Rugby league cops an­other black eye

Townsville Bulletin - - Voice Of The North -

NA­TIONAL Rugby League ad­min­is­tra­tors are anx­iously count­ing down to when the ref blows the whis­tle on Fri­day night to start the 2011 sea­son. Then me­dia at­ten­tion can fo­cus on the on-field deeds of play­ers and not just what they are get­ting up to off it. The NRL has been cursed re­cently in its at­tempts to find a ‘‘ cleanskin’’ poster boy to pro­mote its game. Wests Tigers star Benji Mar­shall was seen as one of the best op­tions to fill that role – a clean-liv­ing su­per­star of the game who is pop­u­lar across all de­mo­graph­ics. Just what the game needs to pro­mote it­self in 2011, right? Wrong. Yes­ter­day af­ter­noon Mar­shall, who launched the sea­son last week, was charged with as­sault fol­low­ing an al­ter­ca­tion out­side a Syd­ney fast-food out­let in the early hours of Satur­day morn­ing. Mar­shall was charged with as­sault oc­ca­sion­ing ac­tual bod­ily harm af­ter be­ing in­ter­viewed by de­tec­tives at North Syd­ney Po­lice Sta­tion yes­ter­day. He is un­der­stood to have re­tal­i­ated af­ter be­ing racially abused by a 24-year-old man who later re­ported the mat­ter to po­lice. If the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the in­ci­dent as they have been re­ported are cor­rect, then many would un­der­stand Mar­shall re­act­ing the way he did and for­give him. Un­for­tu­nately, one of the prices of be­ing a high­pro­file sports­man like Mar­shall is the un­wanted at­ten­tion you at­tract. This in­cludes un­savoury com­ments di­rected at you while you are qui­etly go­ing about your busi­ness, of­ten in the com­pany of friends and fam­ily. Mar­shall will now be wish­ing he had turned the other cheek and sim­ply walked away from the in­ci­dent. He may have been left fum­ing but it would not be the ma­jor is­sue it has be­come as we count down to a new NRL sea­son. NRL chief David Gal­lop must have lit­tle hair left to tear out. He must dread read­ing, lis­ten­ing or watch­ing the news each morn­ing for fear of the game cop­ping an­other black eye cour­tesy of play­ers not be­hav­ing off the field. The NRL and the Tigers are un­likely to take any ac­tion against Mar­shall un­til it is sorted out through the legal process and the real facts be­come known. The only good news for the NRL is that when the sea­son starts this week­end, rugby league fans will be con­cen­trat­ing on how their team goes with all the op­ti­mism that a fresh sea­son brings. For a short time at least the at­ten­tion will be fo­cused on what NRL play­ers are ca­pa­ble of on the field and not off it. Re­cent his­tory shows, how­ever, that it will be only a mat­ter of time be­fore an­other player dis­graces him­self and sees the code’s name again dragged through the mud.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.