Off-the-field antics of our pro sportsmen living up to Aussie standards
OPINION: For New Zealand sportsman competing here and overseas, it has been a highly competitive few months.
Cricketers and players from both rugby union and its bastard son rugby league have been mindful of their status as role models and ambassadors for their country, ever keen to raise the bar when it comes to infamy and column space.
A friendly rivalry exists between the various codes in this regard, with league usually holding a substantial edge. The sport that gave the world such noted exponents of on-field proctology as Dr John Hopoate and also counts among its ranks the urine-guzzling Todd Carney and Mitchell Pearce, famous for his faux bestiality, takes some beating.
If New Zealanders have traditionally struggled to match the high standards of their Australian cousins where sporting notoriety is concerned, the recent antics of two former All Blacks resident in Europe give some cause for hope.
That said, the drink-driving conviction visited upon the legendary Dan Carter, a faux pas in France that coincided with a dip in the great man's form, could be thought minor in the scale of things. It was perhaps noteworthy only in the sense that the former underwear model's late-in-the-day discovery of "how to party" was so at odds with his reputation as an overachieving pin-up boy.
As Carter's rugby prowess has returned, with a match-winning try to secure the advancement of his Racing 92 club, the incident is just so much fine vintage under the bridge. As our froggy friends would say: "C'est la vie".
The would-be coke snorting of Carter's old teammate Ali Williams has much more going for it. The appetite of professional sportsmen for white powder tends to surprise the lay person or folk for whom rock-star like hedonism is foreign.
Williams and one-time Wallaby James O'Connor shelled out $260 – or the equivalent in Euros – for two grams. Before they could ram the merchandise up their respective nostrils, the two has-beens were interrupted by some undercover gendarmes.
An attempt to execute the off-load was similarly unsuccessful. Caught very much in the tackle, Williams has since parted company with both his club and his children's charity. As with Carter, the apologies on social media have been profuse.
At least the cocaine bust seemed consistent with Williams' fun-loving public persona. You could say as much for cricketer Doug Bracewell, whose past injuries sustained in the clean-up of a binge session and eve-of-test escapades with the ever-thirsty Jesse Ryder established him as a man who seldom shies away from the after-match function.
Bracewell's third conviction for drink driving has a Monty Python element to it. After fielding a call of distress from his partner, a boozed-up Doug unwisely got behind the wheel.
There was domestic violence at Bracewell's house – his dog was attempting to eat his parrot. Sadly, the bird did not survive. It is unknown if the late parrot was a Norwegian Blue or had beautiful plumage.
As amusing as all this is, rugby league has again proved in a class all by itself. The consistent manner in which league players disappoint on the field, extracting an almost masochistic enjoyment from their status as Australia's whipping boys, is behaviour that could only find an equivalent in the way the New Zealand Government is so determined to let Australian politicians walk all over us.
Indeed, when it comes to fawning capitulation, you would be hard pressed to choose between Bill English's response to the fee hikes imposed on New Zealanders attending universities across the ditch and last Friday night's 30-12 Anzac test thrashing.
In both sport and politics there is a sad lack of national pride. Oh for the days of Muldoon and the "improve the IQ of both countries" quip. Someone had best tell English of the political mileage to be had in Aussie bashing, especially when such sentiments are so evidently justified.
To return to sport though, let us acknowledge in slack-jawed awe the stunning achievement of Kiwi captain Jesse Bromwich. Not only did Bromwich drink himself into a grand, post-match stupor, he went Ali Williams one better, snorting some suspicious looking white powder outside a Canberra pub. That's the kind of form worthy of a Hopoate, a Carney or a Pearce.
I guess if we cannot mach Australia on the park we might as well match them in the headlines.