Penrith Panthers star Jarome Luai inspired by helicopter crash survivor
Just telling me I am his favourite player and I look up to you and things like that was was pretty awesome for me. We went over to Westmead Children’s Hospital and got to meet him and his father and some of his uncles. They are all great people.”
Finding the words to express yourself in that situation would be difficult for many. But not Luai.
“I don’t make it up … I’m just myself,” he said. “That’s the person he wanted to meet, the guy you see on the field. So I got there and put some music on and we played it throughout the hospital. The nurses were telling us to turn it down and be quiet, but you know what he’s been through, so you just have that right energy around him. I was just so blessed to be a part of that.”
And for Luai it’s not a one-off. “We definitely are going to stay in touch,” he said. “We have a bit of a deal going on, when he’s well and he gets out he’s coming to watch us. He’s had a pretty tough surgery, so it was pretty cool to build a connection with him and his family. It’s good to help him, to keep his spirits high through this stuff.”
Angus Crichton is about to re-enter the Roosters system, but he is being urged to take his time as he embraces his own mini pre-season. Crichton wants to be back playing football as soon as possible, but his mental health is the priority of all of those around him.
His family, the club and his agent, David Rawlings, are all rallying around him. Rawlings gave this column the following statement.
“The Roosters have done an extraordinary job in supporting Angus,” he said. “We met with the chairman [Nick Politis] on Friday for breakfast and he reiterated their commitment. There is a progressive plan in place for his return, which has been constructed with input from specialists and the club doctor, which we will implement over the next four to six weeks.”
Act of Todd?
He was once the boss of the NRL, but now Todd Greenberg is treated with a degree of suspicion, and even fear, by those running the game as they try to nut out a deal with the Rugby League Players’ Association.
It’s no secret that Greenberg and influential NRL figures are not the best of friends, and maybe that’s why the game has been rife with rumours Greenberg has been involved with the RLPA in its fight with the NRL as they look to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement.
Greenberg left the NRL in April 2020 with a decent payout that included a clause that he could not divulge information he had gleaned during his time in the game. That might be troubling the NRL.
RLPA chief executive Clint Newton confirmed he’d had contact with Greenberg but said it was natural given Greenberg has a similar role as CEO of the Australian Cricketers’ Association. Newton strongly denied Greenberg was some kind of “puppet master”, saying their discussions had been limited to a number of text messages and he had been a mentor.
Greenberg said there was “nothing for them [the NRL] to be edgy about”.
“Just a sounding board during his most difficult and lonely times,” he said. “He’s [Newton] a good man and he’s doing a tough job so wanted to make sure he was going OK.”
League to the rescue
The promised federal government investment must be huge – well into the millions – because that’s the only way to justify the narrative that rugby league is going to bring peace to the Pacific. Without significant investment, it is hard to swallow.
People smarter than this columnist say the code is being used to stop China getting a foothold in Papua New Guinea and becoming a threat to Australia; that if PNG gets an NRL team, the country will knock back Chinese investment.
We don’t doubt the good intentions of PM and Rabbitohs tragic Anthony Albanese, who is pushing the idea. Even the suggestion that three more teams should be added to the competition – and that players could be recruited from the US to fill them – is hard to fathom.
A couple of years ago, a taskforce set up by the NRL recommended not to allow even one more team into the competition.
When Peter V’landys became ARL Commission chairman he asked the committee to look at the idea again. It came back supporting expansion. Most of those involved have now left the NRL. At the time, the NRL suggested the key to growth was to lure Indian and Asian schoolchildren to the game.
There is a strong expansion push for a Pacific team “based” in PNG but playing games in Townsville or Cairns, throughout the Pacific and at North Sydney Oval. It’s a head-scratcher.
Expansion will occur only if teams from new areas play in those regions regularly. The AFL has taken a long-term approach to growing the code. The NRL is looking for a quick fix to give itself a chance of matching the lucrative broadcast deal secured by the AFL last year.