David Gallop copped heaps for never fronting and apologising to the Stewart family after Brett was dragged through the mud, and it appears that his successor, Dave Smith, has taken avoidance to a new level. He has not been in touch with Sharks coach Shane Flanagan since the latter decided to accept his ban for his role in the supplements saga.
That has not gone down well with those close to Flanagan – and be sure of one thing – if the independent judge who rules on the issue finds any fault with the NRL, expect Flanagan and his team to renew their legal interest in the way that he has been treated.
It is hard to accept that the head of the game has not fronted the suspended coach. He has not even bothered to pick up the phone to call Flanagan – a man who has been involved in rugby league for 29 years.
I appreached Flanagan for comment on his snuubing and he was reluctant to provide any comment but did say, ''Mate, I'm trying to leave the past behind me and I prefer if you didn't bring it up,'' he said. ''There is not much I can do about anything that has happened now. I am hoping to move forward and get on with my life in the best way I can. Part of that will be having a good relationship with the NRL. In fact I hope to have a meeting with the NRL sooner rather than later.''
Flanagan only found out that his appeal against his one-year ban was unsuccessful 10 minutes before the NRL made it public. What is interesting in all is that the NRL – who have been at pains to say they have been at arms length as the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority investigated the supplements scandal – have had their head of integrity, Nick Weekes, sitting in on ASADA’s interviews.
The AFL is fighting a constant battle because of accusations they were involved with the investigation process. The NRL has been lauded for the way it handled the investigation – keeping at arms length, but this matter is sure to be seized upon in coming weeks. Flanagan, to his credit, has copped the decision on the chin – he just wants to get through his ban.
Expect him to spend time overseas working on his coaching. And, of course, he will be spending more time with his wife and kids, who have had to wear flak from the fallout.
Don't expect Flanagan's wife to be making comments in the way James Hird's wife Tania has in recent days.
FAMILY QUESTIONS INTEGRITY UNIT
The mother of a girl at the centre of the Nathan Peats Bali drama has broken her silence, sending a series of emails to this column dismayed at the process the NRL undertook when dealing with the matter.
Peats was stood down from the Eels' first grade side last week after an incident which occured in October while in Bali to attend the wedding of then Rabbitohs teammate Jason Clarke.
The incident did not happen at the wedding, rather it happened at a Bali nightspot. The girl did not report the matter to police in Bali, instead raising the issue when she return to Australia through emails to the Parramatta football club which somehow were not dealt with straight away.
Julie Lavin contacted this column angry at the way her family was treated from go to woe.
''My husband is a Souths supporter and for a long time we were big fans of Peatsie,'' she said.
''We always cheered for him because he was the underdog in that Souths team and never got a proper go. Obviously our opinion is not the same as it was a few months ago.
''To say that we are disappointed is an understatement.''
Lavin's husband Joe is a member of the police force. He is equally dismayed at the process the NRL went through.
Lavin wrote; ''I want be cautious what I say about the NRL without ending up in a legal battle but I know what we want to say. I can't believe there is no governing body that can investigate the actions of the NRL's Intergirty Unit. You put your trust in them and believe they will do the right thing instead we were shut out.''
One of the family's gripes was that they say they presented all their evidence and it was passed on to Peats' legal team but they had no access to information from Peats' side.
''It took four months to investigate this, it is funny that it is dragged out when a player is the one in the firing line. We were constantly warned about going to the media from the very first meeting with the NRL early November . They said it would not look good if we took money for our story.''
''We never asked them for anything apart from money to cover the wages lost a man who went to my daughters defence and suffered an injury.
'We also wanted to cover our legal costs as they dragged it out so long we had to sack our solicitor as we had a $7000 bill.''
''This matter has caused no end of stress.''
Peats says the drama he was involved in Bali is not enough to knock him down.
Peats, meanwhile, is back in first grade and while this is a dent to his reputation, he did the right thing by facing the media at the start of the week to put his point across.
He has his own story to tell – what he has in his favour is that he is well managed by Sam Ayoub – who has guided him with skill through a turbulent time.
The Australian cricket team is viewed by many as “new age” under the leadership of Michael Clarke – but it appears the skipper has an old-school streak that may stun plenty.
You will remember Clarke famously got in a stink with Simon Katich when he wanted to go and party with his partner and others on a luxury cruiser.
