Rugby Championship News

Gregan urges seniors to be an example





George Gregan has used all the political weight he has garnered through his 13-year and 132-Test international career, to try and ensure young players are educated about a professional sportsman’s life in the current climate.

Particularly – and obviously in the light of Lote Tuqiri’s banning for being caught drunk at training earlier in the week – Gregan has advocated that the potential pitfalls of recreational substances be clearly spelled out to new young hopefuls.

It is not just Tuqiri who has been making the headlines in Australia this week.

AFL footballer Alan Didak was confirmed as having been seen out drinking with accused killer Christopher Hudson, a few days before the latter shot three people in Melbourne’s city centre in June.

Another AFL footballer, Ben Cousins, has recently emerged from a clinic for drug abuse rehabilitation.

“Gosh, you see what’s happened in the news lately,” said Gregan.

“What’s happened with Lote, which is disappointing. We were in Melbourne last week and there was Didak. That’s big news. There are recreational drugs as well with Ben Cousins.

“There are a whole range of things. And it’s really important, especially for players coming into the environment, that they embrace and are aware of [them] because it’s a new sort of landscape.”

With more and more professional players now signing up in their late teens rather than coming from university as in the amateur era, it is obvious that there is an educational gap to be filled.

Gregan urged the senior players – Tuqiri would be one of those – to take the lead, as well as the senior figures at the club or franchise, or even national squad.

“You would hope senior, more experienced guys understand (the landscape) has changed, and are prepared to hold with it and be responsible and know their actions are seen by the younger guys.

“A lot of guys are identified just out of school. They get head-hunted straight away and have to learn these skills. Hopefully, they don’t learn by their mistakes … but through good education and being around good people.”

“It’s really hard. If you do slip up, you slip up in a big way and it impacts in a massive way – on you, on your family and particularly in an environment like the Wallabies,” he said.

Tuqiri’s case highlights what is at stake, said Gregan, adding he believed the incident would affect the player more than it will the Wallabies collectively as they pursued their Bledisloe Cup and Tri Nations campaign without him.

On Tuqiri, who will now not play another competitive match until the Rugby World Cup, Gregan pointed out that while the team can pull together to avoid the extra pressure Tuqiri’s actions have caused, the player himself will struggle.

“I think it will affect him,” Gregan said.

“The team it will affect in the sense that you lose a class player. It probably reinforces the environment which I spoke about; you can’t put yourself in that position.

“There is a lesson to learn. It’s a big price to pay, not just in money terms but continuing on the good from what we did last week.

“He would have loved to have been part of the team and a chance to win the Bledisloe in Auckland.

“They are opportunities you don’t get a lot of in a career. It is a shame to have missed out … through an off-field incident.”
365 Digital

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