Can some positives emerge from Field’s horrific past?

Key points

  • Eddie Jones’ smash and grab mission
  • Aunties, Whatsapacketa, Howya and Jigsaw
  • What’s doing with IOC president Thomas Bach?
  • An athlete comes out as gay – and thankfully no-one cares

Amid the endless rugby league atrocities – what is it, three or four police matters in the last fortnight, I lose track? – a bleak ray of light, but light it is.

I am not sure who the person was at Manly who had the brains to get the former prison inmate and great rugby league player Craig Field in to talk to the players this week about the perils of losing control through grog and all the rest, but whoever it is deserves strong commendation.

As this column has noted for years, the likes of you and me shaking our fists at the players, shaking our heads, shaking them down for contrition, makes no difference at all in actually changing anything. We are white noise, if that.

But one of theirs, who has done eight years hard time for manslaughter, all because of a fight outside a pub, one terrible night?

How could it not have an effect?

“His key messages,” Daly Cherry-Evans told the Herald’s Christian Nicolussi, were, “you need to own your actions, be accountable for who you are and what you do, and bad choices have bad consequences; be a good person and stay out of trouble. Some of the younger boys didn’t really know his story, but once he delved into it, it was easy to sit there and listen. He was really open about what had happened.”

Craig Field speaking to Manly players.

As to Field himself, he was frank to Nicolussi: “I still think about [the man I killed], I wish I could go back and change it, I wish I could go back and tell myself it wasn’t my fight [to have]. I made the wrong decision, I’m remorseful, I’m sorry for him and his family.”

But now here is, done his time, and is all even with the house.

Who better than Field for the NRL to employ, to go from club to club, to tell his story, to be appointed as a mentor for those identified as heading for trouble? It would help give him a fresh start and actually might help change the obdurate culture which so far has resisted all attempts to change it.

Eddie’s plan for French heist

Here was Eddie Jones talking about how much there is to do to get the Wallabies in shape to win the World Cup, and how little time there is to do it. Here’s … Eddie …

“This is like a nine-and-a-half month job in which we have to do this,” he told the Herald’s Iain Payten. “There is a beautiful jewellery store around the corner, we have to get four or five coaches who can work together and bring together a team, get in there and steal the trophy and get out. They’re the sort of people we need.”

I like it. But I still prefer former Wallaby coach Dave Brockhoff’s original quote, along the same lines.

“Boys, this is crowbars through the Opera House windows job – we’re in, we loot the joint, and we’re out!”

Here’s to Jigsaw and Howya

TFF has three beloved, elderly Aunties: Aunty Mary, Aunty Rod and Column 8. This week, the last of the aforementioned did a round-up of great nicknames of rugby league players, including the famous Phil Sigsworth, whose nickname was “Whatsapacketa.” But they mentioned a new one, I’ve never come across before, the former Queensland and Eels forward from the 1980s, Chris Phelan, who went by the sobriquet of “Howya.” Auntie also made mention of an un-named soccer player who went by the name of “Jigsaw” – because “he used to go to pieces in the box”.

Bach-ing up the wrong tree

I don’t want to be unkind about this, but is IOC President Thomas Bach barking mad?

This, from the man who has ignored Ukraine’s pleas to ban Russian athletes from the Olympics, to make the point that the world of sport has no room for athletes from countries that invade neighbouring countries and brutally kill thousands of its citizens, including nearly 500 children.

“Every Ukrainian athlete can be rest assured that we are standing in full solidarity with them,” Bach said, “and that all their comments are taken very, very seriously into consideration. With every Ukrainian athlete, we can, from a human point of view, understand their reactions, we share their suffering.”

Seriously? In “full solidarity”? By doing what, exactly? You “share their suffering”? How so?

There are thought to be about 130,000 Ukranians killed and wounded. And 14 million displaced. So, you “share their suffering,” how, exactly?

But, do go on.

IOC president Thomas Bach has received a frosty response in some circles.Credit:Getty

“But with regard to participation of athletes we have to accomplish our peace mission and that is a unifying mission of bringing people together. We can, from a human point of view understand their reactions. We share their suffering.”

Your “peace mission”? What could be more in the interests of peace than saying to Russia, “You can brutalise and murder tens of thousands of Ukranians, destroy their infrastructure, or you can come to the Olympics – but you simply cannot do both?”

Mr Bach, can you look the world in the eye and say that peace is more likely by Russian athletes competing under the banner of “Yes, we’ve brutalised a nation can cause immense suffering, but it’s good to know we are still welcome. Praise the Lord, and pass the shot put.”

Your approach, Mr Bach, disgraces every ideal of the Olympic movement.

Illusion of fear thankfully off the mark

Love this. Here was former All Black Campbell Johnstone talking to the BBC this week, on just what it was like coming out to some of his teammates as gay, while he was still playing.

“I told a few teammates and they asked if it was going to change the way I play? I said ‘no’, then they asked if I still wanted to win? I said ‘yeah’, so they said: ‘Well, let’s get on with it!’ It was like I’d told them we’d run out of milk or something, that sort of scenario. I’d built up this illusion of fear – whereas in reality, once I’d started telling people, it was no problem.”

