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Old cliches about league and union surface again

Steve Kaless Roar Guru

By Steve Kaless, Steve Kaless is a Roar Guru

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85 Have your say

    The Waratahs' Timana Tahu runs in to score as he's tackled by the Reds' Mark McLinden during their Super 14 match at the Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney, Friday, March 6, 2009. AAP Image/Dean Lewins

    The Waratahs' Timana Tahu runs in to score as he's tackled by the Reds' Mark McLinden during their Super 14 match at the Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney, Friday, March 6, 2009. AAP Image/Dean Lewins

    The Craig Wing and Timana Tahu transfers this week provided a great insight into the way that league and union followers view their own patch of the world. It’s remarkable just how many old stereotypes fill airwaves, column inches and cyberspace.

    It didn’t take long for rugby commentators for allude to the idea that they thought Tahu just another thick leaguie who couldn’t grasp the cerebral sport of union (Richard Loe PhD).

    It is the same when a union player is branded weak and unable to tackle when he fails in his transition to league, Garrick Morgan, for example.

    The same from the league side: Tahu was bored and wasted in rugby.

    The union crowd has also been quick to dismiss the idea of ever returning to the league to cherry pick their talent again. But this claim always has a quick caveat: unless they are young or have some sort of union background.

    Considering a huge chunk of schools play both, it is hardly unlikely these days anyone would not finish their schooling without having dabbled in the other sport, particularly with so many talented athletes graduating from sports high schools.

    But in the end, does it even matter, as we are all told sport is business.

    Players will chase the biggest pay packet, even if they are unsure of their own success, while administrators will chase the biggest stars for the “bums on seats factor.”

    In modern day sport, the results on the field are only part of the equation.

    When players chase the dollars, the age old line is “what would you do if another company offered to double your wages?”

    It’s worth remembering when a player leaves, as well.

    So he didn’t work, oh well. He was well paid, and providing he made a genuine effort, can have a clean conscience for his pay cheque. If the same thing happened in your line of work, would you hand back the money?

    Part of our anger towards the supposed failures probably comes from the enormous expectations we place on these ‘converts’.

    Because we love the sport we follow, we want everyone who plays it to enjoy it as well. When they seem unhappy, it is a slight against our own choices.

    Union fans would have seen the images of Tahu slam dunking the ball over the cross bar for the Eels and pictured him doing the same for the Waratahs and Wallabies. The forlorn figure on the bench wasn’t the sort of reality anybody wanted.

    But the same has occurred again with Craig Wing.

    The ink had barely dried on his contract before he was being talked up as a potential World Cup star and marquee signing for the Melbourne franchise.

    His career with the Rabbitohs and Roosters was largely glanced over as we were reminded about his schoolboy rugby achievements.

    All this for a player largely looking to secure a pay cheque to cover up a failed third party deal and some poor investment decisions.

    George Orwell wrote about the never-ending war, it is the same with union and league: every debate ends with a list of future world beaters which will keep the respective code in rude health.

    I doubt the two sets of bickering fans could actually survive without the other, and I know that whatever mistakes have been made in the past are sure to occur again.

    It’s sport, after all.

    But events of this week, and the discussions (a diplomatic term) that followed, make me laugh when I think some people believe that a merged code could actually become a reality.

    If you could choose from any and every NRL player in the competition, who would you pick in your rugby league dream team? Let us know with our team picker right here, and be sure to share it with all your league-loving mates.

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    The Crowd Says (85)

    • July 24th 2009 @ 2:56am
      Andystath said | July 24th 2009 @ 2:56am | ! Report

      Shall we get out the tiny violins Steve?What a absolute crock,how about value for money?The thing that gets me is Wendal Sailor,everytime he is interview he talks about “being kicked to the kerb by union” or how hard done by he was by Rugby Union.The reality is he had cocaine levels in his blood that equated to a habitual user,there was no apology to the fans or his team mates.Andrew Walker delt with a similar situation with alot more humility and tried to solve the problem rather than blame someone else.

