Off the Wall

I know enough about Australian Rules to know that Leigh Matthews was one of its best players, and best coaches.

He was judged the "Best Player of the 20th Century" by the AFL, and took the Brisbane Lions from the bottom of the AFL table to grand final appearances and premierships before retiring a couple of years ago.

He is now a widely respected commentator and yesterday he pulled no punches in his assessment of the AFL's multi-million dollar recruitment of Karmichael Hunt and Israel Folau.

Matthews described the moves as "cross code poaching" which he found offensive.

He predicted, and hoped, that the Hunt and Folau experiments would fail!

In his long coaching career at the Lions, and since, he has quite deliberately avoided denigrating rugby league - and has on many occasions praised the skill of league players, and he is a fan of State of Origin football.

He also formed a friendship with Wayne Bennett when they were both winning premierships.

In his playing days he did not earn the nickname "Lethal Leigh" for nothing.

His assessment of the AFL's recruitment of Folau and Hunt won't please the AFL - but that will be the least of his concerns.

Speaking about poaching, Darren Lockyer really should have stayed away from the issue in his Sunday Mail column, obviously written before Saturday night's Gold Coast Suns debacle.

He predicted there could be even more players switching from the NRL to the AFL.

After Saturday night's debacle I think not!

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