Mal's ready to move on from horror off-season
AFTER what has been "the longest off-season in history", rugby league icon Mal Meninga is ready for the season to finally kick off.
The National Rugby League has been plagued by off-field drama since the Sydney Roosters wrapped up the premiership last September, but the Maroons legend said the time for talk is over.
"It is good to have rugby league back on the lips and talking about who is going to win the competition, the best players and what you think about the standard of play," Meninga says.
"Even talking about the performance of referees, it is a good thing. It is better than talking about all this other stuff that has happened in the off-season."
The competition was rocked to its foundations over the summer after an unprecedented number of players came under the scrutiny of the judicial system.
From Greg Inglis' charge for drink driving, mere hours after being appointed Australian Kangaroos captain in October, to the litany of players involved in domestic violence-related issues it has truly been an off-season from hell.
But Meninga believes the ingrained resiliency in rugby league will help the game bounce back from the shock and horror.
"I love the game, so from my point of view it is disappointing to see this behaviour. But I know how hard the game works, I know how hard the players and clubs work around building great community spirit," he says.
"They do a lot around community schools with the kids and through charity initiatives. I have so much admiration for it all.
"The game has been such a resilient game for 110 years. It survived out of resilience going from union to rugby league. Those pioneers had to put up with a lot of backlash.
"I think it is such a resilient game, and I hope once the players take the field and we kick off the season proper, the fans will come back and talk about their teams and how well they went and not talk about the players."
At the centre of that resilient fight back will be Meninga, as the 300-game veteran joins the biggest team in rugby league as part of the Fox League coverage on Foxtel.
Meninga will take centre stage on the channel's weekly Queensland-centric broadcast Queenslanders Only as well as part of Fox League's game day coverage.
In an effort to give more back to the fans, every game of every round will be broadcast live on Fox League in 4K Ultra High-Definition. The channel will also introduce the latest innovation in sports coverage, the rover cam, which took centre stage during the summer of cricket.
"Coverage today is excellent, and to be working with such great professionals it is a privilege," Meninga says.
"We will be live and ad-free each week, you honestly can't miss it. For all fans, you can't miss what your team is doing each week and it is all in the highest definition."
Fox League programs return from Monday with every game of every round live, ad-break free during play and in HD from Thursday, March 14.