As you may know by now Timana Tahu has walked out on his contract with the Australian Rugby Union with a year and a half to still run on it. He has done it so he can return to Rugby League and the Parramatta Eels.
Its funny because I seem to remember a stupid Kiwi fellow that walked out on a contract last season who was rightfully called a dog for doing it.
Tahu just didn’t turn up to training one day. He said nothing to his team mates and the ARU administrators knew nothing of his plans to leave other than what they read in the papers.
Its all a bit of a mess, but they have let him go.
Oh course the media has Rugby League on the brain at the moment. Its like the game goes through its fads every few years.
It used to be Super League, everyone was going to leave the NRL and play in Super League. Then in the early naughties its was the Australian Rugby Union. They were going to spend millions and cherry pick the best players out of the game.
Fast foward a few years and it was French Rugby Union, we were all at the mercy of French Rugby Union and the ridiculous money on offer over there.
The 2009 winter fashion is a Japanese Rugby Union jersey with players lining up to take the big money on offer.
Its all a bit of a joke really. In the last nine years Lote Tuqiri, Wendel Sailor, Matt Rogers, Timana Tahu, Sonny Bill Williams, Mark Gasnier, Luke Rooney and Craig Gower are the only players that have left the NRL for Rugby Union. With around 1,600 players contracted to NRL clubs, we are losing on average one per year.
National Rugby League players are incredibly attractive to the lesser code because they are a great finished product.
Great athletes, hard workers, driven, they play in a game that is brutal, fast and explosive and they are sexy for a Rugby Union team to have in their side. So money gets offered, big money, and the players that do make the switch go over and are stars from day one.
The problem is, eventually the novelty wears off.
To be an elite Rugby League player, you need to be more than just an athlete. There are a thousand athletic players out there. To get to the top in Rugby League you need to have a drive, you have to want to be the best, you want to make an impact, you want to be a leader.
When you are standing out wide watching a Rugby Union scrum pack for the 6th time, seeing the referee do more work than anyone else, taking part in games that are won by penalty kicks and seeing the man of the match make 3 tackes and 1 run, well, it leaves you feeling a bit flat.
Rugby League is a game that lets you go out and make an impact. It rewards effort. In Rugby Union the team with the most tries, with the most field position or with the most possession has little baring on the final result.
It just goes against a Rugby League players mind set.
Some handle it well for various reasons.
Mark Gasnier and Craig Gower wanted to be out of the spotlight. They didn’t want to take their sport as seriously as others wanted them too. So doing what they do now, they are happy with where they are.
The money helps all of them. Swallowing your pride for $1.2 million dollars a season, I think anyone could do that.
Watching the likes of Wendel Sailor, and Lote Tuqiri mope around the field for nearly a decade, they made a lot of money burning the best years of their sporting careers playing a game that didn’t allow them to showcase their tallents.
Other players, I put them in the damaged goods categorie. Matt Rogers, Timana Tahu and Sonny Bill Williams, yeah money was a driving factor, but there also seemed to be something else they were looking for, as though they needed someone to want them and make them feel special.
This is not looking at failed NRL players of course such as Berrick Barnes, Rocky Elsom, Wycliff Palu and the like who never made the Grand in Rugby League but who have been able to become first rate international players in Rugby Union.
The players who have made the move and seemed to really enjoy it is a small list. Ryan Cross, Jason Robinson, Andrew Farrell, Lesley Vainakolo…..and now we are looking world wide!
The most recent player to decide to make the move of course in Craig Wing. Wing has had a very long NRL career but because of a few bad investments he has found himself coming up on 250 games of NRL football and yet he doesn’t have the money he really should have at this point in his life.
To make up for it he has decided to go to Japan where he will earn $60,000 Australian dollars per game against opposition that is comically bad.
I can fully understand why he is going, and its a shame, but good luck to him.
Then we have rumours that Jonathan Thurston would like to look at doing the same thing, mostly to get out of the bright spotlights of…erm…Townsville.
Catch phrases like “for the challenge”, “the better lifestyle” and “to experience a different culture” get thrown around when players do decide to make the switch. You have to wonder who they are kidding.
To suggest that the lifestyle in Australia is anything but incredible is pretty funny. I’m not here to work for the Tourism Board of Australia but people move to Australia for this amazing lifestyle!
The challenge, in what? Walking into a test side with a few weeks of Rugby Union experience under you belt?
As for experiencing different cultures, what are you, a sportsman or what? You pick your sporting career based on the culture of an area? Thats what holidays are for you dope!
Who honestly thinks Mark Gasnier, Craig Gower and Sonny Bill Williams wanted to experience French Culture? France looks nice, its good when we need to have a big bike race or want somewhere to fight a world war and know the locals won’t get involved, but it has one draw back.
Its full of French people!
Besides I doubt a bloke that tells some girl he is toey and ready to surt sauce, another who nailed some girl in toilet cubicle, much to the dismay of his girlfriend, or a bloke to kisses and bites men in a Kings Cross pub and then runs for his life know anything about culture!
At the end of the day the NRL does not miss any of the players that leave.
Has anyone in 2009 said how much they miss Mark Gasnier at the Dragons or how Sonny Bill Williams has left the Bulldogs struggling? Has a Panthers fan ever wished they had Craig Gower or Luke Rooney back?
The great thing about the NRL is that year after year young stars come out and blow everyone away. There is always someone ready to step up and take the place of a player, take their fame, take their fortune and become the player everyone wants to idolise.
You don’t want the privelaged position of being a star in the NRL, thats fine, I’ll even help you pack your bags. However don’t sepnd the next few years looking back, moping about, wishing for the good old days when you were part of something special, part of something enjoyable.
Don’t get upset when you see kids wanting to play like your replacement, when you see your old team actually improve with your loss.
And that is all why I couldn’t give a fuck about Timana Tahu.
The game moved on, and as much as he tried to convince everyone, even himself, he couldn’t do the same thing.
So excuse me while I watch Brett Morris, Michael Jennings, Jamal Idris, Jarryd Hayne and the like carve it up infront of big crowds on the big stage. I just don’t have time to be bothered with lesser players in lesser sports.
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com
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