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September 17, 2007 | by  | in Opinion |
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A Crocket on their pocket

NRL finals time is always a little confusing for someone who tilts his hat in the direction of the 15-a-side code, but what I can gather is that the Warriors will have played in a do-or-die finals match this past weekend, and they would have almost certainly have done so with the assistance of Michael Crockett.

With the way in which professional sport dips and dives, it is no longer a great surprise to see so many talented league players shirk the warmer climate and hub of Australian league of the east coast in favour of training at Mt. Smart Stadium in south Auckland. After all, foreigners have donned Warriors’ colours since the club’s inaugural season in 1995. While the club is based in Auckland, it is after all but a cog in the machinery of Australian rugby league.

So when the Warriors signed former Tigers winger Michael Crockett in August 2006, much was expected of the talented young winger, who was quite open in admitting his decision to sign was based on a chief desire to play regular first-class rugby league. In the 13 games he has played for the Warriors so far, he has amassed a total of 6 tries, and although this hasn’t set the league world on fire, it is indicative of the type of form produced by a consistent, hard working player.

A consistent, hard working player is one a club like the Warriors certainly doesn’t want to be without at the business end of the season, even if that consistent, hard working player is currently facing charges of sexual assault, including rape.

The nuances of Crockett’s legal troubles aren’t really the crux of this column. Indeed, the news media has a long and storied history of slaying a defendant before he has (or has not, in some cases) had a chance to slip out of his suit and into a pair of “convicted-orange” overalls, and it’s certainly not my intention to cordially forgo the tenets of decency by crucifying a man who may very well be innocent. He could very well be guilty as well – but that’s beside the point. The question is whether it’s in the Warriors’ best interest to play someone who could (a) be a ticking PR time bomb, or (b) be so besotted by this off field dilemma that it could prove detrimental to his team, especially at such an important part of the season.

Crockett was obviously an expensive signing, of that there is no doubt, but this is not something that the Warriors can reasonably expect to tuck away in the back of the wardrobe and hope that the same consistent, hard working player that Michael Crockett was before this incident will continue to rise up and perform. There are implications of this which extend far and beyond the reach of Mt. Smart Stadium.

Guilty or not guilty, finals or no finals, the decision to field Crockett could be like a bottle rocket that fizzles, only to unexpectedly go off the moment you take a closer look at it.

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