Why Burns is the NRL’s safety scapegoat
At a time when concussions and rugby league tackling techniques are big news, someone was always going to be made a scapegoat to subdue the frothing masses. And, as far as scapegoats go, there are few better than Travis Burns.
As a player Burns is incredibly easy to dislike. Unlike the two Reynolds who the fans will stand and applaud for their little guy tenacity, Travis ‘the Texas Terrier’ Burns is much less likely to be referred to as a ‘tough bastard’ as he is a ‘niggling jerk.’
Watching him play you can sense the frustration seeping from him like your old man trying to set up a Youtube account, and even while on the field in the victory against the Roosters on the weekend, his demeanour rarely rose above a ‘waiting in line at the RTA’ level of enjoyment.
On top of this Burns is a player whose form has fluctuated wildly, floats between positions like an OAK carton on the ocean and is on the wrong side of 25 having never played representative football.
It is extremely easy to imagine him giving a venomous pre-match address in a dilapidated changing shed to a group of stubbled footballers he is captain-coaching out in the bush somewhere, such is the raw emotion in his performances and obvious focus of belligerence over skill.
And, pending a miracle at the judiciary next week ,the Parkes Spacemen and the Quirindi Grasshoppers might want to start flogging those quickly defrosting meat trays, because park footy is where he’ll likely end up.
Sure he plans to fight the head high charge which would have cost him nine weeks with an early guilty plea next week, but just exactly what are him and Gus Gould QC planning on cooking up for the jury?
With the old favourite “But it’s not his go!” defence likely to draw a reaction similar to Blocker Roach walking into ARLC headquarters in a dress and performing an improvised comedy skit, perhaps Penrith Panthers SVU need to delve back into some famous cases of yesteryear.
Cases such as Danny Williams versus Post Traumatic Amnesia. Or Shane Dunley versus Reflux. Failing this there’s a whole host of vague medical conditions out there that are just a Google away, and surely something like sleep apnoea or lime’s disease could from the basis of a case just baffling enough to throw the panel off the scent.
Biomechanics is always a good one too, and seeing Nerdy Nevil from the local uni who has seldom seen sunlight let alone a footy match try to explain complex vectors and parabolas to a bunch of meat head ex-footy players must be comedy gold for those in attendance.
Whether they can be arsed go to this length for an off contract semi-regular first grader after they’ve just let their hometown international hero Luke Lewis fly the coop is to be seen, and perhaps they’re better off not wasting their time.
Because whatever they go with, it’s doomed to fail, just ask Bob Cooper. A line has been drawn in the sand and Burns has found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. As a player he is expendable, and will be duly shunted out the backdoor with the magic sponge and 5m rule.
And while many won’t miss his presence in the game, recent circumstances have shown that sometimes when a player is turfed before his time, the anger doesn’t ever quite go away.
So here’s hoping that the ridiculous defence Penrith are no doubt concocting for next week is the only stupid thing to come out of the hearing, and that some common sense is applied to Burns’ punishment.
Because while ‘old school’ players like Burns might be becoming a thing of the past in rugby league, so too should the need to destroy the careers of players, just to be seen to be making a point.
Follow Chris on Twitter: @Vic_Arious
Chris Chard is a sports humour writer commenting on the often absurd nature of professional sport. A rugby league fan boy with a good blend of youth and experience taking things one week at a time, Chris has written for The Roar, Rugby League Player Magazine, US Sports Downunder, the QRL and People. Tweet him @Vic_Arious
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