Troubled times: NRL boss Dave Smith delivers the bad news for the Sharks on Wednesday. Photo: Edwina Pickles
Almost a year ago, Cronulla played the Gold Coast at Sharks Stadium in the opening round of the NRL season. Their future was more uncertain than it is now.
As the Sharks clung to life as much as victory that Sunday afternoon, one of their supporters turned to the box in which Titans coach John Cartwright was sitting.
Ban upheld: Cronulla Sharks coach Shane Flanagan. Photo: Sasha Woolley
"You won't be relocating us, Cartwright!" bellowed the irate, fired-up fan.
It adequately sums up the twisted way of thinking in the Shire in the past year as the supplements/peptides/ASADA/duty of care/corporate governance scandal continues to rock the Sharks casbah heading into this season's round one clash against the same opponents.
Suspended coach Shane Flanagan is dogged, you have to give him that. But his statement straight after he was told on Wednesday he would have to serve his 12-month suspension for failing to stop the use of banned supplements at the club in 2011 illuminates the problem at Cronulla.
"I followed the practice that has been historically followed by the Sharks, that is, I was not involved or responsible for supplements in 2011 or at any other time," Flanagan said.
He should've been. A whole lot of people at the Sharks should've been, and that includes the players.
When did ignorance become a defence?
At least Sharks captain Paul Gallen is aware that he and some of his teammates are about to find themselves in the ASADA cross-hairs.
"We know this has nothing to do with the players," he told Channel Nine. "It's all to do with the club and governance and Shane Flanagan . . . and the players are next."
NRL chief executive Dave Smith announced at 3pm on Wednesday he would be sticking to his decision in December to issue suspensions and fines to Flanagan, the Sharks and former strength and conditioning coach Trent Elkin.
The three parties didn't know until a few minutes before then what the verdict was.
Clearly, it was an attempt to stymie any prospect of the verdict being leaked to the media in advance, even if it did anger all parties involved as they waited to learn of their fate along with the rest of the world.
In the Sharks and Essendon investigations, there is a concerted desire to keep the media at arm's length, which is hypocritical considering just over a year ago the former Federal Government held a press conference where Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare declared people should not "underestimate how much we know".
This has been a public investigation from that day.
Speaking on behalf of all 18 AFL club captains on Wednesday, Fremantle skipper Matthew Pavilich squared up the Sunday Herald Sun for revealing the identity of Bombers players named in an interim ASADA report.
"It is the view of the captains of all 18 AFL clubs that the decision to name and publish photos of current and former Essendon Football Club players in the press on Sunday falls short of the standards of respect and decency which we hope would characterise the relationship between players and the media," Pavilich declared.
With all due respect to him and the Essendon players, the role of the media is to learn things, and then report them if they are in the public interest. Footballers are public figures. If they don't like the scrutiny, find another profession.
The government of the day, along with the Australian Crime Commission and ASADA, turned this into a public witch-hunt on February 7 last year.
That's where the anger should be directed.
Radio for television
As the only all sport breakfast radio show in Sydney and NSW, the Big Sports Breakfast has become an institution.
But instead of just listening to the considered gibber of hosts Terry Kennedy and Michael Slater, people will now be able to see them, with the program to make its debut on Australian television.
From Monday, Sky Sports Radio will launch Big Sports Breakfast TV, a game changer for TV and digital-savvy sports fans.
In what is believed to be an Australian first, the popular radio program will be simulcast on Sky Racing1 (Channel 519 on Foxtel), streamed online at skyracing.tv and available on Apple and Android devices by downloading the Sky Racing and TAB apps.
"We may not look at our best at 5.30am in the morning, but we will give viewers the best start to the day with all the latest sports news and updates," Slater said. "TK will have to get out of his pyjamas now that the cameras are rolling."
Same applies to this columnist when he appears on Fridays.
And the winners is ... Cathrine Johns
While her husband Andrew has been preparing himself for the NRL season, Cathrine Johns has been in Los Angeles rubbing shoulders with the Oscars elite in her job as head publicist for Sydney designer Johanna Johnson, helping dress some of the stars for the big night. For the past week she has been in the company of 24-carat superstars, such as Madonna (yes, Madonna), Kate Hudson, Robert De Niro (yes, De Niro), Sidney Poitier and Jared Harris (the bloke from Mad Men). She attended the Bvlgari pre-Oscars party at Soho House, where she mixed with the likes of Sandra Bullock.
Meanwhile, Joey had the glamorous job on Thursday night of calling the footy.
Frankly, that's surprising
We told you last November that colleague Danny Weidler had been physically attacked by a notorious eastern suburbs figure, better known in rugby league circles as "All Day Frank".
Weidler revealed in his Sun-Herald column in October that the professional punter, who has links to the distribution of party drugs, had been an unwanted distraction during the Roosters' finals campaign and grand final week.
Curiously, All Day Frank was right at home in the Roosters offices the day before the club took on Wigan in the World Club Challenge, chatting with players in full view of club officials.
“Peptides kept me going: Demetriou.” This misleading headline in The Australian’s iPad edition probably had several readers choking on their cornflakes, including the AFL chief executive who this week announced he was stepping down at the end of the season.
What’s better than routing the Poms 5-zip in the Ashes? Snaring two wickets in the final five overs of the series to beat South Africa, the best side in the world, comes close. From Ryan Harris’s final spell, to Michael Clarke’s bravery against Morne Morkel, to Dave Warner’s consecutive tons after firing up the Proteas with ball tampering claims, Australia, you little beauty.
There’s nothing wrong with a bit of eye candy, whatever your fancy, but the producer for South African cricket broadcaster Supersport is surely taking the mickey. Seriously? A shot of a young girl in skimpy bikini every third delivery? All series? Imagine the outcry if Channel Nine did it?
It’s a big weekend for …
The Brumbies, who meet the Hurricanes in Wellington on Friday night just days after learning Wallabies breakaway David Pocock has undergone a second knee reconstruction. Terrible news.
It’s an even bigger weekend for …
Ben Barba. Never let it be said those funsters who put together the NRL draw don’t have a sense of humour, with Barba’s new side Brisbane meeting his former side Canterbury in round one at ANZ Stadium. All week, his former teammates have said there’s no bad blood. We’ll see.
We spoke to the “retired’’ Roosters veteran minutes after he jumped off his Harley-Davidson having ridden 4000 kilometres in 12 days as part of the NSWRL’s Hogs 4 Homeless campaign. It has raised more than $100,000 – triple the amount it raised last year – for Father Chris Riley’s Youth off the Streets initiative.
You’ve been all over NSW. Most bizarre experience?
Being woken up in Albury at 3am by the sprinklers when we were sleeping on the footy ground. It woke all of us up.
You’ve played Nines footy, and now ridden a motorbike all over the state. You must be sore.
I have never been so tired in my entire life. I’ve walked through the door and the kids have attacked me. It was awesome though. The people in country areas are under so much pressure because of the weather, and they just kept giving us their time and their money. People in towns of 200 people would walk over and give us cheques for $200. That was all the time. We’ve been to Cooma, Jindabyne, through the Snowy Mountains, Forbes, Tenterfield. In Kyogle, there were 700 schoolkids lining the streets for us.
The highlight was that we had perfect weather, except for every town that was in drought. Every town in drought, it poured. They thought we were unbelievable. That was an absolute highlight.
Any speeding tickets at all? How many times did you break the law? Something?
In the last two years, no tickets. Not a fine, not an accident. No road rage.
I’m home right now, drinking some mung-bean tea. Then I have to call the footy.