Opinion

Rugby league, the sport that just keeps on giving

Even during the off-season the NRL provides plenty of entertainment.
Even during the off-season the NRL provides plenty of entertainment. DEAN LEWINS

OH, RUGBY league - it's the sport that keeps on giving.

Even when the playing fields are deserted during the off-season, rugby league never fails to provide its fans with entertainment.

Take the latest cross-code scandal involving Newcastle Knights hooker Danny Buderus and the ACT Brumbies.

Buderus agreed to a role as the Super Rugby franchise's "collision" coach only for the ARLC to step in and veto the move moments later.

The job wouldn't have been a huge commitment for the rugby league great.

He was signed up to work with the players one day per week during the pre-season and on a consultant basis when the NRL and Super Rugby seasons kick off.

Buderus is definitely in the twilight of his playing days so of course he would be thinking about life after football.

But I just can't understand why he thought the NRL would let him start his coaching career in a rival code.

Forget about whether it breaches the third-party agreements in the salary cap.

Buderus gets paid to be a rugby league player and that needs to be his one and only priority.

Footballers do have the right to earn a living away from the sport.

There are plenty of NRL players who have part-time careers as personal trainers.

If one of them had a client who was from another code then I wouldn't have a problem with it.

The difference is that Buderus wasn't just offering a few fitness tips to the Brumbies.

He had signed on to become part of their organisation.

Watching Buderus make the announcement dressed in a Brumbies media polo was not a good look for a current NRL player.

They're not just footballers at the elite level. They're promotional tools to help grow the game.

Rugby league needs its stars to draw in the crowds and TV ratings.

And seeing a bloke who is touted as one of the good guys of the NRL spruiking rugby union is counter-productive to that aim.

Common sense has prevailed and Buderus admitted that he went about things the wrong way.

It was dealt with swiftly and there was no real harm done.

And I'm sure that there was no malice on the part of Buderus.

He was simply looking for a chance to start his coaching career and the Brumbies provided one.

But the sporting landscape in this country is cutthroat and the football codes will do what ever it takes to gain the most exposure.

The AFL only let Israel Folau out of his multi-million contract last week go after it was clear very early on that he wouldn't make it as an Aussie rules player.

They weren't after a player, they were after a walking billboard.

A player of Buderus' stature could have offered some excellent coaching advice to the Brumbies but I'm sure they were also looking for a face in the media.

It should be taken as a compliment that other sports are chasing rugby talent.

But after all the fuss the ARLC made about its new branding, the sport needs to be able to keep its big names to itself.

Topics:  off the ball, rugby league, sport, trent slatter



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