A night with Cam and JT? No thanks

Jack Byrnes Roar Pro

By Jack Byrnes, Jack Byrnes is a Roar Pro

104 Have your say

    No player is bigger than the game. Or so we thought.

    On Friday night, the NRL will watch teary eyed as Suncorp Stadium rolls out the red carpet for two of the game’s greatest ever players.

    The QRL will resemble that of a blubbering mess as two of their darling children strut on out for the testimonial to end all testimonials.

    Hang on, a testimonial?

    Something doesn’t feel right. Cameron Smith isn’t retiring from either rep or club football at the end of the year. And Thurston? Sure he never got a proper farewell from the Queensland faithful (injury robbed him of of the chance to play in last year’s decider) but I don’t remember a testimonial for Darren Lockyer or Gorden Tallis either.

    While these celebratory sporting occasions are common place in other codes and other continents (notably European soccer), they’re as rare as hens teeth in Australian rugby league. On top of that, when witnessing a testimonial in football they’re generally organised by a club to farewell a departing legend.

    Why are we having a testimonial for two players from different clubs, one of whom is potentially retiring in 12 months and the other who could play for another three or four years? Something smells like a Queensland conspi…

    Anyhow, the suggestions that Smith and Thurston will pocket a handsome profit from Friday’s proceedings are also cause for concern. If players are able to earn payments exempt from the salary cap for a testimonial, how else can clubs exploit the superstar status of their personnel for financial gain outside of that which is regulated by the cap? Creative accountants must surely be licking their lips.

    Johnathan Thurston Cameron Smith Queensland Maroons State of Origin NRL 2017

    (AAP Image/Darren England)

    More immediately however, Cameron Smith should not be able to participate in Friday’s proceedings on the field. If the game really cared for the welfare of it’s participants, those who deliberately elbow others in the head for tackling them too hard should be rubbed out for at least a week.

    After Smith did exactly that on his opposite number in last week’s World Club Challenge, the NRL conveniently deemed a warning letter to be more appropriate. Obviously, commercial exposure and reputation is more important than player safety.

    All this does is add substance to the widely held belief that Smith is a protected species – a man whose remarkable numbers on the scoreboard have rendered him impossible to discipline or even talk poorly about.

    In an age where the importance of treating referees with respect is becoming paramount, the Australian captain fails in his obligation here as well. How are kids supposed to respect referees and their decisions when they see the game’s most championed figure question and attempt to manipulate match officials week in, week out?

    One of the criteria established by the NRL in the face of scrutiny was that, to be eligible for a testimonial, players need a near ‘unblemished record’. While he has been somewhat impossible to penalise or suspend across his illustrious career, I do seem to remember Cameron Smith being rubbed out from a certain grand final for a tackle straight out of the Melbourne Storm academy of hand-to-hand combat.

    Moving forward, one silver lining from Friday’s game will be the fact a number of charities will benefit from it. I do question however, why an event partnered with four different charities will see it’s two stars potentially take home six figures each for a nights work. Surely all of that money could go to charity?

    I am not doubting the utter and absolute legendary status of both players in terms of footballing ability. It is enshrined in gold. Smith is the GOAT. Thurston isn’t far behind. That doesn’t mean this testimonial makes sense however.

    Oh and before I forget, go the Blues.

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    The Crowd Says (104)

    • February 21st 2018 @ 6:13am
      BA Sports said | February 21st 2018 @ 6:13am | ! Report

      So 3-0 the Blues this year hey?

      This should have a “ha” next to it right?

      There are criteria for a testimonial, so it isn’t like the Eels could have one for Jeff Robson. So it is the same for everyone.
      And if Cameron Smith announced he was joining your club today, you would salivate, jump in the air and not come down until Grand Final day when your team would most likely be playing.

      • February 21st 2018 @ 6:57am
        jeff dustby said | February 21st 2018 @ 6:57am | ! Report

        and that is good reason for a testimonial?

        • Roar Guru

          February 21st 2018 @ 8:31am
          Emcie said | February 21st 2018 @ 8:31am | ! Report

          mate, how is a testimonial any different from letting a player have a boxing match in the off season?

          • February 21st 2018 @ 3:57pm
            Memphis said | February 21st 2018 @ 3:57pm | ! Report

            Anyone can box in the off season but its not a club sanctioned event and no-one may turn up

      • February 21st 2018 @ 8:29am
        Duncan Smith said | February 21st 2018 @ 8:29am | ! Report

        Good idea. Bulldogs vs Parra next week as a testimonial for Jeff Robson and Greg Eastwood to celebrate their one-club status and legacy they leave the game. That will sell out Homebush.

        • February 21st 2018 @ 10:37am
          Jay said | February 21st 2018 @ 10:37am | ! Report

          sounds good but neither are one-club players.

