Tuesday, 4 October 2016

The Moral High Ground Agenda (2016)

Today the Australian Rugby League team was selected for the Four Nations tournament, with two notable omissions, Andrew Fifita, who was near best on field in the Grand Final and Semi Radradra.

The reason given is that both players have tarnished records off the field. Todd Greenberg stated today during the team announcement regarding Fifita, “selection for the Australian team requires standards on and off the field and as he is currently under investigation by the Integrity Unit, we believe he still has some way to go to meet those off field standards.”

He went on to say that, “we believe that to wear the Australian jersey, the most prestigious jersey in our game, you should have to distinguish yourself both on and off the field.”

Firstly, I want to say that I fully agree with Greenberg’s statement. We should have only the best role models wearing our national colours. You are on the world stage and you should be a prime example to all people everywhere to earn that jumper, so as to set the best possible example for every child out there who wishes to wear that jumper in the future.

Fifita was handed a paltry $30,000 fine and a one year ban from the Penrith District Junior Rugby League and a six week suspension from the NRL for abusing a referee. This year he landed in hot water again for publicly showing support for convicted one punch killer Keiran Loveridge.

Meanwhile Semi Radradra has been charged with two counts of common assault and one count of causing actual bodily harm to his then partner, which he has pleaded not guilty to.

The problem with the decision to prevent these two from playing, based on the grounds of their off field indiscretions, is that it’s not a rule that has been applied to all players.

Blake Ferguson was found guilty of indecently assaulting a woman in 2013 and handed a two year good behaviour bond. He was selected in the Kangaroo’s squad today.

Darius Boyd inflicted over $1500 worth of damages to a hotel room that he single-handedly trashed before admitting himself to rehab. He paid for the damages he caused. He was selected in the Kangaroo’s squad today.

Josh Dugan was sacked by his former club for a string of off-field incidents, most notably binge drinking with Blake Ferguson instead of attending a recovery session. He was selected in the Kangaroo’s squad today.

Sam Thaiday was one of three players who was punished by his club Brisbane, for his alleged involvement in sexual acts and the unauthorised recording of them in the 2008 off-season. The Broncos fined him $20,000, while he lost a third party sponsorship deal worth around the same amount as well. He also had to attend counselling. He was selected in the Kangaroo’s squad today.

Greg Inglis was even charged with assault but the charges were later dropped. He accepted to undergo a diversion order that meant he had to attend a behavioural change program and pay a fine of $3,000 to a women’s health service. He was selected in the Kangaroo’s squad today.

If the NRL want to be serious about this, and they most certainly should be because they are most definitely taking the right stance, then it should apply to all players. Anything less is only a mockery of the game and makes team selections and omissions farcical.

Worse still, it provides grounds that can justify the inclusion of players whose off-field demeanour should prevent them from ever being selected. That is what this rule should set out to achieve, but today, it has failed itself.