Russell Crowe, SBW headline NRL apathy
Russell Crowe and Peter Holmes a Court celebrate a Souths victory. AAP Image/Action Photographics/Grant Trouville
With Russell Crowe looking to flick-pass his share in the South Sydney Rabbitohs to another Master and Commander at the end of 2013, is the NRL facing a war on big-name apathy?
Even for a lazy, tied cricket Test kind of off-season, the last few weeks have seen a number of big names in the rugby league universe give a big shrug and half sigh ‘whatever’ to the game.
First, it was Sonny Bill Williams fronting the press after signing on with the Roosters, where he managed to muster up all the excitement as a teenager mowing his parents’ lawn after some hard core PlayStation banning bribery.
“Yeah sure I’d rather be playing for the All Blacks, boxing, skiing, suit shopping, but y’know, a handshake deal after a dozen Smirnoff Ice’s is a deal in my books.”
What about playing in the Rugby League World Cup for the Kiwis at the end of 2013, Sonny to become a dual World Cup winning rugby athlete?
“I dunno bru, maybe eh… there’s usually nothing good on telly that time of year is there?”
SBW then handed the unenthused baton to Israel Folau who, feeling he didn’t have the commitment to honour his deal with AFL’s GWS, decided to not commit himself to a return to the NRL.
“Yeah I’ll probably end up in the NRL, but maybe I’ll look at rugby union as well. Or the NFL, EPL, NBA… tennis, golf – that pays pretty well doesn’t it?”
Now granted, we are living in the age of the superstar, where individual athletes can dwarf teams, and entire competitions in some sports. But fellas, let me give you the tip, this is the part where you’re supposed to say “thank you”.
Thank you to the NRL for willing to give you another go, so you can get paid your squillions despite having given the game the finger on the way out last time. To tell us how happy you are to be back in the game, how you’re going to give it everything you’ve got and work hard to win over the fans.
Maybe if you’re really committed to the cause you’ll even promise to be too busy training the house down with your club, and well, being a professional rugby league player, to go and coach teams in other winter sports, investigate options from made up Japanese rugby clubs or wax lyrical about all the other sports who want a piece of you.
Maybe I’m just being over-sensitive as a fan who is already counting down the days to round one 2013 and getting into heated arguments about shades of blue on the Titans away jerseys.
But it just struck me the other day sitting in a cafe, watching a highly paid recruit who battles the bulge, throwing down his third Corona… at 10:45 in the morning, that the NRL may benefit from a player group that was a little more dedicated to the cause.
After all, rugby league is a game that cannot be played at anything other than total intensity, and fans can spot a half-arsed effort from the back row of ANZ Stadium.
So why can’t the sort of resolve and commitment players show on the field be extended to the game at large?
Therefore I propose if the players’ hearts aren’t it and are just chasing the cash while making fools of the paying customer, then maybe they’re better off being honest with themselves and, like Rusty Crowe, pulling up stumps and making a name for themselves elsewhere.
Who knows, he might even give you a ride there in his boat.
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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