Archive for the ‘Rugby League’ Category

Titans James Roberts Arrested for Being a Public Nuisance

Beleaguered NRL club the Gold Coast Titans have had to discipline another player for unruly behaviour. James Roberts was arrested in Surfers Paradise last Saturday night. He was on the glitter strip celebrating the V8 racing carnival when he refused to comply with the orders of a police officer to move away from an incident they were attending.

Roberts was charged with being a public nuisance and obstructing officers of the law.

While this may seem a petty offence the NRL integrity unit have decided to investigate to make sure there is nothing more to the matter.

This is Roberts’ third infraction with the police – all of them because of alcohol.

Roberts was released from the South Sydney and Penrith Panthers clubs for more serious – alcohol fuelled – offences.

The Titans have a long history of picking up talented but troubled players. Greg Bird, Maurice Blair, Paul Carter are just a few on their roster who have been taken into the fold and nurtured by the club.

And while the Titans are unable to take those offences into account, should they decide to penalise Roberts, the NRL can.

Roberts is touted as being the fastest runner playing the game today. He has been tipped to be a Blues Origin player of the future.

Losing him would be as damaging to the struggling Titans as it would be to Roberts himself.






The Paul Gallen Embarrassment Continues

Confessed drug cheat and NRL embarrassment, Paul Gallen , has apologised for an expletive laden tirade on social media.

The embarrassment continues with Paul Gallen. Image:

The embarrassment continues with Paul Gallen. Image:

Gallen has been nothing but an embarrassment for Australian sport and the NRL in particular. His poor sportsmanship on the field, confessed use of banned substances and childish outbursts on social media have even his most ardent supporters wondering whether he is the man to lead Australia in the upcoming Four Nations competition.

Inexplicably, the NRL are standing by Gallen. While Chief Dave Smith is outraged at Gallen’s behaviour reporters have been told nothing will be done. Chairman of NRL Dr George Peponis (a former Kangaroos captain himself) has said there has been no thought of stripping Gallen of the Captaincy.

73% of respondents in a current poll disagree.

There was outrage at the slap-on-the-wrist bans offered by ASADA in the long-running and ultimately disappointing investigations into doping. Gallen was at the centre of the scandal and admitted his involvement. His career has been mired with ugly off-field incidents including, but not limited to, an ugly and very public Tweeting brawl with then coach Brian Smith, racism, public urination, gouging at the surgical stitches of an opponent, punching  opponents, and confessing to performance enhancing drug use.

For the NRL to take no action is appalling.

The Tweet was sent to colleague David Riccio in the wake of the sacking of chief executive Steve Noye:

“@DaveRic1 Steve Noice (sic) actually cared about players from Cronulla’s feelings. Couldn’t say that about any other [email protected]*! From Nrl.’

Titans Recievee $300,000 Salary Cap Fine

Embattled NRL club the Gold Coast Titans have had another nail hammered into their coffin, having been found guilty of a salary cap breach.

Former co-captain Scott Prince has been hung out to dry by the former club. He has been sacked from his current position as an NRL One Community Ambassador for receiving payments from the club after he left to play for the Broncos. It is understood the payments were made to make up the shortfall between his earnings at the Titans and the amount he was contracted to receive.

Former Titan Scott Prince. Image:

Former Titan Scott Prince. Image:

These payments, so it seems, were enough to put the Titans over the NRL salary cap.

For their part, the Titans have been hit with the game’s fourth largest fine for such an offence – $300,000 and docked 4 competition points.

Titans’ ex-coach, John Cartwright, founder Michael Searle and manager Scott Clark have been cleared of any wrong-doing.

Current chief executive Graham Annesley was glum when asked whether this was the last ‘irregularity’ at the club. “I can’t give you that guarantee at all,” he told reporters. “Since I have been here there have been a number of things uncovered.

“When I come across anything with the slightest hint of suspicion we will forward that straight to the NRL.

“We have been completely transparent with the NRL from day one. The NRL have been fair in their assessment of the process.

“Like a lot of NRL clubs, we are not in a position to be spending that amount of money on a penalty of this nature.

“Whenever there is an incident like this there is always more than one person who knows.

“Eventually these things get uncovered. There is just simply no value in doing it and it won’t happen under my administration.”

Ben Flowers Punch – Vicious or has the Game Gone Soft?

Ben Flowers hammers an insensible Lance Hohaia. Image:

Ben Flowers hammers an insensible Lance Hohaia. Image:

Wigan’s Ben Flowers is today waiting to find out if St Helen’s Lance Hohaia will pursue legal action for the punches he received on Sunday’s English Premier League Grand Final.

Flowers’ punches have been eagerly broadcast by media outlets around the world. The first a left hook that floored Hohaia, the second a right handed drill as Flowers stood above the stunned and prone Hohaia.

But what many are forgetting is that Hohaia started the incident. It was Hohaia who hit Flowers with a forearm. Obviously the knock was enough to send the Wigan Goliath into a rage.

