Hide-and-seek has been a big part of the fabric of rugby league, and no one should understand that more than Dragons CEO Ryan Webb.
“That’s what’s disappointing about the whole BBQ situation with Vaughany, Corey, Dufty and the lads,” Webb might have uttered during a trying week for his club. “We’ve worked so hard on improving our hide and seek game for years now. They just don’t seem to get it.”
Of course, Webb would have been referring to the now infamous COVID-breaching-BBQ hosted by recently unemployed prop forward, Paul Vaughan.
“At the Dragons, we do try and keep ahead of the rule changes, but they seem to be coming thick and fast this year.
“With the COVID lockdown being extended by another week, we have a bit of compassion for Vaughany, but we’ve stressed for so long the importance of not getting caught.
“Ian Millward even recruited Corey Norman. Sure, he’s got a track record of being caught, but you guys don’t know the half of what he’s got away with.
“Could’ve been Immortal class, but alas, he let his standards slip recently, and we can’t see a future here for him.”
As Webb said, rugby league has always had an element of playing hide-and-seek, both on and off the field.
The super coach, Wayne Bennett himself, orchestrated one of the greatest hide-and-seek strategies when he successfully hid Jamie Soward in the defensive line on his way to premiership glory – and no one seemed to notice.
Of course, in more recent times, the Gold Coast Titans have helped improve David Fifita’s hiding game, Keiran Foran hid his broken body from both the Bulldogs and the Sea Eagles and the great man himself, Greg Inglis, once successfully hid his Rabbitohs contract from the Broncos for weeks.
“It’s nothing new in rugby league,” Webb might have said.
And the chief exec is serious if he says the Dragons have this at the forefront of their every move.
“We’ve left no stone unturned when developing our hide-and-seek game. This begins in the front office.
“We recruited Shane Flanagan, who masterfully hid from both ASADA and the salary cap auditors in a premiership season. And of course, the Board itself has successfully hidden behind Paul McGregor for years.
“But, with a new coach, comes new ideas – and we’ve got to get ahead of the game. The players know this, and that’s why, again, it’s so disappointing that they’ve let themselves down.
“You can’t just hide under a bed anymore.
“And in a cupboard? That might cut in in the Reggies, but these boys are meant to be professionals. They should’ve understood that.”
Rumours abound that the Dragons have sought outside sources to improve their depth of hide-and-seek knowledge.
After an unsuccessful bid to lure Andrew Gee from the Broncos to the club’s management team, the club spread their search further afield.
“We needed to be creative. There’s a heap of inspiration out there in clubland.
“Jarryd Hayne’s management hid behind Neil Henry, Issy Folau hid behind the bible, Trent Barrett hid behind the furniture – the game is evolving, and we’ve got to evolve with it.”
And so came the announcement of the coup de gras – the recruitment of specialist adviser, Mr Gary Skase.
“Hide-and-seek is in my family’s blood,” Mr Skaise said, from an undisclosed location in Western Europe.
“I’m not granddad Chris or Nanna Pixie, but I know enough about hide-and-seek to be of real value to the Dragons. I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”
“We’re very fortunate to have Gary come on board with the club,” said Webb.
“We look forward to a very successful 2022 season as Gary helps us develop new and exciting strategies to hide-and-seek going forward,” beamed Mr Webb.
“Of course, this year is a bit of a write-off, but that’s Paul’s fault.”
Warning: This is, of course, a work of satire