NRL players need to stop with the 'boof-headed' behaviour
NEXT month I turn 63, and for as long as I can remember I have had an affinity with rugby league.
I don't recall how it started, but I know it hasn't stopped.
As a journalist I have earned a living from the game for the past 33 years and have never disregarded the fact I have had a dream job.
I'm still dabbling, and I'm still hooked.
But while the game is as entertaining now as it has ever been, and the athleticism and skill level of the players has never been greater, regrettably one aspect remains a constant - rugby league attracts more than its fair share of off-field scandals.
And allegations this week that a woman was punched in the face by Rabbitohs back-rower Ben Te'o makes my stomach churn.
There is no point in discussing here the 'he said, she said' accounts of the incident.
Eventually we will be presented with all the facts, as sordid as they may well be.
But the reality is that a woman suffered a fractured eye socket and the odds are she did not hit herself.
Even if there were extenuating circumstances and Te'o was acting in self-defence - as he has claimed - the bottom line is that the rugby league brand has yet again been sullied by boof-headed behaviour.
In his defence, at least Te'o advised his club immediately of the incident.
But counteracting that is the fact the Rabbitohs took five weeks to inform the NRL. As fans, we are entitled to know why.
A number of aspects of this case are repugnant, not the least being the fact the woman was injured and - apparently - left to fend for herself.
Another is that the incident became a media storm just two days after the completion of the NRL Women in League round.
So many people have worked so hard, for many years, to positively highlight the involvement of women in a game that has long held a macho, male-dominated image.
But as is the case in society, rugby league always seems to unearth another rotten apple, and many are repeat offenders.
Irrespective of their involvement, the names of all three players involved in this latest incident have been tarnished.
And for Te'o and Darius Boyd it's not the first time.
Like many people I'm sure, I'd like the answer to one simple question - don't they ever learn?
Are these blokes not conscious that certain situations in which they find themselves invariably lead to trouble?
While no-one expects the players to be angels, the modern game demands a high level of decency.
And those who breach that trust should be sent on their way.