Archive for the ‘NRL’ Category

Darius, we love you; now answer the question!

Take yourself back to 2009. What a year in rugby league that one was.

Queensland won the State of Origin. Hazem El Masri broke Andrew Johns’ long standing point scoring record. Jarryd Hayne had that magical run, bringing Parramatta to the finals, but more importantly stretched journalists to the very end of their powers of rhyme, spawning such notable and long-lasting nicknames like ‘Hayne Drain,’ ‘Hayne Spain’ and ‘Hayne Citizen Kane.’ Melbourne won the premiership, but were exposed as dirty cheats so had it taken away, like candy from a baby.

But there was one thing about that year of football that really wasn’t great. Was it worse than Melbourne cheating the salary cap? Well, if you compiled videos of both incidents and crammed it into 42 seconds, this one would certainly be more painful.

After another shocker of a press conference from Darius Boyd two days ago, I thought I should speak on behalf of people much more qualified than myself about how Darius can improve his relationship with the media.

First of all, let me say to you Darius that more goes unsaid than said in every single article about rugby league. Here’s some of what goes unsaid too often.

“Darius, you’re an excellent football player. You’re better than I’ll ever be. You are at the pointy end of a very high level competition and you’ve worked exceptionally hard to be there. Well done.

Well done, too, on your absurd pace, your calmness under pressure and your ability to make the big plays at the right moment in every single game of every week. We applaud you, and your talent, your team and the rest of the players around you. You’re all great footballers.”

That is never said in a rugby league article. It’s taken for granted that you are an excellent footballer, Darius, and maybe we should tell you more often how good you really are.

So you should know, then, that all criticism directed at you is only directed at you in the context of you being an amazingly talented, hard-working, successful player. The paradigm is so different to, say, fourth grade Saturday afternoon footy, in that you get paid what you do to be in the papers, and play the big games in front of the cameras and score spectacular tries.

Know that we don’t hate you when we criticise. We talk about you in a context that we all dreamed of being inside as kids. But we don’t happen to have a tenth of a sixteenth of your skill, so we write about it instead.

First we admire. Then we evaluate. Then we write, but we only write about the second bit, because if we always wrote about how much we admired, it would be awfully boring to read every day.

Media can be scary. They can write nasty things about you. They have terrifying, limited, ethically bound power. But as Gordon Tallis said on Matty Johns’ show, don’t treat them like the contemptuous, blood-sucking parasite you think they are, treat them like a big megaphone booming out to your legion of fans.

For if it wasn’t for the journalists, your fans wouldn’t get to hear what you have to say on TV or read what you have to say in the paper. They’re your mouthpiece. Sure, the mouthpiece might play Chinese whispers with what you say, but they’re still your link to the fans. If you like your fans, you should at least pretend to not hate journalists during a press conference.

And when you don’t answer questions in a press conference, whether it’s because your nervous, tired, you hate the journalists, or whatever, it doesn’t look good. People don’t see it like you’re making a point.

They just think you’re being a douche.

That’s not to say you are a douche, indeed Gordon Tallis on the very same show said that you weren’t; and who am I to disagree with Gordy having never met you myself?

But it would certainly serve your self interest to just answer the question. Suck up whatever your beef is and do it.

Because we do love you. We just don’t tell you often enough.

Dear Sport, sincerely, confused blogger

Dear Sport,

I’ve been watching, reading, listening to and generally just been around you a lot for the past few weeks, and I think it might be time for a break.

Rest assured, it’s not you. It’s me. Well it is you really, but it’s more the effect that your actions have had on me, and so therefore we can sort of pretend that it’s just me being emotional. Right? If not you can go get stuffed.

But before you go all Kanye West on me, I’m actually going to finish what I have to say. Frankly sport, you’re performances recently have been far from the best video, sorry, performances of all time.

I’m confused, Sport. I’m confused both mentally and sexually.

First you tell me that the Melbourne Demons are copping a half a million dollar fine for tanking, but they actually didn’t tank. They just intended to tank, and tanked in a premeditated way, but on the field they actually didn’t tank. That was confusing and just plain linguistically irresponsible Sport. At the time I didn’t know if I could forgive you, but I have and I’ve since moved on.

Then you tell me that the Sharks are in trouble, Sport. You tell me that they’ve contravened some code that no one really seems to know anything about. What’s more, it seems that the people who are supposed to be protected by said code actually don’t care, and just defer to the guy (or girl) with the syringe in some sort of zealous act of faith in club protocol and spirit.

“These people mean me no harm, they’re just doing their best to make sure I’m more hormone than human.” This attitude confuses me, Sport. Why don’t you tell those who play you they’re doing something wrong? Or at least tell the people who have been doing it to come forward and admit they’ve done something wrong. Or maybe those who administered the drugs? Or maybe those who oversaw the systematic cheating of the drug laws to show an ounce of courage and admit they made a mistake?

No? That’s too much to ask for? Well what about the dudes who’ve been on the case of this four two years? Can’t they just come out and tell us whodunnit? No? Even that’s too much to ask for. Well gee, Sport, I thought we were closer than that. I just… don’t really know what to say.

And that wasn’t even the end of it, Sport. Last of all you tell me that cricketers have homework? They actually have to write things down? I don’t know where you come from, Sport, but when I want to get better at something I don’t just sit down and write about it (except for writing, ironically). Surely making them jump through some flaming hoops or running on the heads of man-eating crocodiles would be far more effective for physical specimens like Shane Watson than writing ways that the Aussies can improve in India.

