Players In NSW And Queensland Don’t Understand Damage To Game’s Image

Queensland - Cameron Smith 2By STEVE MASCORD
MELBOURNE and Australia captain Cameron Smith has lashed out at misbehaving players who live in cocoon in rugby league’s heartlands and don’t understand how much they are hurting the game in its frontiers.
In an eight-day period which has seen NSW prop James Tamou, would-be team-mate Blake Ferguson and South Sydney prop George Burgess all charged by police, Smith said many players in NSW and Queensland don’t understand the harm they are doing.
“It’s huge – we’re trying to grow the game in new places like Melbourne and they think they can do what they want,” Smith told Fairfax Media in the Brisbane Botanical Gardens, shortly after the Queensland’s team announcement.
“Living down in Melbourne you’re constantly hearing about how far our game is behind and this sort of stuff only adds to that.
“The players who live in NSW and Queensland aren’t confronted with that, they don’t see it.
“I don’t want to make too much comment on it because it’s been dealt with by the NRL and the respective clubs but it’s disappointing because it’s a few blokes letting the whole game down really.
“Nearly the whole competition, except for a few, they uphold their responsibility to the game and to the public.
“They can go out and a have a few beers and do the right thing. But it’s these blokes who think they can do whatever they want who let the game down.
“For someone to say what they did is OK – they’ve got to have a serious look at themselves.”
Smith also defied the conventional rugby league wisdom when it came to the punching ban introduced since Paul Gallen’s attack on Nate Myles two weeks ago. Maroons coach Mal Meninga said during the team announcement media conference he could not guarantee there would be no punches at Suncorp Stadium next Wednesday.
Referees coach Daniel Anderson said at the weekend that Smith’s contention on television last week that the Gallen-Myles incident was “not a good look” was taken into consideration in handing down the edict.
“He changed the rule because of me? I think it’s a good move,” said Smith. “Probably a lot of people would disagree but I think the sport is moving with society.
“It’s unacceptable to go around punching blokes whenever you want now.”
Motioning to a junior player in uniform who had been part of the announcement, he continued: “If we want these little fellas playing the sport when they’re 20 years old….
“And kids being born this year, if we want them playing rugby league then we’ve got to be showing their parents that it’s a good game to play and a lot of people would have seen that incident in game one and though ‘oh, maybe I want my kid to play soccer or something else.”
“It’s a good move for the NRL to come down hard on starting fights because there’s no place in the game for it now.”
Ferguson has been kicked out of the NSW team for indecent assault, Burgess has been stood down by South Sydney for wilfully damaging a car and Tamou was disqualified from Origin selection and suspended by his club for driving unlicensed at four times the legal alcohol limit.
Maroons and South Sydney star Greg Inglis told reporters yesterday he knew nothing about the Burgess incident.
The Maroons dropped Gold Coast lock Ashley Harrison and Canberra prop David Shillington for a game they must win to keep alive their seven-year winning streak against New South Wales.
South Sydney’s Chris McQueen comes into the starting side and Canberra’s Josh Papalii is on the bench with Sydney Roosters’ Martin Kennedy 18th man.
“We’ve got a culture of loyalty … we had to make a touch choice,” said Meninga. “There are young kids poking their heads through who have been in our system for a while.
“There was a long 10 metres … we needed to pick a side with more mobility in the ruck.”
On the punching ban, he said: “I understand where they’re coming from with it.
“But it’s an aggressive and combatative game. It’s difficult to control your emotions. Origin is all about emotion. “
Asked if he could guarantee there would be no punches, he answered: “I don’t think you can guarantee that in any sport … any combatative sport be it rugby or soccer.
“It’s a tough one. It’s black and white. We’ll see what happens.”
Meninga is a confidante of Ferguson and said: “It’s sad to see what happened to Blake.
“He doesn’t have a tendancy to mix with the right people. He’s easily led.”

Filed for: THE AGE

THE WRAP: NRL Round 14

NRL logoBy STEVE MASCORD
“As scandals go, it certainly has the potential to be the worst in Origin’s tumultuous 33 years – and that’s saying something”
It’s the view of the doyen of State of Origin reporters in the wake of news NSW winger Blake Ferguson has been charged with indecent assault and kicked out of the team to play Queensland next Wednesday.
When reporters sat down to cover the Monday Night Football match between Brisbane and Wests Tigers, the extreme right seat in the Suncorp Stadium press box was left vacant as a mark of respect for veteran AAP reporter Wayne Heming.
After almost forty years covering rugby league, 62-year-old Heming was made redundant following Origin I in Sydney. He wrote the news agency’s preview of the very first State of Origin game in 1980 and began covering games in the iconic series the next year.
Heming, who will be employed next Wednesday by the Courier Mail for one night only at Origin II, has seen players, coaches, administrators and scandals come and go but says Ferguson’s arrest for indecent assault takes the cake.
“Ferguson going out on the drink with his former Canberra Raiders teammate Josh Dugan the night before both were to enter NSW Origin camp ranks as one of the dumbest things I’ve heard of,” Heming tells NRL.com
“Back when I first started covering rugby league in Sydney in the mid 1970s players got away with things because there were no mobile phones and they often had ‘contacts’ who fixed things up.
“But those days are well and truly gone and the intense scrutiny on players is such that they can’t step out of line or they get dobbed in.
“What on earth were they thinking?
“The last time they got out on the drink together it ended in Dugan being sacked by the Raiders and Ferguson being stood down for six weeks after they Instagramed a picture of themselves on a Canberra rooftop drinking.
“The fact the NRL has acted so swiftly against Ferguson would suggest they have seen some pretty damning evidence.
“In the current climate of change they could throw him to the lions to show they are serious about finally cracking down on unacceptable behaviour by players who tarnish rugby league’s image.”
Next Wednesday will be an emotional one for ‘Ticker’ Heming who has been probably the longest surviving fixture at Origin games since ’81.
His favourite memories include Wally Lewis announcing his retirement at halftime in the deciding game of the 1991 series. “Lewis, who’d only learned before the game his young daughter Jamie-Lee had been diagnosed a profoundly deaf, walked off Lang Park a winner for the last time,” he recalls.
His best game and gutsiest win was the Origin II 1989, when Queensland won in Sydney despite a slew of injuries.
Tries by Mark Coyne and Mark McGaw were his favourite and the Maroons’ 1995 success was the most remarkable series victory he saw.
“While I have to confess I was born in Manly – that’s in Queensland isn’t it – I have always loved the attacking never-say-die style with which Queensland play and the way they compete,” says Ticker.

read on

THE JOY OF SIX: Round 13

The Joy Of SixBy STEVE MASCORD
1. NO VIOLINS OVER VIOLENCE
THERE are enough debates about violence and Origin to fill up this column at least twice over. But it was instructive that there was a mini-brawl in Parramatta-Sydney Roosters game just two days after Origin I and it went almost completely un-noticed – because only rugby league fans were watching. It’s important to separate the arguments about whether Origin should be played under more laissez faire rule interpretations from the one about whether rugby league itself is too tolerant of violence. It’s ridiculous to suggest State of Origin should go straight from being dirtier that club football to CLEANER just because more people are watching. First, bring club and Origin football into line, then examine what we’re left with and determine whether it’s worth sacrificing some aggression to keep attracting junior players.
2. UNCHAIN DUGAN FOR ORIGIN
JOSH Dugan’s two-try performance for St George Illawarra against Newcastle puts NSW coach Laurie Daley in a bind. Does he pick Jarryd Hayne despite his hamstring injury and nurse him through five or seven days, or does he cut his losses and select Dugan from the get-go? Hayne is a star in any company and player strongly in Origin I. Shadow players are not supposed to come into camp until after the previous weekend’s club round but the Dragons have a bye in round 15. That being the case, Dugan probably should be there from day one of camp and only allowed to go home once Hayne has run at pace and proven he can change direction at his normal level. Conventional wisdom says you don’t know if a hamstring injury has healed until it goes on you – or doesn’t – under duress.
3. DRIVELLIN’ GALLEN
IT’S taken a while but the tossing of brickbats across the NSW-Queensland border has begun in earnest. After Origin I, Queensland coach Mal Meninga thought Paul Gallen’s attack on Nate Myles would perhaps have deserved a sin binning in a club game. By the next morning at the airport, he had decided it was unjustifiable. By yesterday, Gallen’s excuses for the attack were “drivel”. That’s what Meninga wrote in his Sunday Mail column, the home of his infamous “rats and filth” attack in 2011. Meninga said of Gallen: “It would seem by his very comments a pre-meditated attack to settle old scores and, worryingly, the game’s officials seem happy to let it slide”. Meninga said the apparent pre-meditation had gone completely unpunished – and he has a point. Was attacking Myles part of a pre-match strategy, not a result of over-heated encounters on the field in one game?

4. WELCOME TO THE WORLD, ‘KIRSTEN THURSTON’
WHEN did the birth of a footballer’s baby become hard, earth-shattering news, and why wasn’t I told? The intrigue surrounding the birth of Johnathan Thurston’s first baby was completely baffling. On Saturday, the North Queensland club wouldn’t confirm whether or not the birth had taken place – which is fine, it’s a private matter – but also made it clear to reporters it was upset at reports which were clearly true. Huh? These days athletes sell their weddings and family additions to magazines. There is no indication of Johnathan and his fiancé Samantha doing this but it is certainly not the job of the day-to-day news media to help them keep secrets. Someone had a kid. He’s a footballer. Put it in the paper and be done with it. Why all the bloody fuss? PS: Apparently if you get the name of the kid, it’s the biggest yarn since Watergate.
5. OLD TRICKS
CANTERBURY didn’t make the grand final last year by playing well, they did it by winning close games. And now it’s happening again. That’s the view of prop Aiden Tolman after Saturday night’s 36-26 win over North Queensland. “We’ve won five out of our last six … we’ve got a bit of momentum,” said Tolman. “We’re not playing our best footy but we’re winning games. We probably weren’t playing our best last year either but we had that knack of winning games – and that’s all it can take. Especially towards the end of last year, we were just getting wins. That’s what we’re doing this year as well. We’re just getting over the line, last week by two points and this week against a committed Cowboys side who was up against the wall.”

6. PROOF YOU CAN GET LOWER WITH NO GOWER
LONDON Broncos last week questioned Newcastle’s decision to sign Craig Gower, on the basis that their club had won three from 17 with the the dual international as captain. For the same reason, they weren’t too worried about losing him. How worse could things get? On Saturday, the Broncos were beaten – at home – by Warrington 82-10. Gower is a fierce competitor whose contribution may only be seen in his absence. He attended Melbourne training at Harrow in February, not to catch up with old friends but to grill Craig Bellamy on how change a losing culture. This from a fellow could have just collected a fat pay cheque going around in front of 1800 people every second week. Gower will be aware of the Matt Orford comparisons – and be highly motivated to disprove them.

Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

Five Things We Learned From … ORIGIN I

#Origin11. Origin is still a primal anachronism

RUGBY league fans completely understood how NSW coach Laurie Daley could call flurry of punches aimed at an opponent’s head as “a great Origin moment”. The army of casual viewers attracted by the game could not. As big as rugby league is in New South Wales and Queensland, Origin reminds us there are sections of society there that complete ignore it most of the time. And they are the people outraged today that you can punch someone in this sport and not be sent off. One or two hundred years from now, society standards will demand fully body contact sport be banned. In the meantime, Origin will become as clean (some would say ‘as sterile’) as club football, then club football will get less and less physical.

2. Seven Years Bad Luck Has Given NSW a Queensland-sized shoulder-chip

QUEENSLANDERS took 70 years to build up enough indignation and anger to make Origin a success. It’s taken their southern cousins seven. The concept was a product of Queenslanders moving to Sydney for money and then playing against Maroons sides chosen on residential ground. But NSW have not just mimicked the inside-ball move that gave Jarryd Hayne his try. They have replicated Queensland’s beaten-dog mentality. Instead of ‘thrashing us with our own players for seven decades’, they have ‘bullying us with their Nate Myleses for seven years’. You can tell when something has been used as a cause celebre by a rugby league team and Nate Myles was it last night.

