“People don’t know how you feel. Feeling wise, it’s not a very good thing. Maybe I should have done something years ago. Maybe I should do something now before it’s too late.
“I struggle with my emotions. It knocks the crappers out of you sometimes. I don’t show the emotions. I spend a lot of time on my own in the car for work so I don’t have to show my emotions, which is a good thing. But people may say it’s bad, because I don’t share the way I am. I have to keep active. If I get sacked or don’t have goals, I’d be gone.”
Gibbs’ reputation as one of league’s true tough guys stands to this day. In an era of hard men, Rambo stood toe to toe with all of them. He played 147 games for Easts, Manly, Gold Coast and Wests. He also had a stint in England with Castleford.
“At the time I played, I didn’t fear anyone or anything,” he said. “And I wouldn’t change that. I had targets in the game and I wanted to hit those players with everything. I played at 89 kilograms in the forwards and that was my biggest problem.”
Gibbs was part of the Indigenous All Stars staff on the Gold Coast last week. He works in rugby league throughout the bush and he still loves the game.
“League is my life, but I’ve read about the brain stuff … the CTE [the neurodegenerative disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy].
“I’ve watched things on it. I played at the time of Steve Folkes. I know what I’m facing.”
The Sun-Herald revealed in July that Folkes was the first rugby league player diagnosed with CTE. He died in 2018 of a heart attack at the age of 59. Gibbs confronts the fear of CTE every day. When he talks about daily life, it’s worrying.
“I look healthy,” he said. “But I know I’m not. I hurt everywhere. Idon’t think there is a bone or muscle I have not hurt. I knew I would be like this later in life.”
And his mind? “I’ve had a talk to my wife about my brain and while I have not signed up yet, I want to be able to help someone else,” he said. “I want to donate my brain. And anything else from my body they may want. It’s what I have done throughout my life and I hope I can help with the investigation into CTE. I would love to find a cure or help the next poor young bloke. I will go and see a doctor. I am worried.”
Gibbs wore headgear throughout his career – but only because he was forced to.
“I didn’t wear it at the start, but [Roosters club doctor] Neil Halpin said I had to,” Gibbs said. “I said to him, ‘I’m not wearing no helmet’. He said, ‘Well, you won’t be playing’. It felt good and I still got knocked around, but I reckon I would have been 10 times worse than I am today.”
Ellen joins the stars backing team Quaden
It appears Ellen DeGeneres is still interested in having Quaden Bayles on her show despite the media blitz in recent days that has surrounded the story. Young Quaden, who has achondroplasia, a common form of dwarfism, led out the Indigenous All Stars in Saturday night’s clash on the Gold Coast. He has been bullied all his life as a result of his condition.
DeGeneres was so taken by the story that producers of her show made contact and want Quaden and his mum, Yarraka, on her program. The only condition was that they were not to talk to other media, which was never going to happen anyway because they wanted to spread the anti-bullying message.
Sports stars from around the world have also been touched by Quaden’s ordeal.
Socceroos great Tim Cahill sent me a direct message on Twitter after watching the story on Channel 9 saying he wants to help. Expect Cahill to play a role in Quaden’s life.
It rated well on pay TV, but the Nines was not everyone’s favourite event. Now we are hearing rumblings about how costly it was to stage. The exact expenditure is hard to uncover because it is bundled in with the costs of taking the Origin clash to Perth and complicated further by the WA Government’s contribution. But it was a a lot. You can be certain that if Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V’landys didn’t already have his sights set on what this event cost to stage, he does now. He’s known as a bottom-line man.
Truth is out there
The NRL’s televising of judiciary hearings is hardly likely to threaten the ratings of prime-time hits such as Married at First Sight, but it is a good first step towards greater transparency.
Hearings at Rugby League Central are generally dull affairs with endless replays of the relevant incident. But at least fans will be able to hear the evidence of both sides and make up their own minds about the merits of a suspension. Hopefully it prompts the NRL to do the same with off-field incidents as a way of explaining inconsistent penalties. During the week I interviewed David Fifita so he could publicly explain what happened in Bali and help us understand why the Broncos and NRL deemed that spending three nights in a police cell was not worth a single game suspension. ‘‘I shouldn’t have gone and put myself in that position,’’ he said. ‘‘I was scared and I now know everyone is looking at you.’’
That is exactly the warning NRL boss Todd Greenberg gave to all players before the off-season began. This week the NRL’s crackdown faltered even further with Penrith’s Tyrone May being given the green light to play in last night’s trial against Wests Tigers, despite being banned for a further five NRL games, after sitting out all of last season under the NRL’s ‘‘no-fault’’ stand down rule. Many people believe May should never be allowed back in the NRL after pleading guilty to recording four sex tapes without consent.
Arrow on target
South Sydney said on Friday they had known for quite a while that Jason Demetriou was the man to succeed Wayne Bennett as coach. Seems they weren’t the only ones in the know. Interesting chatter has emerged from Jai Arrow’s discussions with Souths. Queensland and Gold Coast forward Arrow, who has signed with the Rabbitohs from next season, was being sold on the idea of Demetriou as coach as much as Bennett. Which would indicate the plan has been in place for a while.
Jimmy off the air
Some significant changes at Sky Sports radio. On the Sunday show, Jimmy Smith has quit with The Sun-Herald’s own Neil Breen taking his spot. Smith was upset he had missed the Monday-Friday gig. The steering role has gone to Gerard Middleton with Michael Clarke joining Laurie Daley as the stars of the show.
Danny Weidler is a sport columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald.