Off the Wall

When the NRL appointed the Chief Steward of Racing NSW, Ray Murrihy, to investigate a massive plunge on the Melbourne Storm to "win" the wooden spoon just hours before the team was effectively disqualified from the premiership, and another plunge on one of the options on the Cowboys v Bulldogs game towards the end of the season, I had confidence the administrators were serious about stamping out betting rorts in the game.

And when the Murrihy report on betting on the game in Townsville was handed over to the police, who have taken it all very seriously, my confidence was strengthened.

Today it has been badly shaken, as should be the confidence of every fan who wants transparency and equity in the way the game is run, and the way transgressors are pursued.

It is now clear that Ray Murrihy reported on the wooden spoon betting scam some time ago - perhaps months ago.

It would seem that Murrihy found that punters who had access to confidential information on the extent of the Storm's salary cap rorts used that information to win something like $200,000 on the Storm running stone motherless last.

He did not find evidence that Storm/NRL/News officials etc placed the bets.

The report's details seem to have come into the hands of Phil Rothfield yesterday. At that time, it had not been referred to the police in the same way the other report had been.

The power of the fearless press knows no bounds apparently. A fearless press following up on the work of someone of the highest integrity, Ray Murrihy.

After Rothfield asked what had happened to the report, the NRL referred it to NSW Police!

If Rothfield's article is accurate, and I have not seen it contested anywhere, why did it take his questions for the NRL to do what it was duty bound to do weeks if not months ago?

Those who allegedly profited from an attempted "sting" on the Cowboys v Bulldogs game are being pursued through the criminal law process.

What has happened to those who used confidential information to win thousands on a bet that they would NEVER have taken without the confidential information? Nothing - not until yesterday!

There may well be a straight forward explanation. An official forgot to pass it on, the report got misplaced and so on.

But if a decision was taken not to do anything, not until Phil Rothfield raised the issue, then all the games stakeholders are entitled to know why.

What this incident, as reported by one of the most experienced writers on the game, surely proves beyond any doubt is that we need an Independent Commission to run the game, and we need it now.

And we need an Independent Commission to examine issues such as that raised in the Telegraph today.

I hope there is an explanation, one that it is forthcoming from the NRL.

For if one is not, then claims that there is transparency and equity in the way the game is being administered will be devoid of credibility.