Sport

A shot across the bow

NRL chief executive David Gallop.
NRL chief executive David Gallop. Paul Miller

DAVID Gallop's impromptu departure from the ARL Commission says more about the deficiencies of past NRL boards than it does of his inadequacies.

Gallop lasted a mere four months under a Commission consisting of some of the sharpest business brains in the country.

The question then begs to be asked - has the NRL simply been rolling along in a comfort zone for the past decade?

Picking over the bones of Gallop's carcass would be the easy thing to do today. And like us all, he did have his shortcomings.

Several times previously I have written that I believed he was reactionary rather than proactive, and as a code rugby league was often slow off the mark.

How, for instance, did the Storm salary cap rort continue for five years without being uncovered?

And why did it take a newspaper to disclose the real financial strife of the Titans when the dogs had been barking for two years?

Gallop wanted to be popular and loathed confrontation, and maybe that is why very few NRL staffers lost their jobs during his tenure. But maybe a wider broom will sweep through the plush new Rugby League Central offices now that Gallop is gone.

With the arrival of the Commission, change was inevitable. The bell is tolling and fans - as shareholders of the game - need to accept the change and roll with the punches. Change brings excitement and, optimistically, invention.

Since rugby league was born in 1908 we have continued to shoot ourselves in the foot, yet survive. Hopefully the shot this week was across the bow and our game can be reborn in a new, thoroughly-professional era.

 

Stop bleating

I'D BE surprised if I don't speak for the majority when I suggest it is well and truly time for referee bashing to end.

Fans may have had a fair crack at airing their grievances through the various social media outlets, but the driving force behind the wave of criticism has been the major media outlets.

It is a given that in Brisbane during the season each of the three commercial TV stations lead their nightly sports bulletins with a rugby league story.

The code is their honeypot.

And the major tabloid newspapers in Brisbane and Sydney don't proffer three and four pages daily to NRL news because it doesn't help sell their product.

So apart from the fact they are a hobby horse, why are we monotonously and infuriatingly drumming away at referees?

Do we honestly think the incessant criticism is making them perform better?

Before we next bag a referee, we need to consider two undeniable realities - referees make fewer mistakes than the players, and without them we do not have a game. End of story.

 

Belief in Mal

MAL Meninga discovered 11 years ago - somewhat awkwardly - that politics was not for him. But the big bloke does not need a seat in parliament to underline his leadership qualities.

On Wednesday I was invited to attend an Origin Fan Day in Roma as part of the Maroons' entourage and had the pleasure of interviewing the Queensland coach at a $100 a head luncheon attended by 400 in the lavish Explorers Inn Convention Centre. Big Mal was outstanding.

Given that he has been the subject of a squillion similar interviews over the years, he continues to present in an open, honest and sincere manner, with a smile rarely leaving his face. He never avoids a question and never holds back with his opinions.

The size of the man alone - still almost as fit as the day he landed seven from seven on his 20th birthday in 1980 - commands respect. And it is easy to understand why he has his players eating out of his hand.

Meninga has never kidded anyone - let alone himself - that as a coach he is the Messiah. He surrounds himself with former Origin greats and a canny coaching staff that permeates this champion team mentally, as well as on the training paddock.

There is little doubt that in Mal, they truly do believe.

Topics:  david gallop, nrl



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