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Storm brewing as Melbourne rewrite history

Remember that? Parramatta fans certainly do. It was Eels figures who raised this with me.

And then last week against the Sea Eagles, as part of the celebration, the Storm created a special jumper to mark the occasion, featuring the words ‘‘celebrating 1999 & 2009 grand finals’’. For all the league world to see.

The Storm salary cap scandal caused enormous anger in the game. Yet, the only person who really lost out was the so-called ‘‘Chief Rat’’ Brian Waldron, the Storm chief executive at the time. Not surprisingly, he wasn’t invited to the lunch, but he should have been because he has taken the fall for others in the whole mess.

If anyone thinks Waldron went rogue and acted on his own, they are delusional. We may never know the full story of what went on down there.

As for the lunch and the words on the jumper, the NRL continues to let Melbourne do what they want. No action will be taken.

‘‘The official premiership records make it clear what happened in 2007 and 2009,’’ an NRL spokesman said. ‘‘What Melbourne choose to acknowledge is a matter for Melbourne.’’

Melbourne’s history-making captain Cameron Smith was asked about the stripped titles on The Matty Johns Podcast this week.

‘‘Amongst the players … they are ours,’’ he said. ‘‘We still have the memories. We all have the rings.’’

Those comments, the message on the jumpers and the lunch are a slap in the face to the NRL.
And this all comes after the governing body stumped up for a dinner for Smith and 30 of his nearest and dearest at a swanky Melbourne establishment to celebrate his 400th game.

Freddy gives young Tigers the full Origin experience — earthing and all

Here’s two good reasons why Blues coach and Channel Nine commentator Brad Fittler is so well regarded.

Nine’s head of rugby league Simon Fordham asked Fittler and Andrew Johns to donate their time for a private coaching clinic that was auctioned to aid the Sydney Children’s Hospital. They were only too happy to help.

‘‘While the auction raised a huge amount of money for the sick kids it was also amazing to watch today as the U15 Winston Hills Tigers had an experience they will never forget,’’ Fordham wrote.

Brad Fittler with the under-15 Winston Hills Tigers.

Brad Fittler with the under-15 Winston Hills Tigers.

‘‘Under the watchful eye of coach Freddy, they sat in the very sheds the victorious NSW Blues sat in, were taken through the importance of discipline and preparation, their halves were drilled by an Immortal of the game and the session was capped off by a barefoot warm-down to soak up those beautiful minerals into the skin.’’

This column was also sent a lengthy email by avid reader Richard Lampe. ‘‘I walked into a cafe in Glen Innes,’’ Lampe wrote. ‘‘There was a guy in the corner of the cafe, under a light so I couldn’t see who it was. But then I realised it was Brad Fittler. Freddy was very generous with his time chatting with me.

‘‘I asked him what he was doing in Glen Innes. He said Nine had given him the week off. He didn’t go to some fancy place like Noosa or Byron Bay. He drove his kids around the countryside. To drought-stricken areas. To Walgett. To Narrabri. What a legend.’’

Fittler wanted to show his kids how tough people were doing it.

Out-of-touch match review panel set for big shake-up

The NRL’s top priority in the off-season will be to pull apart the match review committee and start again.

The events of the week, where Jake Trbojevic escaped suspension for his highly questionable tackle on Jahrome Hughes, were surely the last straw. Everyone in the game was embarrassed by the decision.

The Raiders and Warriors, who lost Nick Cotric and Issac Luke for three games each for similar tackles, have every reason to be ropeable.

The match review committee is made up entirely of former players. The rationale is that they played the game, so they know what’s dangerous and what isn’t.

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But what the committee needs is a strong injection of common sense and consistency. Its decisions should reflect community and fan expectations, not just the experience of players.

Graham Annesley got off to a great start this season as the NRL’s head of football, but the standard of officiating at every level has been poor in recent weeks. He chose to defend the match review committee on Monday, insisting that suspensions can’t be based on public opinion. But that is exactly what the game needs: decisions that reflect the views of the fans.

Coyne on the money

Mark Coyne saved the Australian Rugby League Commission from itself when he finally resigned in the wake of the Singapore scandal.

Coyne realised that every time a player got arrested after a drunken night out, they could argue that a commissioner did the same thing so why should they be sanctioned. So he offered his resignation as soon as he returned to Australia.

For some reason, ARLC chairman Peter Beattie rejected his offer. This is the same Beattie who rushed to push Jack de Belin out of the game before his case had been heard because he didn’t want the image of the game tarnished. Now, we know there is no comparison between the Coyne incident and the de Belin charges, but both were harmful to the game’s image.

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Beattie then went on holiday before asking the clubs to help him decide Coyne’s fate. When Iinterviewed Coyne hours after his resignation, he was a relieved man. He didn’t want to put his family through any more scrutiny. He didn’t want the game to suffer. Beattie asked Coyne to consider other roles, but he had no interest.

What will Coyne do now in the game? Nothing. Except for a coaching gig with his local club Gymea Gorillas, which he has a real passion for.

Kev’s Origin blues

Like many others, we were convinced Kevin Walters was in the box seat to get the Titans coaching job. Some digging has revealed Walters did himself no favours with his loss in Origin II. Not the thrashing, but the way he spoke in the aftermath. The swearing did not impress the Titans’ owners.The Gold Coast’s head of performance and culture, Mal Meninga, wasn’t anti-Walters; rather he was just very impressed with Justin Holbrook.

Knight fall

Jesse Ramien’s split with the Knights was discussed most of the season. The final straw? According to the Knights it came when coach Nathan Brown learnt that a member of Ramien’s family had made contact with the Sharks. Brown called Ramien in and said he wasn’t upset about it – then told Ramien that he hoped he wouldn’t be upset when he let him go. Ramien has been upset about not getting enough ball and felt he was underpaid at the club. He is on $250,000 this year and $300,000 next season.

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Leap to conclusions

Remember Stephen Dank’s offsider, Darren ‘‘the Gazelle’’ Hibbert? Both were implicated in the peptides scandals that rocked Australian sport from 2011.

Hibbert has a theory on Shayna Jack’s failed drug test. As someone who knows plenty about the world of supplements, he said: ‘‘I suspect contaminated ingredients from China, used by sport supplement manufacturers in their products, may be the cause of Shayna Jack’s failed drug test.’’

In 2010, when Hibbert was working with Dank, he introduced SARMs (selective androgen receptor modulators) to athletes and says he had a lot of problems with impure ingredients from China before eventually sourcing the supplements from the US. But many supplement manufacturers use raw materials from China because they are cheap.

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‘‘SARMs are the new-age anabolic supplement of choice,’’ Hibbert said. ‘‘I do not recommend WADA-controlled athletes take them because the doping authority has developed accurate testing for most SARMs in 2016. To give an Olympic athlete a SARM supplement would be a good way to destroy their career.’’

Billy king of the kids

Billy Slater is kicking goals off the field after his amazing career on it. He joined 380 families from his Brisbane Billy’s Buddies Programs on Saturday. The program recently won an award at the 2019 What’s On 4 Kids Awards. ‘‘I started the program to provide children with the opportunity to get outside and be active,’’ Slater said. ‘‘We are a non-contact program, with the fundamentals of movement at heart – it’s also a non-competitive program and more about teaching and role modelling a healthy and active lifestyle. To be just three years old and win a national award is fantastic.’’

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