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Time NRL took hit for team

NewsMail columnist Jack McGovern.
NewsMail columnist Jack McGovern. Scottie Simmonds

I HOPE you were watching last night.

I hope you were watching two brave gangs of men running onto hallowed turf in search of victory.

I hope you were watching 34 noble warriors as they put their bodies on the line for the sake of those who cheered them on the sidelines.

And I hope you were watching - I really hope you were watching - as Channel Nine put on its usual drama-filled, fanfare-riddled video montage to introduce the NRL season ... just so everyone knew it really was the most important event of the Christian calendar since - well, er - since Christian became a word.

That's right, ladies and gentlemen: the NRL season for 2013 kicked off last night, and aren't we all excited about it.

I know I, for one, can't wait for the children of our society to watch on in awe as their role models strut their stuff on the football field. Come to that, I'm pretty eager for them to pick up on some of those role models' life choices too.

For those of you who are unsure, I'm being sarcastic.

Don't get me wrong. I love my rugby league just as much as Phil Gould likes to tell us he does on a Sunday.

However, football players don't seem to know how to behave, and that's not really anything new.

Brett Stewart was the 2009 "face" of the NRL; sexual harassment charges put all that to a halt.

Benji Marshall was the 2011 "face" of the NRL; quite clearly, the guy he was alleged to have assaulted wasn't a Tigers fan.

And more recently, Ben Barba was - yes, was - the 2013 "face" of the NRL; apparently the pokie machines thought the Dally M Medal was quite enough glory for the young Queenslander.

Hmm ... hardly the sort of stuff you want playing out in front of your little boy's sport-mad eyes.

Yes. These guys made mistakes.

But when three marquee players within a few heartbeats of each other need to be stripped of their "face of the NRL" status, one needs to ask the question.

Are they the only ones making errors of judgment here?

See, the fact is, these blokes should never have been chosen. Truth be told, they weren't up to the task.

And when it comes to the good old blame game, it's probably time the NRL itself took a hit for the team.

It's all the NRL's fault.

Now, I've never run a national sporting competition. Heck, I'd be flat out running a pre-school hopscotch tournament.

However, I think even the most inexperienced of campaigners in any business environment areaware of the following public relations fundamental: do things that are good for public relations.

A crazy notion, I know.

I'm not saying the likes of Ben Barba, Benji Marshall and Brett Stewart are bad people; I'm just saying that behind the adoring fan-bases, dazzling sidesteps and skin-tight jerseys, they are still ordinary young men.

In a few years' time, we may well laud these three as noble warriors on and off the field.

Ordinary young men - whether we feel like being patient or not - need to mature. Then, who knows what they could achieve?

Abraham Lincoln probably couldn't have ended slavery in his mid-20s.

Winston Churchill probably couldn't have "fought them on the beaches" in his mid-20s.

And hey, I probably still won't be capable of organising a pre-school hopscotch tournament in my mid-20s.

Not to worry, though. I don't think the NRL will be picking me as their "face" any time soon.

Topics:  blogs, jack mcgovern, nrl, opinion, the world according to jack


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