In fact, I actually did Shane Watson’s homework. And James Pattinson’s. I didn’t do Khawaja and Johnson’s homework, I don’t really care for them too much… But here it is! Sorry it’s late:

Score more runs.
Take more wickets.
Field better.

See? All done? Amazing right? Who knew, it just got lost somewhere in the WordPress ether. Can they play in the third Test now, Sport? Pretty please?

Well, if that’s really the attitude you’re going to take, Sport, I don’t really know where this can go.

I just… I just…

Sharks being circled? What’s next, Bulldogs’ heels being nipped?

In what is an irony spotter’s dream, everyone in the rugby league community is now circling the Sharks.

While it was previously the domain of the finned, cartilege-laden predator to swarm around its prey, circling them with demonic intent before rudely removing a digit or limb from their chosen victim, nature has found a way to turn it around on them this time. That’s right, finally the shark has become the hunted.

In a further sprinkling of irony, all this turning around of nature has been achieved through the most unnatural of means: using drugs to improve on nature. Confusing, isn’t it?

Shark victims and prospective shark victims aside, not many can be all too pleased by this news of Sharks being hunted, as it confirms the presence and widespread use of illegal drugs in the NRL. Not only have fourteen players been implicated, but it came to light on Fox Sports today that they’ve even been offered a year extra on their contract plus full pay so they don’t sue the club.

What does that tell us? Are the club trying to pay off players for something that was ostensibly the club’s fault? Did the Sharkies, knowingly and willingly, flaunt the drug code to gain an unfair advantage? I’m sure there are a number of reasons why you would offer your players those sort of incentives not to sue you. But you know what, for all those reasons I suppose that there are, I can’t think of any other myself. Maybe you can give me another explanation? Try the comments section below if you have any bright ideas.

All I know is that it’s a really bad look. It really looks like the club has given their players this stuff willingly. Two, three, four players may have just been a coincidence. But 14? 14 players is a whole starting team. And at one club. The chances of this being a coincidence are dropping by the minute.

A blurred photo... Looks suspicious, doesn't it? Is it a dirty, roided up footballer taking drugs? Or is it a man walking in a train station? You decide

A blurred photo… Looks suspicious, doesn’t it? Is it a dirty, roided up footballer taking drugs? Or is it a man walking in a train station? You decide


But let’s not pretend it’s just the club at fault here. A professional athlete has a responsibility for what he puts in his body. It’s his livelihood, and he can’t blindly subject himself to professional advice like cyclists apparently did all through the nineties and naughties. Tyler Hamilton was just as doped as Lance Armstrong. They both cheated; they both knew it was wrong. Whether Lance tried to force Tyler into it or not, Tyler still shouldn’t have doped. Same goes with the Sharkies. If something looks like dead rat, smells like dead rat, then it’s probably a dead rat. Any my dad always told me not to eat dead rat because it ain’t no crème brûlée.

I’m sure more than a few of you have received a text message or two from you mates with some rumours that are swirling around the other clubs as well. The rumours go that the Sharkies are merely the first to fall, and that major clubs are going to fall in the coming months, and with serious penalties and consequences. But these are just rumours, and they’re bound to proliferate in times like this. You can’t help but feel though that even when this Sharks matter is cleared up, there’s still a long way to go for ASADA. They’re not done yet.

Another interesting questions revolves around what the banned players are going to do while they’re cooling their heels on the sideline. What’s their media performance going to be like? Are we going to be told the hows, whys, wheres and whats, just like we were with Lance? I’m not going to be so bold to say that the public deserve to know, but realistically the public probably deserve to know. If one of Cronulla’s biggest players, the hero of kids who support the team, happened to take drugs, I don’t think putting a gag on him would be the right thing to do.

The players who took drugs have to be part of the solution.

All this is of course hypothetical, but it looks like it’s very much becoming a reality, and fast.

It’s also not a great look for all those folks who attempted to bluff ASADA into not investigating by thinking they’d called their bluff. Remember, an absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence. There’s substance behind this investigation. Get used to it.

And if you’re a drug cheat, you might want to get used to being on the bench, because you’ll most likely have at least six months to practice it.

I found this funny guy on the web, so I spoke to him

I was trawling around WordPress the other day and happened to stumble upon an extremely hilarious blog. It’s called Stand, Spray and Deliver, and basically is what it says: people showering you with sport, spittle and opinion, and not necessarily in that order.

To that end, I thought I’d contact the bloke who runs that shoddy show.

It’s not often that people as arrogant as myself come across someone they must simply admit is better than them. Of course, this hasn’t happened to me yet, but I did feel that this bloke was on a similar crash course with defamation and infamy, so I decided to get to know its author.

You must understand that I jest, and that this author, whose name just happens to be Dane (a coincidence with precisely nothing), is in fact much more descriptively talented, wordily gifted and analogically crafty than myself.

Whether he be ranting about rugby league’s latte-sippers, or those wretched rugby proles, being cantankerous about cricket or even courageously calling the curling, Dane’s blogs always yield a pant-moisteningly hilarious read.

I went ahead and contacted the chap with his thoughts on the upcoming Test in India, as well as a few sundry issues that I thought he could lend a thought or two on.

