Parramatta legend Nathan Hindmarsh – the only man with more crack in his anus than Ben Cousins – will retire at the end of the season after a long and distinguished NRL career.
And the Parramatta legend’s retirement has forced the NRL to rejig its own policies regarding recently retired players, with CEO David Gallop set to enforce a mandatory retirement age and consider allowing unemployable ex-players early access to their superannuation funds on “compassionate grounds.”
OPINION/ANALYSIS: Hindmarsh’s decision reportedly came after he met with club officials, who had intended to strip the veteran of his captaincy – but not even the Parramatta board could bring themselves to demote the only player who looked like he even cared over their first four rounds. Instead they pushed him into early retirement and most probably an early grave (given his desperate love for playing rugby league) in a desperate attempt to get their season back on track.
A club that has had all the consistency of an alcoholic’s stools over the past few years continues to defy logic by pushing out the door the one consistency they’ve had. The antithesis of what is wrong with the club, Parramatta has cut off Hindmarsh’s head in a desperate attempt to motivate the bunch of overpaid showboating wannabes that make up the rest of the playing roster. Not including Luke Burt, of course – but given he is also on the outer and spending much of his time in reserve grade this year, it may be that he will also be forced to retire should the club experience another mid-season slump.
And a future slump is inevitable, no doubt, because while the ruse seemed to work on the weekend against the struggling premiers, it’s unlikely to last long given the rate of concussion amongst NRL players and the no doubt incredibly limited emotions and attention spans of Parramatta’s narcissistic stars. Indeed, Stephen Kearney may have to take the extraordinary step of reminding his players week in week out that Hindmarsh is retiring.
Other struggling clubs are expected to follow suit, but given the lack of one-club men these days it will be hard to get much emotional response from players and the public if someone like Timana Tahu retires – in fact they may be happy to see the back of him.
NRL MULLS NEW ‘RETIREMENT’ POLICIES: In the wake of several high-profile players retiring from the game, the NRL is making a new push to reimburse players who hang up their boots after a long and painful career. CEO David Gallop told The Public Apology that he is in talks with the Department of Human Services to allow recently retired players early access to their superannuation funds on “compassionate grounds.” In addition, the NRL boss is mulling the idea of enforcing a mandatory retirement age of 30 in an effort to reduce the rate of arthritis and brain injury among footballers.
“I think that for too long we’ve neglected the need to look after NRL players once they retire. We’re considering lobbying the government to allow players access to their super once they finish playing in the NRL. God knows these blokes are unemployable once they step out into the real world,” Gallop said.
“Assuming they’re all on 9% superannuation for the entirety of their careers, each player would therefore have enough cash to indulge in casual gambling and RSL beers for the next 50 years of their life – and not have to worry about re-entering the workforce.”
Gallop said that the NRL had found players struggled to find ‘real jobs’ after they finished playing rugby league, which was leading to high rates of depression and in some cases – specifically John Elias – firearm possession charges, involvement in drugs trading and illegal betting rings.
“So that’s one of the reasons we’re looking at opening up super on compassionate grounds. But also, if you compare the NRL to every other industry in Australia where the mandatory retirement age is set at 65, we’re actually setting these guys up for an early grave! Rugby league is a physically demanding sport and we’ve got to take care of the boys.”
“Shit, if I could lower the retirement age to 23 I would, but there’d be a fucking enormous outcry from the fans. If we cap it at 30 then at least the guys will be able to kick the footy around with their kids for a couple of years, that is, before their arthritis kicks in around 40,” Gallop added.
BUDERUS ‘RETIREMENT CLAUSE’: Meanwhile, The Public Apology can exclusively report that the Newcastle Knights inserted an unusual stipulation to Danny Buderus’ contract this season, known internally as “the retirement clause.” The provision allows club officials to force the hooker to announce his retirement should the entire Knights season suddenly turn to shit.
The Knights’ innovative contract clause is set to spread across the NRL as clubs look to phase ageing players out of their rosters. TPA understands that the Brisbane Broncos have conducted talks with Darren Lockyer in a bid to bring the legendary five-eighth back – just so he can retire again, following the success of last year’s charge to the finals. With Gerard Beale leaving the club and not likely to see much game-time (at least at fullback), it may just be safe for the stalwart to take a football field again.
Lockyer has so far refuted the claims, adding he is more than happy to be getting paid for doing next to nothing by Channel 9 – although Phil Gould’s noxious body odour in the commentary box “can be overwhelming.”
By Al McClintock with Dave Edwards