I don’t mind the odd cleansing ale but it seems that the result of the annual Rugby League Week players poll revealed a culture of binge drinking. And with perfect timing Parra’s Tim Smith is ejected from a hotel after an altercation with cricket star Micheal Clarke and the Dragon’s Shaun Timmins arrested after riding a street sweeper in Brisvegas. League is not the only sport to have problems with alcohol and drugs but for some reason incidents on league (apart from those with white-line fever in rugby) attract all the attention.
The fact the media feels no obligation to hide such stories is a positive sign even if the Daily Terrorgraph as, per usual, goes all tabloid on any such incidents making it hard to discern reality from the hyperbole.
NRL players are public figures and regarded as role models. That is not to say they should live devout, sober lives of chastity but they must be aware that their actions are under scrutiny. An incident that for the average Joe or Joan Blow would be nothing too much is magnified thousand fold. A league club is a brand now and worth money. If players are getting into mischief it lessens the sponsorship power of the brand which in the modern game is not a good thing. They do have a responsibility as a representative of their club.
The equivalent would be for myself to attend a corporate function, get smashed and do something stupid. It would hurt the reputation of any organization I was associated with and be career limiting as well as business limiting. Of course, if I was to do the same thing over the weekend it wouldn’t matter. NRL players do not have that luxury. Then again I am not earning $150-200,000 a year or more playing sport.
The silly season is over! The June 30 anti-tampering deadline (honoured more in breach than in compliance) will be scrapped. Players will be free to negotiate any time during the year with rival clubs. Like many (the only exception I could find was Parra’s CEO Dennis Fitzgerald who seems to trudge the lone path of NRL iconoclast) I regard this is a good move. The anti-tampering regulation was a farce with most already knowing who would sign with who well before June 30.
Some have hinted a draft but I don’t think one is needed. The salary cap is working though it does need some tweaking. Concessions for long serving players and juniors are needed. One of the saddest moments in league is when a long serving player has to leave his club due to salary cap squeeze. I would be heartbroken to see Nathan Hindmarsh near the end of his career be forced from the Eels (as I’d expect a Manly fan to feel the same way about Beaver Menzies or a Knightsian about Joey). The notion of the one-club player is something the NRL should ensure remains part of the game.
A team that is benefiting from the salary cap is South Sydney. The Bunnies have been quite active on the player market already signing Nigel Vagana, David Kidwell and Dean Widders. This is a good move by Souths. They need some good players to build a side around, help bring the juniors through and create a winning culture. Also, if Souths start winning they will be able to keep it going by attracting talent to the club. The Crowe/Holmes a Court partnership will ensure a professionally run club and not the well-meaning but amateur sins of the past. If Souths can get it together off field it will flow onto the field. And if Souths become competitive again what a boon to league it will be.
Finally, a mention of that strange tournament in Germany. Like many I’m go the Socceroos. But I don’t think this well lead to a golden era of soccer in Australia. I do think the round ball and oval ball winter sports all have their niche. But there is a lot of hype and emotion with the Socceroos world cup appearance. After the World Cup they will need to maintain the interest which may be a little more difficult. Malcolm Knox makes a good point in the latest issue of The Monthly. The reason with League and AFL have the following is that they are the premier comps in the world. The A-League isn’t and the Socceroos need to prove themselves consistently at the highest levels.
For the Blues, Kimmorely and Melbourne’s Scott Hill as the new halves combination. And could Canberra get two players in the QLD origin squad? Clinton Schifcofske a bolter for the QLD fullback spot.
Tips for Round 15
Storm to tame the Bulldogs
Sharks over the Knights
Tigers over Panthers in the battle of the big cats
Dragons to rope in the Cowboys
Raiders to vanquish the Roosters
Sea Eagles to get up against the Broncos
The Warriors to send the Bunnies deeper towards the spoon
The Eels to come from behind against the bye.