      • July 24th 2009 @ 8:30am
        Balmain boy said | July 24th 2009 @ 8:30am | ! Report

        I think the the central point of the Kaless artticle is that the Tahu situation is just more fuel for the fire in the debate between League and Union supporters, one that has been raging since the codes split and likely to continue until one or both disappear. By way of a diversion if all contributers want a good laugh read Growden’s Ruck and Maul column in todays Sydney Morning Herald. Apparently the so called dust up between Moore and Alexander came to a halt when they saw Al Baxter advancing towards them !

        God help us all if Wallaby fontrowers are fearful of Baxter. Matfied, McCaw and company, beware..”the Glare” is fired up and coming after you !

        • July 24th 2009 @ 4:32pm
          MarkH said | July 24th 2009 @ 4:32pm | ! Report

          Tahu reeks of a SBW saga.

      • July 24th 2009 @ 9:37pm
        OldManEmu said | July 24th 2009 @ 9:37pm | ! Report

        Andy I think you may have unwittingly proven Steve’s fairly simple point.

    • July 24th 2009 @ 6:28am
      Steffy said | July 24th 2009 @ 6:28am | ! Report

      A chap who played for the union team formerly known as Jonny Wilkinson’s Newcasle Falcons last year and who was also an England Saxons (the England Union ‘A’ team) player has been given a months trial at Bradford Bulls (rugby league club) – he will be playing in the reserves side so the coaches can gauge if he is able to make the step up. No fuss, just a a few trial games to see how he goes. The rugby league writers have given him some coverage, the union writers have ignored him.

    • Roar Guru

      July 24th 2009 @ 6:41am
      Knives Out said | July 24th 2009 @ 6:41am | ! Report

      You don’t seem to know his name, Steffy. Nor do you seem to have a point, or at least a point that has any link to the article. Am I wrong?

    • July 24th 2009 @ 6:46am
      Steffy said | July 24th 2009 @ 6:46am | ! Report

      You are correst that I don’t know his name, I had never heard of him previously so his name hasn’t stuck but a quick google shows he is called John Rudd:

      The point is that Bradford are giving him a trial before signing him – no histrionics about him just a trial to see how he goes and then they will take it form there.

      • Roar Guru

        July 24th 2009 @ 10:58am
        Hoy said | July 24th 2009 @ 10:58am | ! Report

        Therein lies my problem when the ARU sign converts. They are given a large salary, and are played almost immediately, learning on the larger stage, and when they fail, they fail spectacularly (Tahu in SA).

        League seem to do it better by making the player earn his spot. When Manly signed hot Wallaby prospect (according to papers) Jared Whyrea Hargreaves, just after the ARC ended, I was looking forward to seeing him run around in league and was a little disappointed he went that way. I liked the look of him as a flanker. It has only been the latter stages this year where he has started off the bench for Manly. So they have actually had him down in park footy playing and learning for a long time.

        I would have no real problem if the ARU did this. I think the fanfare from the ARU or whatever province when they sign a convert is too much. They then feel the pressure to play the player before he has even figured out the differences between the games (and there are many).

        Whatever promises were made to Tahu about playing were invariably a little bit early as he just didn’t quite get the positional play for defence in his position. With ball in hand, he was great, but at best that leaves around 50% of the time when he was lost and exposed.

        • July 24th 2009 @ 11:01pm
          Tom said | July 24th 2009 @ 11:01pm | ! Report

          Good point. Manly didn’t rush him, he has played a couple of NRL games and shown that he has promise, but is not brilliant now. Of course then the Roosters came in and bought him for much more than Manly can offer. I’m sure many will relish the irony of Manly getting players they put a lot into in terms of development getting poached by other clubs.

    • Roar Guru

      July 24th 2009 @ 6:49am
      Knives Out said | July 24th 2009 @ 6:49am | ! Report

      Why would there any hyperbole? Rudd is a rugby union journeyman. What has the press coverage to do with a lack of histrionics and whom are the league press?

    • July 24th 2009 @ 6:58am
      Steffy said | July 24th 2009 @ 6:58am | ! Report

      There shouldn’t be any hyperbole, he is just a former union player having a trial period for a rugby league club. Instead of signing him without a trial and getting on to the media they have given him a trial which has been briefly covered by some rugby league writers. Compare that to all the twaddle in the aussie press about Wing signing for some hopeless Japanese works team.

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