3. The rules are still different in Origin – but less different

SHAYNE Hayne called for a penalty when the ball was thrown away after a knock on early in the contest – but fellow referee Ashley Klein over-ruled him. In Origin, clearly, you are expected to be more disappointed when you knock-on or cop a forward pass than you are in a club game, and tossing the ball away in disgust is permissible. You can also stiff-arm someone and then punch them without being sent off. But as Cameron Smith lamented, holding opponents down for an eternity seems to be out of vogue. The Queensland captain conceded his team adjusted to the NRL-style rucks in the second half. Logic dictates Origin should, and will, be refereed the same way as club rugby league before long.

4. It’s easier for a hard-working forward to play wounded than a creative back

RYAN Girdler revealed on Triple M early in the second half that NSW back rower Luke Lewis had been bed-ridden for two days with a virus. Lewis, who has also been sidelined with injury in recent weeks, was a colossus. By comparison, Johnathan Thurston seemed severely restricted by an aductor (groin) muscle strain.; he had also suffered from a virus in the build-up. Cameron Smith, who did the goal-kicking in leiu of Thurston, was reportedly battling a knee complaint but was as heavily involved as usual. Conclusion: illness effects the artisan more than the labourer.

5. It’s difficult for Greg Inglis and Billy Slater to both recognise their potential in the same team

BILLY Slater’s attempt to fool the NSW defence late it Origin I by ambling up to the 20 metre line as if he was going to take a tap before shooting off upfield illustrates what a masterful custodian he is. But these days, so is Greg Inglis. The idea that Queensland would somehow have two fullbacks on Wednesday didn’t work and Inglis hardly got his hands on the ball. When he did, he laid on a try for Darius Boyd. One of the biggest challenges for Mal Meninga and Michael Hagan between now and June 26 is figuring out how to get the best out of both of them.

Filed for: THE GUARDIAN

DISCORD 2013: Edition 23

DiscordBy STEVE MASCORD

THERE was an instance early in Origin I when pocket referee Shayne Hayne called a penalty for throwing the ball away – and fellow whistler Ashley Klein ignored it and played on.

It illustrated that Origin is still “different” – but the striking charge levelled at Paul Gallen shows it’s getting less “different” each year.

The stark fact that a flurry of punches from Gallen aimed at Nate Myles’ head was hailed as “a great Origin moment” by Laurie Daley sums up the bloodlust the series continues to generate.

It’s less blood, if no less lust, than at any time in the past 33 years and that will continue to be the trend as those who were part of its brutal past retire from being referees, and from being referees’ bosses.

That neither coach even bothered to contact the current match officials’ boss, Daniel Anderson, before last night’s game indicates they are not going to protest about this steady gentrification of Origin, which will eventually bring it completely into line with club football.

Cameron Smith admitted at the post-match media conference that the Maroons simply adjusted to the faster rucks in the second half.

We all have to adjust to the idea it’s not 1985 anymore and unfettered violence is no longer the way to go.

.

BEING a ‘beat’ reporter or roundsman has its quirks – and one of them is that you assume your story each day with come from a set number of yarn ‘types’.

As a rugby league reporter, that usually means an injury, foul play, some great athletic feat or a colourful quote.

The positive to this is that we can pump out these sorts of stories pretty quickly, and that we have a good grasp of the back story (and spelling) associated with the 500 or so people we write about each day.

The downside is that when something occurs that is completely outside that prism, we are often taken unawares and can underplay an otherwise newsworthy event.

Thankyou, Russell Packer.

To be honest, I was far more enamored with the “Lets Gone Warriors” sign on Monday night than with Packer’s piddle. During the match, I only saw stills of the incident and even when Packer confirmed his guilt on Twitter, the whole thing seemed like an amusing sideshow to this hack.

Alas, people took real offence and it was deemed worthy of a $15,000 fine. Subsequent events indicate it belonged closer to the top of the match report.

On facebook, former Western Suburbs and Illawarra halfback Josh White admitted his brother did one better – or worse – than a ‘number one’ running onto the field once.

.

