A Diamond Ring Is The Wrong Way For The NRL To Honour Barb Smith
Barb Smith has been an integral part of Cam Smith's success and deserves recognition, there's no denying that.
But as this weekend is the NRL's Women in League round -- which celebrates the contribution of women at all levels of the game -- let's have a little perspective.
For example, when former Dally M medallist Jarryd Hayne was a young kid with NRL dreams out in Sydney's west, his single mum Jodie would ride her bike to an outer Sydney suburban train station so she could catch the 5 am train to the city for work.
She would have to juggle shifts in order to get her son to footy training, and had to wait till payday each month to treat him to a simple ice cream.
Women like Jodie Hayne -- and there are thousands of them -- are the ones who deserve something special from the NRL.
Yet news emerged this week that Barb Smith, the wife of NRL great Cam Smith, was gifted a $15,000 diamond ring, in recognition of the hard work and sacrifices she's made throughout his decorated 400-plus-game career.
As mentioned, the timing of this was hardly ideal, as this weekend is the NRL's annual Women in League round, a round that celebrates the contribution of women at all levels of the game -- from players, referees, medical staff, administrators to the mothers who run the canteen at the local Under 12s on a Saturday.
And yes, the partners of sportspeople are also women well worth celebrating, These women make a lot of sacrifices. There’s living with the ever-present career uncertainty -- will their partner play this week or get dropped? And what does this mean for the family’s future?
There’s the roller coaster of emotions that come with a high-pressure career. There's significant amount of time apart. Then of course some partners bench their own professional hopes and dreams so they can be the rock for their family.
Many partners of sportspeople lead a comfortable life, if not a privileged one. But it's hardly a conventional existence, and it's not always easy. So yes, women like Barb Smith deserve to share the spoils.
But a diamond ring from the competition's governing body? That seems a bit over the top. It also sets a precedent.
What about all the other wives? Does every wife get a rock when their partner reaches a significant milestone?
English import James Graham celebrated 400 first grade games on the weekend (a combination of NRL & Super League appearances) and his wife Taryn -- who uprooted her life in Canada and moved to the other side of the world, where she’s raising a family without her own support network -- didn’t receive any bling to mark the occasion. Perhaps the NRL lost her address?
Sofi Leota, the partner of Brisbane and Queensland Forward Joe Ofahengaue, has been battling breast cancer since 2018. Some sparkling jewellery would no doubt cheer her up. Or perhaps the NRL could put $15k towards her treatment.
And what about the female rugby league players who love the game so much they squeeze in training around their jobs and studies?
Fifteen thousand dollars would take a lot of pressure off someone like Roosters and Jillaroos star Simaima Taufa, for example -- who gives the NRL so much positive publicity.
Then of course there are all the mums at grassroots level. Like Jodie Hayne, they are the real heroes here, because without them, rugby league is nothing.
While the NRL’s intentions are good, many people are not sure that are a big gleaming diamond is a shining example of what women in the league really need.