Folau promised rugby’s bosses that he would toe the line when he re-signed, but that did not eventuate.
The NRL is expecting clubs to make approaches about Folau, despite consistent statements from former Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter Beattie and new chairman Peter V’landys that Folau and his anti-gay, non-inclusive attitudes are not welcome in the game. They have been very strong in their stance.
But you can be sure that they will have to be guided by lawyers and follow a precise course of action should a formal request to register a deal be made.
The interest – however embryonic or informal – shows how far the Broncos have fallen since the departure of Wayne Bennett. They are looking for definition as an organisation and are fortunate they have some of the best young talent at their disposal because their decision-making when it comes to big football matters is questionable.
Gaz in hot water
Fox Sports commentator and former league great Mark Gasnier (pictured) is going to need to do some fast talking when he next meets up with Fox Sports executive Steve Crawley.
The sports boss is aware of Gasnier’s role in a failed bid to take one of the station’s variety programs to Channel Seven.
The show in question is The Professor. The program is fronted by James Rochford and takes the mickey out of the game. Rochford is the talent that was being offered up and Gasnier played a key role.
Channel Seven didn’t show a lot of interest in the program and Rochford and his colleagues are staying put.
Gasnier has a contract with Fox Sports. It is unclear if he will remain at the network and he is aware Crawley is not happy.
We contacted Crawley, but he declined to comment.
Hof the beaten track
Some big names in Australian sport – Trent Robinson, Brad Fittler, Michael Cheika, David Furner, among others – gathered at the SCG on Friday to hear from Dutch extreme athlete Wim Hof about the ‘‘Wim Hof Method’’.
In a day and age where coaches and players are always looking for an edge, they are sure to get plenty from their three hours with Hof. He is a man who has tried to climb Mount Everest in shorts, finished a marathon in the Namibian desert without drinking water and, apparently, submerged himself in ice water for two hours without any change in his body temperature.
Hof taught the gathered group about the way to get into a mental state that allows people to be comfortable with otherwise uncomfortable situations. His system is designed to help athletes train harder and for longer, to recover faster and to create the mindset for pushing boundaries.
Sonny’s biggest fight
Sonny Bill Williams was in an expansive mood as we sat in the gym at Surfing Australia’s high-performance centre in Kingscliff: talking about the days when he couldn’t get out of bed; being vulnerable; the man who is his second father; the talks he had about returning to international rugby league.
The league, rugby and boxing superstar has some huge challenges ahead of him as he returns to league with Toronto Wolfpack – but he was happy to talk about life beyond his $10 million deal, the richest deal in either rugby code.
I grilled him on a range of topics, and this is what he had to say.
SECRET TO SUCCESS: “I’ve come to know that the competition is really with yourself. I’ve had to change. I guess five, 10 years ago, I wanted people’s approval because, as a youngster, Iwas never really nurtured to strive and thrive in a professional environment. But now, after a lot of learning experiences and upskilling through reading, I’ve come to understand and respect [that] you strive for the creator’s respect and for the person who looks at you in front of the mirror, then the rest falls into place.’’
FEAR OF FAILURE: ‘‘There is always that fear. For me, it is walking towards that challenge with the glass-half-full mindset instead of thinking this is a massive mountain to climb. What if we do reach it? What if we do open the gates to North America and Canada [for rugby league]?’’
INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE: ‘‘I think it’s unfair that I go down that path [publicly]. I’ve spoken to people at New Zealand Rugby League and from Samoan Rugby League … for myself it’s about being where my feet are and I owe the due diligence that I’m putting into my work right now and my mindset to be fully focused on Toronto and helping them build on the success that they already have had.’’
THE TRAINING CAMP: ‘‘I’m very grateful and blessed to be heading to the sporting hub of the world [North America]. I’ve been out of the game for five years, [but] just going off experience, I’d back myself to fit in comfortably. But I’ve got to do the work. Hence why I am here. I need to do the hard work. The finished product is the big lights. You earn that right through that week, through that pre-season. To get to that level there is a lot of work that has to be done. I realise that. I was blessed to run into Keegan Smith [the son of veteran NRL coach Brian and fitness guru] in 2013. He changed my whole outlook, not just to training, but to nutrition. We share our experiences and try to get [me] better as an athlete.’’
WHAT DRIVES YOU: “Every athlete goes through a point where it’s tough to get out of bed and I am no different. But the beautiful challenge of going to Toronto is that it has given me that purpose and ignited that fire again. I’m not saying it was out – it was burning bright for the All Blacks and the Blues. To be honest, I was thinking, ‘What is the next purpose’, and this [Toronto deal] came along. It has definitely got the mind and body focused.’’
LIFE AFTER FOOTBALL: “The thing that I don’t want to be is boxed in. The problem is that we box ourselves in. It’s a mistake that too many people make. The biggest thing that I want to be is have a vulnerable hat on and then step out into the unknown [to find] what I feel is going to make myself and my family happy. Whatever purpose that it is, you have to have a bit of selflessness to it. I really believe that’s what your soul yearns for. It’s natural for us to beselfish. It’s natural for us to take the easy option.’’
There have been suggestions that “vulnerable” area could involve stepping into coaching.
‘‘If I wanted to go down that path, I could. If I wanted to go down the social services path, I could. If I wanted to study more on religion, I could. If I wanted to be a stay-at-home dad, I could. Whether it’s coaching – I’m not going to say it’s not. But if I limited myself to one thing, I may not being doing myself justice.”
KHODER NASSER: ‘‘For myself, he is almost like a second father. He has given me confidence when I thought I didn’t have any. He has also pulled me back into line when I have got ahead of myself. He is part of my family and I am forever grateful to him and his family for their guidance and help throughout my sporting career.’’
‘‘He’s been around for a long time. In regard to ‘Choc’, if he puts his mind to things, he is going to be more special out of the boxing ring or the field than in it. He will always be my brotherand, God willing, it will all work out for him.’’
PAUL GALLEN: ‘‘I don’t have anything to say to Paul. Anyone who steps into the boxing ring is to be admired. I have not seen the full fight [against Barry Hall]. I have been trying to get a look at the whole thing. I’m at a place in my life where I am not chasing this. That ticket is there if I want it. The money is not the be-all and end-all. I’ve said I want to get back into the ring to test myself, whether that is to fight Paul or Barry or some other fighter. I think, as much as Paul talks it up, I know he respects me as an athlete and I respect him.’’
Danny Weidler is a sport columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald.