Jeff Wall is a nice man so it’s not surprising he thinks the best of all parties involved in Mat Rogers returning to rugby league. Many other people are not quite as nice, including most hardcore rah-rah fans and the ARL boss, David Gallup. The former are saying “good riddance” while the latter is trying to make a case for the mungo game out of it.

Rogers’s early exit from Union after proving to be not good enough for the starting 15 has been a long and well-telegraphed time coming. The rugby faithful were well sick of it by the time it happened. The saga is very nicely pulled together by the SMH’s Greg Prichard.

But now another one is starting with Lote Tuqiri setting himself up to diminish his fan appeal and possibly cause further problems for his increasingly average international performance. Nice people, like Jeff Wall, would probably think Lote’s being badly advised, his management getting him to talk up the possibility of returning to league as a way of landing a Giteau-type pay day – a contract paying $1 million a year.

Lote needs to talk it up as he’s not worth that much. Neither is Giteau. To justify those sorts of salaries, we rugby fans paying it should expect players to be good enough to win a spot in the All Blacks. Neither is.

Shopping himself around in the fishwrappers is a sure way for Tuqiri to lose his fans. Lote, if you prefer the other game, well just p-ss off back to it and spare us the impersonation of a schoolgirl wondering which bloke to snog.

The ARU is desperate to justify the expensive experiment of the big three league converts, but it’s hard work. Yes, Sailor, Rogers and Tuqiri have all played plenty of Tests. Many would argue Sailor never deserved it. Rogers has been a good Super 12/14 player but didn’t quite make the next level so his caps are more a reflection of Australian Rugby’s serious weakness than his talent. And Lote, well, there have been good moments, but they’ve become increasingly rare.

Take the money and run. Or don’t. We don’t really care.

Peter Fray

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