How can the NRL block an Israel Folau return, but welcome back players guilty of violent acts?
How can the NRL block an Israel Folau return, but welcome back players guilty of violent acts?

Uncomfortable hypocrisy behind NRL’s Folau ban

How can the NRL possibly allow Matt Lodge or players guilty of offences such as domestic violence to return to the game yet block the path for Israel Folau?

I agree with what Benji Marshall said on NRL 360 this week: "I definitely don't agree with the things he's said. But to me, I think we need to decide what we forgive and what we forget … this is my personal opinion, I see domestic violence as worse than what Israel did".

A stunning 85 per cent of fans in our online poll seemed to agree, voting that Folau should be allowed to play for Tonga in the upcoming Tests.

But apparently not Todd Greenberg or Peter Beattie. Why doesn't that surprise me?

 

Israel Folau is no closer to being granted an NRL return. Picture: Getty
Israel Folau is no closer to being granted an NRL return. Picture: Getty

Of course, the Tongan players may oppose Folau's return but I'm told that's more to do with an executive power struggle that has divided the Tongan administration.

The bigger issue relates to Folau's potential NRL availability.

 

Stream every match of the 2019 NRL Telstra Premiership Finals Series before the Grand Final Live & On-Demand on KAYO SPORTS. Get your 14 day free trial and start streaming instantly >

 

HOW STICKY SILENCED THE HATERS

Everyone loves a winner.

But not everyone has always loved Ricky Stuart.

This year, such has been the goodwill generated by the style of footy Ricky has Canberra playing, one of the game's most polarising figures is now the public face of the side most view as the "people's champs" in the run to the NRL grand final.

Stuart has never been Mr Popular but what I like most is that he has always worn that like a badge of honour.

But after years of copping it from many of his own fans as well as outsiders, he can expect a huge reception tomorrow night in what is shaping up to be the biggest crowd to ever attend a rugby league game in the nation's capital.

 

 

It was only a few years ago even the suits at the NRL viewed the Raiders as an afterthought with one senior official even questioning why they were ever in the comp.

But there is no denying the camaraderie within is a big part of why everyone has been really swept away by their spirit as well as their style of play, and that is driven by the coach.

Ricky can put people off-side because he's never afraid to speak his mind but you won't find a more down to earth bloke in the game who always puts the club and his players first.

 

Would you like to see Ricky Stuart and the Canberra Raiders win the comp this year? Picture: Getty
Would you like to see Ricky Stuart and the Canberra Raiders win the comp this year? Picture: Getty

Another significant factor in Raiders' solidarity has been Stuart's long lasting relationship with his chief executive Don Furner, who in fact has been his best mate stretching all the way back to Year 7 at St Edmunds College in Canberra.

Of course Don's dad, Don senior, was the inaugural Canberra coach who along with Wayne Bennett took the club to its first grand final in 1987 before Tim Sheens took over and Bennett left to coach Brisbane.

The irony is Bennett now returns 32 years later as coach of the Bunnies to try and end the Raiders' hopes of playing in their first grand final since 1994.

MEMO MAL: YOU CAN'T MISS THIS BLOKE

Mal Meninga has no choice but to name Cameron Murray at lock in the Australian Test team and pick Jake Trbojevic at prop.

That is the view of legendary Kangaroo forward Steve Roach who labelled Murray a modern day Bradley Clyde "but this kid is more skilful".

"They talk about all the terrific young forwards in the game but he is the best by a mile," Roach said in the wake of Murray's exceptional performance against Manly.

Cameron Murray has been transformed into one of the NRL’s premier forwards. Picture: Brett Costello
Cameron Murray has been transformed into one of the NRL’s premier forwards. Picture: Brett Costello

Roach said he'd have Canberra's Josh Papalii as the other starting prop and David Klemmer on the bench.

Mal Meninga has hinted either Jake or Josh McGuire are in the running to be the starting lock because Mal wants to stay as loyal as possible to the team that got the job done last year.

If Murray can come up with another starring finals performance in Canberra you'd have to think McGuire's days are numbered.