'Pretenders': The Anthony Mundine claim that backfired brutally

Media coverage of sport is a different world in 2019 compared to the year 2000 - Nathan Brown would know.

The Newcastle Knights coach looks back on an infamous column by Anthony Mundine that sparked one of rugby league’s biggest losses.

By Nathan Brown

Looking back on that 70-10 loss the Dragons had to the Storm down there in 2000 reminds me of how much the game has changed in the almost 20 years since.

Anthony Mundine was in our side and, as we all know, Choc could talk. Still can. But he has a history of being able to back it up.

Choc had a newspaper column at the time and in it he wrote the Storm were pretenders who didn’t deserve to have won the grand final.

Anthony Mundine's infamous newspaper column the day before a 60-point loss to the Storm still smarts for now-Newcastle coach Nathan Brown. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

It didn’t worry me because I knew what Choc was like. He was a confident person who was always prepared to say something and when he did he usually played very well.

Plus, there wasn’t the wall-to-wall media that we have now. There were the regular newspapers and some stuff on TV, but there weren’t all of these dedicated rugby league shows that we have now and all of the podcasts and everything else on top of that.

Now, you’ve got two or three shows every night on Fox, plus the Channel Nine stuff and all of these different podcasts, dissecting everything. It wasn’t remotely so in-your-face back then.

I remember Choc’s stuff being in the paper one day and creating a bit of controversy and the next day there was the game and we might have got a tickle up about it afterwards because of the result, but that was it.

These days, comments like that would be repeated over and over again on all of those shows. Everyone would have their say on it and crank it up and it would become a much bigger issue.

I don’t know if what Choc said helped Melbourne. People interpret things according to the result. It’s always easier after the game, but not necessarily accurate.

What I do know is that it was a hell of a long night. It felt like the Storm just kept scoring – which they did! And every time you looked up at the clock it seemed like there was still such a long time to go.

Newcastle coach Nathan Brown says plenty has changed in rugby league since an infamous game in 2000. (Photo by Tony Feder/Getty Images)

Usually, you’re out there playing a good, hard game of footy and the clock seems to go fast, but this time it felt like the game was never going to end. We spent a lot of time standing behind the goalposts waiting for conversion kicks and it was like the clock wasn’t moving.

There were a fair few of us who put in bad performances and I got put back to the bench for a couple of weeks after that. Usually it’s a winger that goes after a flogging, but that time it was the hooker!

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