Big Mal’s even bigger stuff up

Greg Prichard Columnist

By Greg Prichard, Greg Prichard is a Roar Expert

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    Sam Thaiday has every right to be upset he didn’t receive a phone call from Australia coach Mal Meninga to tell him he’d missed out on the squad for the World Cup.

    No-one was expecting Thaiday to make the squad – and the player himself wasn’t suggesting be should have been picked – but that’s not the point.

    Thaiday was not some short-term or occasional international. He played a whopping 34 Tests, going way more than a decade. He represented his country in 2006 and then every year from 2009 to this year.

    It was reported Meninga rang Blake Ferguson to tell him he had missed out on the squad and Ferguson has only been playing Test football since last year.

    I don’t know, but I suspect it was the news Ferguson had received a phone call, when Thaiday hadn’t, that prompted the Broco to vent his frustration on social media last night.

    The Brisbane forward’s message went this way:

    “Aussie Aussie Aussie… No, No, No. So it’s official – the end of my 2017 rugby league year. Who would’ve thought this year would be the last time I played for both Queensland and Australia. A bit of respect would’ve been nice… to at least receive a phone call and learn about selection that way instead of through a leaked report from the media on last night’s news. After dedicating more than 10 years wearing the Maroon and Green and Gold jersey, you’d expect to be treated with a bit more decency and respect. I guess not. Lucky I have one more year left at the @brisbanebroncos unless someone wants to shatter that dream too. What a rollercoaster of a year – Peace out 2017”

    Hopefully, Meninga will realise he should have rung Thaiday and will contact him to admit that, with the aim of patching things up.

    Thaiday was never going to make the squad. He is 32 and was dropped from the Queensland team after their loss to NSW in State of Origin 1. Other players have overtaken him.

    But he was a mainstay for the Maroons under Meninga’s coaching before continue to play for Australia in the first two years of Meninga’s tenure there.

    As far as actual selection shocks in the actual 24-man squad go, James Tedesco should have been included. Meninga explained that Manly Tom’s Trbojevic got the nod based on versatility, and I get that, but even allowing for Trbojevic’s form this year there should have been a spot for Tedesco in the squad.

    Even if it meant Darius Boyd missing out.

    Based on a combination of form this year and going back to previous years, Melbourne’s Billy Slater and Tedesco are the two best fullbacks in the NRL.

    Trbojevic played 23 games this season for a side that made the finals, scoring 12 tries and running for an average of 189.6 metres per game. Plus, he made 24 line-breaks, had 19 try assists and 18 offloads.

    Tedesco played 21 games for a struggling team, scored five tries and averaged 175.1 metres. He made 12 line-breaks, had eight try assists and 34 offloads.

    Boyd played 20 games for a top-four side, scored three tries and averaged 109 metres. He made four line-breaks, had seven try assists and seven offloads.

    Australia should comfortably win the World Cup with the squad they have named, but Tedesco was unlucky and so was another player who missed out – Canterbury forward Josh Jackson.

    Thaiday simply deserved a heads up about his omission, based on how well he has worn the jumper for so long. That wasn’t too much to ask.

    UPDATE: Mal Meninga has now apologised to Thaiday. Read more here.

    Greg Prichard
    Greg Prichard

    Greg Prichard has spent all of his working life in the media, from way back when journalists were still using typewriters. He has covered rugby league, football, AFL and various other sports for News Limited and Fairfax newspapers and also worked for magazines, radio and pay television. Twitter: @gregprichard

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    The Crowd Says (89)

    • October 4th 2017 @ 7:47am
      Gonzo Jacobs said | October 4th 2017 @ 7:47am | ! Report

      Thaiday must have been the only person surprised that he wasn’t going to the WC.

      • October 4th 2017 @ 10:52am
        matth said | October 4th 2017 @ 10:52am | ! Report

        Read the article and Sam’s tweet. He was not expecting to get picked. He was expecting after 34 tests over ten years, that a coach or selector would have had the respect to call him to tell him personally and thank him for his service. I think that was entirely reasonable.

        • Roar Rookie

          October 4th 2017 @ 1:48pm
          Storm man said | October 4th 2017 @ 1:48pm | ! Report

          I agree math, Thaiday has been of great service to that national and Queensland Team and this snub is not the way so show respect to a great player.

        • October 4th 2017 @ 6:24pm
          Gray-Hand said | October 4th 2017 @ 6:24pm | ! Report

          If a team wants players to value and be passionate about being part of a team, then the team should demonstrate that they appreciate and value the player.

    • October 4th 2017 @ 7:47am
      Gonzo Jacobs said | October 4th 2017 @ 7:47am | ! Report

      Thaiday must have been the only person surprised that he wasn’t going to the WC.

