McKewen: NRL bad boys, your time has come

TREVOR MCKEWEN
Last updated 05:00 12/01/2014
Blake Ferguson
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MORE TROUBLE: Blake Ferguson was stood down by the Raiders for missing training.

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OPINION: Dear Mr NRL Player, the clock is ticking.

The news that your bosses are considering a bond system which will hit unreformed bad boys in the wallet is the best news long-suffering league fans have had in years.

Good decent men in NRL officialdom have had enough of your antics and they're coming after you.

What is it that you don't get?

All of us are very, very good at something. Most of us never get the chance to make a living out of what we excel in though.

You do.

Not that it's overly technical.

Running straight and hard, a willingness to put your body on the line and being able to follow simple instructions from a coach seem to be the key virtues for the average NRL player.

For that you get paid the princely sum of $NZ240,000 per year - the average wage across the competition.

Some of you get considerably more than that every season - plus the perks that come with being a recognised star in a formidable sport.

For all of this, you earn a lot more money than people who actually make a real difference in the world. People who save others from dying, people who rescue others from fires, people who produce products which make a profound difference to others' quality of life.

With all due respect, chasing a pigskin around a rectangular paddock for 80 minutes ranks diddly squat alongside those as skills and qualities that are truly admirable.

So in other words, to use the type of crude language you blokes seem to understand best, you've been shot up the arse by a rainbow.

That's the part we don't get because you don't seem to realise just how lucky you are.

Instead you want to rub our noses, and those of others who genuinely love and support sport, right in it.

Despite banking hundreds of thousands of dollars every year, apparently some of you guys still want the right to . . .

- Randomly punch people in public places.

- Physically attack your wife and/or girlfriend.

- Grope women you have never met in nightclubs.

- Drive drunk or make a nuisance of yourself while blotto.

- Routinely disrespect women.

- Trash public property.

Here's a news flash for those guys.

Decent-minded sports fans have had a gutsful of your attitude.

To pocket your money, all you're being asked to do is to keep your nose clean for the handful of years you play in the NRL - a competition many of us love dearly.

Seriously, is that really too much to ask? I don't think it is.

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Ask an average Kiwi bloke if they would forgo boozing and chasing women around pubs and clubs for a limited time in return for hundreds of thousands per year and I know what their answer will be.

They would leap at the opportunity.

So if you can't keep off the grog, if you don't want to respect women and you feel it's OK to throw your weight around by belting members of the public whenever you feel like, do us all a favour and rip up your contract and go and work for the same wage as most of the young guys your age.

But if you want to pocket maybe 10 times that much and still act like a dickhead, don't expect any sympathy from the public or media.

And you have been warned, the NRL has got your number.

Trevor McKewen is general manager of Fairfax NZ Sport

- Sunday News

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