The Titans' Tyrone Peachey is reportedly prepared to opt out of his $1.4 million, three-year deal. Picture: Darren Pateman/AAP
The Titans' Tyrone Peachey is reportedly prepared to opt out of his $1.4 million, three-year deal. Picture: Darren Pateman/AAP

Taking soft option seldom solves the problem

ACCUSE me of being an uncaring relic, but how does a 25-year-old professional athlete with a partner and baby daughter, and earning almost $500,000 a year, become homesick?

And why does an NRL club condone a 24-year-old, banking an eye-popping $1 million annually, taking time off mid-season to deal with personal issues?

Add to that a last-game State of Origin hero wanting out of his club because another player has taken his position, and this old mind sure boggles.

As I said, some - maybe most even - who read this column will regard my comments as heartless and out of touch with modern-day physiology perceptions.

Others might grudgingly agree, yet still think I'm living in the past. But I'm convinced a small component of our NRL players are as soft as a feather-down pillow when a little pressure is applied.

I'm having a dig at Titans players Tyrone Peachey and Ash Taylor, and also Rabbitohs flyer Dane Gagai. But this trio just happen to be the latest in the headlines for seemingly taking the easy option.

Dane Gagai isn’t sure who he’ll be playing with. Picture: Joel Carrett/AAP
Dane Gagai isn’t sure who he’ll be playing with. Picture: Joel Carrett/AAP

Six months into a three-year contract, Peachey is reportedly prepared to opt out of his $1.4million, three-year deal to return to Penrith, on compassionate grounds. He and his family have apparently struggled to adapt to life on the Gold Coast.

Admittedly not everyone is a fan of the surf, the sand and the sun, and not everyone can easily adapt to living away from their loved ones. But having left home as a 12-year-old for six years at boarding school, I am mindful of the "suck it up mate" advice.

Of course, Peachey's sudden bout of homesickness would have nothing to do with the fact the Panthers this week released Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and have a spot available on their roster. Never.

Taylor's situation is somewhat different. Patently he is struggling with his form - and being the club's highest-paid player, by a long way, the young halfback is feeling the pressure coming from all imaginable directions, primarily social media.

Ash Taylor’s form struggles have been amplified by social media. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images
Ash Taylor’s form struggles have been amplified by social media. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

But I would have thought staying in the team environment, rallying alongside his mates, would have been a more positive antidote for Taylor to find his mojo - and earn his astronomical pay packet.

Maybe he should take a leaf out of the book of another Ash - tennis darling Ash Barty. Like Taylor, Barty was a brilliant junior, and after winning the girls singles at Wimbledon was rated No.2 junior in the world.

But when she lost her passion for the game and the pressure became too much, she gave it away. No whining, no histrionics, but no pay either. She walked away, played cricket, refreshed her mind and set new goals - and is now a French Open champion.

If Taylor is serious about his personal issues, maybe he should do the same. Or at least surrender the $40,000-plus a game he is still paid while on compassionate leave.

In the case of Gagai, he has joined a host of dissenters - including James Roberts, Kodi Nikorima and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, and this week Tim Mannah - who want out or have left their club simply because things aren't going their way. But walking away seldom solves the problem.

News Corp Australia


Homes were at risk in hazard burn gone wrong

premium_icon Homes were at risk in hazard burn gone wrong

Water-bombing aircraft and a bulldozer brought in to fight fire.