COMMENTS time, going over stories from the past week and starting with last week’s Discord.

read on

Origin I: NEW SOUTH WALES 14 6 QUEENSLAND at ANZ Stadium

By STEVE MASCORD

A FLURRY of punches aimed at the head of Queensland’s Nate Myles was described as “a great Origin moment” by New South Wales coach Laurie Daley – but is likely to earn his captain Paul Gallen a suspension.

After losing seven consecutive State of Origin series, the Blues scored a gripping 14-6 win in the opening match of the 2013 series in front of 80,380 fans at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium last night.

The flashpoint came a minute before halftime, when prop Gallen hit Myles – last year’s player of the series – with a swinging arm and then landed a series of blows on the Gold Coast forward.

Gallen later said the Blues were “sick of being bullied” while first-time coach Daley commented: “That’s a great Origin moment as far as I’m concerned.

“They’ve been pushed around and they’ve done it tough for a long period.”

Gallen said: “Nate’s been the dominant Origin forward of the past few series … I don’t have to tell you some of the things he’s done to our players.

#Origin1“We didn’t want to be pushed around. That’s all there is to it. We’ve had enough of being bullied … I think someone had to stand up to him.”

But the match review committee saw things differently, charging Gallen with grade two striking, which will result in a one match ban with an early guilty plea or two games with an unsuccessful challenge.

The star of the game for NSW was back rower Luke Lewis, who has battled injury in recent weeks and was consigned to bed by a virus in the two days leading up the game.

By comparison, Queensland five-eighth Johnathan Thurston seemed severely restricted by a groin injury throughout while talisman Greg Inglis was hardly sighted.

The Blues roared to a 14-0 halftime lead on the back of tries to fullback Jarryd Hayne in the fifth minute and  centre Michael Jennings in the 36th.

Parramatta’s Hayne scored a off a short pass from Cronulla’s Lewis while Sydney Roosters’ Jennings beat five defenders on a sizzling run to the line.

The Maroons were frustrated as they tried to lift themselves back into the game in the second half, with Cameron Smith penalised for a double movement before winger Darius Boyd crossed off Inglis with 19 minutes to go.

Daley hailed debutants James Maloney and Blake Ferguson but guaranteed interchange back Josh Reynolds he would keep his spot despite failing to get on the field.

Captain Smith said the rucks were quicker than they usually are in interstate football.

“We have to … pretty much do what they do,” said Smith.

“They get numbers in the tackle, they lie all over us in the ruck. It’s almost like we were playing a club style of footy, with the ruck interpretation.

“We’d get our numbers in there and we’d be up and out, rather than holding them down a bit longer which the referees allow at this level.”

Maroons coach Mal Meninga reckoned “everyone played well – we just got outgunned early”.

The series resumes at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium on June 26. “We’re going to go up there, people in the street are going to hate us, they’re going to be ripping our heads off in game two,” said Gallen.
NEW SOUTH WALES 14 (J Hayne M Jennings tries J Maloney 3 goals) bt QUEENSLAND 6 (D Boyd try C Smith goal) at ANZ Stadium. Referees: S Hayne/A Klein. Crowd: 80,380.

Filed for: THE GUARDIAN

Team lists:
NEW SOUTH WALES: Jarryd Hayne (Parramatta); Brett Morris (St George Illawarra), Michael Jennings (Sydney Roosters), Josh Morris (Canterbury), Blake Ferguson (Canberra); James Maloney (Sydney Roosters), Mitchell Pearce (Sydney Roosters); Greg Bird (Gold Coast), Luke Lewis (Cronulla), Ryan Hoffman (Melbourne), James Tamou (North Queensland), Robbie Farah (Wests Tigers), Paul Gallen (capt, Cronulla).
Reserves: Trent Merrin (St George Illawarra), Andrew Fifita (Cronulla), Anthony Watmough (Manly), Josh Reynolds (Canterbury).
QUEENSLAND: Billy Slater (Melbourne); Darius Boyd (Newcastle), Greg Inglis (South Sydney), Justin Hodges (Brisbane), Brent Tate (North Queensland); Johnathan Thurston (North Queensland), Cooper Cronk (Melbourne); Ashley Harrison (Gold Coast), Sam Thaiday (Brisbane), Nate Myles (Gold Coast), Matt Scott (North Queensland), Cameron Smith (capt, Melbourne), David Shillington (North Queensland)
Reserves: Corey Parker (Brisbane), Matt Gillett (Brisbane), Ben Te’o (South Sydney), Chris McQueen (South Sydney).

