Life’s tough for league’s fringe players

11 Have your say

    It’s glorious at the top. The upper echelon of the National Rugby League is a beautiful place. Celebrity status; money; women; and respect. Everything you could have ever wanted in your wildest dreams.

    But what about the fringe players? Spare a thought for them.

    There is a scene in the Hollywood movie Moneyball where an uncontracted player is offered a shot at redemption – a contract. When the team officials leave the house to let him consider the offer, all he can do is hug his wife. Any player with a family that has been in that situation knows exactly how that feels.

    For some, everything comes easily. Everything falls into place when it’s suppose to and they quickly become a rugby league superstar. The public wants to know everything about them and before they know it, they’re the poster on a kid’s wall.

    We have all heard a retiring player use the line “rugby league has been good to me”.

    But what about guys like the Cronulla Sharks’ Jeff Robson?

    The journeyman will continue his career in the Shire in 2012 where he will battle it out with Wade Graham, Chad Townsend and Albert Kelly for the number seven spot.

    A guaranteed contract at the Sharks is a big improvement from his days at the Manly Sea Eagles where he only played six games in five years.

    Robson also had to work as a greenkeeper in his days at Parramatta, where on one occasion a security guard refused to let him into the ground because they didn’t believe he was a footballer.

    And for what? In a few years, Robson will probably end up retiring and fading from our memory like many have done before him.

    Michael Lett made his debut for the Sydney Roosters in 2005. Later that year he was named in the Junior Kangaroos side to play games against Papua New Guinea and the junior Kiwis. The squad included such names as Greg Inglis, Todd Carney, Karmichael Hunt and Jarrod Mullen.

    Since then, Lett has spent time at the Dragons and now the Bulldogs. All for eleven games.

    Sometimes things don’t go to plan. In 2003, the Penrith Panthers made both the NRL and the reserve grade grand finals. It was a huge day for the club and all the players involved.

    Veteran prop Colin Ward was named 18th man for the NRL team in case of injury and warmed up with the side. Unfortunately for him, that meant he missed out on playing in either game.

    The existence of a rugby league player at the bottom of the food-chain is almost like a fish stuck in a tiny waterhole in the middle of a drought.

    All you can do is keep working, and keep scraping and clawing for the hope you get another chance.

    The murky, unknowing place of a fringe player is somewhere no one wants to be.

    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 (11)

    • Roar Guru

      February 29th 2012 @ 4:40am
      peeeko said | February 29th 2012 @ 4:40am | ! Report

      i think Jeff robson can thank his lucky stars that the sharks gave him a full time contract, he is not a NRL standard player. they already have an average hooker/half back up in John Morris. As for michael Lett, i think he has been unlucky not to get a run on a more permament basis

    • February 29th 2012 @ 8:04am
      Andy said | February 29th 2012 @ 8:04am | ! Report

      I think Jeff Robson and Daniel Mortimer were a bit lucky that they played in a team with Hayne’s long kicking game. But in regards to Jeff Robson he made the right decision to leave manly. Because if he had stayed he probably would have had a much shorter career in rugby league. As a fringe player if you can get into Super league in England, than i think you could consider your career as being a successful one.

    • February 29th 2012 @ 8:57am
      Steve said | February 29th 2012 @ 8:57am | ! Report

      ‘Celebrity status, money, women and respect’ that’s a very different NRL to the one I see. Seeing players at 2am in the morning lining up to get into a seedy night club, being surrounded by drunken uni students calling them names which I shall not repeat after playing in front of 7000 people in the pouring rain at shark park is the NRL I see. However some people seem to confuse the NRL with the NFL.

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      • February 29th 2012 @ 1:03pm
        Pete75 said | February 29th 2012 @ 1:03pm | ! Report

        I actually tend to agree with this Steve,

        I’ve known a few NRL players in my time and most of them have been thoroughly decent people. Unfortunately there seems to be a perception that being an NRL player lowers your intellect to just above sentience, that you’re a rapist, and that you’re generally pretty untrustworthy.

        A good illustration was what happened to Benji Marshall last year. The bloke was dragged through the mud for six months while some tip rat had his shot at trying to get a cheap compo payout and some notoriety. Anyone who has had any association with Benji will understand that he is probably one of the finest young men you’d care to meet, one conscious of his image and of his social responsibility.

        Unfortunately nobody I know of has the patience of a saint.

        I’m not sure that there are many people who hold basic human respect for NRL players, let alone for what they do. I’m not suggesting they’re all innocent victims on every occasion, but I think it’s a long bow to draw to suggest that there’s widespread “respect” for league players in the community.

        Another quality column Curtis, keep ’em coming!

    • February 29th 2012 @ 10:52am
      Ken said | February 29th 2012 @ 10:52am | ! Report

      I’m not really sure what the point is here, sure not everyone’s a superstar but all of us have to deal with that. I’ve played a lot of sports and taken on a number of other endeavours through my life, some of them I was very good at (and some not so much…) but eventually I got to a point in each of them where I realised I would never compete with the genuine elite. A lot of these endeavours I spent considerable time and effort both before and after realising my ceiling – I don’t regret any of them.

      If life were that bad that could always stop playing footy and go get a job like everyone else – that’s their call though and I wouldn’t bag them for continuing to work hard at their dreams even if they may never get there. Life’s just a journey anyway, no one gets out alive!

    • February 29th 2012 @ 12:21pm
      Dan said | February 29th 2012 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

      So Steve you’ve never been to a nightclub at 2am? You cant honestly tell me you wouldn’t want to be someone like Darren Lockyer, Cameron Smith or Billy Slater?

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    • February 29th 2012 @ 1:07pm
      Paul said | February 29th 2012 @ 1:07pm | ! Report

      Its the cold hearted realism that is professional sport. If your good enough you will get paid accordingly and presented with the oppurtunity. The pubs are full of talk about locals who shouldve made it but now mow lawns for a living.

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