They’re a staple of rugby league protection in Australia, however does an countless stream of redemption tales inadvertently reinforce the sport’s worst stereotypes?
It has virtually change into a contest in NRL social media circles to foretell who’ll write the inevitable redemption piece when information breaks of a participant being charged with or accused of one thing legal or delinquent.
Now don’t get me fallacious right here – it’s all properly and good to have a good time somebody genuinely turning their life round within the mould of Wests Tigers’ Russell Packer. There are classes in the whole lot and it’s value making specific point out of Josh Dugan, no stranger to a redemption story or 5.
Tuesday’s story about Dugan’s battle with melancholy and his new position as a State of Thoughts ambassador for the NRL is the kind of message that hits rugby league’s key demographic proper between the eyes. It’s additionally a terrific perception into how Cronulla’s gamers look out for one another.
However I’ve bought no real interest in tales about how Zane Tetevano catches the practice to coaching. I most definitely don’t care about something Matthew Lodge is doing. There’s a greater than common probability one other Blake Ferguson piece will land in some unspecified time in the future all year long.
Personally, I’d moderately hear the tales and the journeys of gamers whose tales aren’t outlined by the legal actions or poor selections of their previous.
Should you forged an informal eye over numerous player-focused tales, you would be forgiven for pondering most are on their second, third or fourth possibilities after performing up during their profession.
And it’s not true, not by a mile.
To be clear, a very good redemption piece isn’t restricted to rugby league, it’s simply that rugby league appears to publish extra of them than everybody else. Simply final week, I learn a extremely emotive (and superbly written) article about how Larger Western Sydney ruckman Shane Mumford was coping with embarrassment and “untold grief” after 2015 footage of him addressing a moderately giant line of white powder surfaced within the press.
It’s a high-wire act, taking over a redemption case within the first place. Many a journo has been burned by their apparently ‘redeemed’ celebration taking part in up once more or being quietly put aside by their membership as a result of they couldn’t management their demons. Redemption items are additionally more and more being met with a cynical eye from readers because the puff-piece public relations workouts they are usually.
There’s additionally the quandary of rugby league journalists, nrl.com, membership media groups and entry to gamers.
I get that it’s a tricky name for the Information Restricted and Fairfax retailers. Golf equipment and participant brokers store these items to writers they belief, who they know will give a sympathetic ear and produce a supportive article. A redemption story is an attention-grabbing yarn and in a world the place content material is king and fixed, there wouldn’t be many on the market who move up such a gift-wrapped alternative.
However it’s not like there’s a scarcity of attention-grabbing NRL story hooks on the market. Round 18 months in the past, within the lead-up to the retirements of Johnathan Thurston and Billy Slater, there have been predictions of doom and gloom a couple of dearth of ‘famous person’ expertise within the NRL.
But up come the likes of Latrell Mitchell, Tom and Jake Trbojevic, and James Tedesco. Add to that the potential of Jamaayne Isaako at Brisbane, Lachlan Lewis at Canterbury, Cameron Murray at Souths, and possibly now Bronson Xerri at Cronulla.
Rugby league prides itself on giving gamers one other probability to get themselves again on monitor, and that’s admirable, however there must be a shift in concentrate on the tales that get advised about its gamers.
Transfer the highlight onto this subsequent wave of expertise. Inform us the tales of the confirmed performers, not simply the gamers trying to get their picture cleaned up earlier than they arrive again into the sport.