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The Big Blue: Inside the Hadley-Parish-Daley stoush

Date

Chief Sports Writer, The Sydney Morning Herald

View more articles from Andrew Webster

Shame about Ray:  Daley met fans at a function at North Sydney Leagues Club on Friday.

Shame about Ray: Daley met fans at a function at North Sydney Leagues Club on Friday. Photo: Dean Sewell

Laurie Daley and Matt Parish sat in a small, glassed office at League Central on Thursday, with three laptops on the table in front of them.

The office, on the second level that houses the NSWRL, is ornamented with the sky blue and maroon jumpers of NSW and Queensland players.

Ray Hadley, pictured last year.

Ray Hadley, pictured last year. Photo: Ben Rushton

When I met Daley and Parish on this day, they didn’t want to talk about Origin straight up. Not yet.

Instead of plotting Queensland’s demise in the fast-approaching State of Origin series, the Blues coach and his assistant talked for 15 minutes about an entirely different subject.

They talked about Ray Hadley.

Daley reckons the biggest voice in the game has been ‘‘unsettling our entire campaign” as Hadley supposedly seeks revenge for his marriage break-up.

You sense that will only happen if Daley lets it. You sense NSW will lose the series if he does.

The seediest story in rugby league is out of the bag, finally.

That story has been pinging around Sydney, footy and easily titillated reporters for weeks: that Parish and Hadley’s estranged wife, Suzanne, are in a relationship.

In the past week or so, the sordid tale took on a different form, with the word coming out of the NSWRL that Hadley wanted Parish sacked from Daley’s coaching staff.

This is something Hadley has strongly denied, but the claim is serious: that Hadley had given Daley both barrels for sticking by Parish – something Daley confirmed when we met on Thursday – while also putting pressure on NSWRL chief executive Dave Trodden and chairman George Peponis to have him removed from the Blues coaching staff.

As part of that claim, NSWRL insiders have said that Hadley threatened to stop broadcasting NSW Cup scores on 2GB, as well as a blackout of the grand final later this year.

On the surface, this would appear to be outrageous. That the main voice from the radio rights holder and the man next in line to succeed Ray Warren at Channel Nine has used his position of power to settle a score because of a personal dispute.

Having been told of the situation, other NSWRL board members resolved via a telephone hook-up at the start of the week to tell Hadley they would not be removing Parish.

As one director told me, they were not prepared to let Hadley bully them. “We decide who coaches NSW, not Ray Hadley,” the board member huffed.

By Tuesday this week, the dogs were barking, almost drowning out the melodrama surrounding Mitchell Pearce and the unavailability of Greg Bird and Andrew Fifita.

When Fairfax Media approached the NSWRL about the story that day, the response from management and Daley was that they didn’t want a word about it published.

When I met Daley on Thursday to discuss football, Parish happened to be in the room. Daley maintained he didn’t want anything about the fallout with Hadley published.

If anything sums up the near-palpable fear some in the game have of Ray Hadley, that is it.

If anything sums up the incestuous nature of football and media in this city, it’s this story.

Parish was thrust forward for the Blues job by his former Balmain coach, Alan Jones. Jones works alongside Hadley at 2GB. Hadley’s close friend is fellow Continuous Call Team member Bob Fulton. Fulton is Daley’s Origin adviser. Daley believes Hadley is pressuring him into sacking Parish. Parish is in a relationship with Hadley’s former wife, Suzanne.

Rugby league is often described as a soap opera, to the point that it’s become a cliche. Not even Bold and the Beautiful scriptwriters, could have made this stuff up.

NRL chief executive Dave Smith was alerted to the Hadley-Parish-Daley-NSWRL entanglement earlier this week. The league says it has reason to look into the allegations surrounding Hadley’s behaviour.

“We won’t comment on personal matters,” an NRL spokesperson said. “We support, however, the NSWRL’s statement that they have the utmost respect for Laurie Daley as a coach and person.

“The matter has already been dealt with by the NSWRL chief executive, the NSWRL board and its coach, who have made their positions clear, and it is important the NSW Blues’ preparations for Origin are not disrupted further.

“We don’t have editorial control under our broadcast agreement with our partners.”

I approached Hadley for comment on Friday, but he did not want to add anything further to his statement at the top of his morning show on 2GB, when he talked openly about the personal toll this episode had taken.

However, he has told those close to him that he is stunned that Daley believes he had been personally attacked in their phone conversation.

Hadley maintains that Daley phoned him to offer his support concerning his marriage break-up. The call, Hadley says, was non-confrontational.

