Good times: Daly Cherry-Evans and Brett Stewart. Good times: Daly Cherry-Evans and Brett Stewart.
Good times: Daly Cherry-Evans and Brett Stewart.
Good times: Daly Cherry-Evans and Brett Stewart.
Brett Stewart’s form over the past 12 months demands that he is rewarded with a new deal.
His professionalism is highlighted by a softening on his stance towards Daly Cherry-Evans. You may remember the ill feeling towards DCE from the Stewart brothers, Anthony Watmough, and others.
Stewart knows he is going to spend the best part of the next three years playing in the same team as DCE. Both Stewart and DCE were in a small group of Manly players who went out to celebrate the win over the Titans on the Gold Coast and they got on when they were out together.
It sounds like a small thing, but that is definitely a big step in their relationship. It would not have happened a few months ago.
The Eagles need their highest-profile players seeing eye to eye because the broom is being put through the playing ranks. As we told you a couple of weeks ago, not even club favourites like Matt Ballin are safe.
Ballin’s management are well and truly aware of the directive for him to look elsewhere and that highlights how brutal the shake-up at the club will be.
The Sea Eagles are prepared to make the hard decisions to right the ship, particularly in the vital coaching and development areas. The sudden change of direction under the supervision of club great Bob Fulton predictably has got some noses out of joint. But criticism has never and won’t affect Fulton’s desire to fix a massive problem.
He is simply answering a call from owners Scott and Rick Penn to accelerate the recovery.
Figures released last week support the fact there are critical issues at the junior and development level.
The NRL figures based on the elite under-20 competition show Manly is last of the 16 clubs in developing players through the 20s to the NRL, with just 12 players making the jump.
In comparison, South Sydney had 25 players make the leap, exactly the reason a major restructure of the juniors and development was pinpointed by Fulton six months ago.
The fallout from the Alex McKinnon story continues, but there is a key piece of information that may clear up one of the most contentious issues of the whole controversy.
The 60 Minutes program has been slammed for not approaching Cameron Smith for comment – and he is known to be furious about the failure to get the right of reply. It’s why he snubbed the State of Origin coverage and why he has put a ban on the Nine Network.
What hasn’t been explained is that the McKinnon family made the request that this was their story – they wanted it to be the family story and the only non-family member to feature in the program was to be Wayne Bennett. That’s not going to be of comfort to Smith – but it explains the background to the controversy.
What has been interesting to see is how Smith has handled the matter. He knew that there was drama heading his way eventually – six days after the tackle and his on-field actions, this column flagged there was an issue with what had happened.
Then it rolled on and on without a public acknowledgment that things could have been handled better.
To Smith’s credit he did front the Rise for Alex launch. In the past couple of weeks he has fronted four media conferences and at the one acknowledging his 300th game for the Storm he took some questions about McKinnon as did his coach Craig Bellamy.
Reporters were cut off when there was a question asked about the right of reply. Smith’s employers Fox Sports thought they had him locked down for interviews twice for the Sterlo program, but he pulled out twice.
It took Fox Sports big-hitter Gary Burns’ involvement to get Smith to commit to the program for an interview – even though Smith is contracted. Burns flew to Melbourne and met Smith before the program and was in studio as he did the chats.
The content on the program wasn’t groundbreaking and there was a sound glitch, which was well handled by Peter Sterling, but at least they had him talking about the subject.
His second interview on Fox less than an hour later was on AFL 360, where he was less nervous and more open about McKinnon – he admitted he had been bruised by the media storm.
We are well aware that Smith is endeavouring to keep what happens between him and McKinnon private – but his lack of admission that he simply misread the situation is still troubling. Perhaps that will be part of the conversation the pair have.
That McKinnon is ready to have a private chat with Smith shows that he is ready to move on.
He has had his say and isn’t backing down from his view. He knows that he needs to speak with Smith to move closer towards closure – not just for him, but also for his parents, both of whom harbour plenty of anger toward Smith.
If McKinnon can accept Smith, perhaps his dad Scott can. It won’t change Alex’s battle, but it may bring some peace to the family.
When he joined the Roosters Willis Meehan was regarded as one of the real forwards of the future in the NRL. But a series of incidents, including one drama where he spent the night in jail before playing an under-20s game the next morning, have seen him axed by the Roosters. They wanted to stick by him – but he has failed to tick the boxes that they had set for him. It’s rare for the Roosters to set any troubled player free – they make a habit of rehabilitating players. It’s interesting to note that Meehan has made a return to the other sport he excels at: boxing. And there is more to the story – in the last five weeks he has converted to Islam.
Back on Smith, the Melbourne Storm handled the build up to his 300th game with the dignity it deserved. They knew he was going to get grilled by the media and he has been around long enough to handle that. The same can be said for Paul Gallen – but the Sharks didn’t put him up this week to honour his 250th game. In fact, unless you were a hardcore Sharks fan you would not have known that he was reaching that milestone with the club. There have been ongoing suggestions of tension between senior Sharks management and Gallen – and we hope that the lack of promotion in the lead-up was not based on that. Gallen won’t reach 300 games with the club, so apart from his farewell game this was the big one to celebrate. Sharks officials need to get over any personal dislike they have for Gallen and acknowledge what he has done for the club for years on the field and the way he took the heat for the team during the ASADA scandal. When he decides to open up about that time, there will be officials and critics left with some apologising to do. As for the pressure on him not to play State of Origin – he definitely wants to play next year and if he is considered good enough by Laurie Daley, he should be allowed to play.
Hayne on track
Jarryd Hayne has fixed his injured foot and is about to take a major step in his development as an NFL player. Hayne will play his first game in the next few weeks. From the way it has been explained to me it will be the equivalent of a trial where a number of hopefuls will get a chance to show what they can do. There will be a separate trial match for the established stars. Hayne left Australia on Tuesday full of hope and happy that he’d overcome his injury, but he did depart with a heavy heart – the Origin loss hit him hard. The best indication of what it meant to Hayne was that when he presented Paul Gallen with his jumper he had to fight back tears. Hayne’s presence in the Blues camp was greeted warmly by the players – but the Queenslanders clearly didn’t have the same view. It was noted by Blues team members that Justin Hodges and Johnathan Thurston both did “Hayne Planes” after kicking goals. They saw that as a slap at their decision to allow Hayne into camp.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.