THE AUSTRALIAN game is in uproar as the NRL season prepares to kick off today with the noose of the Federal Government investigation into drug use tightening at Cronulla.
The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that up to 14 players have been offered six-month bans for using the peptides Thymosin Beta 4 and CJC-1295 in 2011.
That’s despite the fact they weren’t banned at the time and they were given to them by their club. The players may sue and on the surface seem somewhat hard-done-by.
The controversy has completely overshadowed the build-up to the Sydney Roosters v South Sydney derby, which is close to being a 42,000 sellout at Allianz Stadium. The game will feature the return to rugby league of Sonny Bill Williams.
But the Cronulla controversy was so dire on Wednesday that sections of the media asked the NRL if the Sharks’ game against Gold Coast on Sunday night would even go ahead.
Apparently, it will.
DURING an appearance on Sky’s Backchat a couple of weeks ago, I contended that Catalan forward Julian Bousquet should have been banned for longer than four weeks over his hit on Salford’s Theo Fages.
I also argued that he would have got a much stiffer ban in the NRL.
Now, some have taken issue with me over this claim, pointing to the tackle by St George Illawarra’s Matt Prior on North Queensland’s Johnathan Thurston in 2012 was about the same.
So I’ve had a look at both tackles back-to-back on YouTube and here’s what I think: yes, they are similar.
BUT Prior was suspended a week longer, Thurston complained the sentence was light, most people agreed with him and Prior also pleaded guilty and had 50 demerit points carry over.
NRL prosecutors called for a seven-match ban at the Prior hearing.
Taking all those factors into account, I stand by my contention that the NRL disciplinary system is tougher on foul play than Super League.
STILL on TV, and a new show – NRL 360 – debuted on Fox Sports on Wednesday night.
Hosts Ben Ikin and Paul Kent had coaches Tim Sheens and Craig Bellamy – who have each just returned from England – as guests in the second half of the programme.
Former international Ikin asked them about the current state of the game in England.
Sheens said “the country seems to have money problems – they lost their triple A rating” but that rugby league still seems quite strong.
Bellamy reckoned “the top four or five teams would compete in the NRL but after that it falls away. They don’t have the depth”.
Just thought you’d like to know.
FINALLY got around to reading Phil Wilkinson’s excellent interview with Bobbie Goulding in a recent Rugby League Week.