St Helens coach, Nathan Brown, believed Flowers send-off was enough of a punishment. Because the incident happened only three minutes into the game Wiggan were forced to play a man down for Seventy seven minutes. Understandably they lost the match, 14 – 6.

Wigan coach, Shaun Wane, refused to even defend Flowers. “It was a red card,” he said to the assembled press, “he (Flowers) punched him (Hohaia) in the head and deserved to go. I have had a chat with Ben and he’s devastated. He’s done some good things for me and he’s made a huge error.

“I can’t explain it. He was revved up, it was a rush of blood … Rugby league’s a tough game, but that tipped over the edge.”



Head of football, Todd Greenberg, announced the league would not change its stance on the controversial no punch policy. He confirmed the game would keep to its mandatory send-off for punching, but refused to speculate on any further punishment awaiting Flowers.

But the incident highlights some deep divisions among fans of the game. Three perspectives have emerged: Support for the anti-on-field violence; the belief that a one-off incident like this isn’t really indicative of anything; and that the game has gone soft: If Hohaia is going to start a fight he deserves what he gets.

The Titan’s Navel-Gazing Begins

In the aftermath of a turbulent Rugby league 2014 season no other club will be navel gazing as intently as the Gold Coast Titans.

The club is currently conducting a comprehensive internal review to uncover the reasons behind its continued lacklustre performances, both on the field and in the grandstand.

They can start by looking at their talent-spotting procedures.

Luke Keary. Image:

Luke Keary. Image:

Luke Keary, part of the premiership winning Souths side, had been overlooked by the Titans. In 2011 the Burleigh Bears colts coach, Paul Bramley, told the Titans about Keary; suggesting he was a better half than any currently at the Titans club.

Bramley received only a lukewarm response. Recruiter Mark Gee and under 20s coach Rod Pattison promised Bramley they would ‘have a look at him.’

But Keary was only used as a defender in training drills. He wasn’t even given a chance to show what he could do in attack. For almost two months he was little more than a tackle dummy for a side the selectors had already put together.

Bramley said, “I called the Titans and asked them if they were giving him a shot and they said no. So I told Luke to drop it and just concentrate on us.

“He ended up playing Q Cup a couple of weeks later, and was excellent for us for the rest of the year.”

On Sunday Keary held the NRL trophy above his head and cemented his place in the highest echelons of first grade NRL.

SBW Keen to Play for Counties Manakau

Andrew Maddock, chief executive of the Counties Manakau Rugby Union side, received a nice surprise recently. After their defeat by the South Sydney Rabbits on Friday night footballing sensation Sonny Bill Williams is off contract from the Sydney City Roosters.

New Zealand Rugby Union had previously ruled Williams didn’t have to play a game in the NPC to still be eligible for All Black selection. The team is to tour the northern hemisphere in November.

Andrew Maddock. Photo:

Andrew Maddock. Photo:

But Williams phoned Maddock to assure him of his readiness to play for Counties Manakau.

“It was a pleasant surprise,” said Maddock.

“I think he just felt he wanted to win that (All Blacks) position on merit and also get some rugby time under his belt.

Maddock believed Williams would want to play if the Steelers made the top-four play-offs.

Williams has played in the NPC with Canterbury in 2010. Prior to this he spent a season with French side Toulon. Williams ran on for the All Blacks in that same year (2009). Since then he has represented his country 19 times and was integral to winning the 2011 World Cup. Williams then left his home shores to play the 2012 rugby union season in Japan; then joined the Roosters in 2013.

Opposition to Carney’s Bid to Play in European Super League

Disgraced Australian footballer Todd Carney may have been signed by the French side the Catalan Dragons, but his move to Super League is being vehemently opposed.

Leeds Rhinos rugby league boss Gary Hetherington believes allowing Carney into Super League will tarnish the game for all players. The UK newspaper the Sun has reported that Hetherington has emailed the bosses of other clubs in an attempt to block Carney from playing at the top level.

The Sun alleges Hetherington’s emails included: “We’d be appalled if his application was granted because it would damage the integrity and profile of Super League.”

Hetherington opposed the signing of Greg Bird to Catalan in 2009. Bird had recently been released from Cronulla over alleged assault charges. “It is disappointing that a club should want to sign him,” Hetherington said at the time. “Our competition cannot become a dumping ground for other people’s problems.”

10419978_822161377815941_602083928083827657_nCarney has been sacked from three NRL clubs and yet, incredibly, he has been offered the captaincy at the Dragons – pending his approval to play Super League.

Bernard Guasch, chairman of the Catalan Dragons, describes the signing of Carney as a coup. The club has in the past recruited players such as Stacey Jones, Steve Menzies and Greg Bird.

Carney, meanwhile, is clutching at a three-year deal with the Dragons in a last ditched effort to reviving his shattered footballing career.

