Wayne Bennett’s performance as coach of the Kangaroos is one issue, but
a larger one might be the selection procedure and passion for
internationals among the ranks of the NRL’s best players.
There is no evidence the ARL is remotely interested in a proper review
of its national selection processes. That is despite the fact some of
the Australian players in the Tri-Nations loss were clearly out of
form and, in a couple of cases, probably disinterested. The game’s
administrators need to have a good hard look at the ease with which
players can opt out of representing their nation. It is starting to
devalue the green and gold.
If it was good enough for the Kiwis’ Stacey Jones to fly back to New
Zealand for the birth of his child and then back to join the team, then
the Australian player who “opted out” of Kangaroos selection to attend
his brother’s wedding has been made to look rather ordinary!
For my money, the most disappointing aspect of the Kangaroos tour was
the way it ended. Instead of returning to Australia as a team, players
were allowed to head off to the snow in Europe or to New York. And
those who did return looked as though they were coming back from
schoolies week celebrations. It makes you wonder whether some players
“signed off” long before the final match.
By all means look at Bennett’s coaching style, record, and whether or
not he’s what the national team needs. But don’t forget to restore
some dignity and discipline to wearing the green and gold, and
representing the nation, and the game.