Bravo, Mr Gallop... it was about time

IN all the time that David Gallop has been the CEO of the National Rugby League, I've never been convinced that the game is in strong hands.

That was until last week - finally Gallop drew a line in the sand that said enough is enough.

Someone had to put the foot down on Brett Stewart during the week and it sure as hell wasn't going to be Manly.

You can argue all you want that presumption of being innocent before proven guilty but the laying of charges isn't the issue at hand with the suspension. The issue is the massive amount of damage that is being done to the image of the game by the players.

Now 95 per cent of the players are all decent blokes. It's the small minority of players who seem to be auditioning for a part in the TV show Men Behaving Badly that are the problem.

Stewart was made the face of the NRL and he ended up smearing the name of the NRL by becoming involved in another drunken scandal.

Whatever evidence comes up in court doesn't hide the fact that a day on the turps has tarnished the view of many.

In the past, players who did this were given little more than a rap over the knuckles as punishment. Now that Gallop has drawn a line in the sand, that should no longer be the case.

It doesn't matter who you are, not even the Brett Stewarts of this competition are immune from such punishment if they play up while out on a bender.

The best thing about this situation is that it was Gallop himself who handed out the punishment.

The Manly board came up with the decision that Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler should make the call on what action should be taken over Stewart.

Well what did the board think Hasler was going to say - his job is to win at all costs and Stewart had scored 62 tries in the past three seasons - of course Hasler wanted him to play.

If the NRL hadn't stepped in on this one then Stewart would've played on Saturday night and another player would have gone unpunished.

During the week The Daily Telegraph printed a list of indiscretions from the past 10 years and the length of it was extraordinary. The number of the players on this rap sheet who went virtually unpunished for their actions was even more staggering.

Stewart may be cleared of the sexual assault charges when he has his day in court but the fact is that the courtroom of public opinion has already found him guilty of smearing the competition's name.

The NRL must now continue to act on that courtroom of public opinion or else this current hardline stance will count for nought.

This weekend is the AFL players' turn to have a week off before the season starts. Hopefully the administrators of that code won't need to intervene with a punishment.



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