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Why Demetriou should be ARL's target

Targets ... Andrew Demetriou and Gillon McLachlan.

Targets ... Andrew Demetriou and Gillon McLachlan. Photo: Getty Images

Now that the AFL's No.2 man, Gillon McLachlan, has knocked back the job as chief executive of the ARL Commission, rugby league should pursue the rival code's No.1 man, Andrew Demetriou, when he becomes available.

Rugby league needs a dictator and Demetriou has proven he can control AFL clubs, their players' association and extract superior deals from stadiums and broadcasters. McLachlan shared many of Demetriou's traits but not his ''take no prisoners'' approach.

Demetriou's delight in his deputy's decision to stay at the AFL reflects the reinforcing of the battle lines between the codes and the prospect of increased poaching of talent and sponsors, particularly now that rugby league has the same broadcasting resources as AFL.

While McLachlan was portrayed as a polo playing son of one of South Australia's most patrician families, the real question was: could he stand up to Nick Politis and Phil Gould? Both are entitled to their strong views.

Politis, as the longest serving club chairman, has probably poured about $30 million of his private wealth into the Roosters over his near 40 years in control at Bondi Junction.

ARL directors laud his business negotiating skills during his term on the NRL Partnership committee.

Gould has demonstrated his great love for the game by turning his back on the rich rewards and comparably relaxed life of the media to return to his first club, Penrith, and basically fix it.

Indications are he has met most of his objectives inside a year: resurrected their junior representative teams, rid the Panthers of some of their bloated contracts to create salary cap space and even rationalised the number of licensed clubs they control.

If he returns to a full-time job in the media, as expected, he will join his close friend, Politis, in maintaining a vigilant watch over the ARLC chief executive.

The ARLC's new chief executive must also deal with an empowered QRL who have half the commissioners either living in or supporting Queensland, setting up potential conflict with Sydney NRL clubs and the NSWRL.

There is evidence the net cast by the ARLC's executive search team, Spencer Stuart, has not been very wide. ARU boss John O'Neill did not receive a phone call.

This is not surprising, given he has signalled his retirement and John Mumm, the boss of Spencer Stuart, sits on the ARU board.

Nor has Ian Robson, chief executive of AFL club Essendon and formerly with Hawthorn, been approached.

Robson is one of the guesses as the mysterious ''third candidate'', with Racing NSW boss, Peter V'landys, named as the second choice behind McLachlan.

Nor has Brian Cook been head-hunted. Cook is the chief executive of Geelong, a man widely credited with eradicating the Cats' $7million debt, turning the club into a premiership force and winning grants for the redevelopment of their stadium.

Cook was the AFL Commission's preferred choice as executive commissioner when Demetriou, then the players' association boss, won the job. The AFL's then chairman, the late Ron Evans, lobbied hard for Demetriou and was supported by the ACTU's Bill Kelty who wanted a union man.

Demetriou's pay rose with his achievements to reach $2.2 million a year, something which caused the NRL's then chief executive, David Gallop much grief.

Gallop was receiving $750,000 when he left the ARLC and could not win another cent from chairman, John Grant.

Now, it appears, the ARLC was willing to pay McLachlan twice the money they paid Gallop.

Clearly, Gallop was not wanted but surely McLachlan must have been causing the ARLC some concern over his reservations about accepting the post before declining it yesterday.

It's likely the ARLC will now wait until a better candidate appears and work with their compliant acting chief executive, Shane Mattiske.

This will suit their reform agenda and need to be seen as relevant, even making rulings on the run.

They have referred shoulder charges direct to the judiciary, increasing the seriousness of the offence without considering the pressure it places on referees.

If a defensive player makes contact front-on with his shoulder but doesn't use his arms, is it a shoulder charge?

It certainly doesn't constitute a classic one in terms of intent but if the shoulder makes contact with the head, then it must be deemed dangerous.

Referees, along with policing double markers, the wrestle, the strip and the 10 metres, must now cope with attacking players screaming ''shoulder charge'' every time a player hits the ball carrier high with his shoulder, whether he uses his arms or not.

It's a question that will perplex most leaders in the AFL where a bump is illegal but not Demetriou who thrives on confrontational government.


  • I'm sure Andrew D and would be happy to take on the NRL role, as well as continuing his current one with the AFL.
    How hard can it be, putting on a few barrels and making sure the pie warmer is full??
    He could perhaps, add the stewardship of the ARU.
    Hell, he could only do a better job than John O'Neil.
    Footy administators are over rated, mostly footy (of any code) flourishes despite them, not because of them.

    blind freddie
    Date and time
    September 04, 2012, 11:45AM
    • While I don't care at all about anything in this article, one must not confuse a good leader with a dictator. Sometimes they coincide, most of the time, they do not.

      Knee Jerk
      Date and time
      September 04, 2012, 12:17PM
      • I this sentence in this article says it all

        "McLachlan must also deal with an empowered QRL which has half the commissioners either living in or supporting Queensland, setting up potential conflict with Sydney NRL clubs and the NSWRL."

        So basically the ARLC need someone independent of NSW or QLD, someone from AFL or ARU makes sense.
        Perhaps the net could be cast wider beyond Australia, the conference systems in American NBA and NFL would certainly tend to produce administrators skilled in dealing with multiple conflicting interests and issues.The problem is you'd have to pay them the really big bucks.

