Tahu caught up in racism row
PARRAMATTA rugby league star Timana Tahu has been labelled a hypocrite after it is alleged he racially vilified players from the Lismore-based Northern United at the NSW Aboriginal Knockout Carnival held at Woy Woy last weekend.
Tahu, who made headlines earlier this year when he walked out on principle from the NSW Origin camp at Kingscliff after Andrew Johns called Queensland indigenous star and friend Greg Inglis a ‘black c...’, is alleged to have fired the same barbs to players as young as 16 during a fiery round-one game he was playing for the Newcastle Yowies against the Northern United Dirawongs.
United coach Chris Binge, club secretary Grantley Creighton and captain Alwyn Roberts are unanimous in their condemnation of Tahu’s conduct and all have called for an apology from the dual international.
Roberts, who was on the field during the match that Newcastle won, is still shocked by what he heard.
“There was plenty of rough stuff, but he (Tahu) didn’t like his own medicine,” the Dirawongs captain said.
“He was swearing and saying black c.... and black dogs. After what happened with him and Andrew Johns, I can’t believe it.
“I did look up to him, but after the weekend I don’t think I’ll do that any more.”
Roberts admitted there was plenty being said between both teams during the match.
Creighton, who was sitting on the sideline, believes Tahu’s image has been damaged on the Northern Rivers.
“We’re going to approach Tahu’s management and see what happens from there. He should apologise,” Creighton said.
“The credibility he had in the community up here has gone out the window.”
Binge, who didn’t hear the alleged vilification, said he was shocked if the allegations are true, after he spoke out in The Northern Star in support of Tahu’s actions during the State of Origin controversy.
He said the players were calling Tahu ahypocrite among themselves after the game.
“The players were shocked,” he said.
“One of the players (a 16-year-old) is shattered because he looked up to him. He was one of his biggest supporters and to have him (Tahu) turn on him is a shock.
“This is not a case of a non-Aboriginal person having a go at an Aboriginal person, or an Aboriginal person having a go at a non-Aboriginal person, and people may say it’s just two black fellas, who cares?
“We all care. For him to say that to some players leaves a sour taste in the mouth.”
When asked why Northern United did not make an official complaint to the knockout organisers, the club is pragmatic.
Under the rules governing the competition, the club had 15 minutes from the conclusion of the game to lodge the complaint to the disputes committee. It also costs $500 to do so.
If a club loses the hearing, the rules state they forfeit the money to the NSW Aboriginal Rugby League.
The NSW Country Rugby League assists organisers with insurance, but has no direct input into the running of the competition. The competition is run by the team that wins the preceding year, in this case BAC Walgett. Calls to carnival organisers yesterday were not returned.
Numerous attempts to contactTahu yesterday were unsuccessful. The Northern Star also sought comment from the Parramatta Eels, Tahu’s employer, in an attempt to speak with the star centre, but was not successful.
Eels media and communications manager Liz Anderson said the club would not comment on the alleged incident until they had a conversation with Tahu.
“Timana is currently away from Sydney and we have not been able to get in contact with him,” Ms Anderson said.
“At this time, we issue no formal statement until we speak to Timana.”
Former Cronulla Sharks fullback David Peachey, who was runningsideline commentary for National Indigenous Television during the match, said it was a fiery encounter.
“I didn’t hear anything racial, but from the body language and aggression on the field blokes were definitely fired up,” Peachey said.
“It would be a shame if it (the allegations) were true. The Aboriginal Knockout is supposed to be a fun day and a good introduction to younger players who are going on to NRL and representative football.
“I haven’t spoken to Timana, but it’s sad if the claims are true, considering he gave up a sky blue jersey earlier this season for racial vilification reasons.”