BY CURTIS WOODWARD
Rugby league was turned on its head yesterday when the NRL announced its new policy for players facing serious criminal charges.
On Thursday afternoon in front of the media at League Central, NRL CEO Todd Greenberg and ARL Commission Chairman Peter Beattie outlined the tough new stance – a stance that has divided the public.
Players will be stood down from their club until their case is heard in court.
Something needed to be down.
The NRL did their due diligence and made a decision.
St George Illawarra’s Jack de Belin is the first player to be sidelined by the game after he was charged with the alleged rape of a woman in a Wollongong apartment.
“He’ll be stood down under the ‘no fault’ policy. He cannot play until the completion of that case,” Greenberg said.
“This policy ensures he doesn’t play but he can be around the team, be at training during the week and most importantly can take the services of that club via the welfare and services available to him.
“We think it’s important for the club and player to have the opportunity to continue in the environment.”
If you spend any amount of time on social media, you will constantly hear one line over and over from those opposed to letting de Belin play on.
How often have you heard, ‘You wouldn’t get to keep working if you were a teacher or a nurse or a salesman – why does de Belin get to keep playing?’
Greenberg and Beattie both had a bit of that ‘eye of the tiger’ yesterday.
The media scrum – so often critical of their work – was waiting for them.
They jumped into a tank full of sharks and survived.
“This is not about being popular, this is about sending a clear message the game does not tolerate violence,” Beattie continued.
“.. against women or children. Our job is to rebuild the reputation and protect the game. That reputation has been damaged by recent events. This is about a standard that’s expected.”
There was a tension in the air – old media versus NRL head office.
Beattie and Greenberg want to drag the game into a new era, a new world with new media. They’re on Twitter, they can see it for themselves. Most fans are sick of the attacks on the game from the inside. And yes, players continue to stuff up but it has been made abundantly clear what the motives of some are all about.
Those in the minority stick out like a sore thumb and rarely bring anything constructive to the table when it comes to discussions about how to improve the game.
They’d rather go with abuse and hashtags like #Greenturd (how creative).
And then there’s Andrew Webster from The Sydney Morning Herald (Channel Nine) ripping Beattie apart because he spends too much time on Twitter.
These are the same guys that give it to our administrators because they aren’t transparent enough.
It’s refreshing to see the game’s heaviest hitters interacting with supporters on a daily basis.
We didn’t want David Gallop because he was too reactive, hooked Dave Smith because he wasn’t a league man and hated John Grant because he had his own driver.
Now Greenberg and Beattie are the problem?
You wouldn’t tell a doctor or a mechanic or a plumber how to do their job so why are we all so fascinated in teaching the fundamentals of company operations to a CEO or a chairman?
That doesn’t mean their decisions can’t be questioned when it’s warranted but agendas are a different kettle of fish.
The musty underbelly of rugby league is being drained and some are desperate to keep breathing.
Join Curtis Woodward and Cam Hickson for live coverage of the Andrew Johns and Laurie Daley Cups, between Wests Tigers and the Panthers, Saturday from 10.30am on the Country Rugby League Facebook page.