NRL’s grubs dig holes for themselves

LAURIE Daley is a great bloke - a champion bloke in fact, just as he was a champion player. But the Blues coach sure has his wires crossed.

When asked in a recent TV interview whether Greg Bird and Josh Reynolds were a risk to a coach - and to their team - because of their mindset, Daley dismissed the question with:

"'They are passionate players".

Within 29 seconds of me inserting the word 'passionate', Google gave me 'about' 54,900,000 results.

I took their word for the number of results, but only read a half dozen or so.

However, nowhere could I find the words selfish, loose cannon, idiotic, irresponsible or ignorant when searching the meaning of passionate.

Yes, there was intense, impassioned, zealous, emotional, animated and even fiery, heated, wild and fierce, but negligent or reckless weren't there.

No one doubts Bird and Reynolds are passionate, but surely that adjective could be used to describe 90% of NRL players, and professional sports people in general.

Exceptional money can be earned playing pro sport these days but unless the athlete has the passion to undergo the rigours of the training required, they won't make it to the top.

Also, Bird (102kg) and Reynolds (90kg) play well above their weight in one of the toughest body-contact sports known to man, and no one does that to their body unless they ooze passion.

But passion is not what forced Greg Bird to upend Kiwi winger Jason Nightingale in the Anzac Test.

And endeavouring to define his passion was not the motive when his legal counsel apportioned blame for that tackle onto Kangaroos teammates Corey Parker and Alex Johnston.

Obviously Daley, as NSW coach, does not want to muddy the water by giving Bird the tag he has earned and deserved - a grubby repeat defender.

And those wanting to challenge me on that need only look at his record.

Since his NRL debut in 2002, Bird has been outed for 29 matches, making him the fourth most suspended player since the NRL was formed in 1998.

Such is his reputation in the game that a member of the NRL Video Review Committee visited the Gold Coast earlier in the year to address these issues with him, but like so many previous warnings they too fell on deaf ears.

Add to that the numerous off-field offences involving Bird and it begs the question - how long can the NRL tolerate this bloke?

And Reynolds, judging by his rap sheet, is headed down the same path.

Suitably nicknamed Grub, he has had nine weeks on the sideline since Origin III last year. And he's yet to play 100 NRL games.

Sorry Laurie, but this is not passion.

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