Several years ago, at a Queensland Origin camp on the Sunshine Coast, I asked Greg Inglis if he was surprised that he had transitioned so well from centre to fullback, prefacing the query by saying, "This may sound like a stupid question but ..."
With his expensive frame sat on a chair, as journos circled, he looked up at me and said: "You're right, it is stupid."
Well, Greg, it has taken a few years but allow me to return serve: You getting done for drink-driving and refusing to relinquish the Australian captaincy is, in your direct vernacular, stupid.
Inglis compounded his initial error of judgement, getting behind the wheel intoxicated (he blew 0.085), by committing another one.
His defiant stance mattered naught in his bid to stay captain. Not long after he fronted the media on Tuesday to apologise for his mistake, while insisting he deserved to remain Australian captain for two Tests against Tonga and New Zealand this month, Australian coach Mal Meninga and NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg stood him down for those matches.
It should not have come to that: Inglis was obliged to do the honourable thing and fall on his sword.
Societal decorum demanded it, as asserted by Australian selector Laurie Daley on Tuesday morning, ahead of Inglis's irecalcitrance. "Greg's been a terrific leader for South Sydney and Queensland,” Daley said, “but I don't think you can have the Australian captain going DUI."
Certainly not when you were nabbed on the same day you were named skipper, replacing the standard-bearer for Australian captains, Cameron Smith, and in the same month you were to have led your country for the first time.
But if it sounds like I'm disappointed in Inglis, I'm not. I'll leave it to others to feel that way, if they're so inclined. I'm just expressing an opinion that I believe is accurate, and is how most Australians feel.
However, I won’t do it slathered in hypocrisy. I got done for drink-driving, almost 30 years ago, and I blew a lot more than Inglis did. I wasn’t sacked. As with a lot of offences, perceived or otherwise, society was less condemning back then.
But I probably should have got sacked. And if it happened today, I’d expect to – and cop it sweet. As a role model, however flawed, to my children, what else could I do?
Inglis is a role model like few Australians are, straddling Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities like the colossus he is. Unfortunately, he didn’t act like one this time.