League is giving rivals a free ride

THE last time I checked, this great game of ours was at war with some formidable competition in the form of Australia's other football codes. We know it all to well - Rugby League is up against a powerful opposition in the AFL, Union, and Soccer.

Without going into the lengthy argument of this game's future, let us simply highlight an important fact - through the media, we are fighting for people and their attention. The NRL's image, as almost wholly put forward through the media, is vital to our success. So, with that in mind, answer this. Why are we giving our rivals free plugs?

As I write this article, the NRL Footy Show on the Nine Network is interviewing Lote Tuqiri and Rocky Elsom of the Australian Rugby Union team. Be you a Footy Show fan or not, put that aside for a moment and consider this.

Tuqiri is a former league star, and Elsom a former league junior. But both Wallaby stars appear on the panel as just that, union players - they're representing (I'd say even promoting) the ARU on an NRL football program. Sure, they maybe talking some serious stuff (like which is the better code?), but when you see two men in Qantas Wallabies shirts on what you'd consider our territory, it sends shivers down the spine.

And last week, it was soccer's turn. We had the Socceroos captain Harry Kewell and Mark Schwarzer on the program as members of "the world game." Their dead-rubber match against China (which was on Sunday) was also given a plug (in prime time TV I might add). In fact, I can't even recall the two soccer stars being asked anything regarding league.

And now, as I begin to wrap this up, our esteemed panel is briefly discussing AFL reject Ben Cousins. Would they be chatting about Sonny Bill right now on the Melbourne Footy Show? I doubt it.

Can it get any worse?

Giving our rivals a free ride is an insult to our clubs, our players, and our fans. Allowing our competition to talk themselves up on our programs, on our home turf, is nothing short of a disgrace. It's no wonder our game suffers to earn some corporate dollar - we're too busy plugging the competition, their sponsors, and their events.

Perhaps it's a small issue when you look at the other problems the game is facing - am I making this look bigger than what it is?

I don't think so. The numerous figureheads that run our game would be wise to think the same.