Castle: Is Origin A Defacto Salary Cap?

Canterbury - Raelene CastleBy STEVE MASCORD

 CANTERBURY chief executive Raelene Castle has blasted the 11th hour call-up of Josh Morris as “not very reasonable” and suggested split rounds now operate as a de facto salary cap.

Nineteen-year-old Reimis Smith – with an entire match the day before under his belt – had to drive to Canberra to make his debut on Sunday when Blues centre Josh Dugan pulled himself out of last night’s opening interstate match due to an elbow complaint.

 “The etiquette in place at the moment is we just have to release our players for Kangaroos and Origin,” Castle tells League Week.

“But in reality, when you’re running a professional competition, to expect us to do that on the morning of a game when we’re 300 km away and our NSW Cup team has played yesterday is not very reasonable.

“If we played (Saturday), they would still have called J Moz up (Sunday).

“The rules need to be documented, they need to be looked at and thought about … the impacts for all parts of the competition, not just Origin.”

Smith may now go doing in league history as the man who ended an era when the game punished clubs in order to keep Origin in a commercial advantageous television time slot.

“The three teams who have lost the most players all lost this weekend,” Castle said.

“The Broncos, the Cowboys and the Bulldogs – five, five and three (players), four for us on the morning, have all lost.

“So you’ve got to question: is this another form of salary capping? The teams that don’t have many players involved in Origin end up with points they may not have otherwise got.

“You’ve got to question the impact for the credibility of the NRL.

“Origin’s amazing. Everyone knows that. Commercially it’s really beneficial. We all know that. But when you look at the actually integrity and credibility of the NRL competition over 26 weeks, you have to question whether this is the right outcome.”

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Interstate football was put in midweek some 45 years ago to minimise impact on clubs. With the advent of Origin, it was discovered to be a ratings bonanza.

By the late eighties, players were being stood down from the previous weekend’s club round – defeating the entire purpose of the games being played on Wednesdays in the first place.

“Maybe we have (re-examined it) but not enough,” said Castle. “The fact is we’ve tried to under the new TV deal in 2018.

“But I think we’ve got to ask the question again.”

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK

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Bulldogs CEO Makes Early Return To Sydney

Canterbury - Raelene CastleBy STEVE MASCORD

CANTERBURY chief executive Raelene Castle has cancelled a media conference in Brisbane so she can return to Sydney on Saturday and attend to urgent business in the wake of Ben Barba’s return to rugby league.

Barba, who has been the subject of a week-long media storm since photos emerged of his former partner Ainslie Currie with a bloodied lip, came off the bench in the 35th minute of the Broncos’ 16-11 win at Suncorp Stadium.

The finals-bound Dogs led 11-10 with eight minutes remaining, after Trent Hodkinson’s field goal, before youngster Corey Oates bagged his second try to snatch victory. Electronic media reported Barba had the inscription “AC’ on wrist strapping during the game.

Fairfax Media was advised late Thursday Castle’s media opportunity had been canned because she had to fly to Sydney to attend to an “unfolding situation”.

No other details were available. Canterbury coach Des Hasler said his biggest concern regarding the Dally M holder was his return from an ankle injury.

“He had some nice touches. His foot got jumped on there at the end but he’s OK,” said Hasler.

“It was more being out for five weeks. He was able to get his match fitness.”

The evening was a triumph for Brisbane veteran Scott Prince, who retired at the end of his 300th game. He started the evening with a trysaving tackle and finished it with a sideline conversion.

“With that milestone and the way we played as a team, I was more impressed with that – the way we finished the season,” said Prince, who starts a university course next week.

“Just to play professionally was always a dream; anything else was a bonus.”

Hasler and captain Michael Ennis were confident the loss would not lead to an erosion of confidence going into the finals.

“There’s certainly no lack of confidence n what we can do,” said Hasler. “We know what we can do, we can be a real force in the semi-finals.

“We just have to do a simple thing like hang onto the ball.

“It’s pretty simple – you only complete 18 sets with the ball in two halves, then you can’t expect to win many games.

“The Broncos had enough to win four games. It wasn’t a good performance.

