The NRL off-season has been a scandal-a-thon.
The NRL off-season has been a scandal-a-thon.

Buzz: NRL’s growing wall of shame

BEING a rugby league writer these days is like covering police rounds.

A contact in law enforcement is as important as knowing the coaches, officials, agents and players.

Sadly, that's what the game has come to.

A year that started with the Matt Lodge scandal is ending with Jarryd Hayne due in court on Monday on serious sexual assault charges and Dylan Walker in court on Tuesday on domestic violence charges.

 

So much has happened it seems like a year since the Roosters won the grand final, Cooper Cronk played with a busted shoulder and Luke Keary won the Clive Churchill Medal.

Never has there been an off-season like this one.

Canberra Raiders fullback Jack Wighton faced court and CCTV footage emerged of him headbutting and beating up a group of men outside an ACT nightclub.

The Bulldogs had their Mad Monday at The Rocks. A player dips his penis into a beer. Others vomit and fall asleep in the street. It was The Daily Telegraph's fault, not theirs.

Then the Hayne story breaks. Shocking charges of sexual assault. Front page and lead story on TV for days.

Knights' front-rower Jacob Saifiti is cleared of any wrongdoing but suffers a broken leg after he is allegedly punched in the head and falls awkwardly to the ground outside a Newcastle pub.

Just when you thought this list couldn't get any longer, it does.

On Friday we wake to the horrible news that Dylan Walker has been charged with assaulting his fiance. You feel sick.

Canterbury Bulldogs player Adam Elliott appears at Downing Centre Court in relation to charges of wilful and obscene exposure during Mad Monday celebrations at the Harbour View Hotel in The Rocks. Picture: Toby Zerna
Canterbury Bulldogs player Adam Elliott appears at Downing Centre Court in relation to charges of wilful and obscene exposure during Mad Monday celebrations at the Harbour View Hotel in The Rocks. Picture: Toby Zerna

This is the bloke who couldn't handle Curtis Scott in Melbourne this year yet, according to police allegations, he's tough enough to assault his poor partner on a Thursday evening.

Police will allege Walker's partner crossed the road outside their home and was followed by the 24-year-old player, who allegedly pulled her hair, causing her to fall over. Imagine the fear.

She suffered grazes to her left shoulder, leg and feet.

A few hours later it is revealed Wests Tigers recruit Zane Musgrove has been charged with indecent assault after a night out in the eastern suburbs.

Then a press release arrives on Saturday morning: "Penrith Panthers is aware of allegations made against Intrust Super Premiership NSW player Liam Coleman. NSW Rugby League has been informed.

"Panthers will allow the court process to run its course and be making no further comment at this time."

Again, it's alleged indecent assault.

Another day, another drama and we await the next one.

Your columnist can remember the good-old days when rugby league writers went on holidays after the grand final. Straight onto the Greyhound bus to Surfers Paradise.

Stories between October and March were more about new signings and rookies emerging for the following season in the days when clubs gave us access.

There wasn't as much to write about because a contract used to be contract and the word loyalty meant something.

We wonder why teams like the Cronulla Sharks are struggling to find sponsors in this climate.

So much has happened, even away from all the scandal.

Ivan Cleary jumps off the bus to join the Penrith Panthers, breaking a two-year deal at the Wests Tigers. This is a couple of months after he informs us he "intends" to honour his contract.

We have the Wayne Bennett and Anthony Seibold on-again, off-again job swap that was only solved when the Broncos sacked the super coach.

 

The Wayne Bennett saga dragged on for too long.
The Wayne Bennett saga dragged on for too long.

 

The coaching debacle at Manly and the club's inept handling of Trent Barrett's resignation.

Cronulla's biggest name Val Homes walking out on the Sharks to have a shot at the NFL.

The bloke who was said to be homesick and desperately missing Townsville is now going to be 12,000km away.

Canterbury's biggest name Dave Klemmer quits the Dogs despite two years remaining on his deal.

He's replaced by Dylan Napa. This is the guy who loved the Roosters so much he wore his full grand final kit for 48 hours after knocking off Melbourne Storm in the grand final.

Cameron Smith's negotiations stall at Melbourne Storm.

The Sharks salary cap scandal drags on.

Fake invoices and dodgy loans.

Every season this newspaper does an NRL year-in-review the week after the grand final.

We keep a list each round of the biggest stories, scoops and scandals and then refine it to capture the 50 most dramatic moments.

Next year we should wait until December 31 because the big yarns just keep on coming.

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