Phil Gould is about to open Pandora’s box – and it could get ugly.
Tim Simona is in formal talks with Phil Gould and the Penrith Panthers about a possible return to the NRL one day with the mountain men.
At this stage, Gould is merely offering the disgraced former Wests Tigers centre a position as a welfare officer. However, he is open to a potential playing future at the club.
“Regardless of any future opportunity to return to the NRL, Tim is doing his best to make up for his mistakes of the past,” Gould told the Daily Telegraph.
“He has been quite proactive.
“Tim approached us about allowing him to be involved in our community and schools programs.”
It was a dark day for not only Simona and the Wests Tigers but for the league as a whole when the New Zealand born centre was deregistered indefinitely with the NRL for betting on matches, a blatant and inexcusable act of cheating.
Should a once serial cheater with now-genuine redemption credentials be permitted back to top flight rugby league? My personal opinion is no.
In saying that, I also vehemently opposed the idea of Russell Packer and Matt Lodge taking to the field after their respective and well-publicized incidents.
Packer, however, has impressed the large majority of the rugby league community since the Red V offered him a lifeline in 2016.
The Wests Tigers skipper has genuinely turned his life around for the better and is reaping the rewards every day under Ivan Cleary.
Matt Lodge is yet to make the same statement. He and the Broncos have refused any interviews with questions that delve deeper than what he’s expecting from his opposition on the weekend.
However, Matt Lodge has yet to set a foot wrong and while has not been overly impressive, he has not continued to be a blight on the game.
Eventually, the NRL integrity unit will need to make a decision on the playing future of Tim Simona.
Whatever the verdict, it is likely to open a can of worms. Because, at the end of the day, Packer and Lodge both violently assaulted men.
All Simona did was have a punt.
And in no way, shape, or form am I condoning the abhorrent behaviour – but if the NRL can justify letting Packer and Lodge back into our beloved game, I’d love to hear what they say about Tim Simona.
The NRL must set a precedent and I fear they are too weak to do so.