Curse of the NRL poster boy strikes again

THROUGHOUT the course of history, there have been many great mysteries and some even better conspiracy theories. 

The Bermuda Triangle. The Da Vinci Code. What really happened to Adolf Hitler’s remains? Is the royal family a bunch of shape-shifting alien reptiles?

Add now to that list the curse of the NRL poster boy.

First Mark Gasnier, then Brett Stewart kept the ball rolling in style and now poor old Ben Barba.

All three men have been marketed as “the face of the game” before crashing back down to earth for one reason or another.

In fairness, Ben Barba’s problems seem to go a bit deeper than the other two examples I listed and you can’t help but feel genuinely sympathetic for the Dally M Medal winner – even if I do hate the Bulldogs.

But it begs the question – what value is there in making one player “the face of the game”?

What is the NRL getting out of it? What is the player getting out of it (apart from mountains of added pressure both on and off the field)?

Surely rugby league would be better served to market the “product” as opposed to one individual, especially if that individual is Sonny Bill Williams.

Reports suggested Barba was “relieved” when he was stood down indefinitely by the Bulldogs and that certainly can’t be a good thing.

All the best, Ben. Let’s hope we see him back in action sooner rather than later.


I had to double check my calendar on Sunday. From what I was hearing and reading, I could’ve sworn it was September. 

But then I remembered – ‘hang on a second, it’s only February’. That’s right, it’s only February and the AFL season hasn’t even started yet.

Although, going from Kevin Sheedy’s reaction, and the reaction of some members of the media, you could’ve been forgiven for thinking it was the last Saturday in September and that the GWS Giants had just won the flag.

For the record, they beat a third-string Sydney Swans team in the Drab Cup (sorry, I mean NAB Cup) in torrential conditions at Blacktown.

That didn’t stop Kevin Sheedy from making his cliché “giant step forward” remark – this guy is the undisputed king of PR spin.

After all, I’m still recovering from the laughing fits I suffered when he said a few weeks ago that the Swans-Giants rivalry had the potential to be the biggest in Australian sport.

Yes – and this is to their credit – the Giants do look like they have what it takes to win a few games this season, but it will be several years before they are anything more than whipping boys.


The sporting world stopped in simultaneous shock last week when the IOC announced wrestling would be axed from the Olympics program.

While the purists were outraged, those of us who live in the modern sports world saw the merit behind the move. 

However, it probably would’ve made more sense to get rid of modern pentathlon first.

Yes, because nothing encapsulates the perfect “modern” athlete quite like pistol shooting, fencing and show jumping!

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