The impossible has happened. The credibility of the
Australian Rugby League (ARL) has sunk below the absolute zero level it
“enjoyed” before last weekend’s test match. And in the process the case for the National Rugby
League to take total control of the administration of rugby league in
Australia has become overwhelming.
But vested interests, in the form of officials gorging at the game’s expense,
won’t allow that to happen.

The credibility of the ARL sunk below the zero line when Kiwi Nigel Vagana was exonerated after a dangerous throw that would
have attracted a MINIMUM four weeks suspension in the NRL.

The ARL Chairman, Colin Love, presumably straight faced,
yesterday said there was no difference between the ARL and the NRL judiciary
standards. He cannot possibly be serious.

But the farce that is the ARL got even worse yesterday
when the injured Kangaroos winger, Timana Tahu, was replaced by a
second rower, Nathan Hindmarsh from the Parramatta Eels. That’s a bit like replacing an injured Justin Langer
(opening batsman) in the Australian cricket team with Stuart McGill, a spin
bowler!

But it gets worse. Two weeks ago, Hindmarsh was ruled
out of the team for the whole tri nations series
because of injury. At the time the decision was roundly, and rightly,
criticised.

Now he is deemed to be fit – not fit enough for this
Friday night’s game, but fit enough to tour England. And
that is EXACTLY what he was when he was ruled out two weeks
ago.

Hindmarsh deserves to be in the team, but, as the Eels
CEO, Denis Fitzgerald, said yesterday the back flip that saw him reinstated was
“laughable.”

The National Rugby League, half owned by News, is not
perfect, but, when compared to the bumbling ARL, it looks very good
indeed. The sooner it takes total control of the game, imperfect
though it is, the better.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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