While
other leading Australian team sports trip, stumble and fall as they belatedly
attempt to mislead media and in turn the public when it comes to player
misbehaviour, when it comes to repeat offenders the Wallabies are in a
league of their own.

Given
we are talking about an elite squad of players representing Australia, too often players in recent
years have been attracting headlines for the wrong reasons with alcohol and
licensed premises of one kind or another around the world usually the central
props. It’s therefore ironic that one of their major sponsors is Bundaberg Rum
which is hardly the kind of brand association you seek in such an expensive
partnership.

Following the latest Wallaby display of unacceptable alcohol fuelled poor form in
a South African nightclub, Matt Henjak was sent home, and Wendell Sailor,
Lote Tuqiri and Matt Dunning fined. But this punishment only came about after
management attempted to deceive the media as to the real circumstances behind
the original “disagreement” between the players. One that has yet again
disgraced the team and made a mockery of its preparation before the South
African Test match less than two days later.

Should the Wallabies’ disciplinary committee be congratulated for eventually taking
decisive action in sending Henjak home? You have to be kidding. It was
only after the truth began to emerge, that went way beyond the original accounts
offered in the players’ defence by tour management, that the disciplinary action came about at
all.

The reality is that too often the Wallabies’ record of players
making a mockery of team discipline is just not good enough. The
Wallabies disciplinary and management structure has shown itself to be
anything but resolute in dealing with a culture where denial seems to
be the first rule of the jungle.

This
isn’t just about one player having personal “issues” and being ordered to take
counselling, but more the fact that despite a history heavy with unpalatable
episodes, it’s hardly comforting for the ARU to know Henjak has
become the first Australian player in almost 40 years to be ordered home. Most
other elite sports at this level operate player curfews and it’s high time the
Wallabies join them.

Peter Fray

Save 50% on a year of Crikey and The Atlantic.

The US election is in a little over a month. It seems that there’s a ridiculous twist in the story, almost every day.

Luckily for new Crikey subscribers, we’ve teamed up with one of America’s best publications, The Atlantic for the election race. Subscribe now to make sense of it all, and you’ll get a year of Crikey (usually $199) and a year’s digital subscription to The Atlantic (usually $70AUD), BOTH for just $129.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW