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

The attempt to force Mike Kuiti to admit that drugs were rife at his club met a defence at least as solid as anything he displayed in his heyday as New Zealand's loose forward.

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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key Stage 1

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key S...

Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...

Tradewind Recruitment: History Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee