Latrell’s the man
Latrell Mitchell is not alone, with a sportsman who took a strong stance against racism during his time in the spotlight encouraging him to ignore the hate and stay true to his beliefs.
Anthony Mundine has spent his life speaking out about Indigenous issues and has been accused of influencing Mitchell but, he says, the truth is far different.
“The reaction to everything Latrell says and does is not surprising at all,” he said. “I know it’s 2022, but here is the problem: society can pretend things have changed, but the truth is Latrell is a strong black man and that’s why he cops the extra heat that he does. It’s why a tackle he does [on Joey Manu] brings the rage. No one wants us to have an opinion and it makes us a target. Latrell is a target. My view is that ‘sorry’ is just a word and nothing has really changed and we need people like Latrell to be prominent and have a voice.
“The thing for Latrell is that there will be backlash if he puts a foot out of line or does anything to create a headline. I don’t know him very well and, despite what people say, I don’t coach him to stand up. I’ve had a bit to do with his dad, Matthew, through my cousin Wes Patten, but I’ve had very little to do with Latrell. He is his own person and it’s insulting to him to say that I’m telling him to be a certain way or tell him to say anything. People probably wish that – at least they can blame me for things. But this is not on me.
“I’ll support him if he wants it, but it looks like he is doing a good job. If there are people against him who want to make him into the bad guy it means he is on the right path. He is not alone. He has Cody Walker and the Fox [Josh Addo-Carr] in his corner, and if he needs it I’m there as well.”
The most alarming aspect of the NRL’s mishandling of pre-season judiciary issues is that head office seems to have no idea how to fix the problem. The premiership has not even started but, already, the NRL has made decisions that will haunt it for the rest of the year.
It’s created a precedent where a player can serve two suspensions concurrently, which Victor Radley would have appreciated last year.
It has determined that bans can now apply to promotional games such as the Indigenous All Stars.
And, most worryingly, it has signalled that it will allow players to get away with the softest of penalties for dangerous contact, such as attacking the legs of a player kicking the ball.
The one-match ban handed to James Tamou for his tackle on Roosters playmaker Sam Walker should have been overruled. Instead, it was allowed to stand and will become a benchmark for similar offences throughout the season.
Clubs and fans are bewildered. They hear the NRL talk tough about player safety, then watch as it hits the worst offences with a feather. And, still, the NRL seems to have no solution for the judiciary problems. No one knows what the rules are and head office says any new system is unlikely to be ready for round one.
That means there will suddenly be a change of policy and penalties during the season, which will only lead to more inconsistent penalties. And the NRL will have no one to blame but itself for the criticism it cops from coaches, players and fans.
No white Knights
There have been plenty of reports that Anthony Milford is about to join the Knights and that he will be playing next month. That’s news to the NRL. It has had no clubs asking to register him. And it is taking a very dim view of his actions.
The NRL refused to register a contract for him after a signing error. After that he was arrested on September 20 and charged with three counts of assault occasioning bodily harm and one count of wilful damage involving a vehicle. He appeared in a Brisbane court in October, but did not enter a plea.
Every indication I have is that he won’t be playing next month and not this year. It’s going to be an explosive issue as his agent and Milford’s lawyers are adamant he is innocent.
Cordner’s brother asks NRL to investigate Saifiti matter
Boyd Cordner’s brother Dane has had a court victory in relation to Knights star Jacob Saifiti and is angry the NRL has not taken significant enough action against the giant prop and Newcastle.
Dane was accused of punching Saifiti and has endured three years of pain and anguish after he was cleared of inflicting reckless grievous bodily harm in court in Newcastle in 2019. Now he has had a significant win after he pursued Saifiti in a civil matter.
Saifiti was fined $50,000 ($25,000 suspended) by the Knights.
During the week, Dane Cordner broke his three-year silence on the fight, which took place outside the Greenroof Hotel in 2018.
“My reputation has been severely damaged and, more than that, my brother has been dragged into all of this by people wanting to generate cheap click bait [online],” he said. “The way I have been portrayed in this is shocking, to be honest. In my part of the world, and in the circles I mix in, there is not much worse you can be accused of than someone saying you took someone down with a coward’s punch.
“It’s totally incorrect. I have been through absolute hell since that night and it’s completely unfair.”
Cordner was out with mates when the incident happened.
“I was trying to help the bloke [Saifiti] earlier in the night; I even offered to get him a cab home and pay for it,” he said. “Later in the night Jacob Saifiti had words with my mate. Security intervened and my mate needed my help after he was left convulsing on the ground. Jacob didn’t do that to my mate, but then Saifiti, he turned on me when I was assuring him [his friend] on the ground. I had to defend myself and this is all on video.”
Saifiti broke his leg in the scuffle, but the Knights put out a release saying: “Saifiti attempted to defuse a situation involving other innocent bystanders.”
That clearly infers Saifiti was a bystander. That’s a long way from what happened.
“I was cleared of reckless grievous bodily harm,” Cordner said. “That’s when my lawyer advised me we should also go down the civil path in the Jacob matter. I can’t say what I’ve received, but I want it known I went down that road for my brother [Boyd] – who spent years creating a great name – for my dad, our family and, most importantly, for my partner and her family, who stood by me when I was being slandered in the media and on social media.”
Now he wants the NRL integrity unit to take the matter more seriously than he thinks it is.
“I’ve spoken to the integrity unit,” he said. “Nothing eventuated but, obviously, I’ve won the criminal case and civil case. I’m gonna want to publicly challenge them to investigate that further.
“They are not doing their jobs properly if they ignore the facts that are in front of them. People can’t be allowed to act like Jacob Saifiti did to me on that night and I want action to be taken.”
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