Last week I was asked if I wanted to write something about the upcoming season opener between the Rabbitohs and the team from Bondi Junction which is, coincidentally, one of Sydney’s biggest shopping destinations.
It was the week before the first round, and I declined because when it comes to opining on the intricacies of the game of rugby league there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, better positioned than I am to comment.
I didn’t want to talk up the prospects of a Sonny Bill William and Sam Burgess clash, nor question whether Nathan Merritt is the best winger never to be selected for his state or country, nor ask who should be frontrunner for the NSW halfback position.
I thought I’d let the coaches and the players do the talking.
Cheap shots aside, nobody doubts that the Sydney Roosters will get a lot better this season, and their talent will learn from the opening round and make others pay for it.
So while I won’t ever give my opinion on on-field issues, I am a bit more qualified to write about the organisation of clubs and crisis management, which is what we inherited at the Rabbitohs.
We made it look like a turnaround but at times it felt like a bailout – a good old-fashioned all hands on deck, plug the leaks, keep the vessel afloat type of rescue.
Which is why I wanted share my personal thoughts about the situation at Cronulla.
(Note: the Rabbitohs family is full of people with their own strong opinions who voice them as friends of the game, and in no way is this an official South Sydney position.)
With regards to any medical improprieties, God knows what happened, (and possibly the wise folks at ASADA do as well.)
It will be sorted out and the sooner the better, as has been well articulated by the NRL CEO, David Smith.
It is said the allegations threaten the existence of the Cronulla Sharks. No club deserves to be brought down by the actions, alleged actions, of any one group of people.
A club is more than any set of administrators, coaches or players.
A club belongs to its community, and that community extends to all clubs in the NRL and to all the fans of our game.
While we talk in ruthless terms about winning this weekend’s game, we don’t go to a game to put another club out of business. We go to beat them on the scoreboard.
We love their passionate fans, we love their singing, we love their pride and their colours (Ok we hate the Roosters, but that’s a different matter).
In truth, no club sensibly wishes the demise of another club.
I would love the Roosters to stay around for another century and be great combatants every time we face them. There is no victory sweeter than a hard-fought victory.
So I send my support to the Cronulla board, to its fans and its players. I know your club can make it if every member of your community works together.
I hope you rebuild yourself quickly, I hope you address whatever happened and that your club comes out stronger.
I also hope the Rabbitohs beat you on Monday night, but that’s another matter entirely!