Kent: The NRL must reclaim its dignity

There is a prop running around this game at the moment, filled with talent, who some years back received an almighty offer from a rival club. It was filled with zeros.

Soon after the player's manager called the coach and the coach knew it straight away from the sigh he heard on the line. The player had decided to stay at his current club, the manager said.

"Sorry about that."

The coach, disappointed, understood.

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This being rugby league it was only a few weeks later when the teams played each other and the player made a beeline for the coach before the game.

"Sorry," he said, "I just couldn't bring myself to leave."

"Not a problem," said the coach, old enough to be philosophical about these things. "I just can't believe you turned your back on $700,000."

"What?"

The player was never told of the final offer.

We can only guess as to why, but it is worth noting that his manager had other players at the same club, some earning more than him and some more important than him and well, as they say, their premiership window was open and it was probably better for all concerned if the prop stayed right where he was.

It certainly was for the manager.

Somewhere along this current journey, disguised among a world in crisis, the NRL must reclaim its dignity.

 

 

Acting CEO Andrew Abdo might be too close to the game. Photo: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images
Acting CEO Andrew Abdo might be too close to the game. Photo: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

 

 

Some clubs populate three-quarters of their roster with players from the one management company. If there is not something going on here that could not be uncovered with even a simple internal investigation we might as well give it away.

It defies logic that one manager could fill 75 per cent of a club's needs on his roster without other transactions also taking place.

Such stories are not common within the game, but they are more common than they should be.

It is a stain that runs throughout the game, rightly or wrongly, and which is dominating the discussion about who should be the NRL's next leader.

Former NRL boss Todd Greenberg battled such slurs his entire term given he once ran the Bulldogs.

Greenberg was an easy target when a decision did not land the way some wanted, and no evidence was ever produced to substantiate even the slightest allegation.

But it is a symbol of the sad indictment that is on the NRL at the moment; a game that can't even be trusted from itself.

 

 

Rabbitohs CEO Blake Solly’s name is often mentioned. Photo: AAP Image/Joel Carrett
Rabbitohs CEO Blake Solly’s name is often mentioned. Photo: AAP Image/Joel Carrett

 

 

In all the conversations about who will be the game's next chief executive, many ex-players claim the game cannot afford to appoint anyone from clubland because of their potential to have been compromised.

This could be perceived as former players out of touch. Or who know only too well.

Since Greenberg went the game has done little to find a replacement. Andrew Abdo has stepped up from chief commercial officer to fill the role and looks set to remain the interim boss until at least the season is over.

The game is no closer to appointing a chief executive weeks after Todd Greenberg was let go.

Since the COVID-19 crisis stopped the game ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys has emerged as the strong leader the game has yearned for.

But V'Landys does not want to run the game. So he and his Commission must find someone who can.

 

Amid the uncertainty, the game edges closer to a return. Photo: AAP Image/David Gray
Amid the uncertainty, the game edges closer to a return. Photo: AAP Image/David Gray

Meanwhile, the constant speculation about who the game's next boss will be continues to bubble even though not a conversation has been had.

V'Landys is too busy to be searching for a chief executive.

He has to finalise the broadcast deal first, a job that gets more difficult by the day because Channel 9 can't land on what it wants.

As well, clubs and players each have their demands ahead of the May 28 resumption, the State bodies are putting their toes in, and after all that the ARL Commission is still two places short after Amanda Laing's resignation at the start of the season and Mark Coyne's demise last year.

Both spots need to be filled but can't because the Commission needs constitutional change, which would eliminate the clause demanding Commissioners cannot be affiliated with clubs for the three years before their appointment.

So the search for a new chief executive is on hold.

Originally published as Kent: The NRL must reclaim its dignity



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