The brazen inequity in the polar treatments of Queensland forward Josh McGuire and Canberra Raiders rookie Hudson Young shouldn’t anger or confound supporters of the various teams that play under the banner of the National Rugby League.
In fact, we should be grateful that, in allowing this blatant unfairness to be enacted, the governing body has extinguished any last notions that the competition’s administration cares about appearing consistent. Or fair.
That’s actually pretty comforting.
All rugby league supporters can now go on, secure in the knowledge that NRL HQ will unrepentantly do whatever they want, when they want and how they want, and that they aren’t answerable to anyone other than their almighty broadcast partner overlords and the major sponsors.
Accepting that reality allows us to let go. To give up our pointless struggle of seeking a fairer competition and better administration.
It is what it is.
We ordinary punters can’t change it.
By resigning ourselves to that we might find some peace.
Because we will find no comfort whatsoever in realising that Josh McGuire has now only been fined twice for “contrary conduct” in 2019 – on both occasions his hands making rough contact with faces of his opponents, something he has been called to account for in previous seasons too – while the Canberra Raiders rookie got five weeks with an early plea for an action that to most looked identical.
It has been openly speculated in the media that McGuire has been treated in such an outrageously lenient manner because he is a Queensland Maroons representative.
After the first time McGuire was let off with a fine this season, Graham Annesley pointed out that Cameron Munster, when asked by referee Grant Atkins if he wanted to make an official complaint about McGuire’s actions, declined to do so. Further, Annesley said the video evidence wasn’t conclusive.
That all seems fair enough until you compare the video of Hudson Young with his hands on Aiden Tolman’s face to McGuire’s on Munster. Most of us fail to see any difference.
Further, the Storm five-eighth after the match made this comment in relation to the incident:
“Me and Moose have a connection there. He did get me but I wasn’t going to put it on report.”
That connection? It is surely that they are Queensland teammates.
So the tree fell in the forest and everyone saw and heard it. Except, it seems, the NRL.
In spite of McGuire’s three previous similar offences in recent seasons, the video evidence and Munster’s own words, the NRL only gave McGuire a $3350 fine.
While Hudson Young is serving five long weeks, McGuire didn’t miss a game.
To cap it all off, McGuire again had his hands all over the face of an opponent in last weekend’s match against the Sea Eagles. However, in spite of it being his fifth such incident in recent times – and coming directly on top of the outcry over the inequity of the Hudson Young suspension – The NRL still didn’t suspend McGuire.
They opted to only fine him again. $4500, reduced to $3400. That’ll be nicely offset by the $30,000 he’ll get as he won’t be suspended for Origin 2.
The more brazen were still able to try and differentiate the incidents. Annesley said:
“There is a significant difference between a facial, for want of a better term, and poking around in the eyes of the opponent or what we traditionally call eye gouging.
“When you look at the evidence available in that charge this weekend compared with the charge of the Raiders player, there is a significant difference in the evidence which is available.”
George Orwell’s seminal novel 1984 was based on the idea that those who control the past control the present, and those who control the present controls the future. If we rewrite history, we can perhaps change current perception.
“We are at war with Eurasia. We have always been at war with Eurasia…”
“There is a significant difference…”
Personally, I’d just prefer Annesley and the rest of the minions at NRL HQ didn’t further insult us with such poor explanations. If you want to ignore McGuire’s record and let him play, so be it. Just do it and keep quiet about it.
We get it: Origin is the number one consideration and the NRL administration can make any rulings they like.
Just own your decisions and stop trying to justify them through flimsy spin, please – because that just demeans us all.