Media access at NRL clubs may be a boring subject for many but it is an important issue that needs attention.
With that in mind I wanted to highlight the way one NRL club handled two media-related issues in the space of 24 hours that should serve as a lesson to the vast majority.
This is how the Warriors handled post-match media at Gosford last Sunday, a game I attended. On a sheet of paper each journalist with a request for a player had their name taken down, the organisation they represented and the player they wished to speak to. When the player was dressed and briefed, they were brought to a section of the locker rooms, introduced to the journalist and left to have a chat.
It was the most efficient and professional conduct I have witnessed after a game in the past three years in the NRL. Clubs such as the Cowboys, Sharks and Eels often open the doors and let journalists speak to whomever they like but this was an extra level of service.
Then on Monday we sent a request through to the Warriors for a phone interview with Suaia Matagi. I haven’t got the space here to do Matagi’s story justice – which is why we have devoted three pages to tell his tale from page 52. It’s a story unlike any other you will read in rugby league in 2013 and the club – and Matagi himself – could have easily shied away from speaking with us.
But instead they have embraced the opportunity to tell an extraordinary tale and taken ownership of the powerful message that such a story can convey.
It’s a wonderful way to conduct themselves and appreciated particularly by this journalist.
It’s hard to remember a weekend in which so many key players suffered serious injuries so close to the start of the Finals Series.
The injury to Boyd Cordner is a cruel one to a player who has been so integral in the Roosters’ stunning transformation but the real heart-breaker for me was seeing Justin Hodges limp from the field with another serious achilles injury.
The Dragons have to hobble towards their end-of-season trip without the services of Trent Merrin and Josh Dugan while Sam Kasiano looks like missing the Bulldogs’ charge to the finals.
The Broncos would not be within reach of the top eight without Hodges’ significant influence and it will take an extraordinary effort for the Brisbane boys to play finals footy without him.
In this age of modern science it amazes me that an achilles injury can confine an athlete to a 10-month stint on the sidelines but that is now the torturous period of time Hodges has to face.
And then there is Dallas Johnson, Ashley Graham and Joe Galuvao who have had their careers ended by injury.
It’s a brutal game these men play and we wish them all a speedy recovery.