Off the Wall

Today we see another compelling reason why the game must be run by an independent commission - and why it must be done sooner rather than later.

And the latest justification has come from an unlikely and unintended source - the CEO of the ARL, Geoff Carr.

The time has come to end the conflicts of interests, the dithering and the double standards that prevail in the game today. And yesterday's intervention by Carr in the Israel Folau selection issue surely proves they cannot be allowed to continue any longer.

Carr emailed the QRL CEO, Ross Livermore, demanding that the QRL not select Folau because of his code switch and the fact he was used by the AFL in the middle of the Origin series to promote the AFL in Western Sydney.

The QRL totally ignored Carr's appeal.

Whatever one's views on Folau's selection - and if I was a selector I would not have chosen him - how can Carr possibly intervene with a scintilla of credibility when he is not only the COO of the ARL, he is also the General Manager of the NSWRL which has responsibility for the NSW Blues?

That is the first piece of duplicity.

The second is contained in Carr's published email, suggesting that the ARL board needs to meet urgently to amend the Origin rules to prevent any player who turns his back on the code from playing in our show piece representative fixtures.

Hello? What happened with Folau also happened with Karmichael Hunt a year ago, expect that he was used as an AFL stunt just after the 2009 origin series not during it.

If the ARL was up to speed, and managing the game in a competent way, then surely it would have introduced the rule Carr is now so belatedly seeking immediately after the Hunt PR stunt.

The ARL could have quite reasonably introduced a rule BEFORE the 2010 Origin series requiring all players to commit to either playing in the NRL in 2011, or staying in rugby league (UK Super League etc).

Had that been done - and the QRL would surely have supported it - then the selection of Folau would today be a non issue. He would not be eligible for selection!

Carr and Colin Love cannot intervene today - as much as they would like to - because they are hopelessly conflicted. But if they were on the ball after the 2009 series they would have put in place a rule change that would have prevented a repeat of the charade we saw last week.

However, if the game was today being run by an independent commission, it would have the stature, and the independence to intervene.

And what this latest debacle - and I include in that the Folau charade last week and Carr's email yesterday - surely demonstrates is that the independent commission must have overall authority over the whole game - including the State of Origin series.

The independent commission will need to do more than set down rules regarding the eligibility of players who are switching codes. It will also need to decide how long a player deserting the game will have to wait before he returns. I would suggest a five year minimum.

Of course majority opinion in Queensland today favours Folau's selection - but it is far from unanimous. The QRL also looks very average as a result of its back flip over the issue.

But there will be a unanimous view that Carr's intervention deserved to be treated with contempt.

I would not have selected Folau. But I would have dismissed the views of Geoff Carr with the same contempt the QRL obviously did.

And if I was the QRL I would be changing tack - which they are now good at doing - and backing an independent commission now!

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