AFL leading the way off the field as football in Australia taken to a dark place again.
The NRL has again taken a collective black eye as a result of one that has been allegedly been handed out to a woman by one of its players.
The AFL has heard allegations of a star player getting in the face of a female and verbally abusing her in a public place.
One of these organisations dealt with the problem – one has not.
After allegations from Katie Lewis that she was punched in the face by South Sydney star Ben Te’o, the NRL’s leaders and stakeholders are only now finding out the seedy details.
Rumors had swirled in the last four weeks that players various clubs knew of the assault which left Lewis with a broken eye-socket.
Te’o is said to have reported the incident to South Sydney officials soon after it took place, with the Rabbtiohs asking him if he wanted to be stood down.
Nobly, he declined.
Of course he would, the Bunnies are in the midst of the best winning seasons for the club in the past 20 years, the decision should not have been his to make.
The stink of this latest incident of violence against women by an NRL player should be leaving a lingering foul taste with everybody involved in the game.
But the tongues of the people in power must not stay silent on the matter any longer.
If Te’o has his day in court and the allegations against him are proven to be correct as Lewis has initially stated, then a ban from all forms of the game around Australia, the world if possible, should be put in place,
Globally Te’o’s name hopefully will be mud so he simply cannot fly off to the English Super League and get paid to play a sport he has brought into disrepute.
Ironically, all of this comes out just after the NRL’s annual Women In League round, which is designed to celebrate the female contribution to the running and support of the code at all levels.
But now all of the pink jerseys and boots in the world cannot mask what is still a problem with small sections of the rugby league world – their view towards women.
Making matters worse, Robert Lui was a late call-up for the North Queensland Cowboys also last round, in the wake of him restarting his career up north after allegedly headbutting and kicked his then pregnant partner Taleah Rae Backo.
Ex-Cronulla Shark Issac Gordon was rubbed out for nine games after being convicted of assaulting his then girlfriend who was seven months pregnant where he allegedly said: “Hit me, hit me, I’ll hit you back. It’s self defence, I’ll kill you f … ing bitch.”
Not the language you want to hear from a representative of your game.
Example B this week comes courtesy of Hawthorn star Lance Franklin, who is said to have verbally abused a female at a pub.
While no physical violence was involved in this incident it is hardly a positive look from one of the Hawks and the AFL’s biggest names and most recognisable faces.
Here is the difference between how the AFL and the NRL have handled both off-field issues.
After Hawthorn received official word of complaint from Nicky Rowsell, their football manager called to talk about the issue within 30 minutes, with Franklin calling himself personally soon after to resolve the issue.
Despite the fact Franklin said he was provoked into saying what he did, he was man enough to apologise for the way in which he spoke to Rowsell and now both parties consider the matter closed.
While the AFL would prefer the mid-week discussion to focus on injuries, suspensions and even the contentious ‘high bump’ rule, the issue will largely be forgotten this weekend after the next round of games are played.
Mainly because the AFL and Hawthorn dealt with the issue as publicly as possible.
As opposed to the NRL who will now have to continue their damage control as Te’o looks set to be charged with charged with assault, with the on-going circus of a court appearance and if it’s morally right to pick the offending player for State of Origin, to dominate headlines for weeks.
All of this fresh off the back of the ASADA investigation that has largely detracted from the opening three months of the season.
If the NRL wants to be taken seriously for taking a stand against violence against women, Te’o must be the fall guy.
He must be de-registered and given a chance to rehabilitated away from the game so that he cannot be seen as a role model or a spokesperson of the game.
If the charges stick, Te’o must have the game taken away from him as he has taken away the dignity of Katie Leiws.