Matt Cleary

Author's details

Name: Matt Cleary
Date registered: October 20, 2014
URL: http://www.theguardian.com/sport/super-rugby

Latest posts

  1. Super Rugby cull: Western Force not dead yet with Rebels feeling heat — May 19, 2017
  2. Is it time for a different approach to dealing with drug use in the NRL? | Matt Cleary — May 9, 2017
  3. Loyalty in the salary cap era is too much to expect from NRL players | Matt Cleary — April 30, 2017
  4. Souths cry injustice but introduction of ‘captain’s call’ is no solution | Matt Cleary — April 24, 2017
  5. An NRL transfer window is pie in the sky as long as player power exists | Matt Cleary — April 9, 2017

Author's posts listings

May 19

Super Rugby cull: Western Force not dead yet with Rebels feeling heat

The Perth-based club were the obvious choice to be axed a few months ago but a well-orchestrated campaign to save the club might just be paying dividends

In late March of this year it was reported that there had been in-principle agreement among the stakeholders of Sanzaar that South Africa would dump two Super Rugby teams and Australia one.

It was further reported that the Australian team would be the Western Force. And from this edge of the island continent of Australia it seemed a logical choice. If you had to dump one – and it appeared at the time that was the case – the loss-making, under-achieving outpost pioneer owned by the ARU and whose best finish in Super Rugby is seventh in 2007 seemed the logical choice.

Related: Australian rugby currently languishing about 10 years behind New Zealand | Bret Harris

Related: Australian rugby crisis: backing for idea to send players to develop in New Zealand

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/may/19/super-rugby-cull-western-force-not-dead-yet-with-rebels-feeling-heat

May 09

Is it time for a different approach to dealing with drug use in the NRL? | Matt Cleary

If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, then the NRL is mad as a hatter over its stance on drugs

It’s a favourite quote of Wayne Bennett’s: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” And for rugby league, “engulfed” yet again in “crisis” over illicit drugs, there’s a similarly pertinent mantra: “Same shit, different day.”

“I don’t think this is specifically to do with sport or with rugby league. It is cultural, society as a whole thing,” said then-NRL chief executive David Smith after Gold Coast Titans players were charged with cocaine possession in 2014.

Related: NRL plunged into cocaine scandal during representative round

Related: Roosters star Kenny-Dowall charged with drug possession

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/may/10/is-it-time-for-a-different-approach-to-dealing-with-drug-use-in-the-nrl

Apr 30

Loyalty in the salary cap era is too much to expect from NRL players | Matt Cleary

Given the constraints clubs are put under, the abuse meted out to Wests Tigers captain and soon to be Canterbury player Aaron Woods is hard to justify

Maybe those fans who scrawled the signs about Aaron Woods and his Wests Tigers team-mates are just immature. Maybe they crave the “glow” of celebrity-by-association, the fleeting “fame” of seeing one’s “work” on TV.

Maybe they see themselves as rebels or rabble-rousers, as honest-to-goodness “Aussies” calling it as they see it, unadorned, inveterate, un-PC, unapologetic. Maybe they’re the Australian version of Trump voters.

Related: Tigers’ instability ‘takes its toll’ as Aaron Woods’ move to Bulldogs is confirmed

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/may/01/loyalty-in-the-salary-cap-era-is-too-much-to-expect-from-nrl-players

Apr 24

Souths cry injustice but introduction of ‘captain’s call’ is no solution | Matt Cleary

The game’s commentariat was outraged by a call on Friday but officials got it right and alternative avenues for review would only further confuse matters

It is said of South Sydney fans that even after a win they’ll race home to watch the replay and still be nervous about the result. From dear sweet Russell Crowe down, Souths supporters bleed the green blood of Ming the Merciless.

After Brisbane Broncos five-eighth Anthony Milford landed a drop-goal to beat the Bunnies by a point on Friday night, Souths fans, and with them the greater fanbase and punditry of this great game, dug out the pitchforks and demanded retribution. Demanded justice. Demanded that someone make the pain go away.