Referees: Ashley Klein/Shayne Hayne.

Origin I: How The Teams Compare

photo (8)Back three

PERHAPS the only weakness you can find in Queensland’s fullback-wings combination is the fact Brent Tate, who has represented his state 15 times, is playing out of position. But he does it damn well. Billy Slater is the world’s most exciting player while Darius Boyd’s off-field reticence probably does detract from his accomplishments on the pitch, but shouldn’t. Jarryd Hayne, Brett Morris and Blake Ferguson are a far less certain commodity. Fullback is Hayne’s best position but he is playing in a poorly performed club team, Morris is a proven performer but not in the best form if his career and as debutant, there must be some uncertainty surrounding Ferguson.

NEW SOUTH WALES: 7

QUEENSLAND 9

Centres

GREG Inglis is most observers’ choice as the leading player in the game today. He a brutal defender, an at-times unstoppable ball-carrier and the only possible solace the Blues can take in his presence is that he’s been at fullback for South Sydney. Apparently, he’ll pop up there at times on Wednesday. Justin Hodges admits to having considered representative retirement but will be Inglis’ centre partner at the World Cup if he doesn’t. Michael Jennings has finally found come consistency at Sydney Roosters this year and Josh Morris is an elite player – but these two aren’t quite in the same league as their opponents.

NEW SOUTH WALES 7

QUEENSLAND 10

Halves

AGAIN, despite the declarations of self-confidence from the Blues camp, the Maroons have a massive advantage on paper – and here on the internet – at the scrumbase. Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk form a double-act that stands alongside Lewis and Langer. Thurston’s slightly below average club form is the only negative. By comparison, Mitchell Pearce may have needed the positive re-enforcement of being told he had the seven shirt weeks in advance and James Maloney, like Ferguson, is a debutant with all the uncertainty that involves. Add that to the fact the Blues combination fared poorly at club level against Cronk a fortnight ago and you have a potential trumpcard for Mal Meninga’s men.

NEW SOUTH WALES 6

QUEENSLAND 9

Back row

THIS is one area where the sides seem to be level-pegging. Nate Myles was player of the series last year but his Gold Coast club-mate Greg Bird excels at this level. Ryan Hoffman is back after four years out of the interstate arena, Luke Lewis has made the most of his move to Cronulla while Brisbane captain Sam Thaiday is a passionate Origin performer and Ashley Harrison has a wonderful record in Maroon that is often undersold. These six players shape as the men who could well decide the opening match of the series. Thaiday reckons “brute force” is often the difference first up and that force will come from him and those in his position.

NEW SOUTH WALES 8

QUEENSLAND 8
read on

Cameron Smith: You Can Still Get Away With More In Origin

Melbourne - Cameron SmithBy STEVE MASCORD

YOU can still get away with more in State of Origin than in NRL games, according to Melbourne and Queensland captain Cameron Smith

But the Australia hooker admitted on the eve of tonight’s opening NSW v Queensland game at ANZ Stadium he was unsure of exactly how much more.

“I think to some degree it’s still the case,” said Smith, when asked about the traditional perception that the interstate series is played under an unofficial second set of rules.

“But there’s a fairly strict rule on the shoulder charge … now and it’s going to be interesting on the ruck interpretation as well.

“We’ve seen it’s been a lot faster at club level this year. We’re just going to have to figure out the referees in the first 10 minutes or so, to see what they’re allowing in the ruck.

“State of Origin, traditionally, is a bit slower. They allow a bit more work on the ground. “

Smith indicated he wanted match officials to be less pedantic than they are at club level. “I think State of Origin’s a better game when there’s a bit more flowing footy,” he said.

“As long as there’s nothing illegal (where they say) ‘let’s sweep that under the carpet’.

“I think the fans would like to see a free-flowing game, rather than the ref pulling his whistle out every two minutes.”

Smith described last year’s performance by the Maroons as the worst in their seven-year winning run.

He said the effect of a pending assault investigation on interchange forward Ben Te’o remained somewhat unknown.