Pine Warming Paddy: Dane, it’s lovely to have you with us. What was not so lovely was the shellacking delivered to us by the Indian tweakers and willow-wielders. Do you think that we should blame our toothless Lyon or foolhardy selectors for not capitalising on a reasonable first innings total?

Dane: Being a long-term fan of Australian cricket, I reserve the right to complain about anything to do with the team at any time. In this instance, all parties are in the gun.

Firstly, when I discovered at the toss that the team would be top-heavy with pace, I wanted the selectors spuds on a platter for forgetting about the importance of a pitch inspection prior to play. Seriously, with this kind of ‘intel’, these blokes are becoming as irrelevant as MySpace.

However, my scattergun blowtorch then turned upon the unfortunate Lyon for not being able to plug the nasty flow of MS Dhoni on a spinner’s nirvana. I understand that when the Indian skipper decided to go bonkers that the battle had parallels to the little monkey man fighting on all-fours against the Japanese bear-hugger in Bloodsport. It was a deadset mismatch with only one ribcage that would end up crushed against a flabby torso. But come on Nath, this is the prime reason you are in the team! To take wickets on sand. And you failed.

So in summary. Stuff ’em all for wrecking my weekend.

P: What do you think about the prospect of a return for the prodigal son ‘Big’ Mitch Johnson? Would we profit from picking a left-arm slinger, or would we be better served putting his Test career to bed, for good?

D: I know I risk wearing a jacket of rotten produce from the haters by saying this, but frankly I’m too honest for my own good, plus I would love some tomato for my toast right now.

Mitch Johnson- maligned, despised, mollycoddled and dermatologically defaced- is the kind of volatile force the attack needs to put some mud in the strides of the Indian bats, so I reckon it’s time to deploy the bastard. Sure, we may lose on a record haul of sundries, or his mother may again surface, but what do we have to lose?

Give Mitchell Starc a rest. He dished up first-class waste in the first Test, so replacing him with Johnson is a perfect like-for-like swap.

P: David Warner’s a guy who divides opinion. Some say he’s an eastern suburbs nancy-boy who can only go the tonk, while others put him up there among the best prospects we’ve seen in years. What do you think of old ‘one thumb’ Warner? Two thumbs up, or one horrifically mutilated thumb down?

D: Firstly, I have been made aware this morning that Warner is suffering from food poisoning thanks to Peter Siddle’s vegetable stir-fry. Let this be a lesson to any cerebrally challenged plodder out there who is considering vegetarianism that this is a dangerously evil ideology that should be avoided at all costs if you enjoy such luxuries as prolonged health. Stumps on that rant.

As for Thumbellina’s cricketing abilities, he again is one of the small windows of advantage the team holds, so I believe he needs to be perservered with. We need quick runs when they’re on offer as 90% of the rest of the batting order have shown minimal impetus so far, so if Dave can clock a quick 50 then I consider this far better than a watchful and snoozy 15 from 1000 that any replacement would produce.

Plus he’s a Roosters man. Case closed.

P: All the talk recently is about where people should bat, as if we already know who should be in the team. What stock do you place in batting positions? Should we move captain Clarke and Watto up, and drop others down? Or does it not matter a rotten quince?

D: Maths is not my strong point, and in my youth my abacus and calculator were most often used in building transmitters to communicate with extra-terrestrial life forms and not for crunching data. Hence my lack of decayed quinces given at this point in time with the manouevering of numbers in the batting pecking order. Sure, Clarke would probably be better served saving our arses earlier in the piece, but he says he likes spot five, so who am I to suggest the bottle should be taken from the baby?

If I had my way, he would be at four, Watson would open and Georgie Gardiner would be on the telly a lot more often.

A LOT more.

P: Moving away from cricket briefly, and I’d like to ask about the Sydney Roosters who I hear are a bit of a favourite of yours. Is the recruitment of OMG, I mean Money Bill, I mean $onny, I mean Sonny William Williams, the change the club needed to nab another premiership?

D: I don’t know if its trophy time, but I will say this. If any fisticuffs break out, the feather shall rule with an iron fist. Of feathers.

With Bill leading from the front and Luke ‘Cranky Pops’ O’Donnell firmly in toe, there could be a side order of knuckle sandwiches to be served with fine eastern suburbs coffee in 2013.

Of course, those sandwiches would be made with organic dutch ciabatta bread, none of this bogan Buttercup white shit.

P: Finally, new NRL CEO Dave Smith doesn’t know his Ben’s from his Benji’s. Should he be bent over and told where to go? Or should we persevere with the money man from Wales?

D: Thanks CEO Darren, with that blunder, you’ve proven that Australian Rugby league administration is still shining brightly! You’re fitting in nicely already.

Unfortunately, rugby league is still a game with blue collar roots that is trying its hardest to cross into the universe of being a glitzy marquee football competition. The top brass lurches from one cock-up to the next, while the game still maintains soaring levels of popularity. Personally, I couldn’t give another quince about the CEO’s background as long as he knows the basics, steers clear of John Ibrahim and gets the game financially secure. So Darren, if your Welsh accent is adept at offloading shitloads of raffle tickets, then you have my blessing old son.

Otherwise, piss off to the A-League.