          • February 21st 2018 @ 1:24pm
            DMac said | February 21st 2018 @ 1:24pm | ! Report

            Melbourne is not in Queensland.

          • February 22nd 2018 @ 9:59am
            Lachy said | February 22nd 2018 @ 9:59am | ! Report

            Neither is Thurston

      • Roar Guru

        February 21st 2018 @ 1:06pm
        BigJ said | February 21st 2018 @ 1:06pm | ! Report

        Sorry to say Jack, but your whinge fest of an article is because the best players have and always will come form qld and you NSW mob didn’t think of this idea first , plus you don’t have to players good enough for this, has got your backs up. It a great opportunity for Brisbane and the NRL to showcase a game that would never normally see and bring $$$$ to the NRL, whats the problem with that??? I am only upset that I don’t get to see it live but I get my chance on May 25th this year when the Storm play the Cowboys in Townsville this year. Hope all enjoy the game, cant wait for 2018 season to start.

    • Roar Guru

      February 21st 2018 @ 6:44am
      The Barry said | February 21st 2018 @ 6:44am | ! Report

      So the rule says a “near unblemished record” and the only blemishes on Smith’s record you cite are a one game suspension nine years ago and talking to referees. That sounds near unblemished to me.

      Smith might try and manipulate the refs but he does it by talking to them calmly and respectfully. I’m surprised more captains don’t do it rather than pointing, yelling, spitting and swearing.

      In the NRL season proper I think Smith probably should have got a week for the elbow. It was silly. It was illegal. It wouldn’t have knocked the skin off a rice pudding. But the NRL has done the right thing here. Banning him from his own testimonial for that would be absolutely daft and a poor look. It’s not like he knocked someone’s block off.

      • February 21st 2018 @ 6:58am
        jeff dustby said | February 21st 2018 @ 6:58am | ! Report

        its an unblemished record as JT had no cover ups early in his career at the Dogs

        • Roar Guru

          February 21st 2018 @ 7:45am
          The Barry said | February 21st 2018 @ 7:45am | ! Report

          What’s your point…?

          • Roar Guru

            February 21st 2018 @ 1:01pm
            BigJ said | February 21st 2018 @ 1:01pm | ! Report

            cast your mind back to a certain incident in 2004 Barry, should not be too hard to remember.

            • Roar Guru

              February 21st 2018 @ 4:58pm
              The Barry said | February 21st 2018 @ 4:58pm | ! Report

              I’m not saying I don’t remember it BJ. Besides you might find the incident jd is referring to happened in 2003.

              I’m asking about the relevance of unfounded rumours on whether JT deserves a testimonial.

              You probably don’t realise this but if you’re siding with jd you’re pretty much acknowledging that this game shouldn’t be going ahead which flies on the face of your earlier equally exuberant and incoherent post.

              Well done.

              • Roar Guru

                February 21st 2018 @ 7:26pm
                Adam Hayward said | February 21st 2018 @ 7:26pm | ! Report

                Unfounded rumors is exactly right. The people of NSW need to let that go, as there is zero credible evidence to suggest JT did anything wrong. Move on.

              • Roar Guru

                February 21st 2018 @ 7:54pm
                The Barry said | February 21st 2018 @ 7:54pm | ! Report

                Mate – I’m a NSWman and BigJ is a Queenslander.

                Stoopidity doesn’t know state lines…

              • Roar Guru

                February 22nd 2018 @ 11:22am
                BigJ said | February 22nd 2018 @ 11:22am | ! Report

                The testimonial is for Cam Smith, as usual Jt is just tagging along for the ride. Think about it would of they of done this if the cowboys played some else in the grand final last year??? Of course not, there was no testimonial to Jt in 2016.

      • February 21st 2018 @ 10:22am
        Albo said | February 21st 2018 @ 10:22am | ! Report

        I’m a bit torn on this one. I am a huge fan of both players and have no problem categorising them both as the GOAT in our game. But I am not one for Testimonials , particularly whilst they are still playing the game and already getting very well paid in NRL terms, compared to most other players in our game. These two players are already celebrated all season long , every season, and rightly so. They are the GOAT ! For me, a testimonial should be held in appreciation of a highly contributing player who might also need a bit of financial help for whatever reason. Not sure this applies for these two. I would much rather this match was another Charity Shield type match featuring these two GOAT players. You will still get the big appreciative crowds and much TV coverage, you will get a great pre-season hit out for both teams, and the charities would be the real beneficiaries in the end.

