Channel 9 personality Matt Johns looks set to lose his position at the leading Rugby League TV station, the media frenzy and on-going focus following the ABC Four Corners report proving such a force, that there appears no other alternative for the prominent League icon.
There has been furious debate on both sides of the fence for this particular situation, a strong media focus not only in Australia but in New Zealand too where the incident ocurred many years ago and the NRL Footy Show is also a popular institution.
The Four Corners report featuring the female at the centre of the incident; has told of how the female has looked to harm herself and has continually struggled to recover from the incident that occurred 7 years ago with Cronulla Sharks players in New Zealand. The documentary report while suggesting ‘nothing illegal’ happened during the events in New Zealand, certainly painted a poor picture of Rugby League players and their unacceptable antics.
The report forced an immediate press release from NRL boss David Gallop, who claimed the treatment of females has been unacceptable and went on to suggest that the position of Matt Johns at Channel 9 should be in doubt. With recent events involving Rugby League players, the reponse from Gallop was much needed and the National Rugby League did the right thing getting on the front foot.
But there was fierce support for Johns from other corners, with suggestions that the former NRL player at all times had consentual sex with the female. His mistake was being dishonest to his family, something that Johns had sought to immediately repair following the incident many years ago. With the events being reported again this past few weeks, Johns looks set not only to lose his job but face more pressure surrounding his marriage and family.
While there can be no condoning what took place by Cronulla players during this incident, there remains some big questions over the events;
* Why did the female return to the players hotel of her own accord with at least 2 of the players that night?
* Why did the female not say ‘No’ to physical contact or suggest to leave at any point; prior or during the night?
* Why did the female not immediately report events, rather than waiting a week to contact authorities?
* Why has the female chosen to air the events some 7 years later in the media?
Regardless, the position of Johns seems impossible at Channel 9. Despite his ability, both as a comedian and commentator, his position as virtually the ‘face’ of NRL cannot continue under the current cloud. Even his strong personal relationships with Channel 9 powerbrokers appear to be tested as they grill the star today over his future at the helm.
For Rugby League players, who are undergoing intense training on how to deal with their status in the community and how to treat women in the right manner, still face a tightrope walk when faced with intimate relations with a female.
While their previous actions of group activity and disrepectful behaviour are horrible and at no point are acceptable, many that are doing the right thing are faced with some corners of the public willing to make money, or achieve media fame by taking stories to the press. It’s believed that many NRL players are now taking to ‘recording’ consent using their mobile phone prior to going home with a female.
The players fearing that anything less than a recorded video on their mobile phones, could see them on TV as the next problem child of the code.