other than that, they can end up looking like a loud idiot who is out of touch with the sport.

Everyone expected Gary Neville to fall flat on his face when he took the punditry gig at Sky Sports, but he is now one of the best there.

Because he has played the game at the very highest level, in the modern era, he is better placed than some of the longer serving pundits that football has to offer.

I have a mate who wont even watch a match if Niall Quinn is the pundit.

He believes he is more than a little biased in his commentary, something pundits, especially live ones, need to try and avoid.

However, in the written word, its easy to just spout rubbish in the hope of being controversial, what isn’t as easy is putting together a coherent argument for your point of view.

The problem is, no matter what level you played at, you can come across as a neanderthal who hasn’t got a clue about the sport he or she is watching, rather than someone who knows the sport and is able to dissect it for those sitting at home.

I myself much prefer to write a feature piece or an interview than a match report, purely because I feel more at home in telling a story. I do not for one moment consider myself a pundit (My standings in the BetFred tipping league make that much clear) as I didn’t play the game beyond school.

As it is, Marc is a fine player of rugby league, and a decent bloke to boot, having met him at the Lance Todd awards dinner last year.

He’s also just gotten married…

Perhaps he had his mind on other things on Thursday night.


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