    • February 21st 2018 @ 7:00am
      jeff dustby said | February 21st 2018 @ 7:00am | ! Report

      there will be huge ratings ………. in QLD. Hopefully they talk about it all night on that great show “Queenslanders only” which features the AUSTRALIAN coach. imagine if there was a show NSW only? ( there is no qld representation in regular NRL medai through Sampson, Vautin, Ikin, Brohman, Lockyer and Lewis

      • Roar Guru

        February 21st 2018 @ 7:34am
        Emcie said | February 21st 2018 @ 7:34am | ! Report

        That must have been weighing heavily on you to bring it up in a completely unrelated article, I hope you feel better now mate

        • February 21st 2018 @ 7:49am
          jeff dustby said | February 21st 2018 @ 7:49am | ! Report

          You don’t think they will all gush about the game on that quality program ?

          • Roar Guru

            February 21st 2018 @ 7:59am
            Emcie said | February 21st 2018 @ 7:59am | ! Report

            A show thats not even currently on? You don’t have to watch it you know

      • Roar Guru

        February 21st 2018 @ 7:32pm
        Adam Hayward said | February 21st 2018 @ 7:32pm | ! Report

        You sound very bitter and jealous Jeff.

        Why don’t you send fox league an angry email requesting a NSW only show. You’d find most Queenslanders are very passionate and have a great interest in the game as a whole, and would definitely tune in to New South Walesers Only. And you know, the Australian coach is from Queensland right? Speaking of, Mal has conducted himself very professionally and has shown zero bias when it comes to selecting NSW players. He’s even shown up to NSW Origin camps to connect with the players.

        So, don’t let the facts get in the way of your feelings lol

        • Roar Guru

          February 22nd 2018 @ 4:30pm
          BigJ said | February 22nd 2018 @ 4:30pm | ! Report

          Pretty sure that now that the footy show sacked the fat man, the show is all nsw presenters, so Jeff gets his wish

    • February 21st 2018 @ 7:15am
      madmax said | February 21st 2018 @ 7:15am | ! Report

      I wonder how much of the ‘testimonial proceedings’ the other 32 players will get! What a joke!! How is this not considered a TPA?? Typical NRL & Greenberg hypocrisy. Punish clubs for supposed TPA issues yet pay these 2 for what? Oh yeah & what about the ‘war chest’ that the NRL have to keep players in the NRL is that not an extra payment above their contracted salary? Shows that the NRL do have their favorites. What would be sad yet funny at the same time is if both players suffered season ending injuries whilst playing.

      • February 21st 2018 @ 8:06am
        YouHaveGotToBE said | February 21st 2018 @ 8:06am | ! Report

        Ahhh yes. As we know, Melbourne have never been punished for illegal TPAs. Hypocritical NRL indeed.

        You do realise this is seperate to a TPA and is a legitimate allowance in the NRLs rules? Just because its hasnt actually been done before, doesnt mean its not allowed. I dont see how it is the NRL paying for these 2 either?

        The NRL hasnt used a warchest yet either so I am not sure what your point is.

        • Roar Guru

          February 21st 2018 @ 4:19pm
          Matt H said | February 21st 2018 @ 4:19pm | ! Report

          Well actually they used it once, before the ‘war chest’ was official. Channel 9 guaranteed Joey Johns a career after football and paid him a bucket of money, to prevent him going to Union. This was not long after the NRL said there was no help available to stop Union poaching Sailor, Tuqiri and Rogers. But that ok, they were from QLD after all.

      • Roar Guru

        February 21st 2018 @ 8:15am
        Emcie said | February 21st 2018 @ 8:15am | ! Report

        I don’t see how in any way this is an unfair advantage to the two clubs. Both players have captained their club for over a decade, been prominant fixtures of both state and national teams over that decade and are both at the back end of their careers while being two of the highest paid players in the comp. They earned this off their own backs with no manipulation orcestrated by their prospective clubs.

        • Roar Rookie

          February 21st 2018 @ 9:38am
          Don said | February 21st 2018 @ 9:38am | ! Report

          I think a simpler question could be asked of Blues fans;
          Why isn’t a testimonial match for Paul Gallen and Robbie Farah being played in Sydney on the same weekend as the Smith and JT one?

          2 Blues greats who are likely in the last year of their careers.
          Why hasn’t the NSWRL done something?
          Why didn’t Cronulla, Souths and the player managers just replicate the testimonial concept to their advantage?

          Or, is it because there would be little interest, they are polarising players and few would turn up?

          Now that the concept has been approved, who is next?
          Think about who you have in your side in the twilight of their careers who, if a testimonial match was played for them would draw a big crowd… there aren’t many…

          • Roar Guru

            February 21st 2018 @ 10:12am
            Emcie said | February 21st 2018 @ 10:12am | ! Report

            Honestly, Lockyer and Johns are probably the only other two players of the modern era that would draw any interest, I really can’t think of anyone else

            • Roar Rookie

              February 21st 2018 @ 11:55am
              Don said | February 21st 2018 @ 11:55am | ! Report

              Exactly!
              These guys are unique and an event like this only works because of that.

