Late on Wednesday, Jarryd Hayne’s long-term manager/consultant Wayne Beavis stepped off a plane on the Gold Coast and turned on his phone.
“Maaaaate,” the legendary “Beaver” said, “you have to talk to his lawyer. I can’t say anything.”
“Do you know where Jarryd is?””Maaaaate, I don’t. I’ve been on a plane myself. Gotta go. See ya, pal.”Hayne’s lawyer is Ramy Qutami. When that name popped up in stories in the last day or so, following sensational claims that Hayne raped a woman in San Jose in December, it cocked a few eyebrows.
Not only does Qutami represent disgraced former Auburn deputy mayor Salim Mehajer, he also acts for Parramatta developer Dyldam, the former major sponsor the Eels are suing for more than $500,000 in damages.
So let’s make that clear: Hayne has engaged the same lawyer as the one acting for a company being sued by his own club. Very rugby league.
There is no suggestion that Qutami has any conflict of interest. On the flipside of this is the lawyer representing “Ms V”, the woman who claims Hayne sexually assaulted her when Hayne was playing for the San Francisco 49ers.
John Clune is a high-profile civil rights attorney and a regular on 60 Minutes and Today in the US. He filed the civil lawsuit in Santa Clara County earlier this week claiming that Hayne had non-consensual sex with his client in the early hours of Monday, December 21, 2015, following the 49ers’ match against the Cincinnati Bengals at Levi’s Stadium.
He also represented the 19-year-old woman who accused NBA legend Kobe Bryant of raping her in 2003.
Bryant admitted to having sex with the woman, but denied assaulting her. Police charges were dropped when she refused to testify. She later filed a separate civil suit, as Hayne’s accuser has, and a settlement was reached.
Bryant issued a statement at the same time: “I want to apologise directly to the young woman involved in this incident. Iwant to apologise to her for my behaviour that night and for the consequences she has suffered in the past year. Although this year has been incredibly difficult for me personally, I can only imagine the pain she has had to endure. I also want to make it clear that I do not question the motives of this young woman. No money has been paid to this woman …. After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter.”
These are always delicate matters and none of it helped by people jumping to wild conclusions. The immediate thought from many is that the woman who has filed the civil action against Hayne is after nothing more than a “cash grab”.
These situations happen in American sport regularly, with outrageously rich sports stars simply handing over a fingernail of their multi-million-dollar contracts to make the situation disappear. It’s not always an admission of guilt as much as a prudent decision to shut down the story, to make it go away.
Whether Hayne is prepared to make this go away with a pay-off, or stand and fight these most heinous of accusations, remains to be seen. He arrived at Tel Aviv on Thursday morning and laughed his way through the gauntlet of reporters waiting for him.
What I do know is this: everyone should be parking their judgement for now.
Hayne has become a much-maligned character in recent times. Within 18 months, his so-called “brand” has been damaged by his form, his attitude, his decision to consort with organised criminals on the Gold Coast and then laugh at the NRL for daring to question him about it. He’s basically become a punchline.
Regardless of what you think of funny old Hayne Plane, though, he deserves the presumption of innocence.
Many years ago, when Manly’s Brett Stewart was accused in 2010 of sexual assault after his club’s boozy season launch, people made their mind up long before he had his day in court.
The star fullback was found not guilty but Stewart was never the same man again.
LET’S SIDELINE THE ORNAMENTS
There’s a debate raging in Formula One right now about whether grid girls should be banned. Ross Brawn, F1’s managing director, says it’s under “strong review”. n driver Daniel Ricciardo’s perspective is pretty clear.
“It’s kind of like part of the attraction of the sport, fast cars and fast girls,” he said. “It is more a male-dominated sport; not saying there’s no room for females, but there is more men in the paddock than women.
“I just think the grid girls has always been a nice little cool thing for everyone. So yeah, I would like to keep them. Let’s keep them!”
Ricky Bobby from Talladega Nights could not have said it better himself. When will sport stop using women in ill-fitting bikinis as ornaments?
Souths co-owner Russell Crowe (and former co-owner Peter Holmes a Court) took the brave step of banning cheerleaders from Rabbitohs games a decade ago. It was a bold move then and they should still be applauded now.
