DISCORD 2013: Edition 36

DiscordBy STEVE MASCORD

TRADITIONAL media has clearly become so discredited among many people that even on the occasions it does its job, the default reaction from readers is distrust.

The Ben Barba imbroglio is the classic example of what the press ‘roundsman’ is there to do – find out stuff people don’t want him or her to know – and which may have been deliberately concealed.

This is the sort of practice that dates back to when advertising paid for journalism, before the age of journalism pandering to advertising.

The line in the sand for sports reporters was always whether an off-field incident or allegation affected on-field performances. If there was a reason a player was missing or a team was losing, the rationale was that the fans who paid through the gates each weekend had a right to know.

Let’s look at the arguments in favour of this particular affair remaining unreported:

1) The privacy of the alleged victim. Ainslie Currie denied being assaulted back in February and she is still denying it now. What’s changed with regard to her privacy?

2) Mental health of Ben Barba. According to Canterbury sponsor Gary Johnson, Barba was on ‘suicide watch’ at the time of his standing down and of this alleged incident. So, he was on suicide watch and back playing four weeks later and the governing body of the sport was not told? A governing body which has taken a strong stance with others in relation to the very type of allegations which were apparently kept secret from them? That seems, to me, to make those involved more culpable, not less so.

Newspapers and magazines are dying. They are cutting costs, increasingly aiming to entertain instead of inform and in a number of high profile cases, are seeking to exercise what little influence they have left in grotesque political campaigns.

But every now and then, a journalist still gets to do what the code of ethics – rather than the boss or the circulation figures or the ratings – dictate he or she must do.

There are still stories in the paper that aren’t there just to get your attention and point you towards adds and cross promotions for the proprietor’s other businesses.

And it’s worth considering, no matter how little respect you have left for the media: when the papers are dead and the journalists are in the dole queue, who’s going to be there to tell you that you’ve been deceived?

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GIVEN there has been so much happening domestically of late, you have probably missed a couple of significant developments abroad.

One, Norway was stripped of two European Bowl competition points for fielding five ineligible players against the Czech Republic and Ukraine.

Omar Baghdadi, Sean Casey, Timothy Hackney, Tim Rowan and Isaac Schmidt have all been banned indefinitely amid claims which have been upheld for the time being that they were ‘ring-ins’.

It’s important to understand many of the countries at this level have no domestic league to speak of and players roll up for Test matches the same way they would for park football in Sydney!

You would think things would be a tad more professional and reliable in Super League. But you’d be wrong.

The day before they played Huddersfield at the weekend, Wakefield sold their best player – halfback Tim Smith – to Salford so they could use the money to pay everyone else’s wages!

I kid you not. “Tim’s not playing today – we flogged him off to pay our bills”.

The Wildcats were duly beaten, 40-0. Huddersfield are minor premiers for the first time in 80 years.

Huddersfield is where the game was born in 1895. Now, scan the sentences above and tell me how far we have, or haven’t, come since then!

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COMMENTS now and I won’t go over them all in chapter and verse this week because, to be honest, as I write this it’s getting late.

Justin Poore Says Criticism Forced Him Out Of NRL

Wakefield - Justin PooreBy STEVE MASCORD

JUSTIN Poore says he was hounded out of the NRL by pressure and criticism – but has vowed to return.

The former NSW prop’s eventful early tenure at Wakefield continued on Saturday night when Hull KR’s Lincoln Withers was carried off on a stretcher after trying to tackle him at Belle Vue during the Wildcats’ 36-20 win.

He tells Rugby League Week he had offers to stay in the NRL after parting with Parramatta but he’d had enough.

“I had an opportunity to go to a few clubs in Australia but …mate, I needed a change and I’m really glad I did,” the 28-year-old says.

“I felt a lot of pressure at home, especially after getting injured pretty bad at Parra.

“I felt like I was playing pretty good football  and no disrespect to the journos but they were just giving me a really hard time and I just felt I had to get away for a bit and try and re-find the love for the game.

“I’ve come over here and the boys have been really good.”

Poore says his routine away from football has changed dramatically. “At home I got stuck in my ways. I would go home, go for a surf, do nothing.

“Over here, I’ve been travelling a bit, taking my wife with me, it’s been really good for me. I’ve got a chance to get away from everything but concentrate on footy as well.”

