See those men? They’re coming to inspect you! Hope you’re very afraid. Because they’re who the Warriors will be facing over the next few days. In case you don’t recognise my artful depictions, that’s Monty Betham, Dean Rice(?!), Awen Guttenbeil and Hugh McGahan.
Yep, the mighty Vodafone New Zealand Warriors are so perturbed by their hideous season that they’ve appointed what must be the most disastrously stupid panel of experts ever assembled to to assess their 2009 performance. Let’s go through their credentials one by one.
1) Monty Betham
According to no less a resource than Wikipedia, Monty Betham’s first name is actually ‘Monty’. Not Montague or Montgomery, but Monty. I’m not sure if that makes it worse or better, but it’s definitely a fact worth considering. My future brother-in-law and I have been discussing a future DeadBall post we’re working on called ‘the worst Warriors team of all time’. It’s coming soon, but one position we pretty much haven’t debated at all was that of of captain. It has to be Monty Betham, right?
He epitomised the worst excesses of the Mick Watson regime, with its arrogance and thuggish attitude toward criticism. Betham being voted ‘the player you’d least like to get into a fight with’ by Rugby League Week only indicated that he spent more time practising his left hook than his tackling technique, and as a member of this panel he brings all the gravity and intellectual force that Kendra has brought to reality television. Speaking of which, for the last three years, while the Warriors have been attempting to rebuild after his awful tenure, ‘Monty’ has been starring on such masterpieces as Celebrity Joker Poker and Dancing With The Stars.
He viewed each as ample preparation for a return to rugby league, as a recent Sunday News story featured an image of him with his shirt off (better that than the truly horrifying shot of him in drag at Telethon) pronouncing his 31-year-old carcass ready to return to the rigours of the NRL. There cannot be many people less qualified to lead a review of a terrible season in the NRL than Betham. But the Warriors have found three more.
2) Dean Rice
OK, here’s a few facts, New Zealand. Everywhere else in the world, men who like to mess around with a long, slender, symmetrical bat play baseball. I wrote about 12-year-old kids playing it it a couple of days ago. Only in New Zealand do we get excited about our men being the best at the women’s version of a men’s sport. Seriously, the fact that the ‘Black Sox’ get nominated for Halberg Awards is one of the most embarrassing things about being a New Zealander, along with Cuba St, Te Radar and Logan Swann. I don’t know who Dean Rice is, but when you google ‘”Dean Rice” AND softball’ some faculty member from Georgia beats him to the top spot. Seriously, that has to mean something in this context. Did I mention that softball is a women’s sport? Do we boast about being Men’s netball world champs?* Thought not.
3) Awen Guttenbeil
It says a lot about this committee that Awen Guttenbeil is comfortably its most respectable member. He defined journeyman throughout his 11 season career with the Warriors. Guttenbeil played out these years, which saw us roam from wooden spooning to Grand fInal, without remotely impacting on our fate. He scored 15 tries, none of which even the most ardent fan can probably remember, and were it not for his bald head, most supporters would struggle to picture him even now. He was notable for having a funny German name and not leaving the club, which is fine, but not enough to justify selection to a panel that is judging a Warriors season which has the dubious distinction of having the worst promise-to-delivery ratio of any in our club’s blighted 15 year existence.
4) Hugh McGahan
McGahan is ostensibly the character guy. A former Golden Boot (for international player of the year) and Dally M (for backrower of the year) winner, he played over 100 games for the Roosters in the golden late-’80s era of rugby league. He was a Kiwis captain. He scored six tries in a test, and was an inaugural inductee into the NZRL’s Legends of League (such an awesome name) hall of fame. As far as reputation goes, there aren’t many in league who stack up better. Or stacked up better.
Because in late 2007 McGahan was charged with fraud in the Auckland District Court, and in May 2009 he was sentenced to 270 hours of community service for his part in a scam involving poker machines in the service of various North Shore sporting organisations. It has been painted up in some quarters as some Robin Hood-style wealth redistribution, and he probably didn’t personally gain from the episode. But surely it’s too soon to be appointing him to a panel discussing an issue like this? His indiscretions were punished in the midst of the horror run the Warriors went on this season. Wouldn’t you want to be squeaky clean about this? Unless of course you just want to be told you’re doing an amazing job by a bunch of dudes who just want to feel like they’re part of a team again…
* I checked this later, and there is apparently a plan to hold one of these within the next five years. If and when we do win, this will be an infinitely cooler thing to be World Champs at. Because indoor netball is in many ways superior to regular netball, and is a distinct sport from basketball, as opposed to an intentionally weakened derivative.