Forget about the girl in the blazing fluorescent dress, shimmering across the Beach Haus dance floor like a comet. Rugby league’s most wanted right now comes in a conservative suit and tie, and his name is Todd Greenberg.
The NRL’s head of football is bobbing and weaving like a cork in the ocean, and with sound reason: he is being investigated by the NRL integrity unit about whether he knew, during his time as Bulldogs chief executive, about former player Ryan Tandy betting on matches.
It follows last year’s investigation concerning allegations he covered up domestic violence claims involving troubled fullback Ben Barba and his partner Ainslie Currie. Indeed, the Barba affair, and the way the second most powerful man in the game dealt with it, left a sour taste in the mouths of plenty. Still does.
But Greenberg was cleared.
This fresh inquiry into the Tandy bets – which was revealed by Fairfax Media last Saturday – is less murky.
These are the facts:
Tandy owed former Herald racing journalist John Schell $30,370 in gambling debts.
On August 17, 2010, Schell met with Greenberg and Bulldogs football manager Alan Thompson at a Sydney Olympic Park cafe to talk about the outstanding debt.
In a sworn police statement and in court when Tandy faced charges about lying to the NSW Crime Commission over match-fixing allegations stemming from the infamous Cowboys-Bulldogs match, Schell insisted he had shown Greenberg and Thompson a handwritten ledger detailing four bets Tandy had on NRL matches in June 2010. The same ledger was tendered to the court, and published again on the back page of the Herald last Saturday.
NRL players are forbidden from gambling on matches.
Greenberg has repeatedly denied he knew of the bets, despite Schell’s testimony, and despite what Schell told integrity unit investigators on Wednesday.
Surely, it is as simple as this: Greenberg either saw the ledger and knew of the bets, or he did not. How the integrity unit swings will come down to what Thompson told investigators. If he sticks by his sworn statement, Greenberg will be cleared.
Some clearly have an axe to grind with Greenberg right now, and the campaign is on in earnest to have him sacked.
But if he is cleared – again – should NRL chief executive Dave Smith continue to support him?
Greenberg has some of the thickest skin in the game.
If this current imbroglio was weighing heavily on him, it wasn’t showing as he and Smith chuckled their way through the corridors of League Central on Thursday, and later at the Allianz Stadium cafe.
But the fact he has faced two internal probes since his appointment a year ago hurts the game’s credibility as much as his own. Is that reason to tap him on the shoulder? That’s a decision for Smith.
Club chief executives need to get their hands dirty. It’s a dirty business. We’re not sure Smith had considered that when he elevated Greenberg.
War and Pearce
Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce has apologised to most of the universe for his drunken night out in Kings Cross, which cost him $20,000, a club match and, quite possibly, an Origin jumper.
The Roosters successfully limited the damage to one match, and the fact that the likes of James Tamou (drink driving) and Jorge Taufua (spitting at a policeman) had served two matches in the past for far more deplorable behaviour was a factor.
That said, stories continue to surface about Pearce and Boyd Cordner’s big night out at the Clovelly Hotel and then, following Pearce’s arrest, at The Star.
Sounds of silence
Never before has an Australian captain vanished so quickly and completely as Lucas Neill, the former Socceroos skipper.
The World Cup squad was named on Wednesday and Neill was not mentioned. He’s made no public comment about retirement or about playing on. His management has said nothing. Sometimes, there’s dignity in silence. In this case, it’s just absurd. The word is Neill is in the UK pondering his next move. Here’s a tip: it’s over, mate.
You have been the longest-serving Socceroos captain and played two World Cups. We’ll remember you as a legend, but only if you don’t make a mess of the final chapter.
Meanwhile, FFA’s billionaire chairman Frank Lowy will base himself in New York during the FIFA World Cup, parachuting in – figuratively speaking, of course – for each of the Socceroos’ matches in Brazil.
Farewell two greats
Most people who saw him play will tell you that Reg Gasnier was the best player to ever lace up a boot. Family and friends said farewell at a funeral service on Thursday. Gasnier’s passing came in the same week the AFL also lost a legend in Tom Hafey. The former Richmond coach often compared notes with a kindred spirit in rugby league, Jack Gibson.
He also had a deep understanding of the game, and was a Storm season ticket holder for many years. He marvelled at fullback Billy Slater, and once told this column he considered him to be the best athlete in either code.
‘‘Billy Slater – superstaaaaaar,’’ he oozed down the phone line. ‘‘Someone asked me recently how I thought Billy Slater would go playing Aussie rules football. I said, ‘he’d win the Brownlow Medal in his first year’. Then he’d beat Cadel Evans in the Tour de France. Then he’d open the batting and bowling for Australia and he’d ride the winner of the Melbourne Cup. In his first year. Billy Slater – superstaaaaaar.’’
Chris Sandow has a long way to go yet
Parramatta halfback Chris Sandow was feeling very lippy after his side's win over the Sharks on Monday.
"Take a photo of this body!" a shirtless Sandow bellowed at reporters as he warmed down on an exercise bike. "Is that fat now?!"
Sandow was referring to previous reports about his fitness during his battle over the last two seasons with a gambling addiction that almost ended his career.
We're very happy to see Sandow back in first grade, realising some of his potential. We're equally happy to see the Eels starting to fire after claiming the wooden spoon for the last two seasons.
But the halfback might consider a slight reality check. It's round nine. The Eels are ninth on the ladder. Turned the corner? You're not even at the corner.
"But for real though most of u need to read the bible. It'll explain a lot in that book. #knowledge." - NFL player Derrick Ward tweets with horror after ESPN aired Michael Sam kissing his boyfriend upon learning he’d been picked up in the draft. Where do I get me one of them bibles?
Sally Fitzgibbons defeated Hawaiian Carissa Moore in a tense final at Rio de Janeiro's Barra Da Tijuca on Monday. It was her first win on the world tour since she started dating Dragons forward Trent Merrin. Coincidence? Probably. But good luck to her. She’s now second on the world rankings.
GWS Giants player Toby Greene will appear in court on his 21st birthday to face charges including intentionally causing serious injury, recklessly causing injury, affray, assault in company, assault by kicking, assault with a weapon, unlawful assault, making threats to inflict serious injury, being drunk in a public place and criminal damage. And breathe ...
It’s a big weekend for … the good folk of Scone, in the Upper Hunter, where the Scone Cup carnival will be held on Friday and Saturday. It’s a test of endurance, for racegoers young and old.
It’s an even bigger weekend for … Laurie Daley, who will be hoping the imaginary snipers who keep taking down his NSW players before the first State of Origin game forget to load the gun. NSW are $2.60 to beat Queensland ($1.60) in this year’s series. Remember: gamble responsibly.