Unreasonable cost of life in league limelight
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-
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.’’