If you want to follow Dane’s gear, I reckon go to his website by clicking this funny coloured text, and press the follow button in the top right corner (feel free to click my follow button too).

Or you can follow him on Twitter @PlayUp_Roosters. I’m @WarmingthePine if you didn’t know already.

What Australian dopers should learn from Lance Armstrong

I noticed in Peter FitzSimons’ column in the Sydney Morning Herald today he refers to Lance Armstrong as “the most infamous drug cheat in international sporting history.”

Now we all know Peter has never really gone soft on Lance, but his unrestrained appraisals of the former cycling champ have most definitely been ratified by the evidence. FitzSimons jocular surprise of the comparison of Lance’s systematic approach to doping his entire US Postal (among others) cycling team to the bombshell that was dropped yesterday about systematic doping, corruption and the potential for match-fixing in Australian sport is also worthy of note, insinuating he suspected a seedy underbelly to the glitz, glamour and nasal accents of Australian sport too.

Whatever we make of his timing and judgement is irrelevant. What is worthy of note is that he picked up on the Justice minister Jason Clare’s comparison to Lance’s doping efforts. The most interesting question that this raises in my eyes, however, is simply “how low does it go?” but rather one of “what can athletes learn from the bad man Lance?”

Appropriate to his crime, Lance is a fallen angel, a veritable Azmodeus in today’s sporting landscape; an example not to follow. But also, in my view, an example to be learned from. For every drug cheat that is caught and sanctioned, lessons must be learned and action must be taken. This applies not only to the people investigating and testing for the crimes (used in a loose sense), but also those loading up their veins, and stomachs, and whatever else, with the gear.

Lance Armstrong could and would have saved himself months of ignominy had he only fronted up, fessed up, told the truth and got that monkey, that cost him so much of his life and so much of what he could have had, off his back. Imagine the weight that would have been lifted off his shoulders when he uttered those words to Oprah. All the years of bickering, fighting, lawsuits and lying to yourself and everyone else, gone. Of course in Lance’s case it was replaced by yet more bickering and yet more lawsuits, but that was for one reason and one reason only:

He didn’t tell us the truth in the first place!

Had he done that, we wouldn’t have had to watch Oprah at all, and we all would have known years ago that Lance was as drugged and dirty as a pillhead sleeping in a Kings Cross dumpster. At least the pillhead, acknowledging he went too far, can go home and have a shower. But when you sleep in a dumpster for too long, the smell doesn’t come off so quickly. You could say the monkey on Lance’s back quickly grew into an Orang-utan, and was the size of a Silverback Gorilla by the time he actually told Oprah what he really did to be the best.

"If you did cheat, the silverback Gorilla will find you. He will hunt you down and kill you," said Sports minister Kate Lundy yesterday. Or something like that

“If you did cheat, the silverback Gorilla will find you. He will hunt you down and kill you,” said Sports minister Kate Lundy yesterday. Or something like that

So what are you getting at, Patrick? What’s with all this bullshit about people taking ecstasy and EPO and performance enhancing drugs (PEDs?) and PIEDS and whatever other acronyms we can think of?

Well, I humbly submit to those who have knowingly, unknowingly, or partially knowingly participated in this nastiness come forward and save yourself the persecution; because the lesson to learn from the biggest story ever about drugs in sport is that the longer you wait, the worse it gets.

You can hold on and not get caught, but look at what happened to those who do come forward.

Tyler Hamilton, who in his peak had more growth hormone pumping around him than a 15 year-old boy sired by Luke Longley and Lauren Jackson, now champions the cause for a cleaner sport of cycling and was a key witness in exposing Armstrong’s cheating. You might even say he was a fallen angel who finally returned back to the right side. People seem to like Tyler, respect his courage and place less weight on his cheating as a result of his confession.

Now whether we should judge Tyler less harshly because he came forward is another thing altogether, but so far that seems to be the trend. The Sports Minister, Kate Lundy, said it yesterday:

“I say to those athletes – ‘Come forward… come clean and be part of the solution, not part of an ongoing problem.’ I would think they should do it as soon as possible… investigations are already under way, so it is possible for people to come forward now.”

Sound advice, I would think.

The minister also mentioned the possibility of reduced sanctions and the potential for leniency for confessors. It’s more than they deserve, but it may prompt people into considering it.

So come forth, those who sought to gain advantage by illicit means. For the good of Australian sport, come forth, and unsully those veins. The law will welcome you with open arms and (possibly) reduce your sentence.

You mightn’t deserve it, but if you do manage to grow some balls back (it might take some time) it’ll save you a whole lot of pain.

I hereby retire from reading the ramblings of idiots

I am officially retired from reading comments on sports websites. Unless you wish to become objectively stupider, or wish to have a brain aneurysm, I suggest you do the same.

Having been an avid reader (if this torture could ever be described as reading, or if those who do it to themselves could ever be avid) of the comments on the bottom of stories about sport in Australia I have at times found myself contemplating the kind of people there are in this world. What do they do, aside from blaming officials for everything that’s wrong with their sport and their lives? Is there more to life? Have they ever heard of happiness? The kind of existential questions clearly never considered by those who serially post (note how close that is to serial pest) on websites.

Life and sport governance is simple, they say, as are the rules. Why can’t we just go back to the good old days of having everything black and white? All this dastardly newfanglery has made my head ache and my balls itchy. Oh yeah, that’s the spot.