        Date and time
        September 04, 2012, 12:20PM
        • The simple man's game needs a leader *like* Andrew Demetriou, but they'll never get that one individual, no matter how much they offer.

          FN Queensland
          Date and time
          September 04, 2012, 12:22PM
          • Yes hire a man who hates NRL and has repeatedly taken the piss out of the code in the media. Excellent idea.

            Date and time
            September 04, 2012, 12:24PM
            • Ah Roy, you couldn’t help yourself with that last remark, could you? Many of us have become accustomed to your shrill tones and petty jibes directed at AFL on ABC’s Offsiders. And all they reveal, quite nakedly, is your profound insecurity about the increasing dominance of Australian Rules and the decline of Rugby League.

              The suggestion that Australian Rules is a code where “even a bump is illegal” is not only completely wrong, but astounding, coming from a football pundit who should know better. The shepherd, illegal in Rugby League as I understand, is an ingrained part of Australian Rules. You can bump an opposing player as a method of protecting a teammate. It’s just another great facet of the game.

              Your comment is also a perfect example of the last recourse of the Leaguie in an attempt to one-up AFL – my code is tougher than yours. I hope those hollow put downs are a comfort to you and your ilk as you watch the AFL gradually swallow the heartland of Rugby League.

              You are right to encourage the powers that be in Rugby League to poach AFL administrators, however. Their business acumen is just another demonstration of how the AFL embodies the kind of sophistication, on and off the ground, that Rugby League craves, but will likely never enjoy.

              And I’m no dyed in the wool Victorian stooge. I’m Sydney born and raised but grew up playing Aussie Rules and can see with crystal vision the way things are going to turn out. There will be plenty more Kieran Jacks, Roy…

              The Mighty Bonanz
              Date and time
              September 04, 2012, 12:25PM
              • For someone who grew up in NSW, you show an incredible amount of ignorance. The AFL is no more popular today in Sydney or NSW than it was 20 years ago. The GWS Giants are laughable and the Swans only attract support when they are winning. The heartland of Rugby League is where it has always been (NSWW & QLD) and the future of League is more secure than the AFL which as you may know, is not played ANYWHERE else on the whole Planet. You don't have Origin, you don't have test matches and you don't have TV ratings as high as the NRL. The only areas where the AFL out scores the NRL is crowds at games and Club memberships. So pull your head in Neville.

                Date and time
                September 04, 2012, 1:49PM
              • @The Mighty Bonanz - you are dreaming...

                AFL will never defeat the NRL, why? For two reasons....

                1: AFL is a sport where all players are pretty much the same body type. If you aren't tall and slender, what hope do you have of ever making it in AFL? Whereas League has a multitude of body shapes within its playing ranks, from your tall and slender to your short nuggety, and this is why the NRL will prevail.

                Folau and Hunt are perfect examples? Two great athletes, but have failed to fit into what is consider the AFL player mould.

                2: Rep footy, what does the AFL have? Nothing... League has Origin and Tests, with Origin being the highest rating sporting program on TV.

                But the NRL doesn't want to drive AFL into the ground (unlike AFL's plan with the NRL) because the NRL knows it's players are safe from being poached and it has a game that is far more superior viewed through TV...

                Date and time
                September 04, 2012, 2:09PM
              • @MattFromOz
                Oh dear. Again - the defensive nature of the League fan comes to the fore. I love both games. Am a member of the Tigers (balmain) and a member of the Swans. But if i had to choose - and league is the only code willing to enforce the choice, i would chose AFL any day of the week - not just because of the game but because of stupid jibes like Roy's last line which show ignorance of the highest level. Choosing AFL for whatever reason makes me feel like i'm taking the high road.

                Both Games
                Date and time
                September 04, 2012, 2:22PM
              • Lol MattFromOz !!
                In responding that way, you only reinforce both his point & the fact that League followers seem to be so incredibly insecure and never let any opportunity to try to take a potshot at AFL go begging.
                I grew up in Adelaide, played australian rules football (AFL is a league, not a game) as well as most other sports - except Rugby League which had no opportunities for youngsters interested in knowing what the game was about. I'm not sure anything has changed.
                Since then, i've been in Sydney for 10 years and have grown to appreciate & enjoy league far more than I ever anticipated. I get just as much as a thrill watching my adopted team's fullback (go GI !) run rampant through the opposition defence, as I do watching Karmichael Hunt kick a goal after the siren to win the game for his team.
                I don't understand why League followers have SUCH a chip on their shoulders about the AFL. I think every sport should be embraced, if only to give our ever-increasing obesity levels a chance of getting reined in. I also think the NSW/QLD market is big enough for both codes to live side-by-side comfortably. Some youngsters will never be suited to playing league, just as some will never be suited to playing aussie rules. Why deny them a choice ??
                As for Roy Masters, why don't you stick to writing & talking about what you know ? I struggle to recall a story or an interview where you don't manage to badmouth the AFL - especially with ridiculous un-truths like your last sentence. I think most sports fans (as opposed to league only followers) are over it !

                Date and time
                September 04, 2012, 2:29PM

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