Good thing he wasn’t playing for Manly Sea Eagles in the lead-up to the Everyone in League jersey drama, but still!

What They Said

Phil Gould, before the World Club Challenge, was all-in on Penrith: “They should be able to declare by half-time.”

Brandon Smith, after leaving the Storm’s Craig Bellamy to play for Trent Robinson’s Roosters: “It’s good to have a coach who doesn’t scream his tits off at you after a loss.”

Eddie McGuire on AFL players being photographed taking drugs: “I don’t think anybody should get their [privacy] violated like that. It shouldn’t matter if you are the Queen of England, you shouldn’t be photographed in a toilet cubicle.” Under the circumstances, unlikely, but still the mind boggles!

Nick Kyrgios isn’t sold on humans having made the pyramids.Credit:Istock

Nick Kyrgios: ”I don’t think the pyramids are man-made.” Let us hope he means they were done by Cleopatra and her fellow women.

Released from prison in December, Boris Becker reflects: “My life seems like a movie. It just happened to be real.”

The Australian government joined more than 30 others in putting out this statement regarding the 2024 Olympics: “We do not agree that Russian and Belarusian athletes should be allowed back into competition . . . We also note that Russia and Belarus have it in their own hands to pave the way for their athletes’ full return to the international sports community, namely by ending the war they started.” Bravo.

Tiger Woods on why, after hitting a tee shot further than Justin Thomas, he handed him a tampon: “It was supposed to be all fun and games and obviously it hasn’t turned out that way. If I offended anybody in any way, shape or form, I’m sorry. It was not intended to be that way. We play pranks on one another all the time and virally I think this did not come across that way, but between us it was, it’s different.” What do you think? Embarrassing frat-boy nonsense? Or an issue worth heavy commentary?

Former world record-holder in the 200m, Michael Johnson, on Twitter in reply: “Apology starting with ‘If I offended anyone’ is no apology. But this is Tiger. Never been a leader and he’s Teflon. Still heralded after all the mistakes so he’s learned nothing. Media focus always on miraculous recovery. Never why the need for recovery.”

Bruised and batted … David Warner.Credit:John Shakespeare

“I’ve always said I’m playing to 2024; if the selectors feel that I’m not worthy of my spot, then so be it, and I can push on to the white-ball stuff. It’s easy pickings [for critics] when you’re 36 going on 37. I’ve seen it before with the ex-players as well,” David Warner on returning to Australia after suffering a concussion and hairline fracture in the Test Series against India.

Radio National’s Warwick Hadfield on rugby league decision to call off the season’s launch over a pay dispute: “Officials were frightened the players would boycott any event even as they talk about how close they are to a resolution. It’s been that sort of negotiation, with that thing you can see from outer-space, the male ego, coming into play the last little while.”

Racing Victoria chief executive Andrew Jones on what they need to do to improve: “Our goals are always to provide more entertainment for fans and punters, and to increase returns to owners, trainers and jockeys.“ Any chance you could do something to help the horses? Stop hitting them, for a start?

LeBron James: “Josh Giddey’s really, really good, man . . . I think he’s going to continue to get better and better.” Meantime, where are you Ben Simmons, and what happened? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

Wayne Bennett, at a Nudgee College coach’s forum on the main rules for his players: “I’ve got two rules. Rule one, don’t be late, because all you’re doing is saying you’re more important than the rest of us. The second is stay out of jail. Sometimes I’ll be flexible on that one if I need you for the game.“ The other rule was “Don’t turn up with a shit haircut.”

Team of the Week

Matildas. Won the four-team Cup of Nations campaign with a 3-0 win over Jamaica.

Sydney Kings and NZ Breakers. Qualified for the NBL Grand Final.

St Helens. Defeated Penrith to claim the Rugby League World Club Challenge. Strangely, neither side then went on to have punch-ups in the car park at 6am the next morning. What is wrong with them?

Jubilant St Helens players celebrate their dramatic win over Penrith.Credit:NRL Photos

Cameron Myers. The 16-year-old schoolboy from Canberra became the second-youngest person in the world to break the four-minute mile with a time of 3 minutes, 55.44 seconds at Maurie Plant Meet in Melbourne.

Melbourne Storm and Parramatta Eels. Kick off the NRL season next Thursday.

Ocean 12 cricket team. This year the famous cricket team of refugees and asylum seekers celebrate their tent Year of lighting up the cricket world, and last Sunday won the Multicultural Cup at the SCG. On Sunday, they are playing in the final of the RIA CUP.

Molly Picklum. The Australian surfer won her maiden World Surf League title with victory at the Hurley Pro Sunset Beach in Hawaii.

Tiger Woods. The world’s 1,294th-ranked golfer played his first tournament last week for a fairly ordinary finish but still hopes to play all four majors this year.

RIP. Peter Kenneth Rouse. 44. The beloved and well-known rugby figure – a mainstay of the Easts’ Shute Shield win in 2003 – passed away 10 days ago after a tough year fighting an aggressive cancer. Vale, Peter, a great rugby man. The Herald extends its condolences to your widow, Katherine, and children, Georgia, Henry and Edward.

Twitter: @Peter_Fitz

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