The credibility of the NRL and the Brisbane
Broncos is on the line following Wendell Sailor’s statement that he would love
to finish his career where it began – with the Brisbane Broncos.
Wishful thinking or not, it needs to be
dismissed outright by BOTH the Brisbane Broncos and the NRL. Apart from the two year ban Sailor received from
rugby union on Friday for testing positive for cocaine, there are two other
reasons why the NRL and the Broncos must take a stand.
Firstly, he was a serial offender when he
was in rugby league. During his Broncos career he appeared in court several
times on charges arising from drunken incidents, including spitting in the face
of a woman. Then he admitted to being the aggressor in a road rage incident in
2002, and there were more incidents in both codes before he was sent home from
the Waratahs tour of South
Africa early this year.
The second reason why rugby league needs to
say “No” to Wendell Sailor is almost as compelling.
When he switched codes Sailor had a weekly
newspaper column, no doubt part of his package deal to switch codes, which he
used to bag rugby league and brag about the other players he talked to about
switching codes. It infuriated rugby league fans and sponsors alike who
directly and indirectly funded the lavish lifestyle Sailor enjoyed (and abused)
during his rugby league career.
That was in sharp contrast to the attitude
of other code-jumpers such as Lote Tuqiri and Matt Rogers who have not sought
to denigrate the code that rewarded them handsomely.
The Broncos have led the way in adopting a
zero tolerance policy on both drug and alcohol abuse and bad behaviour. The NRL
has taken an increasingly tough line as well. Both need
to take a tough line now by ruling out any return to rugby league by a
discredited player who not only turned his back on the game, but has rubbished
it ever since. This is a genuine credibility test for rugby league.