NRL facing a brutal truth after weeks of ugly controversy

·3-min read
Pictured left is Canberra coach Ricky Stuart, with Manly players wearing pride jerseys on the right.
Ricky Stuart's outburst and the Manly pride jersey storm are just two of the ugly controversies to dog the NRL recently. Pic: Getty

Rugby league likes to think of itself as the "greatest game of all".

After the last few weeks of bitching, fighting, division and anger, perhaps it should be repurposed to read "the never-ending brawl".

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League's never been the friendliest or most civil of codes, but the toxicity has gone next level as fans, media members, players, coaches and administrators rip at each other's throats.

There was the Nathan Cleary spear tackle that whipped supporters into a frenzy even before the judiciary had decided his fate.

Watch the game's golden boy escape a tough sentence, the online ferals wailed, targeting the player and not the incident itself.

Nathan Cleary apologised for his tackle on Dylan Brown that earned the Penrith star a five-week ban.  Channel Nine)
Nathan Cleary apologised for his tackle on Dylan Brown that earned the Penrith star a five-week ban. Channel Nine)

Cleary justifiably copped five weeks but that still wasn't enough for some, who presumably wanted life without parole.

Wests Tigers get robbed in Townsville and go all LA Law on us, threatening legal action to have the result overturned as Ashley Klein searched for safe houses on Airbnb.

The Manly pride jersey furore is still simmering two weeks after seven players sat it out in protest, with any mention of it sparking immediate division, prematurely ending many a backyard barbie on the northern beaches.

We've had Peter V'Landys go nuclear over the NSW Government's backflip on funding for suburban grounds

Premier Dominic Perottet was warned not to come anywhere near Leichhardt Oval for fear of recrimination from angry – are there any other sort? - Tigers fans.

There's talk of Eels supporters – admittedly in the minority – being banned for booing young halfback Jake Arthur just because he shares a surname and bloodlines with the coach.

The kid's only 19 FFS.

Ricky Stuart drama caps off ugly few weeks for NRL

But all those dramas were made to look like a minor disagreement over whose turn it is to unpack the dishwasher once Ricky Stuart came off the long run and delivered Jaeman Salmon some chin music.

No one does hate quite like the Stickman, with retrospective hate a particular strong suit.

His "weak-gutted dog" comments were widely condemned, but News Corp columnist Paul Kent was one of the few to defend Stuart and, in doing so, started another spot fire.

Kent had a shot at Mark Geyer who'd had a shot at Stuart.

It was play on until Kent brought MG's daughter into it.

Pictured right is Mark Geyer and Paul Kent is on the left.
Mark Geyer was not happy to be dragged into the Ricky Stuart saga after comments made by Paul Kent. Pic: Fox Sports/Triple M

He suggested the former Penrith hardman should know better than anyone about family bringing out strong emotions in a father, referencing Geyer suing a social media account holder for wrongly accusing his daughter of appearing in a sex video.

Geyer's response on Triple M was, as you'd expect, raw, fierce and passionate.

You actually feared he'd come through the radio at one stage.

Kenty might have to borrow the keys to Klein's safe house for a while.

All this hate is consuming the game.

On the day the world lost Olivia Newton-John, rugby league more than ever could do with A Little More Love.

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