The biggest story in rugby league involves the players holding more than their own against a reactive and over-extended NRL administration, bent on bringing the playing group to heel.
To that end, the NRL, outwardly hoping to maintain its brand equity in a competitive marketplace, found themselves between the devil and the deep, blue sea of clubs as players became embroiled in off-field scandal, If certain media types had anything to say about it, it would likely reflect poorly on the game, its participation allure and possibly finances.
So what to do? Have a chat to the offending shock-jock media partners and ask them to back off, while developing a considered bipartisan policy approach?
Or bow to noise and conjure up an "unfair" and "draconian" rule that would be impulsively and unilaterally applied retrospectively to rub a player out indefinitely with, "absurdly", no provision for so much as an appeals process?
Our game's gurus, of course, chose the latter, so hence we've been in the Federal Court all week.
The NRL hoped to argue that the bad behavior of players impacted on profits.
Unfortunately, if counter-intuitively, it had not.
So, NRL officials decided their best chance lay in highlighting how their internal Net Promoter Score (NPS) metric, a measure variously described as "hearsay" and "unreliable", had trended down in recent times. The NRL then had one last trump card up their sleeve - an anecdote from CEO Todd Greenberg's daughters' touch footy team.
Brilliant! Compelling testimony in a court of kangaroos, some might say.
Emblematic was the revelation that the NRL had given their playing partners (the RLPA) "three hours" to assess the rule change and respond, dressed up as consultation.
At time of publication, the final official comments in this heavy-handed diplomatic and public-relations failure are yet to be considered and reported. What is clear is successive administrations have learned little from their forebears and continue to treat players and their rights with disdain.
If positive cultural change is the logical, broader objective here, then the attitude of suits and corporate heavies, as much as that of players themselves, needs to update.
* NATURALLY enough as captain and their most experienced operator, pressure builds on Mitchell Pearce as the Knights toil for a foothold onto the NRL ladder. He accepts this responsibility but common sense should cut him some slack.
As forwards create the space to exploit, then it should be they who are under the pump. Big-time! Likewise, some at the back aren't putting their hands up to share the load. Most importantly, few are showing, individually or as a unit, the level of honesty, aggression and enterprise that marks a dominant defensive outfit. We've had our moments but lack consistency and situational awareness.
To engineer change it needs to be one-in, all-in.
This week's top 8
1. It's early days but are the Storm on track to go through the season undefeated? As beaten grand finalists from last year, they've got every motivation to atone - and they can hold a grudge these blokes. Still, with the formidable Cam Smith in charge, who'd bet against them? Roosters or Storm tonight?
2. Last week's man-of-the-round wasn't even close after Bunnies five-eighth Cody Walker dominated like few, ever! Miraculously scoring four tries by using all the skills, he then sets up the fifth and final meat pie to stamp his total dominance. With Greg Inglis retiring, Walker's performance was timely.
3. With selections a month out, Blues coach Brad Fittler will be keeping a close eye on his matchwinners. Incumbents,James Maloney and Nathan Cleary look in reasonable form but face strong claims from Anzac Parade duo, Luke Keary and Adam Reynolds. And they're not the only ones: Cody Walker, Luke Brooks, Josh Reynolds or Mitch Pearce can build momentum in time.
4. And don't forget Robbie Farah. Freddy has a huge rap on the veteran hooker and would use him without hesitation based on experience, form and need.
5. Hats off to the NRL's new pointscoring record-holder, Cameron Smith (2244). On his way to an unprecedented 400 NRL games, he has methodically inched past all of the greatest players to have ever laced up a boot, including our own, Andrew Johns. Respect.
6. There has been debate over the shift in refereeing policy from last season to this. Under the new guidance of former referee Graham Annesley, there are fewer penalties blown, allowing the game to better flow. At least that's the theory. The reality is frustrating. Loose play-the-balls, off-side defenders, and don't get me started on forward passes at the ruck. Moreover, trainspotters would have chocked on their lattes when Cooper Cronk last week kicked for touch (after a previous kick-off that sailed deep). Only problem was his kick for touch was executed most-obviously 2-3 metres ahead of the half-way line. That's a penalty every day of the week. But the ref ignored the rule. A slippery slope, again? Discuss ...
7. Big queue at the NRL judiciary this week. Most stock standard. A couple not so. For what it's worth, I thought the Fonua-Blake high shot on Mitchell Pearce was accidental, warranting a penalty, given the circumstances. The Titans' Jarrod Wallace shoulder-charge was a legitimate tackle and warranted applause when compared to some of the anemic tackling techniques in vogue these days. Conversely, the alleged eye-gouge free-pass for NQ firebrand Josh McGuire was strange.
8. What about the Israel Folau media circus last week? A young Mormon evangelist predictably shares his unique views on the world and Rugby Australia launch into a moral and public relations panic. Storm, meet teacup. Not unlike their Rugby League brethren, RA fanned the flames with their ready, fire, aim mentality. By comparison, an internationally respected Australian journalist is arrested after disclosing important material about foreign powers, which people ought to know, yet can barely elbow its way onto many mainstream media platforms. Get some perspective.
Helpful Tip of the week: Has your sports club got a Heart Defibrillator handy? Go to NSW Office of Sport - Local Sport Defibrillator Grant Program - and find out how to apply. Applications close May 6, 2019.