By the way, I know this might seem to tie in with the whole cyber bullying thing doing the rounds in the media at the moment, but it really wasn’t inspired by this. It’s quite coincidental, and was brought on by my hatred of stupid people.

The worst part about it all is that I feel like journalists cater to their throngs of commenting supporters who make them feel like they’re influencing the structures of governance with their ill-informed gripes about things that confuse and therefore anger them. They bash out the same old stuff each and every week, their keyboards groaning as they copy paste last week’s piece into a new document as a template.

Perhaps this lady has a clever web pseudonym and posts on Australian sports stories?

My formula for a rugby league story: Ref makes mistake. Ref therefore worst person in the history of the world. Get quotations from coach about how referees deserve a noose. Pander shamelessly to your idiot fans. Profit.

If “ref” doesn’t suit on one particular weekend, then substitute for David Gallop. Even better, write an open letter to David Gallop.

The Australian sports media has convinced me that open letters are the preferred medium of morons.

It does no one any favours, particularly intellectually. In fact, reading some publications’ coverage of rugby league would achieve similar levels of intellectual augmentation as running headfirst at a brick wall with a only saucepan to cushion the blow.

What really irks me is that people actually believe what they are reading.

As such, I’ve compiled a list of suggestions that have been bandied about by commenters in an attempt to prove that a) they are devoid of firing synapses in their cerebrum, and b) their suggestions are largely contradictory and/or meaningless. I shall not attempt to point out the folly or contradiction, as I trust readers of this to be able to do that themselves. A is for apple.

1. Fix the rulebook! All this screwing with the rules has created all these grey areas that no one, even the refs, understand anymore.

2. Blow more penalties! If someone is 1cm offside, there is no calling them out of the play. None of this “managing the game” bollocks, just blow the whistle.

3. Refs are ruining the game with their damn whistles! If they didn’t blow so many penalties, my lonely Friday nights spent with my two best mates, pizza and Tooheys, would be much more enjoyable. Plus, the less penalties they blow the more I can stand up and scream “Are you blind ref!?!?,” although I have been getting more noise complaints than usual recently… And yes, my two best mates are pizza and Tooheys, you read it right.

4. David Gallop is terrible, and don’t tell me otherwise! I don’t know the guy, I’ve never watched one of his press conferences, I never saw how he handled himself and the terrible positions he was put in by morons, but I have it on good information from my friend of a friend’s dog’s brother’s canary’s master’s owner’s sister-in-law that David Gallop is just awful at his job and should be blamed for every one of rugby league’s and my own problems. And even though he is no longer employed by the NRL or the independent whatsit, he’s still to blame for the fact my Weet-bix are soggy.

5. Replace all the refs, coaches, players, fans, administrators and toilet cleaners! Everyone needs to pack their bags.

6. As soon as we get sick of blaming Gallop, we can start to blame John Grant up in his ivory tower! Look at him, all the way up there. How the hell did he afford all that ivory?

7. AFL is better than our sport, so we should start to copy them! Short shorts, singlets, cappucinos, four goalposts. By gee, the grass looks a lot greener over there. Oh, that’s right, it’s really cold in Melbourne.

8. Players don’t make mistakes, people make mistakes! Players are heroes, not people. Coaches are often former players. Learn some respect, you stupid blogger!

9. Bill Harrigan! Rabble rabble rabble.

10. Everything keeps getting worse! Apparently this game is supposed to be professional, but I see no evidence of professionalism. Professional players? Professional players don’t get paid to shit in hallways. Referees now being professional? I spit on referees. Full time referee coaches? Not worth my time. Independent commission? I see no accountability. In fact, now that I mention accountability, no one is accountable for anything anymore. Except me behind my internet handle.

Anyway, I’m over it. I’m done with reading comments on sports stories unless they are hilarious and are about Scott Minto. There is a guy on Foxsports who does some rippers.

Finally, the commenter name of the week goes to: D Messenger of Referees are not real people! Well done, your stupidity is now enshrined in these hallowed chronicles.

Rugby League “too subjective” for those that play

“It’s just so subjective. I don’t know how they came up with the grading. Just how things are graded…it’s so subjective, and to have that subjectivity in myopinion altered from case to case is very disparaging for the players.”

These are words from the mouth of a real, existing and currently functioning NRL coach. ‘The game I coach is too subjective,’ he says. ‘The rules are up for interpretation. Not everything is black and white.’ Perspective and subjectivity Geoff. Google it. Then google objectivity, and see for yourself whether any referee or judiciary rulings will ever be objective.

Geoff thinks Steve Matai and his banned of brothers (get it?) need to have a place in the NRL judiciary system.

It’s when you see quotations like this that you bemoan the time that you do spend sitting on the couch watching the telly as those big boys run at each other, belting each other quite spectacularly, scoring some miraculous tried and yelling at the referees like confused apes. Those nasty men in pink and the ones who review the tape, meanwhile, sit and plot to undermine everything done by the players and coaches.

I don’t think, unlike my mate Geoff, that coaches and players should have a place in the judiciary system. Everyone knows that players and coaches will try to cheat to gain advantage. If they get away with it, they call it good tactics. When they don’t, they cry like three year olds who don’t get ice cream and TV for dinner. The disingenuous behaviour that flaunts the spirit of fair competition between teams happens because players and coaches are biased, and want to win. The laws that have been implemented in Rugby League, including two referees, video refs, and judiciaries have been put there to combat illegal tactics dreamed up by Toovey and his predecessors.