Well, we hear that during the recent South African tour, Clarke said that the celebration after their thrilling win over the Proteas was a WAG-free zone. They had to go and party elsewhere.
Clarke is on track to become one of our most respected leaders – and his gutsy knock with a fractured shoulder in the third Test in South Africa is only cementing that position.
GALLEN A HIT ON THE AIRWAVES
Paul Gallen has been using his time out of the game well – he has been commentating on games for Triple M.
He is the best caller I have heard for a player still involved in the game. And he speaks his mind. He will be in big demand when he wraps up his career.
HONOUR AMONG SHARKS
It appears the Sharks are one of the most honourable clubs in the game when it comes to negotiations – they were urged to start talks with Andrew Fifita last November but delayed the discussions because of his management dispute at the time.
Plenty of clubs would have negotiated a deal with the player and his new management – they could have drawn up a heads of agreement, put it in a draw and asked him to sign it with his new manager in place.
In the end, the Sharks were $400,000 short over four years. But they do have their integrity, which at this time in their existence, is an important thing.
NRL HIT OUT OF THE PARK
The NRL could learn a thing or ten from the way that the baseball promoted itself this week. Adam Goodes and Alessandro Del Piero were there for a set-up photo shoot, and Sonny Bill Williams represented the NRL – those who run the game can't access him to promote their product – the reason he did it is because he has a strong relationship with the event's publicist, Tristan Hay. The NRL don’t have anyone who can develop or nurture those kinds of relationships, and it hurts them in a big way.
FREDDY'S BAD BREAK
Brad Fittler survived the Auckland Nines and a grand return to big-time sport – but a run at Bondi Beach brought him undone. He trod in a hole and broke his ankle. Fortunately for Fittler, his wife Maree was on hand to help him out.
GUERRA FITS THE BILL
The Sharks don’t need a front-rower to replace Andrew Fifita given Paul Gallen’s ability to cover the position. They may be able to target a quality back-rower like the Roosters' Aidan Guerra.
Don’t think for a moment that Todd Carney won't be trying to influence Guerra to join him at the Sharks – the pair are good mates from Carney’s days at the Roosters. Guerra was one of the Roosters' best in their grand final win, not far behind Sonny Bill Williams and James Maloney.
FERGUSON TESTING MUNDINE'S PATIENCE
Anthony Mundine says he is close to putting his foot down when it comes to the company that his relative Blake Ferguson is keeping.
Because he is preparing for his April 9 fight in Newcastle, against Joshua Clottey, Mundine has not been able to keep an eye on Ferguson all day, every day – and the former Origin star has been off the rails.
Sightings of Ferguson drinking are too regular. “Blake is an adult, but I also consider him my responsibility,” Mundine said.
“I haven't told him who he should be hanging around, but it's getting to that point, and I'd only do it because I love him. You are influenced by those around you, and I need the help of Solomon Haumono, Wes Patten, Robbie Simpson and other members of our families.
''What he really needs is to get back on the league. People say he needs help and this and that. The very best therapy for him is to be playing football. Forget everything else. He could get a hand from the NRL – they seem to welcome back everyone in the game except for Blake – he deserves much more than they are willing to give him and I can't figure out why he is treated differently.
''He needs football and his comeback into the game, and back to the top, will be one of the inspiring stories that the game needs.”
BUDDY'S LIMO SERVICE
Buddy Franklin is not doing it too tough after his teammate Dan Hannebery smashed his Mercedes – he has been spotted arriving at training in a rather fancy looking limo. He is a superstar after all.
LICHAA PAYS FOR POOR COMMUNICATION
On the surface, it's pretty hard to fathom Peter Sharp's decision to dump rookie Sharks hooker Michael Lichaa for signing with a rival team.
The truth is that Sharp was tossing up between Isaac De Gois and Lichaa for the game against the Dragons. What we have been told is that Sharp was upset that Lichaa was not keeping the Sharks in the loop regarding his negotiations.
They believe that he agreed some time ago and was not fessing up. Andrew Fifita told the club what was going on step by step, and they say that he won't be dumped because of that. The line about suspended coach Shane Flanagan ordering the dumping of Lichaa is a weird one.
My understanding is that Flanagan found out that Lichaa was dropped and leaving the club when a journalist texted him with the information.
Danny Weidler is a Channel Nine reporter