THE BIG ISSUE: #22

STEVE MASCORD

PHIL Gould says he might be available to coach New South Wales if the Blues can wait until Christmas for an answer. Should they wait?

Maybe.

Big Issue regards Brad Fittler and Steve Folkes slightly ahead of Trent Barrett and Laurie Daley among the candidates who have so far been tossed up. That’s not because of any personal preference – it’s because they have both previously coached first grade.

But perhaps NSW fans are overlooking the importance of having someone in the Michael Hagan/Neil Henry role – that of the technician. If the NSWRL can’t fill the main position immediately, then why not talk to the candidates, figure out who they would work with,  and appoint the assistant first?

Would Folkes or Daniel Anderson be willing to co-ordinate a campaign over the next six months with a front man like Gould, Daley, Fittler or Barrett to come in later? Would Daley, Barrett or Fittler be willing to be offsiders to Gould, Anderson or Folkes?

Plenty of questions there for Geoff Carr to ask on his imminent ring-around.

Here’s a curve ball. Remember the success that “foreigner” Graham Lowe had with Queensland? Here’s a suggestion that is so left-field it’s over the touchline: Malcolm Reilly.

How good would THAT be?

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THE NRL are on somewhat shaky ground in amping up the restrictions on post-match comments regarding match officials.

The contradiction is that no-one really understood the rules before.

As we tried to point out here previously, you could say anything about a match official without questioning his integrity. At the time that you were fined, you could also be sued for defamation.

That was, I would suspect, in no small part a result of the fact the NRL – like many sporting bodies around the world – was being run by a lawyer. Transparency and precedent are things fans don’t really care for but legal types respect them devoutly.

By moving into the area of “excessive” criticism and “emotional” outbursts questioning referees’ “general competency”, we are getting into subjective judgements which will get the current administration in trouble.

We are no longer being run by a lawyer, who would no doubt tell them you can’t really define what is “emotional” “excessive” or “general competency” in an objective way.

It’s just someone’s opinion.

I’ve said elsewhere that the NRL should be congratulated for standing up to Des Hasler. But that is not to say they did it under the right premise. Hasler did not question the match officials’ integrity directly – although he hinted in that direction.

What he did was paraphrase a conversation between two whistlers and, apparently, misrepresent the penalty flow after the conversation. Then book him with that – criticism based on faulty examples.

Censorship is dangerous – particularly when the AFL’s website is going the other way and breaking stories about their own players’ off-field misbehaviour.

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CONGRATS to South Sydney who, as Far & Wide reveals  in this issue, will be playing PNG at Redfern Oval on February 9.

Last we heard, Melbourne will be playing the United States at Philadelphia on October 20. The Storm have had to jump through quite a few hoops to prove to NRL salary cap auditor Ian Schubert that the trip is not a salary cap rort.

“So they should,” I heard you say.

But is it really a bad thing that our clubs are going out into the world under their own steam to spread the word? The way Big Issue sees it, we should be SENDING them out there!

Any club that wants to go on an end of season trip to play a game in a developing league area should be ENCOURAGED to do so. Yes, even if it helps them retain and attract players.

The AFL went through a period of playing exhibition games in major capitals around the world every year and when we get our TV money, we should too.

And while they’re at it, what about a PR push in grand final week – like the Americans do. I’d like to see the competition’s sponsor send Jarryd Hayne to Fiji, Clint Newton to America, Aiden Guerra to Italy, Ian Rubin to Russia, Feleti Mateo to Tonga, Gareth Ellis back to England, etc, etc, to promote our competition on television and radio in the lead-up to our biggest game of the year.

Crappy chat shows are always looking for guests.

Would famous league fans like Russell Crowe, Mickey Rourke and Vin Diesel be willing to sing our praises in grand final week as well as promoting their own projects? You don’t know until you ask.

If the NBA and NFL can do it, so can we.

NB: Laurie Daley on August 21 was appointed NSW Origin coach for two years.

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK

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