The Fitz Files
Listen, while you were out, they’ve been talking about the Brent Tate episode. Let’s take this slowly. Tate is the Queensland State of Origin winger, who was viciously dumped on his head in Origin I, after a tackle which involved NSW five-eighth Josh Reynolds flagrantly breaching the rules and lifting Tate’s legs above his head. Instead of copping it sweet, the Queenslander spoke out on it.
“I have never been more frightened in all my life,” he said afterwards. “My legs were shaking for the next 10 minutes after that. If we are serious about trying to stamp this out they will crack down on it. I had my family here. The last thing they want to be doing is sitting next to a hospital bed like an Alex McKinnon situation. You can’t have it in our game. It has to stop.”
Fairly straightforward, I would have thought. The words of a clearly distressed player saying out loud, gentlemen, we are playing a game here, and whatever the rules, whatever the refs, we cannot engage in stuff that might see us in the wheelchair next to Alex – and so let what happened to him be a lesson to us all.
But not a bit of it. Those remarks have seen him attacked by commentators, players and even Reynolds’ family members for: bunging his distress on and being “melodramatic . . . in an Oscar-winning performance”, breaking the code of silence that what happens on the field stays on the field, and invoking the name of McKinnon to try to get Reynolds in trouble.
The Blues players, we’re told by my good friend Danny Weidler, are “disgusted” and believe Tate was just trying to prevent Reynolds playing in Origin II! Most staggering was NSW forward Anthony Watmough saying “it was in bad taste to mention young Alex.”
Josh Reynolds' father, Robbie, went further saying “bringing up Alex McKinnon, that was disgraceful. The McKinnons are still going through a lot of pain and to be rehashing that, bringing his name into it every time there’s a bad tackle, I feel sorry for his family.”
Think on it. What’s “bad taste,” here? Pointing to the fate of Alex McKinnon as a lesson in what NOT to do, or engaging in a practice that risks seeing another tragedy like it? And do you really think with the pain that young Alex and the McKinnon family has gone through, their dearest desire is not to ensure that other footballing families don’t have to go through the same thing? You are way out of line. The culprit in the piece is not Tate, but Reynolds, and he is dead lucky to be taking the field in Origin II.
Here is Alan Jones to Malcolm Turnbull on Wednesday morning, berating him for having had dinner with Clive Palmer – the very man the government needs the support of, to get its budget through the Senate: “Malcolm I’ve coached Australia in rugby, and if one of my players on the eve of the rugby Test was seen socialising, having dinner, privately, inviting a member of the All Blacks, on the eve of a major Test match, the player would be sent home, Malcolm.”
Turnbull: “Well, Alan, this is not football.”
Rah! (Though Turnbull, for the record, like Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey was a very useful lower-grade tight-head prop for Sydney University, back in the day.)
Greats honour Taber
Lovely. Last Thursday at North Sydney Oval former Test wicketkeeper Brian Taber, 74, was honoured with a surprise party organised by the Australian Cricket Society (NSW) as Test cricketers from Australia, South Africa and New Zealand turned up to pay him tributes. They were Ian Chappell, Doug Walters, Rod Marsh, Ashley Mallett, a bearded Ian Redpath, Alan Davidson, John Benaud, Brian Booth, Dave Renneberg, Graeme Watson, Phil Emery, Greg Dyer, Ken Eastwood, Barry Richards (all the way from South Africa) and Bruce Murray from New Zealand. They ended up with a “Here Come the Aussies” sing-along orchestrated by Mike Coward. Richards recalled the World Series Cricket days in mid-1970s when they used motorcycle-type helmets to face the West Indies super quicks. The trouble was that the batsmen could not hear each other and kept getting run out!
Take that, Benji!
Harsh, but fair, I think. Writing for theroar.com.au this week, long-time sports journo Tim Prentice reached for the long handle: “Benji Marshall has been nothing short of an embarrassment in his two first-grade appearances for the Dragons. There is no other way to say it – he has this week’s game to prove himself or face the axe . . .
“Returning after a failed stint in rugby union in New Zealand, Marshall is a shadow of his former brilliant self. He is way down on pace, rendering him close to ineffective as a ball runner . . . The timing of his once-sublime passes is bordering on laughable and his handling is horrendous.”
Apart from that, though, Prentice thinks Marshall is playing all right!
Anyhoo, told yers.
What They Said
Nic White tells colleague Andrew Webster his reaction when told he was the new Wallabies halfback: “Ewen McKenzie walked up to me at breakfast and said, ‘Mate, you’ll be starting.’ I was so happy. I couldn’t stop thanking him, until he told me not to.”
Judy Murray, mother of Andy: “[Maria] Sharapova is like a tea bag. Put her into hot water and u’ll find out how strong she is.’’