    • October 4th 2017 @ 7:49am
      peeeko said | October 4th 2017 @ 7:49am | ! Report

      Sam was extremely lucky to play as many times for Australia as he did. He ften was selected ahead of better players because he was one of the boys

      • October 4th 2017 @ 8:04am
        Noel said | October 4th 2017 @ 8:04am | ! Report

        That’s not really the point, though, is it? Fingers Ferguson could probably count himself unlucky as well, being the most recent international player of the series and all. He got a call. You’d think any incumbent who missed out would expect at least that.

        And say what you will about Thaiday, he played tough in the Green and Gold. I’m not convinced leaving him out and putting Wade Graham in is such an easy decision to understand. Maybe its my Qld bias coming through, but I’d have an old Thaiday in before a pepped up Graham any day of the week.

        • October 4th 2017 @ 11:34am
          Not so super said | October 4th 2017 @ 11:34am | ! Report

          He wasn’t in the Qld side

        • Roar Guru

          October 4th 2017 @ 1:58pm
          Renegade said | October 4th 2017 @ 1:58pm | ! Report

          And you’d be the only person on the planet to think that way…. yes, it is your QLD bias and probably because you only watch Broncos games.

      • Roar Guru

        October 4th 2017 @ 11:17am
        Handles said | October 4th 2017 @ 11:17am | ! Report

        So because you think he didn’t deserve selection, you are now suggesting he doesn’t deserve courtesy?

    • October 4th 2017 @ 7:58am
      AR said | October 4th 2017 @ 7:58am | ! Report

      Probably the definition of a sooky, entitled, unprofessional response.

      • Roar Guru

        October 4th 2017 @ 11:19am
        Handles said | October 4th 2017 @ 11:19am | ! Report

        Your response?

    • October 4th 2017 @ 8:06am
      Womblat said | October 4th 2017 @ 8:06am | ! Report

      Is it a millennial thing? I like big Sam but does every player (whether they’d played 0 or 2 or 35 games for Australia) get a “sorry” phone call when they aren’t picked? Selectors would be spending more time on the phone to former members than the current ones. I’m all for courtesy but come on…

      What’s next? Texts to every League player telling them they weren’t picked? Phone calls to parents explaining why their son was omitted? Written apologies in the classifieds? I missed selection in a rep mixed netball side once. I should lodge a bullying claim.

      If you’re picked, celebrate. If not, too bad, be happy and supportive, and move on with class. Playing for your country is a privilege. Sounds like some have confused it with a right.

      • October 4th 2017 @ 8:22am
        Beastie said | October 4th 2017 @ 8:22am | ! Report

        It should be common courtesy for a player that played for their country in the most recent fixture to be given a phone call saying they won’t be picked for the next fixture. It’s pretty simple stuff, and there aren’t that many phone calls that would need to be made.

        • October 4th 2017 @ 8:35am
          Womblat said | October 4th 2017 @ 8:35am | ! Report

          There are more than 50 of them, players who have worn the green and gold in some playing capacity, running around today. And that’s only in the top grade. If you follow it through, U20, youth, schoolboys, women’s, kids and State rep sides need the same privilege don’t they?

          Slippery slope, and not really that simple.

          • October 4th 2017 @ 9:21am
            Beastie said | October 4th 2017 @ 9:21am | ! Report

            No, it shouldn’t have to apply to all of those, just the top tier sides. Men’s, Women’s and state sides would be expected I would think. Also, it’s not every single player that has ever played, that’s just not possible. I’m talking about the players that represented the team in the last game played. There are 4 players not selected in this team that were there last time. Ferguson, Thurston, Merrin and Thiaday. 2 of them are injured, and therefor weren’t going to be selected. Of the other 2, only 1 received a call. How much time would it have taken Meninga to pick up the phone and give Thiaday a call? About as much time as it has taken you to read this response.
            As for the other competitions, most players would generally not be selected due to not being eligible. e.g 20’s players getting older, etc. Any that were dropped due to other reasons could be contacted by their respective coaches; it’s not up to Meninga to do that.

      • October 4th 2017 @ 2:31pm
        John said | October 4th 2017 @ 2:31pm | ! Report

        If reckon if Mal didn’t call Fergo there wouldn’t have been this blow-up. I would say it’s a matter of consistency, why would Mal feel obligated to personally call someone who has played less games, had less of an impact over someone who has had the contributions that Sam has made. Last year Mal called Gallen and Parker out of respect.

    • October 4th 2017 @ 8:08am
      peeeko said | October 4th 2017 @ 8:08am | ! Report

      players i would select for australia ahead of Sam

      jake t

      • October 4th 2017 @ 8:40am
        FnQ said | October 4th 2017 @ 8:40am | ! Report

        You left out peeeko?

      • October 4th 2017 @ 10:47am
        Steve Johnston said | October 4th 2017 @ 10:47am | ! Report

        Hope he’s got unlimited calls.

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