Not that it needed much to do so, but the credibility of the rugby league Tri-Nations series is today on the rocks.

Firstly, the Great Britain half-back, Sean Long, flew back to the UK yesterday, and team management behaved like a Brian Burke Ministerial mate trying to explain it away.

Firstly, he supposedly missed training yesterday because of injury, then he was going home because of his pregnant girlfriend. Then there were reports he had clashed with the coach and management, and finally the coach overnight conceded Long “appeared intoxicated” on the flight from NZ to Australia on Sunday.

And the Great Britain players did not know he had gone until after his flight left Australia yesterday afternoon.

Whichever “excuse” is right – and you have to query the heavily pregnant girlfriend one given that she was heavily pregnant when he was chosen for the Tri-Nations series about six weeks ago – it is hardly reassuring for the credibility of the series when the player of the match from the Lions win over Australia 10 days ago departs just five days before the Lions must-win game against Australia on Saturday night.

But it gets worse. Today it is reported in Brisbane’s Courier-Mail that the Kangaroos hooker, the Broncos’ Shaun Berrigan, wants to miss Saturday night’s game so he can be best man at the wedding of his brother, Barry.

Hello! Shaun Berrigan was chosen for the Kangaroos squad exactly six weeks ago. The dates for the Brisbane game were probably known six months ago. He would have known then the game would clash with his brother’s wedding.

If he had wanted to be best man – and that’s perfectly understandable – then he could have told the ARL not to select him for the squad. And given the precedent it set with Danny Buderis, who was not chosen because he wanted to attend the birth of his first child, the ARL would have had to oblige.

With the double standards glaringly obvious when it comes to how rough play in Tri-Nations is judged, and the pathetic “grannygate” scandal over the eligibility of Mount Isa-born Nathan Fein to play for the Kiwis still making the headlines, the Tri-Nations series badly needed a dose of credibility.

Today it has received two further setbacks, and, quite frankly, its credibility looks very, very shaky!

Peter Fray

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