Meninga Facing Legal Action From ‘Rats and Filth’
The fallout from Mal Meninga’s post origin rant where he accused ‘the rats and filth of New South Wales’ of trying to undermine Queensland’s origin campaign continues with news that NRL match review commissioner Greg McCallum is exploring legal action.
In his weekly newspaper column Meninga took aim at just everybody involved in the New South Wales origin effort. He said ‘The Queensland team this year found itself the victim of a smear campaign so malicious and orchestrated that it tainted the code of rugby league’.
Meninga also claimed that the ‘faceless men of influence’ from NSW saw Queensland’s recent dominance as detrimental to the game, and that Queensland’s victory was ‘A victory against the very rats and filth that tried to poison a monumental team with lies, personal attacks, arrogance and disrespect’.
But it seems the most costly comments made by Meninga were the ones he made about the match review panel.
Meninga was left seething when David Taylor was suspended for five weeks for a tackle that he said ‘was identical’ to one made by Akuila Uate a week before that escaped suspension. He also claimed that McCallum had taken the spotlight off the game when he decided to make the frivolous charge against Johnathan Thurston for running into a referee.
McCallum and the other members of the match review panel are now considering a libel suit against Meninga.
“We’re presently discussing the article by Mr Meninga and its implications and content with the NRL and its legal advisors,” McCallum said.
It is believed that McCallum along with match review panellists Brad Clyde and Peter Louis are being advised by Kennedy’s, a high profile law firm that handled a similar case when Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy and then CEO Brian Waldron were sued for defamation after comments they made regarding the NRL judiciary.
The article is believed to have driven a wedge between Meninga and two of his former Canberra Raiders team mates, notably Blues coach Ricky Stuart and judiciary member Brad Clyde, however it is apparently water off a ducks back for Stuart.
“I don’t care about the column. I don’t really care what was said, but he has to live with it,” Stuart said.
“It’s a high pressure, emotional job. Everyone handles their emotions differently. I’ve been caught in regards to saying the wrong thing throughout my career.”
While Stuart was not named by Meninga, the Blues coach has little doubt that Meninga blames him for some of the things Meninga claimed were designed to ‘destabilise the team’.
“He’s hit a few targets so I dare say I’d be in there somewhere,” Stuart said.
“It’s the first year for about five years Queensland got a bit back in regards to sticking it back to them after what they’ve done to us.
“They’ve got a very, very good football team with high profile players who intimidate referees. Queensland itself is a very intimidating place. This year they got a bit back and they are now looking over their shoulder.”
ARL Chief Geoff Carr also bore the brunt of Meninga’s comments, which he labelled as weird.
“To assume that there has been this giant conspiracy in NSW involving bringing the team down is just weird,” Carr said.
“This year the NSW media got right behind the team. There has been some things written that got under Mal’s skin. I am not sure what they were.
“That’s part and parcel of origin. I am at a loss to think Mal would think NSW sits at a big table with the judiciary and everyone else and plots to bring them down.”
However like everything that stems from state of origin, people’s view on this matter depends on what side of the Tweed River you were born on. While those south of the border have labelled Meninga’s spray as ‘ungracious’ and ‘immature’ there are plenty north of the border lending their support to Meninga.
Former origin great and league immortal Arthur Beetson was one Queenslander who passionaltely leapt to the defence of his good mate.
“The way NSW has treated Queensland is a disgrace,” Beetson said.
“It was like the bad old days all over again. They wonder why the QRL jumps up and down, why wouldn’t they when everyone down south runs the game.
“The fact McCallum cited Thurston was an absolute joke. I agreed with Mal because I said it before him. McCallum should have been poured over the coals for that decision. The hierarchy down there aren’t answerable, they are like our politicians, they’re not answerable to anyone.”