Off the Wall

Our great game - and a great finals series - deserves better than it is getting today.

As I write just about every online media site - not to mention every radio and television news bulletin - is reporting that Johnathan Thurston was arrested by police at around 5AM this morning outside the Treasury Casino in Brisbane.

Apparently Willie Tonga was not arrested - because he obeyed the police directions to stop wrestling in the street whereas Thurston and a Queensland Cup player allegedly did not do so.

Charming timing isn't it?

Smack bang in the middle of a great finals series, a couple of days from the Queensland Cup final which has been getting some excellent coverage and returns to Lang Park, and as the Brisbane media is giving coverage to the appalling level of alcohol fuelled violence in and around clubs and pubs.

I understand that the whole tawdry incident is captured - probably in glorious colour - on CCTV footage.

The incident did not involve assault or anything similar involving innocent members of the public. Why three players would want to have a "wrestle" in the best lit, and best monitored street precinct in Brisbane is beyond me.

But the damage to the game will be considerable. The media coverage I have already seen is at saturation levels. And it will continue throughout the day.

Johnathan Thurston has some form when it comes to alcohol related behaviour issues that have admittedly been at the bottom of the scale. And this year some of his on field antics have simply been appalling.

But the question which needs to be asked now is simply this - has he been treated too leniently in the past?

And if he has is that one reason why he is in trouble again?

I suspect the answer to both questions is, sadly, yes.

Thurston was in Sydney yesterday training with the Kangaroos train-on squad.

Why a player with his injury record this season would not be resting until the 2011 season is beyond me.

Perhaps the ARL could help him out - and show some leadership - and drop him from the squad for the four nations series?

We are hardly short of good players around the scrum base!

Some penalty other than the usual caution and counselling is needed.

Dropping him from the Kangaroos squad would be an adequate penalty.

Thurston is unquestionably an outstanding player. He is looked upon by young indigenous players, and indigenous children generally.

Off field issues are now putting that status at risk.

And that is a tragedy, for Thurston, for indigenous Australia, and for rugby league.