The decline of an NRL star

Finch had held a press conference announcing his mid-season move to Melbourne at a familiar location – the Clovelly Hotel – and he explained why Melbourne was his preferred destination.

“I’ve always loved attending the Spring Carnival,” he says with a cheeky smile. The room smiles with him.

That cheeky smile has been firmly erased from Brett Finch’s face over the past two months after he was charged with five counts of using a transportation service to transmit child abuse – the one of nine men arrested following an investigation by the Internet Child Exploitation Unit.

Police alleged Finch accessed an online chat room twice in November 2020, twice in December of that year and once in January 2021.

The case will be mentioned in Sutherland Local Court on Thursday February 24, although Finch has been excused from appearing. It remains to be determined whether the case will be heard in the local court or referred to the district court.

Finch’s lawyer, Paul McGirrsaid his client would fight the charges.

“At this point, all we can say is that we await more evidence and reserve our position on the matter,” McGirr said earlier this week. “[That evidence] includes forensic testing of electronic data [the police] are supposed to rely on.

Under his bail conditions, Finch must report to the police once a week and cannot use any social media websites, contact anyone under the age of 16, or be near premises known to be visited by children.

But he is allowed to use his mobile phone, after McGirr succeeded in getting his bail conditions changed last month.

“Some people came out of the woodwork and supported him,” McGirr said. “Some people didn’t.”

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Finch’s circle of friends is wide and influential, and generally speaking many of them have been upset by the allegations.

Some say they will support him until the case is finalized in court. Others are less supportive, sickened by the nature of what has been claimed.

Since his retirement in 2013, there have been regular discussions about Finch’s mental state.

“How’s Finchy?” regularly creeps into the conversation, partly to chat but mostly out of concern.

He has spoken openly about his battles with alcoholism and drug addiction, including a podcast days before his arrest when he admitted to burning “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in 18 months on drugs.

He also burned opportunities: first with Channel Nine and 2 Go, then Fox Sports.

Most people rarely get a second chance, let alone a third chance, in the media industry, but it’s a testament to Finch’s relationship with everyone, especially those who follow rugby league, whether he continued to find work.

Online bookmaker PointsBet threw him a lifeline, paying him to appear in TV commercials alongside the NBA star Allen Iverson and spruik chances during Seven’s horse racing coverage.

The bookmaker also sponsored his popular podcast Brett Finch uncensoredfor which he interviewed several rugby league personalities, including former coaches Craig Bellamy and Ricky Stuart and a slew of former teammates.

PointsBet terminated Finch’s contract the day after the charges were filed.

More recently he has appeared on SEN Radio but not under contract but on a casual basis.

Like everyone else, the station was taken aback by the events of December 14 when he was charged. He was scheduled to co-host the afternoon shift that day before Finch’s management told producers he couldn’t come.

Later that day, the story broke, revealing why.

As it stands, Finch has been doing odd jobs while waiting to hear his fate in court, a million miles away from those scenes after the 2009 grand finale where, for a rare moment, he looked at comfortable in his own skin.

WHY NOW, DRAGONS?

The Dragons did a very Dragons thing and extended the coach Anthony Griffin for another year before a ball is kicked in anger – or completely – this season.

“We have all the information we need to make the decision now,” the Dragons chief executive said. Ryan Webb noted.

Except the win-loss record for the 2022 season.

Clearly, the club want to put an end to the already growing speculation over Griffin’s future before the start of the season, which is understandable. He also deserves some fresh air with a revamped squad in his second year with the beleaguered joint venture.

But the move brings back memories of when they re-signed Paul McGregor in April 2019 for two more years. The same question can be asked now as it was then: Why?!

Was there a scramble of clubs crashing to snatch Anthony Griffin from the Dragons?

Coach Anthony Griffin has had his contract extended by the Dragons.Credit:NRL Photos

It’s a lazy assumption that the Dragons’ 2021 campaign was derailed because of the “Weekend at Vaughany’s” moment.

Prior to that, they had scraped against lowly teams like the Raiders and Warriors and suffered humiliating losses to the Bulldogs and Wests Tigers.

But the darkest hour is before dawn, someone said somewhere, so let’s see what 2022 has in store for the humble but constantly tortured Dragons supporter.

THE TRUE COLORS OF CAMPO

Terry Campese announced himself as a special type during a game for the Canberra Raiders in 2008 when he turned down a conversion attempt that would have given him a personal tally of 38 points in one game.

He didn’t want to equal the Raiders legend’s record Evil Meninga. He felt he didn’t deserve it.

In retirement, Campese demonstrated similar qualities with his Terry Campese Foundation, which helps disadvantaged young people in the Queanbeyan, Braidwood and Goulburn areas.

His latest fundraiser is a special forces challenge to be held in the bush for 30 hours from February 26-27. Bypass it: www.specialforceschallenge.com.au.

RETURN FROM THE DAYS OF GLORY

Matty John′ intergalactic popular radio show morning glory returns to air on SEN 1170 on Friday mornings from 9 a.m.

There was a slight change in the batting lineup with the former Broncos, Warriors and Dragons flyer Denan Kemp – who is now a social media phenomenon and owns a brewing business – replacing Greg Alexanderwho now hosts the breakfast show with Andrew Voss.

Kemp will alternate every Friday with Eighth Immortal and, more recently, the TikTok sensation, Andrew John.

THE QUOTE

“I just gave James Harden a lap dance and he told me he was a Sixer! — A tweet from a New York stripper the day before the Harden-Ben Simmons Trade. She was ridiculed for the message, then followed up with “I told you so” when the exchange was confirmed the following day. Now it’s an exclusivity.

THUMBS UP

Rumors of 2Pac appearing – in hologram form or in real life – were, alas, just that. Yet Super Bowl halftime entertainment featuring Snoop Dogg, Dr.Dre, Eminem, Mary J. Blige, Kendrick Lamar and one upside down 50 cents was arguably the greatest of all time. The game, won by the Rams, was also quite good.

THUMBS DOWN

Denis Oswald, the chairman of the IOC’s Disciplinary Commission, says he sees no evidence that Russia has a culture of sports doping. Yeah, and I have abs the size of cricket balls. The facts about the figure skater Kamila ValievaThe positive results are not fully known, but Russia’s doping record is a stain on world sport.

It’s a big weekend for… the Winter Olympics, which reach their thrilling crescendo on Sunday evening with the Closing Ceremony at Beijing’s Bird’s Nest. Oh, how far Australia has come, as evidenced by this headline in the Washington Post“Australians never won medals at the Winter Games. Now they get upset when they don’t.”

It’s an even bigger weekend for… the Fijian Drua, who make their Super Rugby debut against the Waratahs at the CommBank Stadium on Friday night. Their inclusion will hopefully breathe some life into the competition. If they play with the panache displayed in the NRC victory in 2018, they will be one to watch.

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