Having seen Cameron Munster deliver a boot to Joey Manu’s head in the dying minutes of the 2018 NRL grand final, the Queenslander kicking Liam Martin – yet another opponent lying on the ground – during Origin 3 reminded me of a line from Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist:
“Everything that happens once can never happen again. But everything that happens twice will surely happen a third time.”
Now, back in the last game of 2018, there was next to no time left on the clock and the then 24-year-old showed his youth and inexperience by lashing out in frustration, as he played what I described at the time as “the best worst game I’ve seen in years”.
Surely it would never happen again.
But last Wednesday, with his side yet again facing inevitable defeat in one of the biggest games of the year, Munster yet again expressed his frustration by slamming his laces into an opponent.
“…everything that happens twice will surely happen a third time.”
Munster would kick again – that it would surely happen a third time was set to be the basis of the piece you’re reading – and therefore the NRL needed to instigate a rule that kicking was deserving of an automatic sanction, likely a guaranteed ten minutes in the bin.
And I’d be the one to recommend it, in today’s column, way ahead of the curve.
Oh Frost, you arrogant fool.
Because there was Cameron Munster on Sunday – just four days after his second kick of an opponent – jabbing his foot into Roger Tuivasa-Sheck’s back.
Really Cameron? Again?
Prior to that third incident, my ‘kicking people deserves automatic sanction of x’ rule had seemed even to me like I was perhaps pursuing an issue that was too niche to need a specific edict against. But hey, the reason there’s a register of banned names for babies in Australia is because some moron tried to call their kid ‘Scrotum’.
Regardless, the sanctions that were served up to Munster pressed it beyond any doubt.
See, when he kicked Manu in the 2018 grand final, Munster was penalised with ten minutes in the bin – which was actually about two-and-a-half minutes, because that’s how long was left on the clock – as well as a financial penalty of $1400 on a charge of contrary conduct.
For lashing out at Martin on Wednesday, Munster stayed on the field but forked out $1150 – again, for contrary conduct.
And yesterday, the NRL slapped Munster with… another financial penalty, this time of $1700 for – you guessed it – contrary conduct.
For the record, the two most recent were both fines of $1500 but Munster took the early plea for the Origin kick, resulting in a reduction in penalty, whereas the RTS boot came with 50 per cent loading due to him having a prior similar offence in the last two years but was also subject to a reduction based on an early guilty plea.
As for the carryover points? Yeah, that’d be zero, because it’s a financial penalty.
(No, I don’t understand how any of that works out either.)
So Cameron Munster has kicked three opponents in the last three years and the consequences have been less slightly more than $3000 and slightly less than three minutes out of the game.
Look, I know his kicks are small acts of frustration that I don’t think even those on the receiving end would be too worried about. But who else in the game is kicking people?
And I don’t mean the boots-out-in-a-dodgy-fashion-to-try-stop-a-try kicking people that Billy Slater made famous, I mean looking down at a person, deciding you don’t like what they’ve done, and making the firm decision: ‘I’m going to kick you to express my displeasure.’
I’m not certain Munster is the only one, but he’s certainly the only one who’s done it three times.
As for his defence – which he wheeled out after the Martin incident – that “there was no malice in it whatsoever”? Cameron, you literally kicked a man while he was down. That’s the definition of malice.
His further defence, “if I fully tried kicking him I can assure you he would’ve been on the floor”, it’s actually all the more reason why the NRL should be making a rule that you’re not allowed to kick.
Because punching people on a footy field can be tame – give a little love tap, let someone know you’re not best pleased with them – but we’ve barred it altogether because we’ve seen enough blokes ‘fully try’.
Perhaps more to the point, if part of the reason there’s a crackdown on high shots is that it makes mothers hesitant to let their kids play footy, while the striking ban was partly brought in to “make sure our game can recruit young kids”, what message does it send that one of the highest-profile players in the game has pleaded guilty to kicking three people who were lying on the floor and his total punishment was a monetary fine of less than 0.5 per cent of his reported annual salary?
Sure, let your kids play this game, where cheap acts of open malice are essentially unpunished on a consistent basis.
The kicker (ah, sure, pun intended), as outlined above, is that no one else in the game is doing it.
So here’s your new law, ARLC, which you clearly need to enact now: a player kicking people receives an automatic ten minutes in the sin bin.
And if you’re worried about backlash from the RLPA? You can actually make it far more specific and yet equally effective: Cameron Munster kicking people receives an automatic ten minutes in the sin bin.