Oops, I did it again.
So said Britney Spears way back in 2000, but for the NRL, those five words seem to be repeated with monotonous regularity.
In the latest gaff Manly-Warringah’s Dylan Walker has been charged with assaulting his fiance, but it is expected that she will withdraw the allegation.
This comes on the back of sexual assault allegations against Jarryd Hayne, assault allegations against Wests Tigers new recruitment Zane Musgrave, and allegations today that Dragon’s and NSW forward Jack de Belin sexually assaulted a woman last Saturday night.
I was chatting to one of my old cricket mates about the number of sportsmen, and NRL players in particular that seem to hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
All of these players are facing an uncertain future.
Haynes career appears to be over, as he is off contract with the Eels, and no other club seems interested following his recent incident.
Walker’s future is clouded. He is under contract, but has had indiscretions before, while Musgrove also has form.
My mate argued that if it were him or me facing these charges, it wouldn’t be in the news, and we wouldn’t be facing the sack.
If this was Paul the Plumbers Labourer, or Craig the Clerk, no one would be interested. They would face their day in court, cop their court punishment and get on with their lives.
This might be true, but there are a few reasons for this.
Firstly, Paul the Plumbers Labourer is paid by Pete’s Plumbing. If Pete is happy to keep paying Paul, then there is problem.
In the case of Dylan Walker, he is employed by Manly-Warringah Rugby League Club. While all player wages are covered by grants from the NRL, day-to-day costs are paid for by members, ticket sales and sponsors.
If any of the Manly sponsors are not happy to have their product associated with a club that has players subject to domestic abuse charges, then there is a problem.
In recent years, several clubs have seen sponsors walk away due to off field issues.
There are a lot of sports out there fighting for the sponsorship dollar, and companies don’t want their logo associated with a “brand” that doesn’t crack down on even a hint of domestic violence.
Secondly, Paul the Plumbers Labourer is unlikely to be on any sort of contract, and is probably earning $60 to $80 thousand a year.
Walker and his ilk are probably on over $300K a year, with elite players earning close to $1M per season. Most have a clause in their contract that they wont bring the club into disrepute.
Thirdly, as I said before, the NRL pays grants to the clubs roughly equivalent to the salary cap. The NRL also registers every contract signed by every player, and has the power to deregister players, as they did with Todd Carney some years ago.
The NRL also relies on sponsors and rights deals.
NRL players are paid large amounts of money for their sporting prowess. In return, they are expected to NOT BREAK THE LAW.
Don’t bash your partner, don’t sexually assault anybody, don’t hit strangers. For the amount of money that these people are earning, that doesn’t seem too onerous, or am I missing something?
Anyone who reads my columns regularly (both of you) knows that I am no fan of Anthony “the man” Mundine, because of his big mouth and constant self promotion.
Despite his big mouth, Mundine is actually a great sporting role model. He doesn’t smoke or drink and is fanatical about his fitness. He treats women with respect and actually demonstrates to young sports people what they can achieve by clean living.
So what happens from here?
It has been suggested Walker’s fiance will withdraw her allegation. Police could continue with the prosecution, relying on neighbours who witnessed the alleged incident.
If the neighbours were to back up the allegations in court, Manly should in my view terminate Walker’s contract and the NRL should decline any further registration for Walker. I’m sure Pete the Plumber will offer him a job.
Dylan Walker has pleaded not guilty to charges that he assaulted his fiance.
And remember, there’s no such thing as too much sport!
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