So who really has the more ‘objective’ view of the game, its spirit and its laws?

Wrestling? Invented by players and coaches to undermine the other team’s progress, and many consider it to be against the spirit of the game. Play acting, telling the ref you scored when you didn’t, taking a dive; all these are inventions of players and tactics of coaches to gain unfair advantage over the opposition. These are against both the laws and the spirit of the laws.

Players are told to intentionally belt a player over the head so they won’t come back because of a concussion that may affect them for the rest of their lives. It’s against the law, yeah, but they do it anyway. This wasn’t invented by the NRL judiciary or the referees, and its their job to say ‘hang on a minute, that seems a little off to me. Let’s ban the player who did it.’ We don’t need players hanging around saying that it was a good hit, and that maybe it was a little high, so we’ll give him a warning. Some players and coaches don’t listen to warnings.

So when Geoff Toovey asks for players to have a say in the judiciary system that judges them and their actions, I say no. What will players and coaches who have shown themselves to be self interested and self serving coaches desire in a judiciary system? Probably a system that allows them to spend as little time off the field for the maximum amount of illegal damage inflicted on an opponent. Probably a system that doesn’t punish Steve Matai for being placed on report every second week for a swinging arm to the head.

I’ll probably stick with the neutral-ish arbiters currently tasked with handing out suitable punishments to players and coaches who misbehave. However subjective Toovey finds their rulings to be, I think it would be vastly preferable to the punishments (that will also inevitably be subjective) handed down by players to their colleagues.

And now to Toovey, and why he and his fellows clearly don’t get the nature of officiating and probably never will.

The structured world is still an uncertain place. Laws are put in place to indicate which behaviour is acceptable and which is not. For example, the offside rule is in place to ensure defenders don’t have an unfair advantage by being in the face of the ball carrier before he can take a step. Simple? Very.

What is not simple is the  decision to rule on an offside infringement. The referee can only have one perspective. He must make a call within the space of a couple of seconds. For this to happen he must make a decision of his own as to whether a player infringed, and by how much. The actions of the players, illegal or not, are contingent and very, very situational. No two situations are exactly alike, and the fact that the referee can only ever have one perspective, his own (even with the help of cameras and linesmen who also only have one perspective) makes it so that he will not make the inch perfect decision every time.

This makes his ruling, by definition, subjective. He cannot rule as an omiscient observer. It is beyond the limits of human capability. Just  as Andrew Johns and Darren Lockyer sometimes made the wrong decision and had their pass go to the wrong player or to ground, referees sometimes do not view the world as the Lord (or Dean Ritchie or Paul Kent) does.

So please Geoff, when you say something is subjective have a look at Wikipedia first. What you said in that interview was subjective. The laws themselves are up for interpretation, so embrace the uncertainty and stop taking it out on the referees, the linesmen, your dead dog, the judiciary and the fans when you lose.

Cement.

Raiders name seventeen captains, ARL Commission praises “innovation”

Following in the footsteps of Port Adelaide coach Matthew Primus, the Canberra Raiders have named seventeen captains for this week’s fixture against the Dragons.

Hoping to further press the Green Machine’s advantage over the Dragons, a team they have defeated in twelve of the last thirteen meetings, coach David Furner said that having seventeen captains would ensure there was stronger leadership across the paddock.

“I think in the past we have been guilty of not having enough leaders in the team. By bestowing the captaincy upon all seventeen, I think that really gives us the best opportunity to showcase our captaincy skills as a unit, and as we all know, too many cooks spoil the broth,” Furner said.

Dragons captain Ben Hornby, visibly scared after hearing the news, said: “If the Raiders think they can intimidate us by selecting their entire team as captain then they are absolutely right.

“Since hearing the news the boys have prepared terribly, and are regretting our choice to play professional football at this point.

“I am curious to see how the toss will work though.”

Furner failed to answer questions about how seventeen men can feasibly toss a coin, which has only fuelled speculation from the game’s top thinkers. So far, the pundits have suggested a ‘best of seventeen’ coin toss, in which every Raiders captain tosses one coin for Ben Hornby to call. It’s sort of like two up, but not really.

In what was a rather confusing press conference, Furner also related his controversial yet canny decision back to the ubiquitous and largely imaginative fight against the marauding hosts of AFL folk from south of the Murray.

“I really feel that this is an area that the AFL has been making significant gains on us for a long time, and just like in Western Sydney, I think it’s time we took the fight to them.”

The coaching masterstroke has been praised universally by AFL coaches and players alike. Trailblazing Port Adelaide coach Matthew ‘Optimus’ Primus admitted that he didn’t know it was possible to pick more than seven captains.

When asked about Furner’s decision, Primus said: “I’m aware that our footy club has long been a leader in this field, and we have been proud of the role our footy club played in that.

“But honestly, I think what Don Fervid has done at the Raiders other-type-of-footy club is revolutionary.

“Sometimes you just have to sit back and realise that sometimes people at other footy clubs  just have better ideas than you, and the only person we can really thank for these ideas is baby Jesus.”

NSW Origin coach Ricky Stuart has reportedly considered following in Furner’s footsteps, conceding that “not having enough captains” has been the largest and possibly the only factor in NSW’s failure to win anything in any form of sport, ever.

