KIERSTEN DUKE: Wests Tiger David Klemmer standing over NRL referee Kasey Badger was a horrible look

Kiersten Duke
The Nightly
4 Min Read
David Klemmer's ugly confrontation with Kasey Badger on Saturday was unsettling.
David Klemmer's ugly confrontation with Kasey Badger on Saturday was unsettling. Credit: Getty Images

For years women have been fighting for respect in the sporting world and we have made great progress toward equality.

But after reading some of the sexist comments made on social media following Kasey Badger’s refereeing performance over the weekend, it feels like the road to fair treatment is still long.

I know some readers will start reading this and straight away bite back with “I’d still criticise a bad performance if the ref was male!”. Guys, that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the, “ha ha she’s got no idea. Get back in the kitchen you dumb …” comments which (thankfully) landed the wannabe “professional” podcast pundit in hot water.

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And speaking of “professionals” who deserve to hang their heads in shame, David Klemmer’s attempt to stand over Badger on the field when disagreeing with her call to send him to the sin bin was beyond disgraceful. Nothing screams “fragile ego” like trying to intimidate a female less than half your size. It was cringeworthy.

The attacks on NRL referees on social media seem to be getting worse. Once, a colleague described Twitter to me as “monkeys with machine guns” and to be quite honest with you, he’s spot on here.

To use your phone from the comfort of your couch to abuse someone is seriously low IQ behaviour.

At the end of the day, we need referees in our sport. They’re elite athletes who are doing their best under extreme fatigue and pressure.

I don’t see a long line of rugby league fans busting their gut to take their place. Mind you, would you want to? Picture a young girl sitting at home watching that Bulldogs-Tigers game, turning to her dad and saying “Daddy when I grow up I want to be a referee”.

Pretty hard to imagine, because who in their right mind would want to go to work knowing they might be stood over by a man twice their size before going home and receiving threats on social media? No one.

It’s a terrible look for league and this week I was ashamed to be a fan.

When we acknowledge unwanted social media comments, we also acknowledge the negative effects they can have on our mental health so it seems perfect timing that this Sunday will be the inaugural Mental Fitness Round for Cronulla against the Dragons.

Driven by Shark’s superstar half-back Nicho Hynes, the round has also been supported by teammate Braden Hamlin-Uele and Sharks NRLW captain Tiana Penitani as well as Gotcha4Life founder Gus Worland.

Hynes has opened up over the years about his mental health struggles and how he’s navigated those challenges while being under the daily pressures of being a professional athlete.

As fans, we may not be able to fully relate to the daily pressures Hynes faces, but what we do have in common is that one in five of us faces mental challenges every year.

Despite so many of us not feeling 100 per cent mentally OK, sadly more than 54 per cent of us don’t access any treatment for it. One way to fix these statistics is to change the stigma, and that’s exactly what Cronulla are doing so well.

It’d be hard not to talk about the most wanted man in the NRL now, David Fifita.

His titanic decision (excuse the pun) appears imminent since news this week that he had a secret meeting (a meeting that everyone found out about) with Panthers coach Ivan Cleary.

Genuine interest in the back-rower also came from the Sydney Roosters. Despite offering him more money to stay at close to $1 million a season, Gold Coast appears resigned to losing the 24-year-old.

With the race on for Fifita’s signature, it was widely believed that it was three-time premiership-winning Panthers who had their nose in front with an $850,000 a season three-year deal. The Roosters are offering a similar deal.

By taking less money and moving to Sydney the Maroons prop will mentally be able to take a load off, going from being one of the Titans’ biggest paid stars to sharing the responsibility with fellow heavyweights Nathan Cleary, Dylan Edwards, Isaah Yeo, Liam Martin and Brian To’o at the foot of the mountains. Fifita would become just another star in a Group 1 stable and that might be just the environment he needs to thrive.

Kiersten Duke is a horse racing presenter for Sky Racing with a passion for NRL, soccer and netball.

Catch her at @kierstenduke


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