Down Under Blog: #22 The Underbelly

Pommy Rich gives us all the mis-dealing's in the NRL in his world famous Down Under Blog.

In a change to my usual ramblings, this time around I thought I’d do a bit of an expose on the state of the game in Australia in particular reference to the penetration of the criminal element in clubs and with players.

Recently there have been numerous occasions of players facing “Breach” notices from the NRL or internal disciplinary measures by their own clubs for consorting with known criminals.

Corey Norman at Parramatta has been the highest profile of these, and luckily for him has just had his conviction for drug possession downgraded to a warning by the court of appeal. If the conviction had remained, then he wouldn’t have been able to play overseas at all – even for away games in New Zealand.

There are a number of reasons why a criminal or group of criminals (oh hell, let’s call them a gang and have done with it!) would want to be seen with a high profile sportsman.

There’s a bit of reflected glory, the “look who I’m mates with” mentality. There is also the much more worrying aspect that criminals are grooming players (or being contacted by down on their luck players) to somehow alter the result of games.

It’s going to be hard in a team environment to be able to throw an entire game, but in the NRL betting markets there are a number of exotic bet options such as who concedes the first penalty or what the first scoring play will be.

This is what ex Hull KR player Ryan Tandy was found guilty of in a game in 2010 playing for the Bulldogs. He committed a foul intentionally in front of the sticks. 95% of all the bets placed on that game where for the first scoring play to be a Cowboys penalty.

Unfortunately for Tandy, Cowboys captain Jonathan Thurston decided to keep the pressure on and take a tap – turning down the opportunity to kick a goal. The sad end to the story is that Tandy ended up being banned from the NRL for life and committed suicide a few years later.

At the centre of a lot of the rumour and conjecture this season are three matches, two last season and one this season that police are investigating in relation to match fixing. All of these matches involve Manly and the one this year is the game v Parramatta.

So, when troubled playmaker Kieran Foran, who played in all three games is spotted hanging out with “colourful racing identity” Eddie Hayson, a man banned from all TAB betting offices in Australia, tongues will start to wag.

Then we’ve had other players consorting with known criminals and being warned as to their future behaviour by the NRL, and the unbelievable displays of arrogance by Andrew Fifita.

A few years back a young kid was walking through Kings Cross when he was punched in the back of the head for no reason, he fell into a coma and his family sadly turned off his life support a few days later.

This prompted wholesale changes to the alcohol laws in Sydney and was directly responsible for venues having to have a “lock-out” at a certain time every night to prevent this happening again.

The guy who did this act of evil was arrested, tried and found guilty. Fast forward three years and Fifita is wearing this thug’s initials on his wrist strapping in a show of support.

He has been warned about it and continues to vocally support a convicted murderer. So as you can see a lot of negative press is attached to NRL players at the moment.

There is far more of this to come, and Andrew Johns seems to be in the middle of a lot of it too– he’s close to Eddie Hayson, was working at Manly as a halves coach during two of the games in question and has always operated on the shady side a little.

Keep watching the blog for more exciting updates ….. oh hang on there’s a bloke walking over to me with a large brown paper bag full of cash…..

Changed my mind completely, Nothing to see here…. Move along, NRL players? Honest as the day is long yer honour!

Until next time, Up the Cream, Gerremonsard and Come on you ‘Ull.


Twitter @pommyrich


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