Forwards persuaded to learn the art of communication
Dave Hadfield sees the players' association teach its members how to deal with the media and prepare for life after rugby league
Dave Hadfield was a schoolboy convert to rugby league, the game which, one way or another, has dominated his life ever since. After working for newspapers in Shropshire and Blackpool (where he covered the fortunes of Blackpool Borough) he travelled the world, working mainly in Hong Kong and Sydney. He became The Independent's rugby league man in 1990 and has written five books on the game and broadcast extensively for Sky and the BBC. Dave played his last game at the age of 53 and would have set up a try if anyone could have been bothered supporting his break. When not writing about the sport, he now limits himself to a bit of tick and pass with his local club, the Bolton Mets. Family includes supporters - of varying degrees of dedication - of Salford, Wigan, Sheffield Eagles and St George Illawarra.
Wednesday 07 February 1996
Likewise trying to get Billy McGinty to bad mouth his club's new coach. He was not falling for that one, so the Rugby League Professional Players' Association's workshop in handling the media seemed to be working.
Kuiti, now of Wakefield Trinity, and McGinty, the former Wigan and Great Britain forward currently plying his trade at Workington Town, are typical of players learning how to cope with thorny questions - not just to minimise embarrassment during their playing days, but also to help equip them for life after rugby league.
The RLPPA, under the aegis of Britain's biggest trade union, the GMB, sees part of its role as preparing the game's new breed of full-time professionals for that after life.
"The idea is that when they finish their playing careers they should have something to look forward to," said Denis Hannah, the union's management consultant for future care services. "They might have been plasterers or brickies before going full-time, but that doesn't mean they will want to go back to that."
Not all of them are going to be pundits, of course, but some training in communication skills will not come amiss.
Hence McGinty and Kuiti, along with the players' association's chairman, Nic Grimoldby, are squirming in front of the camera at the GMB's National College in Manchester, playing out fictional interview roles.
There are some teething problems. McGinty is uncharacteristically subdued; in fact, his shirt - a mistake on television, those checks - is louder than he is.
It is possible that, in this sphere at least, league might have something to learn from the articulate front that rugby union always seems to be able to portray.
Paul Johnson, the captain of Orrell, is there to see what the GMB might have to offer to a parallel union for union players, but he is reluctant to claim greater expertise in communication for his code.
"In the past, there might have been some difference based on class and education," he said. "But I wouldn't like to say that those differences exist now."
Answered like one who has already passed the course with flying colours, but McGinty and Kuiti are starting to warm to their studies as well.
McGinty refuses - in his adopted persona as a Warrington player - to say anything nasty about John Dorahy or Alex Murphy.
Kuiti straight-bats a tabloid-style grilling about the arrest of a team- mate on charges of dealing in Ecstasy with considerable composure. "Quite good fun, this," he admits after sending the hack away empty-handed.
Fun with a serious purpose, though, as illustrated by some rather earnest advice in the workshop booklet: "Never ever share your confidences with a journalist. There is no such thing as off the record."
It would be a rather glum old game if they all suddenly became impeccably discreet and unflappable. Take McGinty's one radio appearance to date, for instance. Asked for his opinion on a try by his then team-mate, Kelvin Skerrett, he referred to him throughout as Melvin Ferrett.
"They never asked me again. But I'm different now," he told me, off the record.
Latest in Sport
Chelsea vs Manchester United: Jose Mourinho dismisses United injury worries, saying 'they have an amazing squad'
Aaron Hernandez: American Football in the dock as NFL star player's murderous double life is revealed
Chelsea vs Manchester United: Why Blues are the least popular team in the league
Chelsea vs Manchester United combined XI: Thibaut Courtois or David De Gea? Juan Mata or Willian? Who makes our team?
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: Where are the tickets for the fight?
- 1 BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
- 2 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 3 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
- 4 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
- 5 Australian student Tommy Connolly, 23, adopts his pregnant, homeless 17-year-old cousin to give her a chance at 'a better life'
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
General Election 2015: Polish prince challenges Nigel Farage to a duel over immigration question
£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...
£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...