Crawley: How can NRL act victim in Ponga saga?

Australian rugby culpable over the 'disappointing' approach to superstar fullback Kalyn Ponga to switch codes? You have to be kidding, says Paul Crawley. 

In confirmation of an embarrassing state of denial in relation to its own less than honourable standards, the NRL on Friday issued a joint statement with the Newcastle Knights that slammed what was labelled an "inappropriate" and "extremely disappointing" approach from Cheika to superstar fullback Kalyn Ponga late last year.

I almost fell down laughing when I read it.

Knights chief executive Phillip Gardener appeared shell-shocked by the fact Ponga would be approached by a rival code with more than two years remaining on his current NRL contract.

"It is inappropriate for any contact to be made from rugby union _ or anyone else for that matter _ and it is extremely disappointing," Gardener said.

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg backed up Gardener's displeasure: "The nature of this interest is certainly unorthodox. Kalyn has a significant period remaining on his contract and it would be disappointing to see any contact made to any player under these circumstances."

Unorthodox? Disappointing? Really?

Isn't this the same game where a contract is no longer worth the paper it is printed on?


Kalyn Ponga was approached by Wallabies coach Michael Cheika.
Kalyn Ponga was approached by Wallabies coach Michael Cheika.

Every single day we are inundated by reports detailing similar moves between clubs and players, and the changes are happening so swift you are flat out keeping up with who is playing where.

And now Gardener and Greenberg are angry that rugby union has had a crack at Ponga?

Just last year Penrith sacked Anthony Griffin with years to run on his contract - only to replace him with Ivan Cleary, who still had years to run on his contract at Wests Tigers.

Where was the NRL's outrage when this happened, because it was almost identical circumstances?

Surely rugby league can't expect another code to act with the honour and integrity that people within the NRL aren't even prepared to afford each other.

Michael Cheika has thrown the cat among the pigeons with his move.
Michael Cheika has thrown the cat among the pigeons with his move.

I wrote a column earlier this week about the lack of loyalty in the NRL these days and the feedback from many rusted-on fans was overwhelming.

So many people are sick of the selfishness and greed that rules all sport today, not just rugby league, but it is allowed to continue.

We are told it is the way of the world in the so-called professional sporting era, so get over it.

Well, get over it.

What Cheika did most certainly was "extremely disappointing".

But it might end up being the reality check the NRL has needed to get their own house in order.

We can only hope.