Look, under normal circumstances, what the likes of Cameron Munster, Brandon Smith and Chris Lewis do in their hotel room is none of my damn business, or yours.
But can we get real here for a moment? The fact that they were stupid enough to allow someone to film them near a pile of white powder on the table has generated such an insane response I cannot let it pass.
And no, I don’t just mean Munster’s emotional apology to the Melbourne old boys: “I know you guys have done so much for this club. Youse have dug the well and, unfortunately, we’ve shat in the well.”
(It’s not quite up there with the greatest league quote of all time, from Julian O’Neill’s late-night venture in a Dubbo motel in 1999, “I shat in Schlossy’s shoe,” but it’s up there.)
I mean the wheels of the NRL machine turning in precisely opposite directions to the point that the Bullshit-ometer set a post-war record.
See, on the one hand you have the apologies, the suspension and the large fines being handed out, mixed with endless earnest hand-wringing from officials about bringing the game into disrepute, all with promises to get tough on drugs and introduce off-season testing.
And on the other hand, the position of the players is that they were so maggoted, so very maggoted they have no idea what that white powder actually was – no, seriously – and as it is out of season they can’t be tested.
The NRL accepts this.
No, REALLY, I said!
So that is what we are left with.
The players who are suspended, and must pay upfront fines of $49,000, with suspended fines of $150,000. They must apologise to everyone.
But, officially, it is not for using illicit drugs.
I have just one question, reminiscent of the one I often pose when pole-axed players who don’t move for two minutes subsequently undergo HIAs, and get the green light to come back on: “Hey, if it wasn’t concussion that got them, what was it? F—king flu?”
In this case, if those players are not being fined and suspended for using illicit drugs, what can we put it down to?
Really bad dancing on a table!??!
There’s classy stats, and then there’s class itself.
Ellyse Perry achieved the former last Saturday in the Test against India when she became the first person to score 5000 runs and take 300 wickets in international cricket. She already had the runs, but the wicket milestone came in the 143rd over of the first Indian innings when she took the wicket of tail-ender Pooja Vastrakar, caught in the gully.
Her classy character, however, came through when wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy presented the ball to Perry as a souvenir for her remarkable feat.
“No,” Perry said, “give it to Stella.”
Stella Campbell had taken her first Test wicket with the ball.
NRL saves best for last
Here at the TFF Research Department, we hugely enjoyed the NRL finals, and for good reason. The essence of gripping sport is not knowing the result until the final stages.
And if it comes down to the final seconds – or, better still, the final seconds of overtime – then it is by definition a killer match. And what did we get in the finals? Many matches precisely like that, which stood in strict contrast to the endless blow-outs of the regular season. See, of the 192 regular-season matches, only 42 of them – 22 per cent – had a margin of six points or fewer, while a massive 117 matches – 61 per cent – had blow-outs of 13 points and over.
In the nine matches of the finals though, five of them – 56 per cent – had margins of six points or fewer which, fascinatingly, included all four Panthers’ matches. There were just three blow-outs of more than 13 points, all featuring Manly, who lost two and won one.
Wake up, Mr Premier
Bugger. TFF’s expressed view last week that perhaps the newly minted Premier Perrottet might pursue a sane policy on greyhound racing – ban it as an abomination, as Mike Baird wanted to do six years ago – seems unlikely.
Readers have pointed out a post on Instagram by the then treasurer in April, which included a photo of him with a greyhound still fast enough to be looked after: “The greyhound racing industry is important for many communities in NSW. We’re committed to making sure the sport has great facilities – not only to give punters a better experience, but to improve the safety and welfare of dogs like Snowy here, which is what the upgrade to the Muswellbrook track we just announced will do.”
Newly appointed NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet.Credit:James Brickwood
The responses could peel paint, and they included:
Richiepatmore: “Not long ago, the LNP led the state and the nation in pledging to end this disgusting sport, which manufactures cruelty and misery for the animals and perpetuates the family crises of problem-gambling. I would have thought that a man of faith would be looking to end industry that support gambling and break families apart.”
jayce_the_greyhound: “Thought part of Christianity was showing empathy for all living things and not using them as human entertainment or revenue schemes. This is a dying industry, plagued by scandals and obsolete in modern society. If it can’t financially support itself the Government should not be wasting taxpayer money on it.”
Croczillionare: “Greyhound racing is archaic and cruel. We will never forget the mass graves full of the bodies of the poor dogs used for immoral gambling. There is a HUGE problem with gambling and alcohol addiction in Australia and you are making the claim that this cruel ‘sport’ is important for communities? Yikes.”
Worldanimalprotectionaustralia: “It’s saddening to see the new Premier of NSW supporting a cruel and abhorrent industry like greyhound racing. This industry is riddled with brutal animal welfare practices including high rates of injury, suspected mass killing of healthy dogs, and widespread underreporting of deaths. Animal cruelty and exploitation for profit has no place in the new chapter for our state.”
ethegreyhound: “It is absolutely devastating to see someone in such a leadership position trying to put a positive spin on greyhound abuse in referencing the experience gambling industries ‘punters’…. Mind blowing how behind the times this is.”
