SPORTING DECLARATION: Ire of the Tiger

There is no point denying it. We are a grubby bunch, the media.

And while Sporting Declaration has long since come to terms with his existence in the gutter, every now and again I stumble on a reminder of why people regard us as low-life scumbags who have fewer ethics than a used-car salesman with a gambling habit.

Last week’s much-publicised stink between Wests Tigers skipper Robbie Farah and Foxtel host Matthew Johns was a case in point.

For those who missed it, in a magnanimous gesture Farah agreed to grace the weekly NRL on FOX show with his presence, because, shucks, that’s just the type of guy he is.

Admittedly, Farah didn’t have much on anyway, given that he is suspended, but clearly he takes this role-model business seriously. Anything to promote his club and the game.

Yet for his troubles, poor Robbie was left fuming after being blindsided with a line of questioning straight from the Spanish Inquisition.

First of all, the sensationalist Johns fronted Farah about longstanding rumours that he and Benji Marshall can’t cop each other.

‘‘Bullshit,’’ Farah diplomatically replied, adding that ‘‘it pisses Benji off and it pisses me off’’.

Johns then further rattled Farah’s cage by labelling the Tigers ‘‘soft’’.

To his credit, Farah took the unprovoked onslaught in his stride.

‘‘That’s your opinion,’’ Farah said. ‘‘I’m sure people have got opinions on you.’’

Clearly simmering, Farah bit his tongue until after the broadcast, when he had a quiet word on the side to his 20,000 Twitter followers.

‘‘Pretty fired up ATM to be honest and pretty pissed off. Wanted to unleash more,’’ he tweeted.

‘‘Good luck getting someone else to come on your show,’’ he told Johns the next day.

Surprisingly he did not claim he was quoted out of context.

But sadly this is just another example of what the modern player has come to expect from the hacks who cover their code.

Johns could have interviewed Farah about anything.

He could have asked the feisty hooker about his Leichhardt restaurant and given the new dessert menu a plug.

He could have had a lively conversation about Robbie’s stamp collection. He could have re-lived the Tigers’ 2005 grand final triumph, or even their golden-point win against Cronulla in round one.

But nope, all Johns wanted to do was dredge up their past four results – all losses, coincidentally – and put the boot in.

The lousy muck-raker.

Unfortunately too often this is typical of the media.

Only ever interested in the negatives.

The fact Matty Johns is a former footballer makes his conduct all the more reprehensible.

As an ex-player, Johns should know better than anyone the protocol of the interview.

The done thing is to talk the bloke up as an Origin contender, reflect on a few career highlights, remind fans that there are still plenty of tickets available for Sunday’s game and put in a good word for his sponsors.

Above all else, no hard questions.

Yet Johns, the turncoat, ignored this unwritten code and strolled brazenly down the path to confrontation.

And afterwards he dismissed Farah’s claims of an ‘‘ambush’’ by revealing they both discussed his list of questions before the segment was filmed, as though this was in some way a mitigating circumstance.

This sordid affair highlights a fact that is rapidly dawning on NRL clubs and players – you just can’t trust the media.

Courageously, Farah did not allow this traumatic experience to deter him.

The following night he was special guest panellist on Channel 10’s The Game Plan.

I didn’t watch this show but, given there was no mention of any blow-up, I’m assuming Robbie had no cause for complaint.

And this was a relief. The relationship between rugby league clubs and the media is a symbiotic one.

The last thing we need are loose cannons making waves.

Nonetheless, looking on the bright side, this episode has the potential to be a catalyst for change.

Maybe in future players and coaches can bring their own list of questions whenever they appear at a press conference or on one of those TV panels, to be known as ‘‘intra-views’’.

After all, they’d know best what they would like to be asked.

And that would make life easier for all of us.

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