With headlines too frequent about NRL players getting into trouble. How much drink is too much? Should there be a blanket ban on NRL players drinking during the season? – the Roosters and South Sydney seem to think so, but is this the answer?
Seriously, why should fulltime NRL players have their personal lives managed? Similar to the workplace, you need to arrive for the start of play at around 9am and in most cases if you are under the weather, the boss will generally pick up on it and either send you home or sack you all together. If you aren’t looking after yourself outside of work, your performance won’t be up to scratch and eventually you will get found out – this would certainly be a similar situation for NRL players.
Brad Fittler and Jason Taylor have both imposed blanket booze bans on their first grade players at present. You can understand them wanting the best for their teams, but is micro-management really the answer? When you start telling someone what they ‘can’ and ‘cannont’ do outside their general working hours – it sets a dangerous precedent.
While there are quite a few young players thrown into the foray of NRL these days that might be at risk of partying too much, it’s really up to the likes of the senior players to set the example and lead these new faces in the right direction.
While I don’t agree with total alcohol bans, I also don’t agree with the likes of David Kidwell and Ben Rogers rocking up to training and still registering alcohol in their system. This is simply unacceptable. You see the thing is, you can still go out and have quite a few drinks, yet not be under the weather the next morning.
The group of South Sydney players including David Kidwell, Ben Rogers, Eddie Paea and others must have downed a massive amount of liquid gold on the night before training to register some form of alcohol content the morning after. It smacks of a big night out and the fact that Ben Rogers came out slamming the alcohol ban by Taylor, claiming it was ‘army like’ is outrageous given that he could have consumed a few drinks and still been prepared for the next mornings training.
Almost any professional worker knows that they cannot have a big night out on a ‘school night’ or ‘work night’ as it is.
Regardless of your position, industry or location – for the most part, it’s generally not done. The employees have the responsibility and if they abuse or break laws, then they must be prepared to face consequences albeit serious ones.
This is where the likes of Brad Fittler and Jason Taylor have probably got it wrong. These guys should take a leaf out of the Wayne Bennett coaching handbook. Bennett doesn’t try to micro-manage the players or tell them how to manage their social lives, he simply says if you aren’t prepared for a match or even training then you will be in strife.
Both Fittler and Taylor have set strict guidelines in 2008, but when players have broken the rules – they are simply dropped to reserve grade and return in 1-2 weeks time.
Forget setting these tough boundaries, simply give players the accepted expectations at the start of the season and if rules are broken, the player is either suspended for a period of time or sacked altogether.
Many clubs are simply too scared to deal with their stars too harshly. Imagine if someone like David Kidwell for Souths or David Shillington for the Roosters were sacked from the club for failing drinking bans? Fans would be outraged and the player in many cases would be quickly snapped up by another club – a la Terrence Seu Seu.
But what is more valuable – committment and passion or pure talent? Sure, individual talent will win you some football games, but give me a committed unit and overall passion any day. In most cases, a harmonious team that is given the power by their coach will embrace the freedom and generally be a more consistent outfit.
Just look at the Brisbane Broncos.
Their players are alawys innocent until proven guilty. They are given the chance to perform and if they step outside the professionalism boundaries they are quickly sacked. Wayne Bennett gives his players the chance to impress and show they are capable of being responsible adults rather than consigning them to 24/7 strict guidelines.
Given the 0 and 7 record for South Sydney this season, maybe there is some merit in the Bronco way of thinking – don’t put the players in jail before they commit the crime – give them one chance only and if they fail, then they have to go.