Poore says his NRL career is definitely not over and he will most likely return when his contract expires at the end of next season. “I definitely want to go back, I don’t want to finish my career here,” he said.

And despite being eligible for England, “to be brutally honest, I’m an Aussie and that’s it.”

Poore said the collision with Withers at the weekend was an accident. “I think he just leaned down and I sort of copped him with an elbow when I was running,” Poore said.

“It’s just the style I run with and I feel pretty bad actually. He was split open pretty bad so I hope he’s alright.”

Poore was sent off for punching Leeds’ Ryan Bailey in his first game for Wakefield, on Boxing Day.

“It was just one of those things – a bit of testosterone with me and Bails,” he said. “I think he’s pretty over it and I am as well. It’s in the past and I’m sure we’ve moved on.”

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK

Super League round two: WAKEFIELD 36 HULL KR 20 at Rapid Solictors Stadium

By STEVE MASCORD

WAKEFIELD coach Richard Agar recounted a bizarre  conversation involving referee Steve Ganson as the Wildcats took  their first win of the year in a contest which saw a player from each side sent to the sin bin for repeated infringements.

Hull KR’s Graeme Horne (17th minute) and Wakefield’s Danny Kirmond (48) were given spells in an incident-packed game which started with Rovers’ Lincoln Withers being knocked out and badly cut when he tried to tackle Justin Poore as he carted the ball back from the kick-off.

Five-eighth Withers was taken to hospital and played no further part.

The unusual sub-plot occured when Agar sent his assistant, James Webster, to see Ganson at halftime in order to check if a general warning issued to both teams in the first half was still in force in the second session.

“We did ask Steve at halftime if the warning was still on,” Agar said. “He said the warning were off.

“But James Webster asked him and he throught James was working for Hull KR. So Steve …. I said I wouldn’t mention it in press but … even though he said that to us, if the warning was still on and Kirmond’s done that, he was right to sin bin bin

“I’m not too sure he really warranted a sin binning and I’m not too sure about the warning.”

Webster formerly played at Hull KR.  Prop Poore, meanwhile, said he was concerned for the welfare of fellow Australian Withers.

“I think he just leaned down and I sort of copped him with an elbow as I was running,” Poore said. “It’s just the style I run with. I feel pretty bad actually. He split his head open pretty bad. I just hope he’s alright.”

Play was held up for several minutes while Withers was loaded on a stretcher, with players doing stretches to stay warm in near-zero temperatures. When it resumed, a magnificent Dean Collis covering tackle prevented Hull KR’s David Hodgson from opening the scoring.

When the Wildcats’ points came, there were 18 of them in eight minutes with hooker Paul Aiton (18 minutes), centre Reece Lynne (24) and winger Peter Fox (26) all crossing to seemingly grab the round two Super League contest by the throat.

But after the return of Horne, the visitors promptly snatched two touchdowns – with new signing Cory Paterson scoring one (32) and setting up the other (to fullback Craig Hall, 35).

Centre Collis extended the Wakefield lead to 24-10 just after the break, before Hull KR halfback Michael Dobson showed his frustration when forward Con Mika was reported by Ganson. The incident appeared to be an accidental head clash with Kyle Amor – then the sin bin once again changed the course of the game.

A minute after captain Kirmond was dispatched, Hodgson bagged a converted try and he scored again just as the Wildcat was returning, narrowing the margin to four.

With the return of a full complement for both sides, it was left to Wakefield winger Ben Cockayne – who departed Hull KR after off-field indescretions two years ago – to decisively intervene. Cockayne scored tries in the 61st, 67th  and 78th minutes during a period that team-mate Ali Lauitiiti came into his own with some wily passing.

Hull KR have won one of their last 12 competition matches. “The referee tonight had cause to award an awful lot of penalties against us – we have to be more disciplined,” said coach Craig Sandercock.

“If we get an ounce of luck, if we’re more disciplined with the footy, if the bounce of the ball goes our way, we’ve got the semblance of a good footy team here.”

WAKEFIELD 36 (B Cockayne 3 P Aiton R Lynne P Fox D Collis tries P Sykes 4 goals) bt HULL KR 20 (C Paterson C Hall J Hodgson tries M Dobson 2 goals) at Rapid Solicitors Stadium. Referee: S Ganson. Crowd: 9,237.

