I had the great pleasure of catching up with the legendary Ray Warren earlier in the week to promote his new book, “The Voice”. We got talking about the NRL’s bad boys and why there are so many of them.
I have a theory about boof-head footballers. The one’s who can’t seem to get their heads out of the newspapers.
I’m from Western Australia originally, so I played AFL….badly. I wasn’t a great footballer for two main reasons. A. I didn’t have any natural talent or ability, but B, and probably more important than A., I had far too much regard for my own safety and wellbeing. I was averse to risking harm. I would think twice before launching myself for a big pack mark. I was unlikely to run back with the flight of the ball and keep my eye on it. I heard footsteps all the time.
Most of the great footballers, and I’m talking AFL, NRL and Union here…most of the great footballers are risk takers.
They begin to shine at juniors because they have natural talent, and because most them have no fear. They’re prepared to put their body on the line week after week and cop a battering because they believe the risk is worth it. Eventually they get so good at it they’re able to ride the bumps, take the tackles and avoid the hits, but the risk is always there.
They go on to make a lucrative living out of their chosen sport. While playing on the big stage, they’re encouraged to keep on taking risks and they’re rewarded for doing so. When you get a bunch of twentysomething testosterone driven young men who’s professional lives are built around extreme risk taking behaviour, why are we all surprised when these boys continue to take risks after the game ?
Don’t get me wrong cos I’m not defending or trying to justify the actions of Todd Carney, Ben Cousins, Josh Dugan and the like. All I’m saying is, it shouldn’t be a big surprise that some elite footballers struggle to see the boundaries.
Wayward players and off-field misdemeanours have had a major impact on the fortunes of the Canberra Raiders. ‘Rabs’ believes that the immediate future of the club depends on our ability to make the Capital attractive to star players and then getting them to stay focussed.
Risk taking footballers are great for the game because they’re wonderful to watch. Lets hope that more and more of the Raiders players can learn to see the difference between football and life