IN THE BOYS’ CLUB
The revelation that Rusty is gay sparks a tabloid frenzy, club homophobia and an identity crisis for one of his teammates’ partners!
It’s an issue when Rusty comes out on Playing for Keeps
R usty O’Reilly, the Southern Jets’ talented centre halfback on the field, has become infamous for his wild and often unpredictable antics off it. With his behaviour continually putting the club under pressure, Rusty’s alleged affair with the widowed Jessie hasn’t done him, her, or anyone else any favours, either. Instead it’s just generated more negative publicity.
With the resulting scandal sullying Jessie’s (Isabella Giovinazzo) reputation with each sensational news headline, Rusty (Ethan Panizza) boils over in frustration, finally making the shocking, and historic, decision to come out as a gay AFL player!
The ramifications are immediate and widespread. Rusty’s bravery surprises Kath (Madeleine West), yet she’s keen to endorse his decision and aims to land a six-pointer on his behalf when Brian (Jeremy LindsayTaylor) mentions that Andrew Macleish (Paul Ireland), the president of the Southern Jets, has demanded he drop Rusty for the next game! Stunned, Kath argues that leaving him off the roster would be political suicide as the media won’t hesitate to label and damn the club as homophobic. The AFL should be seen to be championing all their players, regardless of
their sexuality! She’s relieved when her husband does the right thing and defies Macleish’s orders; but after learning Rusty told Brian his secret months ago, Kath has to wonder what else he’s hiding...
Meanwhile, Paige (Cece Peters) is also deeply affected by Rusty’s honesty. Having been trashed on social media and by the other WAGs for supposedly leaking Rusty and Jessie’s affair to the tabloids and paparazzi, Paige posts a defiant message of support, earning long-awaited praise from Tahlia (Olympia Valance) and her followers, mainly because she’s finally become an “influencer”! As she revels in her newfound status, she also enters a dark world where trolls lurk, waiting to pounce…
Although Kath and Paige are taking a stand against the outside world, Rusty just wants to fade into the background until the furore has died down. The newshounds and paps hiding around every corner aren’t about to let him do that! Instead, the attention on him is escalating as they delve into every aspect of his life. Fed up with the scrutiny, Rusty snaps that he’s not about to become the poster boy for gay footballers. All he wants to do is play footy!
ON TEN MARK OF A MAN Rusty (Ethan Panizza) makes the big call to come out
VEST & FAIREST Rusty in the locker room