Either someone is lying or there has been one hell of a miscommunication that has dragged a sad and unfortunate marriage break-up into the public sphere for no reason.

It was Daley who decided to put this story on the front page of News Limited publications on Friday. Later that day you could barely get a word out of the NSWRL on the matter.

Clearly, Blues supporters should be concerned about the admissions from the coach.

If a personal issue concerning Hadley, Daley’s assistant coach and Hadley’s estranged wife can derail the Blues’ Origin campaign before a ball is kicked in anger, or the side is even selected, what damage will the likes of Smith, Slater and Inglis inflict?

Should NSW suffer a ninth series defeat, fed-up fans will pinpoint when Daley and his coaching staff focused on the wrong opponent – Ray Hadley, not Queensland.

140 comments so far

  • Several years ago Ray Hadley sent me an email after I had emailed him with a positive comment on an article he had written in another weekend publication. His suggestion that I "do everyone a favour and go back on my medication" was good advice, despite the overused cliche. Unfortunately I haven't ever been on medication, but I enjoyed Dr Hadley's personal reply. It is printed, framed and hanging with pride of place on the wall in the toilet. When will the Channel 9 sack him? I enjoy rugby league but switch to the AFL when this bully is broadcasting.

    Commenter
    RA
    Date and time
    May 17, 2014, 12:22AM
    • He's a pompous windbag and quite a poor commentator. I never watch Ch 9 footy when he commentates, I turn it straight off.

      Commenter
      craig
      Location
      sydney
      Date and time
      May 17, 2014, 10:20AM
    • I once emailed him ("Click on the feedback icon !") a brief explanation that the weather radar doesn't indicate clouds, just rainfall. I received a completely over the top reply within minutes calling me a wombat and to never bother him again. The bully vented.

      Commenter
      David
      Location
      at the bay
      Date and time
      May 17, 2014, 10:28AM
    • I thought I was the only one who would not watch a game if Ray Hadley was commentating. Admittedly with some games I only turned the sound off and still watched it.

      Commenter
      yellowbelly
      Location
      Moree
      Date and time
      May 17, 2014, 1:35PM
    • Typical response of a bully. Ray Hadley is a proven bully, and should pull his head in. I too turn off when he calls the footy on tv. He is a ok caller when you can't see what is going on.

      Commenter
      Badlesmere
      Date and time
      May 17, 2014, 4:39PM
    • When Ray Hadley calls Channel 9 NRL matches, I use the mute button. There may be a call for a facebook page regarding his TV commentary. Does Channel 9 have closed captions for their NRL calls?

      Commenter
      Barry of Nambucca
      Date and time
      May 17, 2014, 4:41PM
    • Ray Hadley is presently portraying what happens when an individual who believes he/she is powerful enough to destroy others by intimidation - control - manipulation and presence but has forgotten the one thing he cannot conquer - the love his wife once shared with him. By his own actions Ray Hadley is at the beginning of the end of his reign because his wife through all the backlash of who he is and represents in the media was able to strengthen her spirit to get to the point to actually leave the disgusting person he has become. For all of Hadleys so called influence and strengths - power and fame it was his wife Suzzanne whom has become the hero by walking out of his life. What we are all seeing and witnessing now is the very premis of self destruction of an individual that created his own ending of the very thing that allowed him to become who he has ended up being and that is his ego.Without the media what would Hadley be - an yet his wife who is seeking happiness and love with another league personality has unselfishly used the very same tool that made Hadley the gauntlet he has become by the media throwing his private and personal life directly back into his face.How does he react - well very poorly and the worst is still to come when through all this he will be removed from the media in all areas and end up a broken little man beaten by his own tongue. The only way out for Ray Hadley is to leave quietly through the side door with what ever dignity he may have left for himself if he has any at all - who really care about him anyway readers .

      Commenter
      Dougie Aldred
      Location
      West Auckland NZ
      Date and time
      May 17, 2014, 11:38PM
  • ...a word of advice for Mr Hadley ....the BEST revenge against any man who takes your wife, is to let him keep her!!!!

    Commenter
    Mr DooDah
    Location
    Hadley's Bedroom
    Date and time
    May 17, 2014, 12:43AM
    • Do you think a man can just take a wife? She has no choice?

      Commenter
      Susan
      Date and time
      May 17, 2014, 11:11AM
    • If Hadley's behaviour is based on revenge he needs to move on.
      There is a broader issue however about the inability of some men to accept being rejected by their partners.
      Witness the far too many murders of women by men who would not accept they did not control/own these women.

      Commenter
      goody2shoes
      Date and time
      May 17, 2014, 11:39AM

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