When quizzed on whether he would name injured backrower Glenn Stewart as an ‘eighteenth captain’ were he not to take the field on Wednesday, namesake Ricky replied: “Look, captaincy of injured squads is something we’ve been experimenting with. At this stage maintaining that level of leadership off the field while the rest of the squad is actually playing Origin Football seems crucial to our success.”

In other relatively related news, NSW have named Jamie Buhrer, Trent Merrin and Jamie Soward as captains of dumped players from the last few series, and the Maroons have named Chris Sandow, Ashley Graham, Scott Bolton and Sam Kasiano as captains of those who haven’t played Origin Football yet, but may do so in the future.

It’s all in the attitude

It’s lucky that the NRL isn’t subjected to the same scrutiny as the parliament, because last Thursday’s episode dedicated to the Women in League round would have been shown to have as thin a guise as Beau Ryan’s Tommy Raudonikis. In fact, Beau Ryan’s Tommy only contributed to the disastrous five minutes that could have cost someone their job.

It is not all bad that the slip ups largely escaped censure, because for the most part it was a nice and fitting celebration for the women involved in Rugby League. Overall, one got the impression that the hosts, the writers, the anchors and the crowd were genuinely celebrating what they told us they were celebrating. I will give them credit and say that it really looked like they were trying to celebrate women’s role within the game.

May I say too that Leila McKinnon made a really good guest host and a nice change of pace for a show that can be often be a buffoonery overload. It is wonderful to see someone who really did her research and showed a better understanding of some aspects of the game than the other hosts have in the twenty years the show has been running. Statistics on the footy show that don’t come out of  David Middleton’s mouth? Who’d have thought?

Unfortunately, I couldn’t help but notice the quizzical look on Leila’s face (I’m going out on a limb and say that Leila looks and sounds to me like a good journalist, a well informed person and someone who will not tolerate casual sexism) when Fatty said that “unfortunately” Germaine Greer is still alive. For all her bad stigma in Rugby League circles for whatever reasons,  I doubt that Fatty fully understands Germaine’s contribution to society. And for the eternal deity’s sake, Fatty, can you save the jokes about Germaine for episodes that aren’t ENTIRELY AND EXCLUSIVELY DEDICATED TO WOMEN IN THE GAME OF FOOTBALL? I REALISE IT’S MOSTLY DUDES WHO PLAY, BUT WE’RE TRYING TO SHOOT AN EPISODE THAT CELEBRATES THE ROLE OF PEOPLE WITHOUT A PENIS THIS WEEK. IT WOULD HELP IF YOU DIDN’T MAKE JOKES CASUALLY RIDICULING WOMEN THIS WEEK, AND PROBABLY FOR THE NEXT TWO WEEKS JUST TO BE SAFE.

Thankfully, Beau Ryan as Tommy Raudonikus saved the situation, humourously remarking that Fatty’s job is “Gooooooooooonnnnne.” It could well have been had there been a political correctness brigade watching the show.

Unfortunately for Beau, he too made a couple of sexist gaffs. Firstly, addressing Leila as “Love,” even as Tommy Raudonikis, ain’t on. Secondly, using the word “women” in a derogatory sense, ie. “The Queensland team is full of women,” is not ideal in an episode about how great women are for Rugby League. By this stage the producer would have had no teeth, fingernails or hair.

I suppose Beau could have meant that women are in fact superior to men, and that Queensland’s team has been full of women for the last six years, thus their dominance. But this was patently not what Beau meant, and it was, in fact, meant as an insult.

While none of these things are not super sexist, and didn’t prompt a media shitstorm or a Mel Gibson revenge movie, I do question the value of these Women in League rounds if the attitude of men within the game is still that backward.

Only this year two players were banned, but not for life, for assaulting their girlfriends. The league celebrates Greg Bird despite his past indiscretions against women. I know they don’t speak for the game, but even Fatty saying it was unfortunate Germaine hadn’t carked it or Beau saying the Queensland team are women shows that the attitude of the game hasn’t progressed as far as the Women in League celebrations would have us think.

But allow me to be positive. They really really tried. They tried to celebrate the women’s role in the game that has a 41% female fanbase, but a little more research and a shift in attitude would make this seem a lot more genuine.

And some basic briefing from someone with a bit of sense might have helped. Tip for the hosts: Don’t associate things female with things necessarily bad or weak. Don’t call females “Love” and “Toots.” And don’t pay out Germaine Greer. Especially on the only week of the year you dedicate the show to women.

You got away with it this time Footy Show, but it’s really time to put your money where your mouth is with this whole Women in League thing.

Vested interests XIII

Are you a staunch Tigers man? Or perhaps you like the Panthers? Or the Doggies? Whatever the case, the fans have been voicing their vested interests over the past couple of weeks about who should be in the New South Wales Origin team. Many of the suggestions have been as laughable as combining chocolate with chilli.

Here, I intend to name a XIII of players who should not play for NSW, possibly ever, but have been touted as possibilities by guys who love their club a little too much.

Note: I’m not saying any of the below players are bad, but origin? I think not.