Related: Manly stun Raiders in golden-point NRL win as Broncos pip Souths

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/apr/24/souths-cry-injustice-but-introduction-of-captains-call-is-no-solution

Apr 09

An NRL transfer window is pie in the sky as long as player power exists | Matt Cleary

Regulating when players can move may appease fans unsure of their heroes’ commitment but players are small businessmen and the current system suits

Mitchell Moses has signed for Parramatta Eels but Wests Tigers won’t let him go, at least not this year. Canterbury Bulldogs want Cooper Cronk and Kieran Foran despite Cronk being 33, Foran playing for New Zealand Warriors and the Dogs having two halves already. And the mind of Anthony Milford is so clouded, at least according to Wayne Bennett, that he’s forgotten how to play rugby league.

Related: Cronulla scrap past Melbourne Storm in soggy NRL grand final rematch

Related: NRL stands by concussion fines imposed on clubs but suspend majority

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/apr/10/an-nrl-transfer-window-is-pie-in-the-sky-as-long-as-player-power-exists

Apr 02

NRL clubs and poker machines: is there not another way to raise funds? | Matt Cleary

If clubs really are aspirational and inspirational champions of the community, other less socially damaging revenue streams must be tapped into

The saying goes that as long as the waterfall flows in the foyer of Canterbury League Club, the Bulldogs will remain strong. While consenting adults plonk ever more gold into the poker machines, the footy club can afford Des Hasler as coach, James Graham as captain and Josh Reynolds as chief agitator. And if you’ve twigged early to the slant of this piece, a free spin on The Queen of the Nile for you.

Yes, the pokies, the font of revenue which flows from gamblers and into licensed clubs and onwards into your footy team, trickling back to “the community” in the form of cheap chicken parmigiana, footy socks for the kids, and Bob the mini-bus driver who’ll shuttle home punters once they’ve bled their last.

Related: Kieran Foran scores on NRL return as Warriors down Titans

Related: NRL pay talks going well, says RLPA president Cameron Smith

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/apr/03/nrl-clubs-and-poker-machines-is-there-not-another-way-to-raise-funds

Mar 26

NRL players’ star value pushing demands over revenue sharing

Players feel they are not paid commensurate with other branches of the entertainment industry for what they bring to the table

As the recent travails of Jason Taylor and Des Hasler show, players can make or break coaches. How players perform each weekend is attributed to their coaching and, right or wrong, if players perform poorly for long enough, the coach gets it.

It’s like this because players are the stars of the show. Each week the NRL puts on a show – eight games of footy. Rugby league is entertainment and players are entertainers. And if a dud movie is made, it’s the director who won’t work again, not the top actor.

Related: NRL: Tigers begin post-Taylor era with capitulation loss to Storm

Related: NRL referees should be able to order concussion tests, says Peponis

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/mar/27/nrl-players-star-value-pushing-demands-over-revenue-sharing

Mar 20

Rugby league needs to be saved from itself over concussion management

The NRL is under fire after another weekend blighted by on-field concussion but the players themselves can help drive a change in attitudes towards head injury

There is plenty of fine footy on the highlights reel after round three of the 2017 NRL season and yet the vexed issue of concussion management dominates many post-round re-caps, as it should.

Channel Nine talking head Peter FitzSimons – who would know as much as any lay man about the medical effects of concussive injury causing bleeding on the brain – led the way with an impassioned and compelling plea after Knights fullback Brendan Elliot was collected hard across the chops by a swinging South Sydney arm.

Related: NRL: Burgess elbow incident sours Rabbitohs win over Newcastle

Related: Rugby League Week’s demise a sad sign of the times in NRL media

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/mar/20/rugby-league-needs-to-be-saved-from-itself-over-concussion-management

Mar 01

Cronulla kick off NRL season tasked with defending the indefensible | Matt Cleary

Recent history and their off-season recruitment policy suggest the defending premiers will find it difficult to go back-to-back

The last NRL club to win back-to-back grand finals was Brisbane in 1992-93. And they were some footy side. Coached by Wayne Bennett, they trotted out an Origin-strength XVII including Allan Langer, Steve Renouf, Willie Carne, Glenn Lazarus, Kevin and Kerrod Walters, Trevor “The Axe” Gillmeister, Chris Johns and Julian O’Neill.

But they still had to come from fifth in ’93 to do it. And they did need to be lucky enough to (again) front a Dragons side whose firepower featured stick-legged wing Ian “Chook” Herron and Graeme “The Penguin” Bradley whose sole job in the centres was to test Renouf’s dodgy jaw. Which he failed to accomplish.

