The beaches and streets of Cronulla were
not the only scenes of violence in the suburb last week, with an old fashioned dustup
in the Cronulla Sharks gym giving rugby league more unwanted headlines.

Maybe the NSW Constabulary should seriously
consider signing up Sharks forward, Hutch Maiava. His pugilistic skills might
come in very handy restoring law and order to the streets. After a disagreement during gym training
with young prop Jacob Selmes, it all got very serious. Selmes ended up in hospital
with twelves stiches around his eye.

Once the story was leaked to the media, the
predictable club response was rapidly forthcoming – in this case, a $10,000 fine
for Maiava. (He would probably get a bond with no monetary penalty from the law
courts). This year NRL clubs have been handing out
fines to players behaving badly at the rate North Sydney Council parking inspectors
hand out parking tickets.

But it raises a very interesting question.
Are these fines actually paid, and even more importantly, who checks to make
sure they are? And does the player actually hand over the
fine money, or is it deducted from his payments, and, if so, does that free up
more money under the NRL salary cap?

I have a suspicion – and it’s no more than
a suspicion – that some of the fines are merely PR exercises and are never actually
collected, or not collected in a way the player feels any penalty. There is one way to find out. That is for
the NRL to establish a modern-day equivalent of
the “poor box” that Magistrates used to use to add a penalty to an offender.

The AFL is not vastly
different. You may remember Geelong player Ben Graham being fined $2,000 for
rising from the bench to remonstrate with Bulldogs player Luke Darcy. When
Graham suggested his fine should go to charity, League boss Andrew Demetriou’s
response was swift and simple: “We won’t be getting advice from Ben Graham
where fines should be going,” he said. Case closed.