It seems the Channel 9 NRL Footy Show is back on the skids after losing Matt Johns in recent weeks. Host Paul Vautin continues to struggle, poor old Fatty just can’t seem to get the blend of entertainment and serious Rugby League talk right. While starting strongly and covering some important issues, the old Hey Hey it’s Saturday skits sadly came flooding back.
Fortunately Gus Gould and Andrew Voss give us some insight into the Rugby League world. The panel spoke about Origin tonight, with the majority feeling that Queensland will have too much talent, experience and depth for NSW in 2009. Gus interestingly showed us vision of Jamie Lyon who may have a defensive inefficiency which was exposed by the Cowboys this year, Lyon seemingly lazy off his left shoulder in defence when playing on the fringe.
Gus also spoke of his recent bread breaking lunch with Ricky Stuart. The pair trying to patch up their hostile relationship. Gould confirming the pair spoke from virtually lunch time to midnight and after a few wines the pair were making progress which is good for all involved. Certainly for Stewart, he doesn’t need anything taking away from his prime focus of getting the Sharks back on track.
Remaining on the coaching front, the panel spoke with Brad Fittler live from Bondi. Freddy openly discussing his situation at the Roosters and confirming he won’t be walking away anytime soon. Fittler has been under pressure after falling out with senior players, some felt the club may ask Fittler to walk away, but according to the former NSW Captain he will be in control and has support for the rest of 2009. Freddy was candid about the situation and said he would not hold any grudges should he be sacked and will continue to remain a ‘realist’ about his situation.
When questioned about his decision to slot Anasta in at fullback, Fittler said he stood by the call – suggesting that lack of troops forced his hand and he was stuck for options all the way from the back to hooker.
The Origin camps have already sparked plenty of talk, with the NSW squad staying in 5 star accomodation down in Melbourne and the Queensland Maroons rumoured to be staying in a caravan park to keep them well and truly grounded.
Wendell Sailor was on the Footy Show Panel tonight and added quality commentary to the team. Always a likeable character, Wendell gave good insight into the recent Paul Gallen racism affair. Sailor feeling that while unacceptable, Gallen should be allowed to continue playing without any suspension. Big Dell did say he felt that while passionate, Gallen has too much ‘grubby’ tactics in his game and needs to get rid of them.
The debate around the Gallen affair has struck interest far and wide it seems. The allegations suggesting that Gallen called Mickey Paea “A Black C…”.
But where does this sit in the scheme of things? Former Sharks player Gavin Miller made an interesting suggestion, what about with American President Barack Obama – whom is called “The First Black President of the United States”? Is this racist? Or merely a descriptive term?
Vautin chimed in on the panel suggesting he was regularly taunted about his red hair, was this too considered discrimination?
What about if a player suddenly is called a “White C…”? Will this too see a similar fine?
While the NRL has earned praise in recent years for being proactive on everything from player misbehaviour, to recreational drugs to players sexual habits – they continue to set boundaries that could continue to haunt them for years to come. Racism is unacceptable and has no place in society, but Rugby League and the NRL need to becareful not to become the judge, jury and executioner in all these instances.
The Footy Show started strongly covering these topics, but then it all turned sour.
Viewers subjected to players throwing eggs at each other, holding their breath in bowls of water and then throwing the footy through the hole. Come on guys, it was like we were back at a Primary School Fair! Lets keep it real.
But just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, out comes a bouncing Keno ball in front of a chocolate wheel raffle that made viewers feel like we were at a pub in the 1970’s.
After starting 2009 with a new feel and giving us glimpses of hope, it seems the NRL Footy Show is still doomed to failure.