Binge changes sides
ANDREW JOHNS’ race-based comments in the NSW State of Origin camp are enough to turn a true Blue maroon.
The Blues' assistant coach referred to Queensland centre Greg Inglis as a ‘black c***' at a Kingscliff pub last Wednesday, sparking indigenous NSW winger Timana Tahu to leave camp.
Johns has since stood down from his post with the Blues.
That should only be the start, according to local indigenous rugby league identity Chris Binge.
Binge, the first-grade coach of predominantly indigenous Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League side Northern United, was born and bred in Moree, about 400km west of Grafton, and reckons ‘the NSW Rugby League needs a serious shake-up'.
Binge is so disgusted with the revelations that tomorrow night, with the Blues staring down the barrel of a record five straight series defeats, he will be cheering for the Maroons for the first time.
“I am a NSW boy through and through, but if the Queenslanders win on Wednesday night I will be happy for them after this incident,” he said. “I hope they make it five in a row.”
Binge said the NSW Rugby League has had racist undertones for years and that this was just the first time it had become public.
“I can't say I'm surprised with what has happened,” Binge said.
“And it is not just the comment made by Johns, there is a bit of a history of it (racism) around the NSW Rugby League.”
Binge pointed to a host of indigenous stars largely ignored by NSW selectors in the past.
Anthony Mundine could only manage three sky blue jumpers in his eight seasons in the league, while top-class players such as Nathan Merritt and Preston Campbell barely rate a mention come selection time.
Then there is former Dragons' winger Nathan Blacklock.
“He was the leading try scorer in the competition for three straight seasons. He made the Australian team, but still couldn't get a go with NSW,” Binge said.
“What does that tell you?”
Binge agreed this way of thinking could even be the reason that Inglis, a born-and-bred Blue from Bowraville, pledged his allegiance to Queensland in 2006.
“We have the best player in the game – a NSW boy – proudly wearing a maroon jumper,” he said.
Binge applauded Tahu for sacrificing his Origin guernsey in favour of his culture and beliefs.
He hopes the result is positive for indigenous players and fans, as well as rugby league.
“Maybe the end result is that NSW will start to pick more indigenous players,” he said.
“People thought Anthony Mundine was silly when he came out and said that he wasn't picked because of his heritage. That doesn't seem so silly now.”
Binge's final thoughts on Johns – the man who was widely tipped to become rugby league's next immortal.
“Yeah, he's an immortal ... an immortal goose.”