‘Mick’ll be ejected!’ ‘Kick him out!’
Rugby league appears willing to revere and forgive anyone who stands even slightly above the pack for fear they will leave in search of greener pastures.
Much of this paranoia started over a decade ago, with the triple rugby-poach of Lote Tiquiri, Matt Rogers, and Wendell Sailor as a fairly successful marketing ploy to prepare for the home 2003 Rugby World Cup.
Years later this followed with high-profile, acrimonious exits from Mark Gasnier and Sonny Bill Williams to French rugby.
AFL came from left field and attempted a marketing stunt by throwing stupid money at Karmichael Hunt and Israel Folau to convert and drum up support for new franchises. Both have now moved on from this unsuccessful experiment, but have yet to return ‘home’ to rugby league.
Now we have Jarryd Hayne’s over-hyped and over-scrutinised NFL/rubgy sevens experiment, and Sonny Bill Williams chasing gold in Rio.
Each time a phenomenal athlete left our game, scaremongers in the media seized these fleeting moments to shout from the rooftops that sky is falling on rugby league club.
With the year the once mighty Parramatta Eels have had, you could excuse some for actually believing that narrative. Brad Arthur must feel like an amateur boxer who took a fight against the champ at short notice – the hits have been coming from angles that he didn’t know existed, and they haven’t stopped.
Semi Radradra’s exit is yet be decided – he’s Semi in, Semi out – so the scaremongers are selling papers predicting doom and gloom once again, and we are buying it.
The rumblings have been there since the start of the year: Semi will leave if he doesn’t get to play State of Origin, Semi will leave if he doesn’t get picked for Australia, Semi will leave for a better paycheck in French rugby.
Semi left, big surprise.
The situation is now completely untenable for both sides, if he actually comes back, that is even more of a farce. The real question is, why do we care?
Yes he is a great winger, and until recently the only shining light in dark times for the Eels. But the very reason why there are Semis, or SBWs or, Gasniers to leave this great game is the exact reason for everyone to take faith and move on already.
The next Semi isn’t around the corner, he is already here. Tune in and watch any game in the NRL this weekend, the standard is unbelievable and the athletes are world class. No wonder every man, his dog, and even the mighty All Blacks are knocking on the door.
Semi bloody who, mate?