Final team lists:

WAKEFIELD: Richard Mathers; Peter Fox, Dean Collis, Reece Lyne, Ben Cockayne; Paul Sykes, Tim Smith; Danny Washbrook, Danny Kirkmond, Ali Lauitiiti, Andy Raleigh, Paul Aiton, Justin Poore. Res: Oli Wilkes, Kyle Wood, Kyle Amor, Frankie Mariano

ROVERS: Craig Hall; Omari Caro, Liam Salter, Graeme Horne, David Hodgson; Lincoln Withers, Michael Dobson; George Griffin, Cory Paterson, Con Mika, Adam Walker, Josh Hodgson, Mickey Paea. Res: Keal Carlisle, Jordan Cox, Dale Ferguson, Evarn Tuimavave.

Halftime: Wakefield 18-10

Super League round 15: WAKEFIELD 32 CASTLEFORD 26 at Etihad Stadium

By THOMAS McCOOEY

A MUCH-improved Castleford performance from last week’s 70-12 defeat to Hull K.R. was not enough to snatch the result against Wakefield in the first Magic Weekend encounter. 

After keeping Wakefield to within one score, Castelford coach Ian Millward oozed frustration, saying frankly: “I’d rather be winning than talking about improvement.”

Millward felt Castleford’s outside backs let his forwards down and said he’d like to show his backs what it’s like to play in the forwards.

He continued: “I thought our pack of forwards were outstanding today. I thought they were the best pack of forwards there. Unfortunately our outside backs couldn’t complement us in attack and defence. I really feel for our forwards today – I thought they put in a really good shift.”

It was Castleford who scored first, inside the first minute as Jordan Thompson easily slipped through some slack Wakefield defence but they soon got to grips with the pace of a frantic game – though their own defence left much to be desired as the sides racked up more than a point per minute between them in the first half.

The second period slowed considerably and Richard Agar put it down to the conditions.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if there were a lot of high scoring games this weekend looking at the track and if the weather’s like this,” he noted.

“It noticeably slowed-up. The conditions played a part and the closeness of the game played a part in what both teams were doing with the ball pretty much until the final ten.

“In conditions like this a little bit of football goes out of the window and it becomes attritional.”

Tim Smith pulled out a stunning play in the closing minutes in what turned-out to be the winning play after a post-final hooter penalty to Castleford returned nothing and Agar was generally happy with his display bar some fine points.

“He came up with a couple of big plays – not all of them good ones but he made up for it when it mattered most. He’s a smart player and sometimes as a halfback it’s hard when your team’s lacking a little go forward and momentum. It was difficult for him to try and create that today but he came up with a big play when it really mattered for us.”

With the game seemingly won, Ben Cockayne tried to create a spectacular finish by racing the length of the field after coming up with a loose ball. The video referee ended up awarding a penalty to Castleford and although it didn’t matter, Agar would’ve preferred the game to have been put to bed sooner:

“We kept it interesting didn’t we? Even to the death,” he said. “I was a bit disappointed at the end – if Benny Cockayne kicks the ball over the touchline instead of trying to keep the fans entertained and score a length of the field try, that’s it. They somehow managed to find a way to make us defend our line again. I don’t think we had too much luck on video calls today.”

WAKEFIELD 32 (V Mellars R Mathers S Southern D Washbrook P Fox T Smith tries P Sykes 4 goals) bt CASTLEFORD 26 (J Thompson S Jones N Youngquest O Holmes D Orr tries K Dixon 2 Orr goals) at Etihad Stadium. Referee: J Child.

Final team lists:

CASTLEFORD: Richard Owen; Nick Youngquest, Jordan Thompson, Kirk Dixon, Rhys Williams; Rangi Chase, Danny Orr;  Lee Mitchell, Oliver Holmes, Brett Ferres, Craig Huby, Stuart Jones, Paul Jackson Res: Jonathan Walker, Adam Milner, Grant Millington, Nathan Massey

WAKEFIELD: Richard Mathers; Peter Fox, Dean Collis, Vince Mellars, Ben Cockayne, Paul Sykes; Tim Smith, Danny Washbrook; Danny Kirmond, Frankie Mariano, Andy Raleigh, Paul Aiton, Kyle Amor. Res: Kyle Wood, Steve Southern, Matt James, Ali Lauititi

Halftime: Wakefield 24-16