DISCORD 2013: Edition 15

DiscordBy STEVE MASCORD

IT’S now common for clubs to put media conferences up on their websites. You won’t get any print journalists asking good questions at morning recovery sessions as a result – but that’s not what I want to talk about here.

The interview marked “Round Five recovery” on the Newcastle Knights website features Darius Boyd on Monday, and is pretty unremarkable. However, it is just an “edited highlights” of the encounter.

Apparently Darius – famous for his antisocial media opp at the Dragons a couple of years ago – refused to answer innocuous questions like “what do you think of your own form?”

“Next question” and “no comment” were the responses to the sort of Dorothy Dixers that players at, say, Cronulla would kill to be fielding right now. Excerpts were shown on the Matty Johns Show this week.

Discord is not going to do the predictable thing and just have a go at Darius. I’ve got a slightly more complex point to make.

A number of players and coaches over the years – Darius is one but former St George Illawarra captain Ben Hornby and, at times, current Dragons coach Steve Price to much lesser degrees – have appeared to take their cue from Wayne Bennett when it comes to dealing with the media.

But what they have done is copy the substance of Bennett’s public utterances without any appreciation of the subtlety and strategy involved.

Wayne Bennett says very little so that his opinion becomes a rare commodity. When Bennett needs to get something ‘out there’, his comments have greater currency because he doesn’t say much when other people want him to.

He says more in defeat, generally, than he says in victory. Last Sunday was a classic example when Price’s Dragons beat his Knights at Kogarah.

Instead of writing about Knights great Kurt Gidley being consigned to a gruelling career as a hooker, for instance, we all wrote about how Bennett bagged us.

Bennett also often sacrifices himself for his team, saying nothing so we focus on his reticence rather than his team’s poor performance.

He has been known to ring journalists when he wants to get a point across. How many of his acolytes do that? The number of former Queensland greats who have criticised Maroons forwards on the morning of a match when he was coach may or may not be a coincidence.

But it is clear from the behaviour of those who have done their apprenticeships under Bennett that he has not shared the nuances of his strategies with them. They have just aped his “give ‘em nothing, take ‘em nowhere” exterior.

Without the intellectual underpinning, this often comes across as just plain rude.

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ANOTHER coach bites the dust in Ian ‘Basil’ Millward at Castleford.

A friend of mine commented on Facebook yesterday that if Maggie Thatcher had never been born, Castleford wouldn’t be such a struggling club, since her policies hurt the industrial north more than anywhere else.

Basil’s had such a hard couple of years and a break from coaching will do him good. Discord wishes him luck

I can’t believe Brian Smith does not have a job in Super League by now. Or Stephen Kearney (I think he has to stay in the southern hemisphere to keep the NZ job).

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LOTS of comments last week after a slow response to the previous column.

read on

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