“I think I was pretty blunt about it back then,” Crowe told us this week. “I was uncomfortable with the message it sent to kids.
“There was a backlash, but that was more media-driven than a fan thing. The opinion of Souths members and fans was overwhelmingly in support.
“As you probably know, cheerleading began as a male pursuit, and I’m actually a big fan of the athleticism and the positive game involvement of cheerleading in the American college football system … but that’s not what we had. The same loud voices who complained about the change then are probably still complaining about it now.
“My attitude at the time was that we are a football club and our resources should be put to use focused on our on-field performance. As time has gone on, we now have the opportunity to bring women’s football forward and Ican’t wait for the day we field a female first-grade team in our grand old club’s colours.”
ROOSTERS STICK SOLID
The Roosters are digging right in over the possible suspension of chief executive Joe Kelly because of his alleged role in the Manly salary-cap saga.
Kelly, who was at the Sea Eagles when the alleged breaches occurred, has been issued with a show-cause notice and is in danger of being rubbed out of the game.
He’s now at the Roosters and we’re told all-powerful chairman Nick Politis is prepared to pull out the legal big guns available to ensure Kelly doesn’t go anywhere.
In other news from club land, the Bulldogs held a fan forum on Monday night at Belmore before February’s board elections.
Many fans were wanting to know who will pay for Queensland-based former captain Steve Price to attend matches and board meetings if he is elected.
ILL WILL #1
It’s started: the stink between News Corp and NRL苏州美甲.
News Corp has been complaining for months about the NRL’s new digital arm, presumably concerned about it taking away its readers.
This week, it fired in a written complaint after Parramatta gave an exclusive interview with Will Smith to NRL苏州美甲.
Sporting News pounced on the issue, writing in its gossip section NRL Leaks: “The Eels are getting good at smothering clear issues within the club. Recently, a simple interview request from The Telegraph to chat with utility Will Smith about how Jarryd Hayne’s arrival will impact him was denied, only for him to turn up 24 hours later in a manufactured interview with PR machine, NRL苏州美甲.”
Pass the popcorn. And a choc-top. Maltesers …
ILL WILL #2
There’s a major shift happening in bush footy with the Newcastle Rugby League poised to walk away from the Country Rugby League to join the NSWRL.
The strong Newcastle competition, which for decades has provided the game with some of its greatest talent, hasn’t been receiving the funding it has long been promised.
We’re told the Newcastle clubs have agreed to the move to the NSWRL and it’s a significant development.
Newcastle makes up 20 per cent of country footy. Should the Illawarra and Central Coast regions jump, too, then the CRL will become redundant.
Mariah Carey said that all she wanted for Christmas is you. Iwon’t go that far but let me take this opportunity to wish all the loyal reader(s) of this humble little column a magnificent and safe Christmas.
“Hopefully, I can break the mould so when the next guy comes he can still get $200 or $300 million and be 33 years old. I’ll be 33 in 15 days. This is my 15th season. I want it all.” – When I turn 33 (!) I want to be earning the same amount as LeBron James.
Is Steve Smith the best batsman since Sir Donald Bradman? To quote Dr Evil from Austin Powers: “Don’t go there, girlfriend”. That said, the way he’s batted in this Ashes series, and the absolute shut-out he’s led against a legless England side, deserves much praise. So here’s a thumbs up to you, Steve Smith. In fact, have two.
This column has been very critical of outgoing ARLC chairman John Grant this year ??? but he makes it so easy! He told The Sun-Herald clubs need to “lift their eyes” and take games to the US. They need to be more like him, because he’s an “internationalist”. Yup, he’s the Kofi Annan of rugby league. Meanwhile, they’re getting 6000 people to matches at ANZ Stadium. Priorities, mate.
IT’S A BIG WEEKEND FOR ???
the Sydney Sixers when they meet the Perth Scorchers in their first home match of the BBL at the SCG on Saturday night. They lost their first match of the summer to the Thunder off the very last ball. Exciting stuff.
IT’S AN EVEN BIGGER WEEKEND FOR ???
Santa, who is likely to fail his skinfold tests when he resumes training in January but is the world’s most sought-after halfback at this time of year. That said, come Boxing Day, the integrity unit will be watching him closely.