Genuine apologies take more character(s) than Twitter can provide
Blake Ferguson, left, and Josh Dugan, right, have been stood down by the Raiders for alleged drinking breaches. Photo: Melissa Adams
Such is the way of this new world, banished Raiders duo Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson last night tweeted their remorse after being dropped for alcohol-related breaches.
''Would like to say sorry to the fans and all my mates know that I will make it up2 them as I made a mistake. Everyone is entitled 2 an opinion,'' Ferguson tweeted.
In response to colourful messages from fans, Dugan tweeted: ''I'm remorseful for my actions. And anyone who knows me personally would know that. For all you know it alls who have your opinions …''
Dugan should have stopped there. This part of the tweet was later deleted: ''They are unwanted and mean jack shit to me. Keep your shit comments to yourself. Because you have no idea what its like to be a sportsperson.''
I've never played elite sport, but I know one of the most admirable qualities in a sportsperson. It's accountability, above all to your teammates.
There was a time when misbehaving players were at least forced to front up to a media conference, if only to read a prepared statement and take a few questions.
Yesterday I wanted to pose one burning question to Dugan and Ferguson.
Perhaps I should tweet it.
What will hurt more, Josh and Blake, watching the State of Origin opener tonight or watching your Raiders teammates play on Friday night in a crucial match against the South Sydney Rabbitohs?
Both players were apparently disappointed to have missed selection for the NSW Origin squad. Those, of course, were decisions completely out of their hands. But Dugan and Ferguson decided their own fate at the Raiders, even if coach David Furner was the man who was ultimately forced to drop them.
Ferguson showed up to training last Friday morning, allegedly still under the effect of alcohol. Dugan had been out drinking with him on Thursday night, despite having aggravated an abdominal strain that same morning.
Both were breaches of the Raiders' code of conduct which, for the record, had been implemented by the club's senior leadership group of players. Players had set this standard.
Dugan and Ferguson will have to front that group of players again next week before they are granted a pass back into the team. Some teammates feel justifiably let down.
Furner has already demonstrated this season that abuse of alcohol won't be tolerated, placing his entire squad on a three-week alcohol ban after some players ''celebrated'' too hard following the round six win over the Warriors. Ferguson was allegedly one of those players.
That alcohol ban was lifted after Canberra's last-round victory over the Parramatta Eels. Players were given three days off training to relax but, after just one training session back, Dugan and Ferguson infringed.
Furner has been under pressure in his own job and the easy decision would have been to turn a blind eye to the incidents and pick two of his best players for Friday's crucial match. But the coach made the decision he felt was right for the long-term character of his squad, to ''make sure everyone in the playing group is 100 per cent committed to the team''.
Being truly remorseful is about demonstrating character. It's not about hollow apologies on Twitter in 140 characters or fewer.