              You need to have players who, even if they are not necessarily liked by opposition fans, they are largely respected.

              And to answer another question posed in the article; it can only be played at the start of a season because it can still be classed as a trial game and be allowed under the players EBA.
              Post season games are only allowed in test matches / rep footy.

          • February 21st 2018 @ 1:54pm
            BA Sports said | February 21st 2018 @ 1:54pm | ! Report

            Well Gallen has 18 judiciary charges in his career which means he misses the criteria.

          • Roar Guru

            February 21st 2018 @ 4:21pm
            Matt H said | February 21st 2018 @ 4:21pm | ! Report

            The problem for NSW players is that with so many clubs in Sydney, with historical rivalries, it’s almost impossible to have across the Board support.

            For QLD, there are fewer teams and only one in Brisbane. and being from QLD comes first anyway, so these guys are universally adored.

    • February 21st 2018 @ 7:21am
      Duncan Smith said | February 21st 2018 @ 7:21am | ! Report

      This game is about two rugby league immortals, both in the all time top ten of players, and you resent them having this night? If these guys played soccer, rugby in France, tennis, golf etc they would be making ten million a year. I would normally never defend rich sportsmen, but in this case Smith and Thurston deserve to make a few extra bucks.

      As for talking to referees, contrary to your article, Smith is respectful in addressing them and a model for kids in that regard.

      Finally, for your suggestion Smith should get a week’s suspension and miss his own testimonial game, you win the gold medal for absurdity. With that level of silliness and pedantry, you deserve a job with the NRL. Good one Jack.

      • February 21st 2018 @ 7:50am
        jeff dustby said | February 21st 2018 @ 7:50am | ! Report

        Yeah but they aren’t golf and tennis players. They play a small sport in eastern Australia

        • February 21st 2018 @ 8:24am
          YouHaveGotToBE said | February 21st 2018 @ 8:24am | ! Report

          Exactly. People going to this game know that a certain percentage of the ticket $ are going to the players. Whats wrong with it?

          • February 21st 2018 @ 10:34am
            spruce moose said | February 21st 2018 @ 10:34am | ! Report

            I’d wager that both of them will probably donate much of their own takings to charity anyway.

            • Roar Guru

              February 21st 2018 @ 1:37pm
              Nat said | February 21st 2018 @ 1:37pm | ! Report

              Possibly. Even without that JT was awarded a Human Rights medal for his contribution to the Aboriginal community. Both of these guys have done so much for the community that we never hear of.

              I’d tell dustby to get a dog to find some love in his life but he’d probably just kick that too. Sad sorry little man

              • Roar Guru

                February 21st 2018 @ 7:42pm
                Adam Hayward said | February 21st 2018 @ 7:42pm | ! Report

                Jeff has been whinging all through the comment section

    • February 21st 2018 @ 7:32am
      Duncan Smith said | February 21st 2018 @ 7:32am | ! Report

      Smith and Thurston’s earnings are constrained by the salary cap. Compare Cameron’s Smith’s earnings with those of the cricket captain Steve Smith. Or some dumb-slog-millionaire playing T20 cricket in the IPL for six weeks.

      Smith and JT, take the money – you deserve it for what you’ve done for rugby league over the last 10-15 years.

      • February 21st 2018 @ 7:52am
        jeff dustby said | February 21st 2018 @ 7:52am | ! Report

        The difference is that smith plays a sport adored by over 1.5 billion
        RL is less than 1% of that
        Terrible comparison

        • February 21st 2018 @ 8:03am
          Duncan Smith said | February 21st 2018 @ 8:03am | ! Report

          Jeff, do you ever say anything positive on this site? Nothing but whining and sour grapes. But thanks for your contribution if it makes you happy 🙂

          • February 21st 2018 @ 10:39am
            Jay said | February 21st 2018 @ 10:39am | ! Report

            Its fair enough.

            Israel Falou probably gets paid more than JT and CS. Does he deserve it, maybe, maybe not. But RU has a bigger pie than RL.

            And cricket is significant.

            Ditto tennis, golf, football.

            • Roar Guru

              February 21st 2018 @ 12:11pm
              The Barry said | February 21st 2018 @ 12:11pm | ! Report

              That’s true and fair enough…but it’s no reason to deny players testimonial games…

            • February 21st 2018 @ 1:58pm
              BA Sports said | February 21st 2018 @ 1:58pm | ! Report

              What has their salary got to do with being given a testimonial? You can get a testimonial for being the Manager of an SES Branch.

              Testimonials are given to recognise service to a company or a venture or contribution to an orgnisation over a prolonged period. Salary, earning capacity etc are not relevant.

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