Carting it up
with Stevo

What a Crock!

Well I predicted the New Zealand team would put in a real fight against the Kangaroos last week and I (and many other fans) were proven completely wrong. This of course is a good thing as I have green and gold running through my veins, but I think there was more to it than my mere misjudgement. I?ve been led to believe that the Australian team secretly threw the Tri-Nations final to get like minded fans hopes up of a close contest this year. Of course the Kiwis were in on this too, playing out of their skins last year only to ?allow? the Kangaroos to flog them 50-12 last week.

Wait! What am I thinking believing such stupid conspiracy theories. I must be hanging around Michael Crocker too much!

Yes Crocker has caused the controversy of the week by reacting to his nine week ban by blaming everyone bar Warnie for the severity of his punishment. He has also done a fair job (alongside Mark Gasnier) of deflecting much needed promotion from the City vs Country clash.

There are two things to consider in the Crocker case. Firstly he has put himself in a situation where he committed an illegal act where it was possible he could have seriously hurt another player. Basically you can?t go running onto a freeway and not accept there?s a chance you?ll get hit. Secondly the fact that Shane Rigon was uninjured should be a positive result for Crocker. He can continue his playing career knowing he hasn?t caused serious injury to a fellow player.

Crocker?s bleating about his punishment seems to totally overlook these two facts. Sure I?d admit that Crocker?s tackle was definitely an accident, and his punishment is on the harsher side of fair, but whinging won?t do anything about that. Imagine being caught speeding and telling the officer that you didn?t mean to speed and you?d prefer it if you could choose your own punishment. I wouldn?t expect a positive response.

But for Crocker to then suggest the whole scenario has been a NSW conspiracy to ensure he doesn?t play in the this year State of Origin series suggests he might be fending off the men in the white coats in the not too distant future. Judiciaries must make decisions based on the well-being of players, and the good of the game. They know being too soft on spear tackles will place Rugby League players in danger. I?m assuming Crocker doesn?t want anyone in the game with a spinal injury, nor would he be satisfied if he or others received ?special treatment? by the judiciary because they were due to play in an upcoming rep series. In his absurd rant this week Crocker laid his cards on the table - he?s willing to blame anyone to mask his disappointment in missing out on this years State of Origin series. It makes you realise how previous offenders such as Luke McDougall and Clint Newton have emerged with dignity by taking responsibility for their actions.

While it?s one thing for a hot headed player to carry on about how the world is against him, it?s a genuine concern when his club boss supports his complaints. Brian Waldron should have kept his mouth shut. If he truly believes his club is discriminated against then he is smart enough to know this was not the forum to air his grievances. In fact he has most likely done more damage with his comments than good. Yes in the AFL the Sydney Swans and Brisbane Lions receive salary cap concessions and extra marketing, but they didn?t receive this support through unprofessional comments at press conferences. They have garnered support in what has been a gradual process.

The poor choices Waldron and Crocker have made this week have possibly lost more allies then they have gained. I for one support the idea of increased support to teams in non-traditional regions, and have up until this point been impressed with Waldron?s business sense and persistence.

However since he has blamed seemingly everyone for the Storm?s shortcomings (being from NSW I assume I?m part of ?the conspiracy?) I can?t help but think that I can find better things to do than worry about the state of the game in Victoria. A real concern south of the border is whether fringe fans, sponsors and political leaders may soon start to feel the same way.