Eels star centre Timana Tahu has once again made the headlines, after a race spat emerged at the recent Aboriginal Knockout competition last weekend.
The incident comes after Tahu walked out of the NSW Origin team this year, after comments that he deemed as racist were made by league great and former Newcastle player, Andrew Johns.
The 29-year-old has been accused of calling a 16-year-old Aboriginal player a black c***, during the Koori Aboriginal Rugby League tournament.
Whilst Tahu has bluntly denied any wrongdoing in this case, Eels CEO Paul Osborne didn’t take any chances, and referred the incident Mick Gooda, who is the Commissioner of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice.
“They’re saying one thing and Timana is saying another,” Osborne said. “I have rung Mick Gooda . . . who handled the Andrew Johns matter. I have asked him to see what happened.”
Tahu refused to comment on the matter, as did his manager, Warwick Wright.
The alleged incident is believed to have taken place when Tahu was playing for for the Yarnteen Yowies against Northern United in the opening round of the Aboriginal knockout tournament.
Chris Binge, the coach of Northern United, believes that Tahu should make a full apology for the incident against the 16 year-old.
“I have no reason not to believe the boy,” Binge said. “He is probably one of the kids who looked up to Timana. After the weekend, I can tell you he’s not one of the kids who looks up to him any more. If you watch the game, his (Tahu’s) behaviour on the field was absolutely atrocious. He owes a massive apology to the 16-year-old kid. As I told his manager, as far as I am concerned I don’t want anything to do with the guy.”
“That’s my stance on it. I don’t condone that behaviour and I don’t accept it. Paul Osborne has said Timana flatly denies it. I said to (Tahu’s) manager today he needs to stand up like a man and be accountable.”
“He was called the same thing so he should do the right thing and say sorry. The apology doesn’t need to be to the football club. It doesn’t need to be to me as coach. It needs to be to the 16-year-old.”
Whilst no formal complaint has been made against Tahu, the alleged incident and name-calling has been passed on to William “Smiley” Johnstone, who is the chairman of the Country Rugby League and Australian Rugby League Indigenous Council.
“I was at the knockout on Saturday and Monday but I wasn’t aware of the allegations until today,” Johnstone said.
“I assume the individual will make a complaint to his club and the club will forward it through to the CRL, and so on.”
“It’s an unprecedented allegation in the sense you have an NRL player and somebody registered with a CRL club making the allegation. As far as I know the allegation would be made through the CRL and up through the system that way. If we don’t get a complaint from the individual, which we hope to do because that starts the formal procedure . . . we’re going to have to look at it.”
These fresh allegations cap off a year that Tahu would rather forget since returning to the NRL with the Parramatta Eels.
The dual representative centre managed to win a surprise recall to the NSW Origin side, only to cut short his stay after he walked out when Andrew Johns made a racially incensed comment against Queensland player Greg Inglis.
Tahu, who was given permission by Eels CEO Paul Osborne to play in the competition, fell out with ex-coach Daniel Anderson, an incident that resulted in Tahu publicly stating his concerns with Anderson as club coach.
“If you can’t say anything good about someone you keep your mouth shut,” Tahu said of Anderson.
Binge states that he remains in regular contact with the young boy involved with the incident.
“I asked one of the other kids again today,” Binge said.
“He said that’s what he (Tahu) said. He’s 16 years’ old. He’s got a contract with an NRL club. He just wants to get on with his football career.”