Memo Scott Penn: celebrate, then get on with the jobs at hand

David Lord Columnist

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    Chairman Scott Penn has a lot of house-cleaning to do at the Manly Sea Eagles, with his leadership under the microscope. There are five pressing problems Penn must address far sooner than later.

    * Brett Stewart’s one-way feud with NRL boss David Gallop must end this week. It’s clouding the magnificent premiership win over the Warriors.

    * Disclose exactly what Brett and older brother Glenn said to a startled Gallop on the grand final podium during the after-match presentations.

    * Explain why Glenn said in an after-match interview the feud with Gallop was over and it’s time to move on, which is clearly not the case.

    * Nail down coach Des Hasler to at least a three-year extension to his contract that runs out at the end of next season.

    * And find out how exciting 19-year-old centre-winger Will Hopoate, over the moon with his first premiership ring, has slipped through the Manly net to sign with Parramatta for his return from a two-year Mormon mission in Brisbane.

    What an unholy mess to severely test Penn’s skills at mending fences..

    The Brett Stewart feud with Gallop has been going on in stops and starts for 31 months and came to a head on Sunday night when Stewart allegedly demanded an apology from Gallop for his four-match suspension back in March 2009 for bringing the game into disrepute by being drunk at Manly’s pre-season launch.

    But that’s not exactly the chronological way the suspension came about.

    March 4, 2009 – was the pre-season party where Stewart was under the weather and team-mate Anthony Watmough was assaulted by a sponsor for allegedly making inappropriate remarks to the sponsor’s daughter.

    March 9, 2009 – the NRL withdrew Stewart from a promotional television commercial after he was accused of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl following the pre-season party.

    March 11, 2009 – the NRL imposed a four-match suspension on Stewart for his pre-season party behaviour, bringing the game into disrepute, after Manly refused to take any action. But nothing happened to Watmough.

    The problem with that sequence is the suspension came after the assault charge, not the pre-season party. Stewart was entitled to the innocent until proved guilty fact, but it didn’t appear that way.

    A year later, Wests-Tiger’s Benji Marshall was charged with assault after an altercation at a late night fast food outlet. But the NRL didn’t do anything.

    Subsequently, both Stewart and Marshall were found not guilty, although Stewart had to wait an agonising 19 months before he was cleared. That was grossly unfair on him.

    The court system should be better organised.

    That’s where we sit, leaving chairman Penn with no alternative but to order Brett Stewart to meet with David Gallop one-on-one behind closed doors to bury the long-standing hatchet.

    While the other four messes are important to resolve, the Stewart-Gallop impasse is paramount.

    The clock is ticking Scott Penn.

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn’t get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world’s great sporting spectacles

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