Fullback – Tim Moltzen

After his performance against the Broncos a few weeks back I was surprised he was even in the running to be on the Wests Tigers contracted players list. I was even more surprised when a Tigers fan threw his name in the ring to be NSW fullback in a forum situation. Maybe if NSW wanted a fullback who didn’t take ownership of high balls and relished in making basic errors, Moltzen would be your guy.

Winger the first – Andrew Everingham

You’d have to be more than a passionate Bunny supporter to put this guy in sky blue; you’d have to have Russell Crowe tattoos, Holmes-a-Court shaped shlong piercings and an addiction of some sort (I don’t discriminate). His name may sound like ET’s, but he ain’t ET. One does not simply play origin in one’s first year of NRL. Sam Thaiday might not be Sauron, but don’t think he would miss Everingham the first time he took it up. He has an eye for puny wingers who don’t know what time it is.

It’s origin football, people!

Winger the second – Andrew Ettinghausen

Apparently this guy, as publicity for his new show coming out, has come out of origin retirement. He’d probably still do better than Everingham, even at 108 years old. Experience counts for a lot, ladies tell me.

Also, he’s played origin football before, and knows what origin football is about. He and Gus Gould could fucking tell you about it too.

Centre – Ben Pomeroy

A specialist line-breaker and bike-pant-wearer at the Sharks, what harm could possibly come in exposing old lopey-Pomeroy to the origin arena? The only harm I could think of is that he will be hopelessly caught out in defense, time and time again. He will resemble less a turnstile and more an empty space as the Queensland centre rolls past him on his way to he and his winger scoring three tries each; the winger scoring three only because Hodges was feeling generous and a little embarrassed for Pomeroy, so he tried unsuccessfully to shift some of the blame onto his winger. But we all know the winger wasn’t to blame.

Another Centre – Beau Scott

I love his attitude in defense! He is tough as they come and the first guy I would have next to me in the trenches were I ever engaged in war. Unfortunately there are no trenches on a football field, and centres are supposed to be able to attack. The fact that he runs as if he were on a treadmill makes me want NSW to pick him, just so I can laugh while Inglis orders a coffee, waits for it, eats a piece of banana bread, has a cigar, then decides to tackle Beau just as he reaches the gain line.

Also, he probably wouldn’t get on well with Tim Moltzen, being a staunch Dragons man. Cough.

Five Eighth – Jarry Mullen

As I recall, Jarry didn’t do too well on his origin debut. Despite everyone from Newcastle saying he was a better, drug free version of Andrew Johns, he didn’t play that way. What we unveiled was a drug free version of Andrew Johns who played nothing like Andrew Johns and had an allergy to the number 7 shirt. The fact that he has youth on his side doesn’t help either, with no one under thirty likely to get a run while Ricky Stuart attempts to build an arthritic spine for the future.

Note # Jarry spelled Jarry on purpose. Jarry’s a big fan of this blog. #

Halfback – Sam Williams

I saw a comment on Fox Sports that said the decision to pick Sam Williams was “easy.” I agree. He wasn’t even playing the starting XIII for the Raiders while McCrone and Campese were there. He didn’t get picked for City Country, but McCrone did. He has played about two games for the Raiders so far this year, and is only in his second year of NRL, and has not really done that much of note when he has played. Easy to pick though.

Props – Nothin’ but respect

Not being a fat man myself, I have a lot of respect for the big boppers of the NRL, mostly due to the fact that they could sit on me while I sleep and I wouldn’t wake up the next morning. I think it was Wayne Bennett who said that no prop in the NRL should be paid more than $350,000 (I do believe that comment came after Justin Poore got sold to the Eels for around $400,000. Bargain). Well let me be the first to say that any prop could play origin and not be out of place. Even you, George Rose.

Hooker – Mitch Rein

I know you like the Dragons, Dragons fan. Yes… yes, I know! You’ve said it ten times already. I realise you like the look of your players, and the way they scrub up in their fancy ‘Red V,’ whatever that means. Yes. Yes. I know. Just hang on a minute, you’re going to give yourself a contusion. But let me just say this. Mitch Rein may be playing well, and he may be fast, strong, and a tough-as-nails defender, but I will put my house on the fact that he will not play State of Origin this year or next. And no, Ben Hornby should not be NSW captain.

Back Row –

Unfortunately, I find it extremely difficult to make a joke about the ridiculous number of talented second-rowers at NSW’s disposal. As a Queensland fan, I’m just… jealous. Last year they had so many second-rowers that they picked a bunch of them as props and they won the game! Laughably people then considered this the end of  the big bopper and Queensland dominance. That was until origin three, where Matt Scott and Petero Civoniceva kept NSW pinned in their half for the first thirty minutes of the fixture. There was no coming back from that, no matter how many second-rowers NSW picked. I have, though, compiled a list of what I would think would be a pretty handy origin side made up entirely of eligible NSW second-rowers.

1. Tariq Sims  2. Blake Ayshford 3. Ben Creagh 4. Ryan Hoffman 5. Tony Williams  6. Feleti Mateo 7. Luke Lewis 8. Paul Gallen 9. Ryan Hinchcliffe 10. Nathan Hindmarsh 11. Anthony Watmough 12. Tom Leahroyd Lars 13. Glenn Stewart

I would put that team on the park and back it to do pretty well. Sure I took a few liberties, but who hasn’t in this prostitute infested world of ours?

Also, how good would Tariq Sims be at fullback?

Stand, spray and deliver.

Critiques from the arm chair