James Packer’s silence following death of Shane Warne

Warne was particularly close to Packer’s father, Kerry, so much so that he gave him his first baggy green as a gift. It was also Kerry who personally phoned Warne in 2005 to tell him he’d been dumped as a commentator following a string of sexting scandals.

The son of Australia’s richest man and the legendary leggie quickly formed a close bond. They were spotted at lavish events together, at the Melbourne Cup together, owned a nightclub at Crown in Melbourne together.

They also spent time on Packer’s super yacht, the scene of Warne’s shock marriage proposal to actress Elizabeth Hurley.

Packer was also Warne’s reluctant first guest on his talk show Warnie! on Channel Nine (which is owned by Nine Entertainment, which also owns this masthead) in 2010 when Packer was part-owner of Network Ten.

It’s actually a great interview; a love-in, sure, but a good-humoured chat between two mates. While Warne was never going to be the next Michael Parkinson, it’s hard to recall a time when Packer, an often-reclusive soul, was so relaxed in front of the cameras.

Packer hadn’t done an interview in “15 to 20 years”, but Warne had convinced him after a few drinks to come on his show.

“You got me when we were out late at night,” Packer said with a laugh. “And you’re a dear friend.”

Warne extracted a few morsels, pushing into the sensitive area of Packer’s complex relationship with his late father.

“Every son and father have their ups and downs,” Packer said. “One of the great joys is we ended in the best spot we ever were. That’s a huge blessing. That happened because he made sure it happened.”

Perhaps the most telling thing was Packer’s ability to fire shots at Warne that nobody else could.

“What was the difference between the Mystery Ball, the Zooter and the Zinger?” Packer smiled.

“Nothing,” Warne replied, grinning. “They all went straight.”

The interview also revealed Packer had been an extra on good friend Tom Cruise’s movie The Last Samurai. Warne suggested finding a costume for someone of Packer’s size must have been challenging.

“I needed a few diuretics,” Packer shot back, a reference to Warne’s 12-month ban for taking a banned substance ahead of the 2003 World Cup. Warne took it in good humour.

Asked if he ever wished he could lead a life of obscurity, Packer said: “We all wish we were you, Warnie. If I can’t be you, I’m happy being me.”

Warnie! was cancelled after four shows with Nine softening the blow by claiming Australia’s poor performances against England that summer were to blame.

Packer is in the US and it is unknown if he will attend Warne’s state memorial at the MCG on March 30.

Luke Thompson was fined $2700 for a hip drop tackle that left Knights prop Daniel Saifiti with a broken leg.

Luke Thompson was fined $2700 for a hip drop tackle that left Knights prop Daniel Saifiti with a broken leg.Credit:NRL Photos

A league of their own

Only the NRL could wait until the opening day of the season to reveal its revamped match review and judiciary processes for foul play.

Nevertheless, the streamlining measures are a welcome change to the carryover-loading-careless-reckless-intentional-the-colonel’s-11-secret-herbs-and-spices gibber to which we’ve become accustomed.

Instead, foul play will be judged on whether it’s a first, second or third offence.

Not for one moment, though, should we expect complete clarity when the charge sheet drops after each game.

The main issue with the match review committee is the maddening inconsistency of suspending players for incidental contact in some tackles while issuing mere fines for heinous acts in others.

For instance, how the Bulldogs’ Luke Thompson was handed a mere $2700 fine for a hip drop tackle on Knights prop Daniel Saifiti in a trial match simply defies belief. Saifiti is out for six weeks with a broken leg. Thompson, who is on $800,000 a season, had to cough up some ashtray change.

“Consistency” was on South Sydney chief executive Blake Solly’s mind this week when he emailed NRL boss Andrew Abdo.

Souths were fined $20,000 for failing to promptly disclose the domestic violence and drug allegations levelled at Sam Burgess to the integrity unit.

Meanwhile, the Roosters were not sanctioned after investigating and finding no fault with captain James Tedesco, who had been accused via Instagram of yelling “Squid Games” in the face of a young Vietnamese Australian woman outside a pub in Bondi following a night out.

“After we found out about the Instagram post we thoroughly investigated the matter,” Roosters chief executive Joe Kelly told the Herald at the time. “There was absolutely no interaction between James Tedesco with this group of people. We categorically deny that anything untoward occurred.”


Yet, here Tedesco was last week, finally breaking his silence on the matter, telling reporters: “The way I handled it, I spoke to who was affected and owned up to it. I was obviously disappointed but happy with how I approached it all and it was all sort of settled. It was more about owning up to that and taking responsibility.”

Tedesco was eventually fined $10,000 for bringing the game into disrepute, but the Roosters escaped sanction for their own lightweight investigation, in which they didn’t interview the girl.

The NRL told Solly the Roosters had reported the incident immediately and that was enough.

Bulldogs drone on

The Bulldogs’ football department was accused of being behind the times this week because it doesn’t use drones at training.

Not only do the Bulldogs have and use a drone – the drone is known to police.

The club was holding a training session on a field outside Belmore Sportsground during summer when police turned up, much to the players’ surprise.

Turns out an elderly woman who lives in a nearby unit had lodged a complaint, fearing the drone was spying on her.

The Bulldogs coaching staff explained the drone was being used strictly for football purposes but promised to keep the drone away from nearby apartment blocks in the future.

Former coach Des Hasler introduced drones during his time at the club. There wouldn’t be many teams that don’t use them because they provide a perfect aerial view of ballwork sessions.

One of the first was South Sydney under Michael Maguire, although it wasn’t so helpful the day one of the drones was picked up by the wind and dumped in nearby housing commission, never to be seen again.

Shane Warne after taking his 700th Test wicket at the MCG.

Shane Warne after taking his 700th Test wicket at the MCG. Credit:Getty


“He should end up in heaven – but he will have to serve a short probationary period in purgatory.” – Kerry O’Keeffe finds the right words, as always, following the death of Shane Warne.


If you like sports, the NBA, big hair, chest hair, gold chains, paunches, the ’80s, Los Angeles, the LA Lakers and, in particular, Magic Johnson, you need to be watching Winning Time, a drama series telling the story of the Lakers Dynasty. First episode dropped last week and it was gold with John C Reilly particularly brilliant as team owner Jerry Buss. Margaret, I’m giving it four-and-a-half stars.


Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak wore a “Z” on his leotard while receiving his bronze medal at a World Cup event in Doha in support of the Russian forces invading Ukraine. An unrepentant Kuliak said he would do it again because the symbol represented “victory” and “peace”. Yes, war and peace are such comfortable bedfellows.


It’s a big weekend for … the pitch at Karachi, the venue for the second Test between Australia and Pakistan, starting Saturday. Australia’s bowlers took just four wickets on the highway-like wicket in Rawalpindi.

It’s an even bigger weekend for … Ben Simmons, who will sit on the bench for his new team, Brooklyn Nets, as they take on his old team, the Philadelphia 76ers, in Philly on Friday. He might consider wearing a mouthguard and stack hat. Simmons has been plagued with back spasms but could play against the Knicks on Monday, his first game in a year.

Stream the NRL Premiership 2022 live and free on 9Now.

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