“It’s sudden death from here on in. The players know. They tackled terrific. The only way they (Brisbane) scored tries was through kicks.”

Ennis added: “I don’t think you can afford to drop your bundle when sudden death’s around the corner. You play footy to enjoy this time of year.

“We’ve got a decent turnaround now to get it into shape. We’ve certainly got the staff and the roster there to do that.”

Broncos fullback Josh Hoffman suffered an AC joint injury but is tipped to be fit for the World Cup. Oates was unfortunately not to have a couple more tries.

“He’s scored eight tries now – he’s not a winger but he’s a talent,” said coach Anthony Griffin, who said he meant no offence in referring to critics as singing canaries.

Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

DISCORD 2013: Edition 22

DiscordBy STEVE MASCORD

OUR greatest hope for the appointment of Raelene Castle as Canterbury chief executive today should be that columns like this will one day soon seem hopelessly patronising and old fashioned.

Because this column is welcoming the Kiwi’s appointment to the rugby league club based largely on the fact she is a woman. This column is pointing out that the Bulldogs have come a long way since the Coffs Harbour scandal of 2004, when sponsors didn’t want a bar of the club, and women in particular were deserting them

This column is recording the fact that Liz Dawson and Donna Burke were in charge of footy clubs 15 and 25 years ago respectively that they were – believe it not – also women.

This column is the response to a climate that still exists in society, and in rugby league in particular, which should not.

The CEO of the NRL, David Smith, issued a media release welcoming the netball administrator’s appointment.

He stressed that she was clearly the best person for the job, but then added: “It is also worth acknowledging the significance of a female chief executive and the message of opportunity that the appointment sends to women in our game.

“I’ve said before there is a place for more women in decision making roles in rugby league and we need to be even more inclusive in the years ahead.”

…hopefully so inclusive that Smith will have to give up issuing a press release every time a woman is appointed to a position of influence.

We welcome you, Raelene. We are happy about your appointment. We hope your presence improves our culture.

But at the risk of being a wet blanket, the fact it is a big story we have a female footy chief executive even when we have had a female prime minister for three years is probably not a great rap where rugby league is starting from.

Even during the recent Women In League round, many well intentioned media men and officials made comments about the appearance of those they were interviewing to recognise the role of females in the game. “You’re an attractive young lady, why would you play rugby league?” is not intended to be an insult or to be condescending but such comments are inappropriate given what that Women In League round is trying to achieve.

The idea that all comments about skin colour, positive or negative, are now firmly off limits is only just seeping through to many in rugby league. Similarly, comments directed at women about appearance – even compliments – are most often inappropriate in the workplace because they objectify and even subjugate.

But rugby league has always been a male workplace and those who have worked in clubs all their lives have never had to deal with these issues. You can’t use racial epithets  anymore and you can’t tell your boss she’s a good sort.

The reason is that these comments perpetuate historic power imbalances – between white males and everyone else.

Having more Raelene Castles will bring the culture in rugby league clubs more in line with the rest of society in the second decade of the 21st century. That’s why her job at the Bulldogs is good news.

Can you imagine a time in the distant future where we don’t need to encourage, recruit and welcome women, non-anglo saxons and gays to parts of our society in which they are not currently involved in any great numbers?

Consider what they will think as they scroll through this piece of archived commentary – no doubt through a wireless brain implant.

They’ll regard the things I am commenting on as completely alien and me as a primitive bigot.

At least, I hope they do.

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I’VE written about this elsewhere but there’s some not-so-cool stuff happening in South Africa at the moment.

The South African government refuses to recognise rugby league as a separate sport from rugby union. Recently some regional sports bodies did affiliate with the SARL.

The South African Olympic Committee has responded by writing to all regional sports councils warning them not to recognise rugby league under any circumstances.

This is despite a bylaw which states any sport recognised by the Commonwealth Games Committee – as league is – is entitled to domestic recognition.

It’s the sort of discrimination that league has always faced when it tried to start (or restart – South Africa toured Australia in the sixties) in new territory.

If we had a real RLIF with an office and fulltime employees, they would be lobbying the IOC. But we don’t. Discord will keep you up to date in events over the next few weeks.

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OK it’s that time again – comments.

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