“There’s no way any of us are going to know how he’s going to go out and play,” Smith said.

“But from as far as I’ve seen this week, he’s a really good place. He’s had the opportunity to get back down to Sydney, he’s gone to his house, he’s settled in, it’s been a really good week for him.

“It’s been a nice distraction for him. I think it’s been good for him to get into camp and get his head on his preparation for this game.”

Speaking about Queensland’s likely approach, Smith said: “We just want to be careful with the width that we play and the style of footy we play.

“We don’t want to be too expansive in game one and turn the ball over and get put into touch.”

Meanwhile, Storm coach Craig Bellamy yesterday admitted that backing up after a long break has been a problem at the club for “18 months, even two years”.

He said on Sunday night he expected Cronulla five-eighth Todd Carney to be “out to prove a few people wrong over his Origin non-selection” when the sides clash at AAMI Park.

Bellamy said he was “a bit surprised” by Carney’s snubbing but “there’s no-one better than Laurie Daley to pick the NSW five-eighth”.

The coach said he would have little hesitation in resting Origin players who pulled up sore, and stressed he was eager to give stalwart Brett Finch a game somewhere.

“(The season) has been frustrating for him but it’s been frustrating for me too because he definitely deserves a place there,” Bellamy said.

“Last year, I don’t think the non-Origin players stepped up as well as they usually do. That was definitely an issue.”

Filed for: THE AGE

The A-List: NATE MYLES (Gold Coast, Queensland & Australia)

Nate Myles/wikipedia

Nate Myles/wikipedia

By STEVE MASCORD

BE honest. No doubt you’ve read hundreds or even thousands of “interesting” things in these pages over the years, but what has a footballer ever said that helped you with your life?

I’m talking about piece of wisdom you go back to again and again, like something a parent or grandparent told you once as a child. For some reason, these pieces of gold seem more likely to come from actors or musicians than from professional athletes.

Actually, that shouldn’t be a surprise. Actors spend their lives contemplating and impersonating the lives of others and musicians are paid to draw us a picture of emotions, experiences and thoughts and give us a new way of looking at things.

The fellas you read about here are paid to run at brick walls.

There is one piece of advice from a footballer that this writer has always gone back to which has been an enormous help. The biggest thing that can hold you back in electronic media is fear of the microphone, knowing that thousands are listening/watching and judging you.

Brad Fittler – in reference to a few of his own indiscretions as a young footballer – once said to me “you know, it’s 15 seconds in someone else’s life”. That is, if you stuff up, strangers will think about it for 15 seconds and then move onto something else.

And so to Nate Myles. The Gold Coast, Queensland and Australian forward is an intelligent, friendly bloke who at least gives the impression of being relaxed around the media.

But in the background, it’s suggested he is still a little gun shy, given than in any in-depth interview he will be asked about breaking drinking ban with Todd Carney, leading to his departure from the Sydney Roosters in 2011, and defecating (I’m only going to say that once) in a hallway at the Terrigal in 2009.

However, any well-intentioned suggestion that this story focus solely on the present and future misses the point: Nate Myles has been through enough to actually offer a perspective that can help you and me in our own little struggles.

And he’s willing to offer that perspective.

“I guess there’s a few players at the moment who you have to shake and say ‘why aren’t you realising? This is not doing the right thing’,” says Myles, the reigning State Of Origin Player of the Year, about halfway through our chat at the Canberra Crowne Plaza. (Hello, Josh Dugan and Dave Taylor).

“I don’t know how to make the penny drop for that person. It just happens, I think, sometimes.

“For a while there, I wasn’t learning from my mistakes but now I know I am.

“For sure, I think I’ve benefited from a few wayward moments, to put it a nice way.”

His advice to you and me when we find ourselves losing control a little? “Just surround yourself with good people.”

“It also helps when the person at fault, the penny drops and they realise.”

We’re not finished doing our amateur life-coaching just yet. But let’s just do a quick whip through the lifeand times of Cairns-raised Nate Myles, as this is supposed to be a mini-biography.

He joined the Bulldogs from Cairns in 2005. “I thought the world was going to end when I left Cairns,” he recalls. “I’d never been out of it.”

