James Tamou’s ‘good bloke’ excuse will set bad precedent

Perhaps, though, there is a way out of it . . .

In the dressing room, Tamou is likely well advised. In the press conference immediately afterwards, he could not be more contrite, laying it on with a trowel, apologising to everyone from Cummins, to his club, the fans, and citing how he felt ashamed to face his own children after what he had done. He even unveiled the oldest chestnut of the lot: “I’ve let everyone down,” he says emotionally. “I’ve let myself down.”



It was the perfect set-up for the second tier of the defence: playing the “good bloke” card, as in the second-greatest chestnut in such matters. The proof is incontrovertible: “It’s not his go”. Read: yes, he clearly did it, but that is just not him. It’s an abomination second. First, it’s an aberration, so focus on that.

Wests Tigers chair Lee Hagipantelis leads the charge: “He’s an incredible human being,” he tells the press, “one of most honourable men I’ve met in the game as a player.”

Phil Gould is also in full support, tweeting that while Tamou was in the wrong, in this case it is different: “NRL should suspend this penalty due to Tamou’s exemplary career, the fact this incident was totally out of character, there is no chance of reoffending, his immediate remorse and apology was sincere.”

Compelling, yes?

So compelling you’d almost go with it. After all, Tamou is a good bloke and has no record of snarling at referees. And it really would be such a pity, yes, to finish his career like that?

Of course. But there remained a very inconvenient truth, and it was Paul Gallen who expressed it best, writing of Tamou, for WWOS: “He’s a great person who unfortunately just snapped, but that doesn’t mean it goes unpunished because you can’t do what he did.”

Gallen was just warming up.

“You can’t just let someone off because they’re a good bloke and they’re at the end of their career. I feel really sorry for him, but as the saying goes, if you do the crime you’ve got to do the time. We’ve seen players miss grand finals through suspension, if we start introducing the ‘good bloke’ exemption . . .”

Too late.

On Tuesday night, the judiciary basically went with the “good bloke” exemption and gave Tamou a one-game suspension for publicly abusing a referee, meaning the Tigers skipper will be back for his final-round farewell match against the Raiders.


All well and good – unless of course Tamou plays a blinder, the Tigers win, and the Raiders miss out on the finals because of it. I would guess Canberra coach Ricky Stuart’s comments in that case might be a little on the intemperate side of things, yes?

And Stuart, when he is not angry, is a known good bloke, too. So in that case, would he get a good bloke exemption?

Look, all up, perhaps two tiers of judiciary are needed; one for the good blokes, and one for the dickheads? And if you’re going to have a good bloke exemption, you surely need a “dickhead loading” to balance things?

And then where would we be?

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