The Penrith Panthers’ Captain, Craig Gower, has given his own club, and the
National Rugby League a most unwelcome Christmas present.

Media coverage in the last couple of days concerning his alleged antics at the
Jack Newton Charity Golf Event on the Sunshine Coast
really raises the question: will players never learn?

The Panthers are investigating what appears to be a series of incidents that,
if true, are about as bad as any instances of “players behaving badly” we have
seen this year – and in any code. Worse, it involves a senior player, who was
on the recent Kangaroos tour and has a high profile in the game.

What disturbed me was the very ordinary “performance” by Gower’s manager, who
is doubtless well paid to advise him. His comment that Gower is “a great role
model” might not stand up too well under scrutiny in the coming days. And to make matters even worse, Channel 10 in Sydney
has reported the Eels’ star half back, Tim Smith, has been accused of behaving
badly in The Rocks in Sydney
last week.

And, surprise, surprise, the common factor in both alleged incidents is serious

There’s almost no point asking whether the players will ever learn about excessive drinking, but I do wonder
when they will get the reality that their antics will nearly always, if not
always, make the headlines?

This is the season to be merry, but not to drag a great game through the mud in
the process.