Willie Mason making up words on NRL 360: “To expand and broadenize the game, to make it bigger you have to go to Melbourne . . .”
Ian Botham feels Andrew Flintoff making a T20 comeback is a dumb idea: “While I wish him all the very best, I think he is making a massive mistake . . . Fred had no choice but to quit cricket because of a chronic knee injury that had made walking difficult, let alone bowling at 90 miles an hour.”
Flintoff doesn’t want to have regrets: “When I'm bowling it still hurts a bit, but I'm loving running in to bowl and if I can take that into a game I might be quite dangerous. I'd sooner try and have it not come off than sit at home for the rest of my days thinking, ‘I should have tried this, I should have had a go.’ I don't live like that.”
Simona Halep not surprised to be doing well at the French Open. Many are saying it’s due to the breast reduction she had a number of years ago: “But for me to be here it's not a surprise, because I'm more confident now in myself.”
Kiwi racing driver Scott McLaughlin: “I don’t want to be the next Craig Lowndes. I want to be myself, I want to be the next Scott McLaughlin.” If not you, Scott, who? If not now, when? Go for it!
“They [the Buffalo Bills] believe in me. They know that I’m not a trouble guy.” Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, two days before being charged with seven offences in connection with an illegal street car race crash, to go with felony charges he’s already facing for possession of dope and drug paraphernalia.
Retired footballer Willie Carne to The Courier-Mail: “I’m 45 but my body feels like it’s much older. It’s bloody scary. I feel my ankle, my back, I did my ACL [anterior cruciate ligament] playing touch footy up here . . . every day I feel them. I don't want to think about 10 years ahead.”
Carne, on whether his memory was worse than in 2012, when he blamed head knocks from football for memory loss: “My memory is way worse than it was in some ways. I got knocked out maybe a dozen times.”
Latvian tennis player Ernests Gulbis: “I wouldn’t like my sisters to become professional tennis players. It’s (a) tough choice of life. A woman needs to enjoy life a little bit more. Needs to think about family, needs to think about kids.”
Michael Cheika on the Waratahs' great win against the Chiefs:“It was a really hard-working effort, they just kept getting back up and there were some guys in a lot of pain and discomfort, and they were comfortable playing in that discomfort zone, which is a good sign for us.”
Boxer Floyd Mayweather jnr: “Yachts, private jets, foreign cars, mansions, unlimited shopping sprees, and I am just getting started! I spoke to God last night and I asked: ‘Is there a problem with how this lavish KING is living down here on earth?’ and God said: 'NO it was already predestined'.” Seriously, if he was citing any other imaginary friend than the one they call “God,” he’d be committed, wouldn’t he?
Team of the Week
Stephen Moore. The 91-Test, nine-year Wallabies veteran was this week announced as captain of the side that takes on France on Saturday night in Brissie. Congrats to him.
Jonny Wilkinson. Ended his career by helping Toulon to their first Top 14 success in 22 years
The Reclink Community Cup. Charity Aussie Rules match between media and musicians happening shortly. A long-standing tradition in Melbourne, it now also happens north of the Murray. Google them for more info.
Geoff Nicholas, Shane Luke and Graham Kenyon. Combined to help Australia win inaugural World Cup of Disabled Golf.
Sheehan Brothers. Made club history for Old Ignatians Rugby Club when all five of them played in the one team. And, from the sounds of it, they were dead LUCKY to beat Knox Old Boys 14-12.
Greater Western Sydney. Almost defeated reigning premiers Hawthorn in what would have been their best result
Roger Federer. Failed to reach the French Open quarter-finals for the first time since 2004.
Condo Rugby League Football Club. Are looking for a Level 1 first-grade coach for an immediate start. Try firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Sloane Ranger on 0466 904 537
Cauliflower Club. The rugby charity has secured a block of 200 category A tickets for the French Test in Sydney on June 21, and a room booked at the SCG for 220 for pre-game function. Try www.cauliflowerclub.com.
Warren Rugby Union Club. Pumas are having a dinner on the first weekend in July to commemorate 60 years of Warren Rugby. The dinner will feature a talk from "Kick Too" Farr-Jones. Call Pirate Pat, or The Gut.
Paul Carroll and Mark Lebedev. The two Australians – the first a player and the second the coach – have for the third year in a row helped the Berlin volleyball team triumph in the German Bundesliga to become the Deutsche Volleyball-Meisterschaft. Leonard was right: first we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin.
NSW Country Schools Rugby Union Championships. After 38 successive and successful years, it finishes today, with the last tournament held at The Armidale School. Originally set up to help identify regional rep players, it is felt the need is now no longer there.