Professor of Ethics Pushes for Rethink on performance Enhancing Drugs

Professor of Ethics at Oxford University Julian Savulescu. Photo:

Professor of Ethics at Oxford University Julian Savulescu. Photo:

Oxford University professor Julian Savulescu has labelled the ASADA investigation in to Essendon a “disgrace” and a “gross misuse of public funds”. The professor of ethics made the announcement ahead of his presentation at Deakin Edge on Thursday.

As the Essendon club await Friday’s court ruling over the legality of ASADA’s investigation, professor Savulescu made these startling comments to the press: “The substances that have been widely discussed in Australia recently are substances where there isn’t evidence of significant risk and don’t significantly change the natures of the activity.”

”Thymosin,” he continued, “has been associated with increased tissue repair, which is something that seems quite worthwhile. AOD-6904 is now an approved food supplement in the US.

“What you see is people focusing on the wrong end. They’re trying to pick up anything athletes are taking. What you want to be picking up is things that are unsafe or are really distorting performance.”

The professor then went on to suggest the existence of outright hypocrisy in the laws governing Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs). He used the analogy of an injured player being injected with a local anesthetic before and during a match. The anesthetic masks the pain of the injury allowing him to play to his potential. Without the anesthetic his performance would be compromised.

“That’s a performance enhancer and it’s also against the spirit of sport.” And as the PED laws stand now – quite legal.

Professor Savulescu is in Australia to argue why current bans on PEDs are ruining sport in Australia. He firmly believes the use of human growth hormones and anabolic steroids are permissible in certain scenarios.

“Substances like growth hormones and anabolic steroids are safe when given in physiological doses by a medical professional and can accelerate recovery from injury,” he told the press.

“If you take a massive dose like the East German swimmers, yes, you’ll have side effects, but it’s pretty easy to detect that level of overdose.

The crux of the professor’s message is that, as it currently stands, doping agencies are losing their war on PEDs. And they will continue to lose this war unless there is a serious rethink; not just on doping, but on the hype surrounding doping.

Rugby League Brawl Mars University Shield

Rugby League officials are doing their best to hose down another controversy. This one at the school-boy level.

On the weekend an ugly brawl erupted between glamour schools Westfield Sports High and Hills Sports. The game was being played at Remondis Stadium for the coveted University Shield.

Stories, at the present, conflict. What is known is that the ruckus began off-field, amongst the crowd. But within seconds players had jumped the fence and weighed-in to the action.

Former rugby league bad-boy John Hopoate was nearby, but it is unknown whether he was involved in the incident.

Investigators for the NSWRL have said there were up to 20 people contributing to the fracas.

One unnamed spectator told The Daily Telegraph: “Something started in the crowd and I don’t know how long that was going on before he game noticed it.

“I saw a couple of kids jump the fence to get involved. I’m not sure how long it was going on in the crowd before the kids noticed it; but once that happened it wasn’t great.”

The match, which was nearing its conclusion, had to be abandoned. Officials will be asked to give their versions of the event and investigations will continue.

The NSWRL is determined to stamp out this kind of behaviour. The University Shield is a premier match and spectacles like this do the organisation and code no good.

The NSWRL have refused to comment any further until investigations are finalised.

Cronulla Sharks End their Season as Controversially as they Played it.

Cronulla Sharks' Mad Monday raises a few eyebrows. Photo:

Cronulla Sharks’ Mad Monday raises a few eyebrows. Photo:

The Cronulla Sharks have ended their season as controversially as they endured it. Players from the beleaguered club were spotted at the popular Coogee ‘Sauce Wine Bar’ on Mad Monday receiving the attentions of what looked to be two topless waitresses.

This, in itself may attract a nod and a wink; these are footballers after all. But when an enterprising photographer snapped the players with the waitresses he soon found himself surrounded. The players demanded he delete his photos. When he refused they began to intimidate him.

Understandably the players took exception to being photographed with the waitresses, one wearing little more than a pair of black underpants. What they seem to have misunderstood is that it is the photographers job to take photos and it is their job to maintain their club’s code of conduct.

And while there is nothing illegal about going to a topless bar, it, perhaps, sends a message the club would rather avoid. Certainly intimidating a photographer is contrary to the image the club wishes to present.

Todd Carney, was spotted in the bar celebrating with his former teammates. Carney was infamously sacked for his ‘bubbler’ photograph circulated on social media earlier in the year.

And then there was the seemingly endless ASADA probe into the Sharks’ supplement program of 2011. Several current Sharks players accepted a deal offered by ASADA, admitted taking banned substances, and were made to sit out the final weeks of the season.

In all this is a year the Sharks would most probably like to forget. Players being snapped with a topless waitress may attract a few questioning glances; intimidating the photographer who took the picture is, however, a little more serious.

The drug bans handed out by ASADA are likely to come under review by the World Anti-Doping Authority for being too lenient. Athletes from other sports used social media to vent their disbelief at the paltry sentences ASADA offered. With the revelations of Captain Paul Gallen’s meteoric improvement since 2011 more questions need to and should be asked.