Why don’t NRL club officials play tough?
Scott Prince let go to the Broncos (Image: AAP)
Rugby league is a real man’s game, played by big, beefy, heavily tattooed bad-asses. And run, it would seem, by the most polite and cuddliest sports administrators in Australia.
For while the rugby league player fraternity does still have a minority element who are quite capable of offending the public at large and frightening small children just walking down the street, it seems as if rugby league’s bosses are working overtime to make themselves the ‘nice guys.’
Perhaps this is fair enough. After all, we’ve all found ourselves furiously over-tipping an unimpressed waitress after a friend has self-nominated himself to behave as ‘designated dickhead’ on a night out.
Even still though, some of the decisions made by club bosses this post-season have seemed rather generous.
One doing the rounds this past week was the Titans’ Scott Prince negotiating to play for English club Hull FC next year. Which is ok, except he’s under contract, so nothing’s going to happen. Right?
Wrong. Apparently Titans CEO David May (himself from Hull) is happy to give Scott a ‘Tally Ho Chap’ and wave bon voyage to the side’s chief playmaker as a show of respect for Prince’s hard work at the club.
Which is very nice of him. But how does not having an NRL calibre halfback for 2013 benefit us fans per se?
The last time the Titans did something similar, letting their best outside back Matt Peterson go to the English Super League mid-season, the team struggled for more than a year to find a replacement with a procession of plonkers (remember such guns as Brenton Bowen, Smith Samau and Ben Jefferies?) filling his place.
Sure knocking back Prince’s request might make for awkward Centre of Excellence barbecues, but does letting go of a contracted player so they can earn more money really fall under compassionate leave?
This is just one example of the club’s recent magnanimous nature.
Currently the Titans have two key players in Bangkok to play for the Philippines rugby league side, and had enough charity inspired socks this year that Dave Taylor doesn’t even know what colour he’s supposed to be squeezing over his massive calves next season.
Which is great. You can’t really knock charity (although it may be nice if the themed jerseys from the clubs were a tad more subtle) and, considering some NRL club’s won’t let their players go for fully fledged Test matches, for the Titans to allow some of their best players to play in an exhibition international at the Royal Thai Police Station Field is fantastic for the international game.
Elsewhere in the comp, it seems as if Sonny Bill will be allowed to box, record a rap album and be a Big Brother intruder during his stay with the Roosters. Timana Tahu is putting his body through the paces at off-season footy carnivals.
And then there are the scores of players running around on dimly lit, pot hole-strewn touch footy and oztag fields to the average punter’s eternal embarrassment over the summer.
And hey, maybe this ok. Professional athletes interacting with the public and having hobbies and all. It is however certainly is a world away from the cutthroat world of American sports currently starring on our screens, and the argument over whether players hold too much sway over both their club CEOs and the game’s administrators at large is an argument I think is worth having.
Because after all, in the big bad world of sport, sometimes nice guys finish last.
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 since 2011. Tweet him @Vic_Arious
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