I was so proud of the NRL on two occasions this week – firstly when Todd Greenberg told the game to grow up. I loved it.
As former Newcastle and Manly prop Josh Starling tweeted earlier in the week, coaches don’t blame referees for a lost game privately. That’s just a show for the public, and, as most people assume, a ploy to take pressure off themselves and their players. In-house, the criticism is brutal. No team would do well to go into a video session complaining about calls they believe didn’t go their way. What good would that do? They watch the tape, they look at what they can do better next week and they move on.
Coaches do blame players for losses they just keep it in house. They don't go into a video session after a loss blaming refs trust me.— Josh Starling (@Starlo33) September 11, 2017
Behind the closed doors of club rooms, the finger is pointed squarely at players, the game plan and the coaches themselves. Manipulating the public into outrage is simply not fair and I think it’s safe to say, most people are sick of it.
Secondly, in the same press conference, Greenberg stood up for those who may feel invisible, confused or ignored in this horrific social debate that is raging in our country. He confirmed the sport will support gay marriage.
It was not a political nor religious statement, but merely a nod of acceptance to anyone who loves rugby league. Sport is inclusive, it is levelling, and rugby league in particular seems to transcend all social boundaries, stereotypes and demographics. It’s a powerful message. I’m just a girl who went to public school and grew up in public housing, but rugby league has given me a career and a passion. If you want to be a part of it too, that’s all that matters. You do you.
This world of ours can be pretty scary at times and there’s always a lot going on. Hopefully, as we enter the second week of the finals, we can appreciate the fantastic games we have seen and anticipate those to come.
I started at Big League magazine four years ago and in those seasons we’ve seen some pretty incredible things happen on a footy field. Droughts have been broken, hearts too. We’ve witnessed things that have never happened before and watched history unfold in front of us.
In 2014, New South Wales ended eight years of heartache with a series win over Queensland. Later that same year we saw the Rabbitohs celebrate their 21st premiership – 43 years after their last title. Then in 2015, Johnathan Thurston sunk a field goal in the first golden point grand final to give North Queensland their maiden premiership. Last year, Cronulla finally got a piece of silverware in their trophy cabinet in their 50th year as a club. I can’t wait to see what this year will bring.
We have a sport that accepts everyone, all it asks in return is that you love it back.