The Rovere Report

BILLY MAKES THE PUBLIC BOIL

Billy Slater's sledge of Cory Paterson over his battle with depression has taken "mental disintegration" to a new low and for the NRL not to step in and censure Slater is itself a disgrace.

Various websites have gone into meltdown with the overwhelming response to the abhorrent incident, one of disgust and outrage.That you have passionate Queenslander supporters calling for Slater to be banned from this year's origin series as a form of punishment is an indication of the depth of the public's anger.

Slater hit a nerve and despite his contrite and no doubt genuine apology, that cannot be the end of the matter. This calls for immediate - bit late for that - action from NRL chief-executive officer David Gallop to step up and show some leadership - and by that I mean taking it out of Newcastle's hands.

Slater's cowardice slur is every bit as appalling if not worse than Paul Gallen's racial taunt last year of Mickey Paea? It would be safe to say that there would be upwards of 100 footballers playing in the NRL who either directly or indirectly have experienced a form of depression. His own teammates at the Storm would be among that number.

One can only speculate as to the response of the NRL if the perpetrator had been Gallen, or a Willie Mason, or a Todd Carney or players of this ilk with tarnished reputations. It's a given that that individual would have had the whole library hurled at them.

I believe that Slater has "dodged a bullet" purely because he's one of the game's highest profiles who plays for a team based in a city which the NRL cannot allow to be obliterated by the all-powerful AFL. Melbourne being a success translates to valuable leverage when the NRL sits down to nut out its next media rights.

I'm left to ponder the following - how is it that Joel Clinton is fined $50,000 for visiting a female acquaintance in a hotel room - yet Billy Slater does something ten times more serious, yet it seems escapes virtually scott free? Joke!

DOG OF A YEAR ALREADY

I fear for Canterbury and its army of supporters of which I am one of.

As much as I hate to say it, I honestly believe - even after just two rounds of the competition - that it's crises time for the Bulldogs.

I admire the club enormously and what they did in 2009 was truly inspirational however, regrettably season 2010 is shaping as a year to forget for the famous blue and whites.

Now before I get accused of suffering from a severe case of "premature evaluation", hear me out.

The club lost impact forward Greg Eastwood and points-scoring machine Hazem El Masri from last year's team, have long term injuries to Michael Hodgson, Mickey Paea, Dene Halatau and Corey Payne, the latter season-ending, have turned in two inept performances and will be without the suspended Gary Warburton for three weeks.

Even more worrying is the team's overall form slump, in particular that of captain Andrew Ryan, Kiwi international Ben Roberts and boom centre Jamal Idris.

All that coupled with the unrest caused by star prop Ben Hannant wanting to return home to Queensland, is a recipe for disaster that has left a sour taste in my mouth - one that no amount of Listerine is going to rid.

But wait there's more - and we are not talking a set of steak knives - although such utensils could be out for coach Kevin Moore if he is unable to remedy the team's deficiencies, most notably an inability to challenge the defence.

For the life of me I cannot remember the last time Canterbury produced a sweeping backline movement and second phase play amongst the forwards is virtually non-existent.

If the Bulldogs fail to correct both these areas of play, then I cannot see anything other than a Roosters victory by 20 to 30 points - possibly more.

CAPTAINS OF INDUSTRY

What is with New South Wales? All this talk about who should captain the team so far out from this year's origin series is pure bunkum. I dare say that Mal and the boys north of the border would be finding it hard to contain themselves such is the hilarity of it all.

First you had Cronulla coach Ricky Stuart nominating rookie Mitchell Pearce, then Nathan Hindmarsh put his own name forward, then it was the turn of former Blues greats bandying together to trumpet the claims of Paul Gallen. At this rate the Blues will have a dozen or so captains-in-waiting come the time when they will have to actually make their choice.

The topic has rapidly developed into an industry of its own and "grown legs" daily to the point one expects the call to go out for veteran backrower Craig Fitzgibbon to be recalled from England ala Alfie Langer-style to lead the side to victory.

An embarrassed Pearce dismissed Stuart's comments as coming totally from "left field", taking the sensible position that given they came after just one round of football, there was no basis to them whatsoever.

Sinister minds were of the belief it was nothing more than a tactic by Stuart to in someway attempt to divert Pearce's focus from his role with the high-rolling Roosters.

Irrespective of Stuart's motive for making such an outrageous suggestion, it will all become irrelevant if Pearce fails to sustain his form up until the team is selected.

Stuart would be best to concentrate on improving the lot of his under-performing Sharks rather than waste valuable newspaper space bombarding the public with outlandish predictions.

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