D-Day is fast approaching for coach Paul McGregor – it’s this Sunday night, at Netstrada Jubilee Stadium, when his Dragons take on the depleted Manly Sea Eagles.
When my mobile blurted out that I had a text message on Wednesday, I thought I been given a great inside scoop. However, my heart sank when I read that the entire newsroom of the Daily Telegraph had also received the missive.
My source gave me the classic urban myth line that he’d received it off a bloke from work, who’d got it off a bloke who worked in the police.
Most of us who have been following the bet plunge on the Bulldogs versus Cowboys first scoring play since the time the bookies suspended the markets had already heard of some of the names attached.
Others were a surprise.
That a known criminal was apparently pleading with the Tele and saying “what, can’t I put a bet on,” merely adds to the farce.
Should this alleged rort (please note the language) be proven to be true, the perpetrators should be banned from the game in whatever capacity they work in. Perhaps not because of the rort, but because they were so incredibly stupid to think they could get away with it.
When you have a betting market which normally no one touches and suddenly there is a nationwide betting plunge on it, well even those who think Mr Cricket just had a great day with the bat at the SCG can start to see something is up.
Of course, if there was something crooked, you can only laugh that they didn’t tap up Anthony Watts. Oh, how the blood must have drained from their faces when the hooker took the quick tap and send Ty Williams over in the corner.
Of course, amongst the facts are all the rumours, and the bookies don’t help.
Clown’s like Betstars Michael Askander do his occupation’s already soiled reputation no favours when basically every game he gets towelled up on he believes is rigged.
Heaven forbid a punter might actually get wind of some information before he does.
Askander has always had a chip on his shoulder about players pulling out of matches. But rather than just moaning about the fact, he might have dropped some coin he now feels it’s important to label such a game “fixed”.
The man in charge of Betstar has been running around telling anyone who listens that the Tigers versus Storm game at Leichardt this year was highly suspicious. Absolute tosh.
And I’m one who has been happy to point the finger in the past at games I think were dodgy.
But in this case the word simply got to the punters before Michael that the Storm were withdrawing anywhere up to six top line players and the kids were being thrown in.
That his traders were asleep at the wheel is no reason for the punters to hand back their cash.
Player withdrawals have been an issue with punting for years. Think of the amount of money ripped up by keen Knights fans who had pledged their hard earned before hearing Joey was having the week off.
Honestly, will we review every match where someone didn’t turn up after being listed on Tuesday night?
But after all the conjecture, what is clear is that David Gallop will be keen to have the matter resolved as quickly as possible after the season.
In a world where codes look to dominate the news cycle (will Andy D announce Gary Ablett to trump the Titans?) the NRL boss will be hoping all eyes are on the two grand finalists and not on whether nightclub owners, crooks and player managers were looking to fund their retirement (which, for some, may now come earlier than they planned).
At least Gallop and Demetriou are correct in one thing, banning markets solves nothing. The key is policing the matter and their joint initiative to tackle fraud is a welcomed and mature step forward.
The only other thing winning punters now hope for is that mugs like Askander actually take a few bets from them rather than ducking for cover every time they front up.