Every word a pearl. Come on, Premier. We don’t know you well, but two things that stand out are your professed personal commitment to living a life of Christian kindness, while professionally pursuing tight economic management. You must know that greyhound racing doesn’t remotely fit with either. Personally putting taxpayer dollars to a sport notorious for its cruelty that can’t pay its own way? Seriously?
ICYMI, here was Peter Sterling, as he bowed out, reminiscing to Adrian Proszenko about how it was in his beginnings with Channel Nine, calling matches with “Rabbits” Warren, alongside “Fatty” Vautin:
“One of the early games we did was the infamous Brisbane game where the Walters brothers combined to set up a try for the Broncos. Fatty referred to them as ‘the boys from two-head city’. It was a colloquialism, a term of endearment, but there were complaints from the people of Ipswich. Management told him he had to ring the Mayor of Ipswich to apologise, which he did.
“After trying to apologise on numerous occasions and being constantly interrupted by the mayor on the other end of the line, he basically hung up with the parting shot ‘Anyway, which head am I talking to?’”
While it is something to say Sterling’s television career more than matched his on-field performance, no-one can doubt it. I worked with Peter on and off for 30 years and never heard a bad word about him.
What They Said
Cameron Munster apologises to former Storm players for the white-powder affair: “I know you guys have done so much for this club. Youse have dug the well and, unfortunately, we’ve shat in the well.” Only in league.
Peter Sterling, in his final broadcast before retiring from Channel Nine after 30 years, decided to add to the list of people he wanted to thank: “I was going to say hair and make-up . . . but really just make-up.”
Penrith fullback Dylan Edwards on playing with a broken foot: “I just had to put my best foot forward.” I think he means his right one.
TFF’s erstwhile colleague Paul Kent, after Penrith lost their opening match of the finals to Souths a month ago: “They’re done.” The Penrith players were quick to remind him of it on social media after their victory. Sigh, Paul. Wrong. Again!
Penny Panthers coach Ivan Cleary on winning the grand final: “I couldn’t bear thinking about losing today. Personally, since I was a fan, a player, assistant coach, a coach . . . it’s probably 45 years never winning a grand final. I’m going to make this one last, I can tell you.”
A joyous and joking Brian To’o, on phis partner Moesha Crichton-Ropati accepting his marriage proposal after the NRL grand final and being accepted: “Church is half the reason why we’re together. Not to brag, but my good looks were the other half.”
Wayne Bennett pestered about his future after the grand final: “As I said, I have a number of options on the table and I just don’t know what I will do or what I won’t do right now. Today is not a good day and tomorrow won’t be a good day the state of mind I will be in to make decisions about.”
Dave Rennie, following the Wallabies’ fourth successive win, on the injury to Samu Kerevi: “It used to be called a sprained ankle in my day. It’s now called syndesmosis, which is much worse evidently. We’re hoping it’s not too long.”
Morgan Turinui on Stan Sport as Wallaby winger Andrew Kellaway went over for yet another try: “He must feel six foot four and full of muscle.” Name that tune.
Perth’s Rigsafe Lifting Solutions name the former Brownlow Medallist Ben Cousins – who has had his struggles with addictions – as their employee of the month: “Ben’s work ethic, attitude and Rigsafe ‘teamwork always’ values has made him a very reliable member of our rigging team.” Bravo, the lot of ’em.
An unnamed Aussie cricket WAG: “They, the English cricket team, are very pro having their families and partners around because they know how much it means to them. It brings out the best in them as players. Whereas in Australia, it’s almost like we’re deemed a distraction.”
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp on vaccinations: “If I say I am vaccinated, other people say: ‘How can you tell me I should be vaccinated?’ It is a little bit like drink-driving . . .This law is not there for protecting me when I drink two beers and want to drive, it’s for protecting all the other people because I’m drunk and we accept that as a law. I don’t understand why that is a limitation of freedom because, if it is, then not being allowed to drink and drive is a limitation of freedom as well.”
Benji Marshall retiring after 19 years and 346 games in the NRL: “I started off my journey in rugby league as a small boy from Whakatane chasing a dream. I’ll leave this game as a man who has learned a lot of lessons. Nineteen seasons in the NRL is more than half the length of my life.”
Team of the Week
Ellyse Perry. Has scored 5000 runs and taken 300 wickets across all formats of the international game – the first person to do so.
Socceroos. Set a world record of 11 successive wins in a single World Cup qualification campaign. Huge match against Japan in Saitama this Tuesday. What has happened to those blokes? Why are we suddenly so all-conquering? Discuss.
Clare Connor. England former Ashes-winning women’s captain is the first female president of MCC in the club’s 234-year history. (First you let a woman be president of an AFL club, and take them to the glory of their first win in 57 years, and then the rot sets in. Where will it all end? Next thing, they’ll get the vote, and the Australia Club will admit them as members!)
Penrith. Won their third premiership in sterling fashion, in a cracker of a match.
South Sydney. Didn’t get the chocolates but were extremely gallant in defeat.
Wallabies. Won their fourth straight match on the same weekend that the All Blacks – in sad decline – lost to the Boks, who the Wallabies beat twice in succession in the last month.
Tom Brady. Came up against the Patriots and won. Has now defeated every other NFL team since leaving the Pats.
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