Off the Wall

Yesterday the Sydney Roosters CEO, Steve Noyce, gave an interview on 2GB after news that Roosters player, Anthony Watts, had been charged with domestic violence related offences.

You would have thought that the Roosters boss would have been well practised at addressing reports of Roosters behaving badly. They are hardly a rarity!

But he turned in a worrying performance which left the interviewer, and listeners, in not much doubt that the issues surrounding Watt's arrest are a whole lot bigger than he would concede.

Since then, we know is that Todd Carney had been with Watts at a bar owned by club "identity" John Ibrahim. If Carney was drinking more than mineral water whatever shreds of credibility he has left will surely vanish.

This is the same Todd Carney who told David Gallop less than two weeks ago he was off the grog and attending AA counselling!

There is one common factor with regard to Watts and Carney. Both have serious "form" and were picked up by the Roosters with full knowledge of that "form".

We need to let the courts deal with the Watts issue, but if Carney was out on the drink with him on Saturday night, a couple of questions need to be asked of the Roosters by David Gallop.

The first must surely be this - even though he was out injured why was he in Kings Cross on Saturday night, and not with the team at Blue Tongue stadium at Gosford?

Surely the club's best player would have been a useful PR vehicle at a promotional game in Gosford?

And given his form, why would Noyce and his management team be leaving him to his own devices back in Sydney? And why wasn't Watts in Gosford as well?

The Roosters Chairman, Nick Politis, may well be the most powerful man in the game, but the club he runs has frankly become an embarrassment - off the field, and increasingly on the field.

At the weekend, there was media speculation the NRL was considering trying to "poach" the Chief Steward of Racing NSW, Ray Murrihy, to head up its integrity force.

I would be signing up Murrihy today - and put him in charge of the investigation of player behaviour issues as well as the impact on the game of sports betting and the like.

If the game had an integrity chief of the standing of Ray Murrihy, players (and club officials) would soon discover the NRL was serious about player behaviour issues AND protecting its integrity in the face of the growing influence of sports betting on the game.

We also need someone with Murrihy's integrity, and investigative experience, to take the issues relating to player misbehaviour out of the hands of club officials.

The policy of clubs investigating players, especially when they are key players such as Todd Carney, is just not working.

And that is hardly a surprise.

The new commission - if we ever get it - will effectively be running the game on behalf of the 16 clubs.

That will make it even more important for the investigation of behaviour issues to be separated entirely from the clubs.

I don't think we will be able to entice racing's preeminent steward away from his current role, but it is worth a try.

And at the very least he might recommend someone who would fill what may well become the most important role - after that of the CEO - in the NRL.