The National Rugby League has finally announced their assessments of the twin Corey drink-driving incidents from the off-season. Horsburgh will miss one game, and Harawira-Naera will miss two.
The decision essentially means that the NRL aligns with Coach Stuart’s existing statements on the matter. It’s good to see that, and one might suggest Stuart’s pro-active framing of the issue was important in managing expectations of punishment. As we wrote recently, his willingness to take the matter and make a clear public statement about behaviour expectations is a matter of taking lemons and making lemonade in terms of re-establishing the cultural expectations around the club.
As we’ve said before the impact will be as much on the players as individuals as it is on the side. Harawira-Naera now forfeits his spot as starting edge forward to Hudson Young for two games. We’re very high on Young (as is the club, and John Bateman for that matter), and this could be all he needs to take the spot for Corey over the longer term. I’m keen to see how a full-off-season has helped Harawira-Naera, and now we have to wait a bit longer to find out.
Horsburgh puts himself behind the endless list of middle forwards in the Canberra squad. After the efforts of James, Sutton and Guler in the trial match, this seems like it might be that much harder for big red. To his credit, he’s shown he’s aware of it, willing to earn his spot and aware that he can’t put any more obstacles in his way. I’ve zero doubt Horsburgh will find his way back over the front-end of the season. The main impact will be to his origin hopes, which is a sense is a silver lining for the Milk if it does occur.
All in all it’s a minor matter, but one I think was well handled by the club. While it will make the efforts across the early rounds a bit harder, the Milk are well placed to handle them.