Related: Signs point to intriguing NRL season on field but definitely ‘more to do’ off it | Paul Connolly

Related: Geoff Toovey: ‘It’s very easy to pull club culture apart’

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/mar/02/cronulla-kick-off-nrl-season-tasked-with-defending-the-indefensible

Mar 01

Cronulla kick off NRL season tasked with defending the indefensible | Matt Cleary

Recent history and their off-season recruitment policy suggest the defending premiers will find it difficult to go back-to-back

The last NRL club to win back-to-back grand finals was Brisbane in 1992-93. And they were some footy side. Coached by Wayne Bennett, they trotted out an Origin-strength XVII including Allan Langer, Steve Renouf, Willie Carne, Glenn Lazarus, Kevin and Kerrod Walters, Trevor “The Axe” Gillmeister, Chris Johns and Julian O’Neill.

But they still had to come from fifth in ’93 to do it. And they did need to be lucky enough to (again) front a Dragons side whose firepower featured stick-legged wing Ian “Chook” Herron and Graeme “The Penguin” Bradley whose sole job in the centres was to test Renouf’s dodgy jaw. Which he failed to accomplish.

Related: Signs point to intriguing NRL season on field but definitely ‘more to do’ off it | Paul Connolly

Related: Geoff Toovey: ‘It’s very easy to pull club culture apart’

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/mar/02/cronulla-kick-off-nrl-season-tasked-with-defending-the-indefensible

Mar 01

Cronulla kick off NRL season tasked with defending the indefensible | Matt Cleary

Recent history and their off-season recruitment policy suggest the defending premiers will find it difficult to go back-to-back

The last NRL club to win back-to-back grand finals was Brisbane in 1992-93. And they were some footy side. Coached by Wayne Bennett, they trotted out an Origin-strength XVII including Allan Langer, Steve Renouf, Willie Carne, Glenn Lazarus, Kevin and Kerrod Walters, Trevor “The Axe” Gillmeister, Chris Johns and Julian O’Neill.

But they still had to come from fifth in ’93 to do it. And they did need to be lucky enough to (again) front a Dragons side whose firepower featured stick-legged wing Ian “Chook” Herron and Graeme “The Penguin” Bradley whose sole job in the centres was to test Renouf’s dodgy jaw. Which he failed to accomplish.

Related: Signs point to intriguing NRL season on field but definitely ‘more to do’ off it | Paul Connolly

Related: Geoff Toovey: ‘It’s very easy to pull club culture apart’

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/mar/02/cronulla-kick-off-nrl-season-tasked-with-defending-the-indefensible

Feb 22

Few star attractions make Super Rugby in 2017 a tough sell | Matt Cleary

It’s not that there aren’t super players in Super Rugby, it’s just that they are spread thinly. And the format of the competition is hardly adding interest

Super Rugby, you could argue, in terms of speed and skill and power, and any number of different markers, has never been better. Rugby, like everything, evolves and improves – either gradually, or seismically when a Jonah Lomu turns up, or you can lift in the lineout, things like that. Yet Super Rugby doesn’t feel like it’s better. Rather, the Super Rugby competition is a bit uninspiring.

The 2017 season starts on Thursday night, when the Rebels and Blues meet at AAMI Park, but there’s some chance you didn’t know that, such is the lack of fanfare about the competition.

Related: Could a rugby union State of Origin be more than a glorified exhibition match? | Paul Connolly

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/feb/23/few-star-attractions-make-super-rugby-in-2017-a-tough-sell

Dec 31

What lies ahead in 2017: the major highlights in Australian sport

Women’s AFL, the year of Kyrgios, more sevens success? 2016 was an ‘annus horribilis’ for some but there is plenty to stoke the spirits in 2017

The three week Australian tennis ‘season’ (like the Australian golf season except hotter) climaxes with the Australian Open finals on the weekend of January 28-29.

Australian hopes rest on the much-maligned man-child Nick Kyrgios whom good judges (Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray) suggest has the game to become a world No1 and major championship winner.

Related: Australia’s sporting year in review – fairytales, flops and fiascos of 2016

Related: The 2016 Rusties: Guardian Australia’s alternative sporting awards

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jan/01/2017-preview-major-highlights-australian-sport