The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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CANTERBURY Bulldogs endorsed a resounding vote for change on Sunday. Not only a change in personnel on their board but just as importantly, a change in the manner in which those charged with the responsibility of "righting the ship" conduct themselves,
And nothing illustrated that more then the dumping of high-profile former referee Greg Hartley. His inflammatory language in trying to defend himself and the other incumbents, sealed his own fate. The voting members sent a clear message that they had had enough of the bitter personal attacks, by placing the ex-whistle blower affectionately known as "Hollywood" at the bottom of the heap.
It is hopeful that Hartley will accept his medicine and channel his energies into helping the club return as a powerhouse both on and off the field. There's no doubting his passion for the Bulldogs, it's just that passion like cholesterol, has a good side and a bad side. Adopt the latter and things can go pear shape majorly. Hartley may not have been confident in holding position, he certainly will be shattered at running last.
It's a massive reality check for all out-going board members. But it's also the beginning of a new chapter in the club's history. A line was drawn on Sunday. Those invited across by the members were done so on the proviso that they deliver on their promise of putting club before self in every decision that comes before them.
The is much healing to be done at the Bulldogs. The fact that axed media officer Chris O'Brien's head went to where it did for him to act so irresponsibly and cause so much damage at both a personal and professional level, indicated that. Thankfully, it all came to light prior to Sunday's elections enabling the club to clear the decks and start afresh.
Chairman Dr George Peponis, would have heartened all Canterbury fans by accepting that he was willing to adopt a more conciliatory attitude in going forward. The good doctor is to be congratulated for that. It is hoped chief-executive officer, Malcolm Noad does same. Noad would be well aware there is much bridging-building to be done on his part. And whilst his tenure expires at the end of the year and he may feel vulnerable, Noad should see it as an opportunity to show that he is the right man for the job.
If he is then he should have his contract extended, if he's not then it should be a wishing of the best for the future and the position go to the best available candidiate. Just like team selections, set the personalities to one side and judge the individual purely on performance.
And if a new CEO is to be appointed, then those responsible for making the decisions must look at what each potential suitor brings to the table. It shouln't all be about the number of letters after their name or the number of boards they've sat on previously. The best person, male or female, has to be someone with a formidable relationship with high-powered corporates and who can mix at all social levels.
One of the best journalist that I have had the pleasure of working with and whom has risen through the ranks rapidly to my knowledge, had little formal training. What she had was an innate ability to source a story and then present it in a fashion that connected with her audience. That's a gift!
The highest achievers in all the fields of business and industry, all have vision, passion, energy and empathy in their DNA. And ones at the top of the tree like Mr Microsoft, Bill Gates, spread their wealth because the feelings of self-gratification they get far outweighs the massive amounts of money they give away.
The old Bulldogs board may have paid a price for some of their past actions, but they can be roundly congratulated for several decisions whilst in power. Re-signing club captain Andrew Ryan and stalwart Luke Patten along with keeping the most gifted player in the game at the club in Sonny Bill Williams, top the list.
At just 22, the kiwi sensation showed last season what a prodigious talent he is. He is someone you can definitely build a premiership team around. If Williams can continue to take his game to a new level, we could be seeing one of the greatest players to have graced a rugby league field.
Speaking of the greatest players, the release of Rugby League Week's top 30 players of the past 30 years years has sparked huge debate on the rankings, on the inclusions and exclusions. Most of the arguments centred around Andrew Johns (1) and Wally Lewis (2). If you go on the Sydney premiership week-to-week, then you can see why they plumped for Joey.
But if you go on their deeds at representative level and who would have triumphed had the two superstars met head-to-head on equal terms, it's a no-brainer! As brilliant as Andrew was, the King would have dismantled his game. Lewis was such a force on the field that Johns like many of the game's finest players, would have succumbed to a rugby league player who I believe had the aura of a Tiger Woods, a Roger Federer, a Muhammad Ali.
The New South Wales' sides that Wally toyed with and ultimately destroyed, had within its personnel absolute champions of the game. Players of the ilk of Peter Sterling, Brett Kenny, Eric Grothe, Steve Mortimer, the late Steve Rogers, Mick Cronin, Ray Price. The list goes on.
In the toughest arena of all, Lewis got a phenomenal eight man-of-the-match awards, would have been in the running for another eight and among the best players on the field in another eight. Quite simply, he was a freak!
Johns on the other hand for years admonished himself for not being able to stamp his authority at origin level. And when he finally did, he did so against very mediocre opposition. Trust me, as avid Queensland supporter, while it pains me to admit it, us Maroons at the time were an average bunch. Unfortunately, there was nothing that Joey could do about that, other than ride roughshod over his opposition.
Ray Warren, Peter Sterling, Mark Ella and Tony Melrose, both who went on the 1977 rugby union schoolboy tour with Lewis, are among a host of renowned judges who all agree that the King was the best.
Hand on his heart, one Andrew Johns would probably concur with such an esteemed group. If you finished up runner-up to the greatest player to have ever played the game, it's not a bad thing I'd a thought.
No doubt the pair will fill the halves positions when the team of the century is announced. The little "c" should accompany the King's name given he is unchallenged as the finest skipper the game's produced.