The best man to clean up the Mad Monday mess ... Des Hasler Photo: Brendan Esposito
THE madness at the Bulldogs has a new twist - they prepared their comprehensive report into their players' Mad Monday behaviour without watching the footage Channel Nine used to air its story. As the Bulldogs work out how badly they've stuffed up, they should ask themselves the question: why were slabs of Coronas being shipped to the drunken playing group shortly after the foul comments directed at Jayne Azzopardi? This was happening in full view of team management and the media. Surely the club has to tell the players at some point that enough is enough. That is just plain irresponsible and club management needs to really examine what the hell it was doing allowing players who were clearly drunk beyond all comprehension to keep drinking. What wasn't aired for obvious reasons was footage of players urinating in full view of the media and another player running around naked. You would hope the club wouldn't dare dismiss this as a media beat-up and try to sweep this under the carpet. When those with clout stick their heads in the sand, it's little wonder the players run into trouble. Jaycar boss Gary Johnston is a good bloke by all accounts but he has goosed himself in a big way. His comments about ogling women are the stuff of dinosaurs. Johnston said: ''I do know that microphone was a considerable distance from the window and they would have used electronic augmentation to even pick that up.'' Really? Having watched and listened to the entire episode, it was clear as a bell - and it was picked up on a top mike. There was no boosting of sound. Johnston even questioned if the comments were being directed at the media. Who is advising this bloke? The situation was straightforward - Channel Nine and Channel Seven sent cameras to get some shots of the Dogs. The idea was to get shots of the players in their dress-up gear, just as reporters have done time and again at clubs across the NRL. If the Dogs had played ball and invited the media in for five minutes to get shots, the media would have left the scene happy with the shots - they didn't want to be there and that would have provided the vision they needed for the nightly news. When the abuse started to flow, it became a news story. The way the media was shut out of the Dogs' dressing-room after the grand final didn't endear the club to the media. Yes, losing dressing-rooms are difficult environments, but surely the club's supporters deserve to feel the emotion and see exactly what the loss meant to their heroes. Trying to fudge media guidelines is just childish and boring. The man who can change all of that is the same man who has turned them on the field - Des Hasler, a savvy media operator. He needs to take charge from this point and correct the errors of this season, and more particularly the Mad Monday mess.
Ink seals the deal for Tamou
JAMES TAMOU has shown plenty of courage in recent times to choose Australia and NSW over the Kiwis - he's added a couple of new tattoos to reflect his past year. ''Yeah, it's become a bit of a motto - seize the day,'' he said. ''It's been an eye opener this year. I've learnt a lot about myself and people in my life. I remember before my debut I was walking on egg shells - then Sam Thaiday came up to me and said all the boys support me. I'll never forget he said, 'I've got your back'. It just made me feel like part of the team and helped me really settle down.''
Making an impression ... James Tamou.
CANTERBURY got most things right all season but the Mad Monday episode must have really rattled their officials. How else can you explain the decision to plead not guilty to James Graham's biting charge? Billy Slater would not make that up and Graham had a clear chomp in the vision. Open-and-shut case. Arrogance is the only explanation to plead not guilty. It cost the club dearly and Graham four extra weeks on the sidelines.
Sea Eagle at heart
BULLDOG-in-waiting Tony Williams says he wasn't cheering for his new team at the grand final. ''To be honest I watched the game with friends and I wasn't really going for anyone,'' he said. ''My heart is still with Manly - I was getting over all of that, I'm still shattered for the boys that we didn't go all the way. I guess I will become a Bulldog and be a part of that club when I start training with them.''
SHANE MATTISKE has done a solid job since being asked to fill in for David Gallop as ARL Commission chief executive but it appears his profile needs lifting. Mattiske turned up at the Storm dressing room to congratulate the players but the doorman was not going to let him in. ''Who are you mate?'' he demanded. He explained himself but that didn't carry any weight with the hired help. I then backed up his ''story'' and explained he was the man running the game. The doorman eventually allowed him to enter.
Ribot joins party
PERHAPS the most interesting figure in the Storm dressing room was the man who oversaw their introduction to the NRL - former Super League boss John Ribot. He maintains the Storm should never have been stripped of their titles. ''This is probably not the time to discuss that,'' Ribot said. ''But my view has a growing support.''
Joey lights up night
THIS column was strong about Andrew Johns last week and I won't back away from the line of thought that off-field behaviour should have played a part in the Immortals judging criteria. That aside, the highlight of the NRL grand final pre-match entertainment was seeing Johns being paraded in front of fans - the joy in his kids' faces and Johns's affection for them showed a side that makes him such a popular figure. Hopefully the dark days are behind Johns forever - he has two beautiful kids and a supportive wife.
STEVE GEORGALLIS has strong support among the Wests Tigers players - it seems he is a real players' coach. At the Panthers, the players wanted him to stay after his caretaker stint but he was never a hope - Penrith boss Phil Gould explained to Georgallis that he had a handshake deal in place with Ivan Cleary. Georgallis played for the Magpies and Wests Tigers so he is aware of the culture at the club. Those who have talked to Matt Parish, the man widely tipped to get the gig, say he has not talked to the Tigers.
Farah speaks up
ROBBIE FARAH has opened up about his relationship with Tim Sheens following suggestions he had fallen out with the man who coached him all of his career. What is not known is how supportive Sheens was of Farah. Sheens was at Farah's home when the Wests Tigers skipper's mum died in June - he spent hours sitting on the family couch offering support for the family. ''He was great for me on a personal level with everything that happened with my family,'' Farah said. ''He was there when I needed him to be and I'm grateful for that and I have thanked him for that. He went further than a coach would. I've talked to Tim before everything happened and again after it and there is no drama between us and there won't be in the future.'' Farah says he has no view on the next coach. ''It's not my job to pick a coach - but I hope that they will run it by me and other senior players.''
ADAM BLAIR's initial omission from the New Zealand side barely rated a mention. He also has some ground to make up with his teammates at Wests Tigers. Blair didn't achieve what he wanted on the field this year and off the field he didn't blend in with the other players. He has a young family, which separates him from a lot of the players and that may have prevented him from being one of the boys.
Inglis feels the love
NOT enough credit has been given to Souths and Allan Gainey for Greg Inglis cracking $1 million a year. Souths have created an ideal environment for Inglis. You'll remember he joined the club in controversial circumstances - and most people were tipping he'd hate the Sydney lifestyle. The opposite has been the case and Inglis is emerging as a leader both at Souths and for indigenous footballers. The four-year extension in his deal climbs by about $50,000 a season and averages out at $1 million a year. Inglis has also signed a lucrative new three-season deal with Asics and will design a boot that pays homage to his background.
FORD'S Will Davison is in the frame to win Bathurst today - and the secret to his success may be what's resting just under his helmet. He's engaged Advanced Hair Studio to stop going bald. Like in his sport, he's leaving nothing to chance.
Danny Weidler is a Channel Nine reporter