NRL fans were left fuming on Friday night ahead of the semi-final showdown between the Storm and Roosters after spectators at AAMI Park continually called out during a moment of silence for the late John McDonald. The Queensland rugby league icon and inaugural Maroons State of Origin coach died on Wednesday at age 79.
A moment of silence was held before the Storm-Roosters clash in a tribute to the rugby league great, but TV viewers were left gobsmacked by some of the behaviour from spectators. Calls of “come on Melbourne” and “up the Roosters” could be heard ringing out around AAMI Park during the silence, which only lasted about 15 seconds.
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Former Penrith Panthers and Queensland Maroons player Martin Lang wrote on social media: "Spectators who make themselves heard during a minute’s silence should be removed from the ground and suspended." Another social media user commented: "It's utterly disgraceful. Time to stand up for getting some respect back these days. Make it happen."
One fan wrote: “Melbourne Storm fans probably had no idea who John McDonald was but that’s no excuse for the disrespect that rang out around AAMI Park during the minute silence to acknowledge his passing. Poor form Storm fans."
Another added: “To those filthy pieces of s**t screaming out during the minute silence for John McDonald, I hope you get booted out, you filthy rotten scum, you could not show one minute of respect, bugger you." While another commented: “People like that should be sent from the stadium. Disgusting."
I think you'll be hard pressed to find anyone who disagrees and I support that 100% because it's utterly disgraceful. Time to stand up for getting some respect back these days. Make it happen. 👊🏻
— NRL Allstars Podcast (@NRL_SC_Allstars) September 15, 2023
— Mark Pickering (@markoid63) September 15, 2023
Melbourne Storm fans probably had no idea who John McDonald was but that's no excuse for the disrespect that rang out around AAMI Park during the minute silence to acknowledge his passing.
Poor form Storm fans.#NRLStormRoosters
— Ross Martin (@RossMartin1960) September 15, 2023
As well as his coaching feats, McDonald was a devastating centre and winger who played 13 Test matches for Australia and made 10 interstate appearances for Queensland. He also played in the 1970 grand final for Manly.
Affectionately known as 'Cracker', McDonald coached Queensland to a 20-10 win over NSW in the first State of Origin game in 1980. "John was given the most challenging job of all in 1980 and his achievement in ensuring Queensland won that game was imperative to the reputation and future of State of Origin football," Wally Lewis told AAP.
"My dad used to talk about the exciting player he was. He told me that John would make people go to the footy just to watch him."
Melbourne Storm beat Roosters to make preliminary final
The Storm responded to their embarrassing 26-0 loss to Brisbane last week to down the Roosters 18-13 with a stunning last-gasp try. Craig Bellamy's men hit back in a tight and tense semi-final at AAMI Park, with William Warbrick scoring in the final minute from a cross-field kick from Cameron Munster.
The win helped Melbourne break a three-game losing streak in finals games, dating back to the 2021 preliminary final. "Really proud of how we stuck in there, it wasn't pretty, without a doubt, but we needed to come back with a display like that after last week," Bellamy said afterwards. "Really impressed with how the club fought back after all being disappointed last week so we live to fight another day."
The Roosters will feel aggrieved with Ashley Klein's refereeing performance, after the whistle-blower missed a blatant knock-on from Harry Grant in the lead-up to the Storm's second try. Klein was in perfect position to see Grant hadn't collected the ball cleanly, but inexplicably allowed played to continue. The Storm marched downfield off the back of a penalty from Klein and scored through Marion Seve on the ensuing set.
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