Rugby league is awash with campaigns, agendas and grudges. You know that.
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So when the NRL’s head of football, Todd Greenberg, was mentioned in the 7.30 Report last week in relation to Ryan Tandy and allegations the then-Canterbury CEO knew about the late prop’s betting on NRL games, this reporter felt that maelstrom beckoning strongly.
I was expected to say what you expect me to say, to be a dog that digs up its favourite bone.
This column is not about me. It’s about rugby league, Todd Greenberg and you. But I have to mention myself briefly to provide some background. Last year I was disillusioned enough about Greenberg’s handling of Ben Barba’s suspension, and his subsequent employment at the NRL, to quit chasing rugby league news – aside from at games – after 28 years of doing so.
I felt the truth had been a victim in the whole affair, and that disregard for it had effectively now become institutionalised in the game’s administration. I’ve no desire to rake over those coals again. Yes, the central events last year were intensely personal and delicate but the devil is in the detail that you can easily read about by hitting Google News.
Now we have a written ledger which John Schell, who is a friend of mine, says he showed to Greenberg in 2010 and which documented the tragic Tandy betting on NRL games, which was clearly in contravention of NRL guidelines. Greenberg told the 730 Report he did not know about these wagers.
It’s easy to say Greenberg should have seen the football bets alongside the racing ones, and should have told the NRL immediately. It’s equally easy to say that Schell, even though not employed at the time as a journalist, knew he was facilitating improper activity and – ethically – should have felt inclined to write about it.
The real issue here is Greenberg denying the occurrence to the ABC. We have since seen reports that suggest Greenberg’s oft-repeated account of Canterbury’s approach to Manly coach Des Hasler does not tally with the chain of events as recorded by others.
This raises another question: is being a club official now so full of intrigue that no-one could get a job at headquarters without multiple skeletons eventually tumbling out of a Moore Park closet? Are club officials doomed to backstab each other while career administrators attempt to mediate from ivory towers? I didn’t want to do here what is expected of me: hound and whinge about this one man. Last September, I let go of it all. I realised that my core belief in a straight answer for a straight question was hopelessly outmoded and naive. I’m happier, if poorer, as a result.
As rugby league fans, you don’t seem to expect honest answers. You don’t particularly care if reporters are told the odd fib. I have never cared about the federal budget, either. I never cared who won an election. This year, though, the budget is costing people in my industry their jobs and closing down employers. In rugby league, as in politics, apathy gives us the leaders we deserve.
From the mailbag
Thanks, as always, for the comments.
I’m glad I forgot to mention about three weeks ago John Grant calling Manly the "Seagulls" because I had my own issue with the rats of the sky in Monday’s Set Of Six.
The PNG Hunters beat the Wynnum-Manly Seagulls, not the Tweed Heads Seagulls.
Chris W. says the NRL is advertising heavily in New Zealand. I think, to this administration’s credit, it is looking for areas and margins where it has not been realising its potential. The success of the Auckland Nines indicates New Zealand is one of these areas.
It’s not trying to "compete with the internationality" of rugby union. It’s trying to be rugby union’s local brother, always around the corner while the other sibling is away!
Phil J. says scheduling is the reason behind small crowds. But the NRL isn’t going to just going to cop small crowds when it still has to pander to TV. It’s going to try to have its cake and eat it, too – and the promotional push seems to be working.