Round 1 is perfect remedy

I IMAGINE there is a collective sigh of relief from rugby league circles now that the NRL season is underway.

The incidents of last week couldn't have come at a worse time and they completely overshadowed the build-up to the weekend's opening round.

Fortunately there were matches which lived up to the hype and while they have forced the Manly issue into last week's fish and chip wrapping, the damage to the code has been done.

What players don't realise is that their poor behaviour doesn't just have an immediate impact by making the news headlines, there is long-term damage done to the code when parents decide their children won't be playing league because of the professional players' actions.

It's only a small minority of players who are the trouble makers but their actions tarnish the entire code and many parents would rather have their children participating in a sport where the elite players are earning the headlines for all the right reasons.

League has always worried about Australian Rules being its biggest threat but I believe that soccer is the sleeping giant which is slowly awakening.

Not only has the A-League developed into a great competition which is drawing more spectators to it each year, the game also continues to attract plenty of young participants.

League is in a contest for juniors and the off-field actions of players certainly don't do the code any favours in that contest.

While indiscretions by athletes with too much time on their hands and money to waste occur throughout professional sport, rugby league has dominated the press of late.

Let's hope for the sake of the code, the recent actions of the NRL bosses send a clear message to all concerned that the game doesn't need nor will it tolerate those who have little regard to the long-term well-being of rugby league.

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