By ADAM CARROLL
AUSTRALIAN Rugby's handling of the Wallabies' big night out in the lead-up to Saturday's Test has been abysmal.
For a code which has so long looked down its nose at rugby league and its countless scandals ? and there have been plenty ? the events in South Africa have brought rugby down from its moral high ground. Well, some of the way.
Sending Matt Henjak home was the right decision, but he should not have been the only player on the flight.
Lote Tuqiri, Wendell Sailor and Matt Dunning should have been sitting next to him.
Forget about fining them ? a $500 fine is akin to calling them naughty little boys and making them stand in the corner ? and handing down two-match suspended sentences.
The fact remains these high-profile players were out drinking at a nightclub until 4am two days before a Test match. A Test match, I might add, which was played at altitude.
These guys are paid an exorbitant amount of money to do one thing ? play rugby union.
A message needed to be sent to the rest of the team that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated from anyone on the side.
And why didn't ARU officials come clean with the full story in the first place.
With today's level of media scrutiny, the days of cover-ups are long gone. The real story always comes out.
Just ask Shane Warne, or the Australian women's rowing eight for that matter.
Apparently Lote, the angel he is, saw Henjak throw the contents of his drink and told him to pull his head in because he was, to quote team manager Phil Thomson, 'acting like a goose'.
Maybe so, Mr Thomson, but TDF reckons the same description applies to elite players out drinking two days before a Test.
Don't believe the hype
SO there I was, watching the opening session of the first Test of the Ashes series wondering how I was going to wriggle out of my prediction that Australia would annihilate the Poms.
As it turns out, the only prediction I appear to have miscalculated was Shane Warne picking up player of the series honours, although one gets the feeling he will only get better as the series progresses.
TDF stands by the prediction of a series clean-sweep, again, weather permitting.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but England should have banned its players from reading the newspapers, watching the television and listening to the radio.
Sportsmen believing their own press is a dangerous thing.
Australia's biggest challenge on this tour could be convincing England to let us bring the Ashes home. That could prove more difficult than actually winning the bloody thing.
YOU can say what you want about Australian cricket commentators, but for sheer entertainment value, nothing beats the English.
TDF was listening to the ABC's call of the match on Saturday night.
England had just taken the new ball, and the following is how one of the 'very' English commentators described it:
'And it will be Stephen Harmison to propel it (the ball) and he will be propelling it in the general direction of Simon Katich.'
Gold Coast Surfers
THE Gold Coast's search for a team name for its NRL franchise ends here.
TDF this week heard the best suggestion yet.
The sports editor at one of our sister newspapers came up with the name Gold Coast Surfers. Brilliant.
You have the play on words (Surfers Paradise) and the potential to strike a sponsorship deal with a company like Billabong to design the club's supporter wear.
It would certainly be better than the Gold Coast Rockz.
Can anyone actually explain what that name means?
GRAFTON'S No.1 and No.2 Under-13 girls hockey teams made the long trip to Penrith last weekend for the NSW titles.
Those of you who have been to Penrith in the middle of winter will know it is not a place for those seeking a warm winter getaway.
So it comes as no surprise that the start of play was delayed on both days of the tournament because the water-based field had frozen solid.
Apparently it took at least half-an-hour for the field to thaw.
This type of thing would never happen in sunny Grafton, and for that reason alone, Grafton should be granted the right to host more major titles.
A VERY astute reader went to the trouble of pointing out an error in a recent column.
In the wake of the State of Origin decider, TDF opined on the incident in which a player, identified both here and in the national media as Corey Parker, attempted to drag Ben Kennedy to his feet after a high tackle. The reader, who would only be identified as the 'mystery helper', assured me the player in question was actually Ben Ross. Fair enough, my apologies to Corey Parker. Unfortunately, Queenslanders all look the same to me.