Un­rea­son­able cost of life in league limelight

Townsville Bulletin - - Sport -

NRL play­ers are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly fed up at be­ing tor­mented and has­sled by drunken fans when they ven­ture out to so­cialise.

Their stance comes af­ter Wests Ti g e r s s up­ers t a r Benji Mar­shall was racially abused by a rev­eller at The Rocks on Satur­day morn­ing. An in­censed Mar­shall punched the man in the lip.

‘‘ This is un­for­tu­nate all­round,’’ Wests Tigers chief e x e c u t i v e S t e p h e n Humphreys said. ‘‘ It is a sad state of af­fairs when any­one with a pro­file can’t go out with­out be­ing re­peat­edly tar­geted and tor­mented.

‘‘ Benji is shaken by this. He is dis­ap­pointed with it all.’’

Play­ers claim it is only a mi­nor­ity that at­tack them. Lead­ing player man­ager Steve Gil­lis de­scribed this mi­nor­ity as ‘‘ yob­bos’’.

‘‘ The play­ers have to be street smart,’’ Gil­lis said. ‘‘ They carry pro­files and must be able to man­age that or they run the risk of run­ning into some hic­cups when they’re out, es­pe­cially late at night.

‘‘ There is a skill to avoid con­fronta­tion but there are peo­ple out there who, when in­tox­i­cated, can make life ex­tremely dif­fi­cult. They are yob­bos, peo­ple who when in­tox­i­cated cross the bound­aries. It’s sad.

‘‘ There is a fear that play­ers may, in the end, say sorry and not sign an au­to­graph or pose for a photo.

‘‘ They could end up say­ing: ‘ I’m sorry, I can’t help you, you’ll have to leave me alone’.’’

Ma r s h a l l ’ s t e a mma t e , Chris Lawrence, said most fans were sider­ate.

‘‘ It’s only the mi­nor­ity,’’ Lawrence said. ‘‘ Most peo­ple when you go out just want a chat and to wish you well for the sea­son or the next game.

‘‘ We en­joy that. It’s the mi­nor­ity who want to pick a fight or prove some­thing to their mates and do some­thing in front of their mates. ‘‘ That’s when things don’t turn out the best.’’

Rugby League Play­ers As­so­ci­a­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive David Garnsey also ques-

po­lite and

con- tioned the an­tics of drunken fans who an­noy high-pro­file foot­ballers.

‘‘ What kind of a so­ci­ety do we live in when some­one like Benji Mar­shall can’t walk down the street and buy some food?’’ Garnsey said. ‘‘ He didn’t de­serve it.

‘‘ I would hate to think that one day we might have to in­cu­bate the play­ers or have no-go zones. I’m fed-up with it. It would be ter­ri­ble if the play­ers had their free­dom cur­tailed. And I would hate to have re­stric­tions put on them.’’

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