Delpy’s Word: Bad Boys rewarded for Bad Behaviour

Delpy from The S Word blog joins us today for this article, as he casts his eye over players that put themselves in bad situations, yet are not punished hard enough for it.

Players these days, particularly those with talent, are not feeling the repercussions for their actions. Contracts are not worth the paper they are signed on and punishments for poor off-field behaviour no longer fit the crime. That is, if you have the on-field talent.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Josh Dugan’s sacking from the Canberra Raiders came after a long line of off-field indiscretions. The final straw came when he not only broke team protocol preventing injured players from consuming alcohol, but he did so on a roof with his offsider, Blake Ferguson, and was brash enough to post it on Instagram. The caption read, “Make your own luck! Whatever will be will be!” While some see this as complete stupidity, it is quite evident that it was a direct attempt to escape his contract at the Raiders.

The Canberra-based club obliged him with this request and have released him from his contract. Due to the fact that he has broken a team rule and not broken an NRL policy or committed a crime, Dugan is free to sign with another club if he so wishes. With the salary that prospective clubs are offering, wish he will.

The Brisbane Broncos appear to be the front-runners to acquire the signature of this injury-prone, bad boy. So when he inevitable signs for the $500K+ per season that he is demanding, and gets the sea change they he has desired, what lesson has he learnt?

For one, he has learnt that if he wants out of a contract all he has to do is play up. Breaking the same, simple, team protocol in less than twelve months ought to do it. Also, he learnt that as long as he has the talent, teams will throw themselves at him. Hell, they will end up in a bidding war. It worked for Todd Carney.

Original Sin

After persisting with Todd Carney through incident after incident, the Raiders had enough. He was sacked from the club and the NRL deregistered his contract. The result? A brand new contract at the Roosters, effective once his NRL-imposed, season ban was complete.

In 2010, Carney went on to win the Dally M Medal and star in the Roosters stellar season which led them to the Grand Final. In 2011, Carney was caught on three separate occasions committing alcohol-related indiscretions and sacked by the Roosters. Surely, that was his last chance, right?

Wrong! As you would know, Todd then signed a deal with the Cronulla Sharks estimated at $700K per season. It would appear that Todd Carney laid the blueprint for Josh Dugan. You can do what you like, as long as you have the talent that another club desires.

Barba’s Back

A few weeks back, I wrote an article that touched on Ben Barba’s standing down. At the time, word was that he was looking at up to six months out of the game while he wrestled his demons. Barba was admitted to rehab and has since been released, returned to training, and has now been named in their Round 4 side to take on the Rabbitohs, months before most expected.

Don’t get me wrong, this is great news. Ben is a young athlete who needs help, much like Todd and Josh. This help recommended that he “return to his day to day life and that obviously includes his commitment to football,” announced Greenberg, although not all experts agree.

It is, in fact, rather ironic that the Easter long weekend would bring about his resurrection in the NRL. So, where is the link with Dugan and Carney?

When Todd Greenberg, Bulldogs CEO, announced that Ben Barba was being stood down, it was clear that Ben’s actions warranted termination of his contract but the club had decided that would be “taking the easy way out.”

So, what indiscretion was committed that was so serious that it almost saw the sacking of the NRL poster boy and last year’s Dally M Player of the Year, but not so serious that it would require any more than 3 weeks on the sideline? Would a player of any less talent be afforded the same forgiveness?

What are your thoughts? Should players of varying talent be treated equally? Should the NRL have a league-wide player code of conduct or is it fine to leave these policies to individual clubs?

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