His stocks as a footballer rose, playing for Queensland in ’06, and moved to Sydney Roosters the following year.

“It (tenure at the Roosters) was at times unbelievable and at times I questioned it. The move – because of my age … I didn’t approach it the way I should have. I was very sheltered at the Bulldogs. I only had to come on and play 15, 20 minutes whenever big Willie and Mark O’Meley were tired.

“When I went over there, I didn’t take it on and do it the way I should have. I had a bit of responsibility there and I didn’t adjust to it. I didn’t play good footy when I first went there.”

The stay at the Roosters involved a controversial game in which the tricolours surrendered a big lead over North Queensland in a match which had been subject to a betting plunge. It was captain Craig Fitzgibbon’s final match before joining Hull.

Nate says now: “That game was tossed up in more articles than any game I’ve ever been involved in. I don’t know what happened in that game. I know someone tried to tag me with a doubtful comment once. I was there. I remember being part of it. I remember trying my (backside) out in that game. I topped the tackle count and the hit-up count for that game. It was a fucking hard one. And I think the harder we tried, the worse it got. That’s what it felt like for me. “

Myles refers to his early departure from Sydney Roosters, at the end of 2011, as “the tap on the shoulder”.

“We broke a curfew and it was probably just a build-up of a few things,” he recalls. “At the time, things were all over the shop and I wasn’t really sure what was going on. It was probably my attitude, 100 per cent. The way I was thinking about it: probably (it would be) a slap on the wrist and I was playing next week. But it was a slap on the wrist but ‘you’ve got another year to go but you can look elsewhere. Like I said, the blessing in disguise. I’m just 100 per cent glad that I’m at the Gold Coast now.”

Did he have the realistic option of staying at Bondi? “I think it would have been an option in Newtown’s favour. To go into work to a place where you’re not … to put your body on the line for a place where they said you can look elsewhere, you’ve pretty much got to take your medicine.

“The Roosters were fantastic, they stuck by me in a lot of hard times.“

Amid the financial headaches and poor performance of the Titans last yearl, Myles shone at Origin level, winning the Wally Lewis Medal. “The week and a half leading into Origin, I float the whole time I’m there,” he enthuses.

Now back to What You Can Learn From Nate Myles.

Another expression: what people say about me and what people think about me is none of my business. “You’ve got to learn to deal with it,” Myles says. “Everyone’s a critic these days, mate – especially the people who pay their money for the tickets to go to games.

“There’s a time and a place for everything. Say if I’m with my nephew or niece or wife, I don’t appreciate some of the things that are said. If I’m by myself, it’s like ‘wow’. It doesn’t really affect me too much. It’s just when family and close friends get to hear it. A lot of my friends are the ones who have to settle down the most. They’re quite happy to throw down (comments).

“Where-ever the article is – back, front, middle – people do read it. You’ve just got to make it like water off a ducks back – because if you listen to everything people say, you’re going to be a sad sack for a long time.”

Before the Townsville Test last year, Myles said he had learning to prioritise was a key element in burying his demons. When I ask him to explain it, he uses an expression with which I think anyone with a wild side can identify.

“I’m letting good times come to me, rather than chasing them, if that’s the way to put it,” he says. Part of “the penny dropping” is learning about karma. If you do the right thing by your own set of values, the universe has a habit of rewarding you.

He continues: “I just think I was chasing too many other things in my head, before. I’m just enjoying football a lot more now. I realise how lucky I am to be able to do it for a living and I’m definitely prioritising things.

“I’m probably not always chasing a good time. I’m enjoying myself, and I’m enjoying myself not doing the things that get you in trouble.

“I’m always a believer that things happen for a reason and I’m just blessed that I’m able to go up there (to the Gold Coast). It’s shone a new light for me. It’s a great place, eh?

“I think the tap on the shoulder, the transition up there, the stage I was going through at that time in my life … I think it was all pretty important, all had a role in where I am now.”

Nate doesn’t think anyone would want to read a biography about him. I think he’s wrong. But just one more thing. If he does eventually pen one, what will he write about Terrigal?

“You live and you learn. That’s all I’ll write.”

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK