NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg and ARL Commission chairman Peter Beattie have great power in their hands.
NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg and ARL Commission chairman Peter Beattie have great power in their hands. BRENDAN ESPOSITO

Crisis merchants do the game a disservice

I AM no gushing fan of Peter Beattie, and like many others associated with rugby league I hold some fears about how the ARL Commission will function on his watch.

Despite his self-professed passion for the game, Beattie's two recent stuff-ups in relation to the name of the Cronulla Sharks and confusing the Newcastle Knights' jersey with a soccer giant, indicates his lack of basic knowledge about a business over which he now has ultimate control.

But despite those apparent shortcomings, many will agree with his grievance that Aussies are becoming a pack of whingers. The proliferation of social media outlets has given all-comers a voice, and it seems negative views are those booming the loudest.

Beattie, of course, was speaking about the widespread backlash to the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games - a whinge well founded.

But, as fate would have it, his retort came just two days after NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg had fired off his "let's be positive” memo.

Greenberg was responding to a tweet from a prominent Sydney journo who had canned the current game - and has been doing so for some time. The NRL chief urged those who loved rugby league to "talk it up, share your positivity”.

But he added "ignore the crisis merchants” which - surprise, surprise - irked those members of the Fifth Estate who took exception to his jibe. Some journos even tagged Greenberg a politician, which is a scary thought when he and Beattie are about to join forces to run the game.

Both parties, though, have a point. While the job of a journalist is to report the facts and opine his or her views, incessant negativity about a sport from which they earn a living is hardly productive - for anyone.

And while Greenberg is understandably keen for positivity about the game he administers, he can't expect journos to be PR agents. And he needs to consume feedback - constructive and adverse.

I won't say rugby league has never been in better shape but, after just on four decades working in and around the game, I can't recall a more even competition. Tipsters averaging five wins a week are leading most competitions.

Admittedly, players have never had it better, with our cream earning around $1million a season. But in return for that bounty they are fitter, faster and more skilful than their predecessors and some of today's try-scoring feats are simply freakish.

As a result, the exposure the game receives is extraordinary.

Every NRL match is live on TV and the two major daily newspapers in Sydney and Brisbane, as well as most regional dailies, carry saturation coverage. And upwards of a dozen weekly TV magazine shows are dedicated to the NRL.

So rather than listen to the whinging of the crisis merchants, how about we follow the lead of Mal Meninga and Cameron Smith, two of the code's biggest names and most successful exponents, and take on board their positivity.

- Tony Durkin