PERCEPTIONS

I recently wrote about player behaviour and the vital part it played in the promotion of Rugby League to the general public and also its importance in providing aspirations and role modelling to our youth. The trouble is, player behaviour is a double edge sword, as there are two distinct and opposite types of player behaviour – good and bad.

We did not have one extremely bad behavioural example recently, we had two absolute shockers, and while I do not want keep harping on these quite horrendous incidences, I feel that they should be discussed and acknowledged for what they were – deplorable.

The first was the James Graham biting in the Grand Final. Such a despicable and unsporting act is simply not acceptable and deserves the punishment and condemnation that it received. The other abhorrent incident was the atrocious verbal assault of the female journalist on the day after the Grand Final. Not only did these incidents detract from a wonderful sporting spectacle but they severely damaged the image of Rugby League and had a massive detrimental effect on the reputation of the perpetrators and their organization (the Club).

On the flip side was the acknowledgement of the meritorious attitude and behaviour of Johnathan Thurston, as he was awarded the Ray Stevens medal at the NRL’s One Community Awards. Johnathan received the award for his efforts in encouraging young indigenous kids to finish their schooling.

“It’s been very rewarding to work with the next generation of indigenous kids who are at school and contemplating what to do next with their lives,” Thurston said in front of more than 350 guests at Sydney Town Hall last week. “Hopefully I’ve been able to use my profile to show these kids how important it is to stay in school and get an education. If you achieve that, then there are so many things you can look at doing as an adult.” JT concluded.

The next example of positive player behaviour may not have been noticed and acknowledged like JT’s but it sure impressed me. One of my genuine favourite players, CQ’s Matthew Scott was awarded the trophy for the best player in the recent Australia versus New Zealand test match played in Townsville.

Matthew deserved the award because he played a great individual and team game but his acceptance was extraordinary. He is a massively strong man and he had just completed an exhaustive test match where he excelled but when he accepted the award, he was poised, praiseworthy of his opponents and appreciative of his own team. He thanked the crowd, the officials and sponsors and during all of this, his humility shown through like a beacon.

The manner in which he spoke and presented himself was a credit to the man, his family and friends, to his club, to his background and to the wonderful game of Rugby League. He has the strengthen of character that is honourable but with all of these personal assets, his HUMILITY is the example we need for our youth.

My faith in Rugby League has been restored. JT and Matty are real heroes of the game.

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